(3451) Jesus for and against violence

Was Jesus a peacemaker or a rabble rouser? It depends on which scripture you read, but comparing the passage below from Matthew with those from Luke, it might be easy to see that they are talking about two different persons:

Matthew 5: 38-42

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also; if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well; and if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

The following was taken from:


All four gospels portray Jesus as making statements against violence, but also being willing to use violence of his own when it suited him. Since you’re looking at the gospel of Luke, let’s see what else that author has to say:

Jesus sees himself as a source of division in the world:

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! [Luke 12:49-51]

Jesus tells a parable about the coming kingdom of God, where the lord in the story ends by saying:

But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence. [Luke 19:27]

And there’s the famous story of Jesus forcing people out of the temple itself:

Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there [Luke 19:45]

Shortly before his arrest, Jesus told the disciples to arm themselves:

He said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was counted among the lawless’; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.” They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” He replied, “It is enough.” [Luke 22:36-38]

It seems impossible that the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount is the same person as he who said he didn’t come to make peace, who talked of slaying people, and who needed swords. There is something wrong here. This cannot be the same man. The gospels are inconsistent and make it impossible to construct a coherent portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth, assuming that he was a real person.

(3452) Early Christians believed Jesus died to pay back Satan

It might alarm current Christians to learn that early Christians believed that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was a ransom payment to Satan, so that Satan would release his hold on humanity, a prize that he had earned by inciting the original sin of Adam and Eve. The following was taken from:


The Ransom Theory of the Atonement is one of the first major theories for the Atonement. It is often held alongside the Moral Influence Theory, and usually deals more with the actual death of Jesus Christ, what it actually means and the effect it has upon humanity. This theory finds its roots in the Early Church, particularly in Origen from the 3rd century. This theory essentially teaches that Jesus Christ died as a ransom sacrifice, paid either to Satan (the most dominant view) or to God the Father. Jesus’ death then acts as a payment to satisfy the debt on the souls of the human race, the same debt we inherited from Adam’s original sin.

The Ransom view could be summarized like this:

“Essentially, this theory claimed that Adam and Eve sold humanity over to the devil at the time of the Fall’ hence, justice required that God pay the Devil a ransom, for the Devil did not realize that Christ could not be held in the bonds of death. Once the Devil accepted Christ’s death as a ransom, this theory concluded, justice was satisfied and God was able to free us from Satan’s grip.”

Redemption in this theory means to buy back, and purchase the human race from the clutches of the Devil. The main controversy here with this theory is the act of paying off the Devil. Some have written that this is not a fair statement to say that all Ransom Theorists believe that the Devil is paid, but rather in this act of Ransom Christ frees humanity from the bondage of sin and death. In this way, Ransom relates the Christus Victor theory. But it’s worth differentiating here because in one way these views are similar, but in another way, they are drastically different.

What this indicates is that early Christians viewed Satan as a formidable foe to God and that he had powers that were beyond God’s reach. Thus, God was required to make this blood sacrifice payment to Satan to redeem mankind, but in so doing, he tricked Satan, who did not realize that Jesus would resurrect after 36 hours. Nevertheless, the deal was struck and Satan was left ultimately defeated. Nowadays, Christians view Satan as a weak fallen angel, destined for doom, and not having any powers that cannot be thwarted by simple prayers or invoking the name of Jesus. To be sure, shifting views of an obviously fictional character does not look good for Christianity’s authenticity.

(3453) Spirits in prison

In an orgy of made-up mythology, the author of 1 Peter (certainly not the apostle) made reference to those who drowned in the Flood (which didn’t happen) and said that they (their ‘spirits’ actually) were sent to ‘prison’ (Limbo?) because they ‘disobeyed’ (what, we aren’t sure), and that Jesus, now separated from his corpse (and a spirit himself) went to preach to their spirits some untold message that presumably could save them from hell. They, being lucky to have a chance for heaven after death, unlike people alive today.

1 Peter 3:18-22

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit, in whom He also went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

In the ark a few people, only eight souls, were saved through water. And this water symbolizes the baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.

This is all in the Bible, and evangelicals believe every bit of it, but those of sound mind can see what is happening here- and it has no connection to the real world.

(3454) Seventeen million hours

Whoever wrote the letter 1 John was certain that the time was very short before the entire world order would be changed, and that the world as they had known it was coming to a quick end:

1 John 2:17-18

The world is passing away, along with its desires; but whoever does the will of God remains forever.

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour.

Christians will try to explain this away as being hyperbole and that ‘last hour’ could mean a very long time. But when you realize that these people thought that the earth had been created only about 4,000 years before their time, another 2,000 years could hardly be been seen as representing the ‘last hour.’ It has now been 17,000,000 hours since these verses were written. If the author of this passage was actually being ‘inspired’ by god, as Christians believe is the case for the entire Bible, then that god was either drunk or he died soon thereafter and didn’t complete his plan.

(3455) God failed to credential his gospels

It is standard Christian theology that God inspired the gospel authors, such that they were able to document Jesus’ life and message without error despite not being eyewitnesses or even having reliable sources of information. But even if that point is conceded or tabled, there is no doubt that If God really was involved in the creation of the gospels, he failed to inspire the authors to take the necessary steps to identify themselves, their credentials, and the sources they used. This is not a trivial problem. Because this failure has led to considerable confusion, doubt, and anxiety for scholars trying to ferret out the truth behind the words. The following was taken from:


To eliminate all this confusion, speculation, and guesswork about the origin of the gospels, why didn’t God inspire the authors to identify themselves and their credentials, i.e., state their names, where they lived, how they were educated, which Christian communities they wrote for. Above all, how could an all-knowing God not have anticipated the era when many humans would escape superstitions and figure out how the world works? He might thus have inspired the gospel authors not to include the fantasy and miracle folklore so typical of other mythologies of the time. We know now that these are not evidence for Jesus.

A real god would have anticipated this problem, and known that future generations of Bible scholars would otherwise suffer from from not having the type of authentication they would need to verify the truth of what was written. A real god would have made sure that the gospels had impeccable credentials. On the other hand, gospels written without divine inspiration might lack this necessary element of certification.

(3456) From extolled poverty to the prosperity gospel

There has been a dramatic shift in Christian attitudes toward earthly wealth. The earliest Christians were almost unanimously averse to holding riches and were influenced by many scriptures warning them to avoid even the image of affluence. But things changed dramatically as the centuries moved on, Jesus did not appear as expected, and soon Christian preachers were telling their congregations that obeying God was a way to be more prosperous in this life. The ‘prosperity gospel’ soon took root and marked a 180 degree change of view from 1st Century Christians. The following scripture encapsulates the mindset they had at that time:

James 1:9-11

The brother in humble circumstances should exult in his high position. But the one who is rich should exult in his low position, because he will pass away like a flower of the field. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its flower falls and its beauty is lost. So too, the rich man will fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

The following was taken from:


I’ve just finished a book by Peter Brown titled “The Ransom of the Soul” dealing with the use of wealth in early Christianity. (Brown has a related book, “Through the Eye of the Needle: Wealth, The Fall of Rome, and the Making of the Christian West”). The theme is how heavily Jesus’ negative view of wealth weighed on early Christian thinking, and “laying up treasure in heaven” by using one’s earthly wealth to help the poor, widowed and orphaned, was the only way to justify having it. Giving it away by almsgiving also served as a way to atone for the sins of both the living and the dead. The coming Last Judgment and Resurrection were still events that loomed large for early Christians, and earthly wealth was of no help in the life of the world to come unless it was used for Godly purposes.

If 1st Century Christians were to be reanimated in the current day they would be astonished and disturbed to see how contemporary Christians were just as wealthy on average if not more so than non-Christians. This certainly would be the same consternation that Jesus would exude, if he was a real person, and his attitude toward wealth was accurately depicted in the gospels. The current Christian attitude toward earthly riches can be interpreted as a tacit admission that they are not fully confident that there is any life after this one.

(3457) Dropping a book in an illiterate world

Few Christians bother to process the logic of God inspiring the Bible as a way to present himself to humanity even though most all of the people in the region where he made his book available were illiterate. The following was taken from:


Once upon a time—way back when the overwhelming majority of people were illiterate—God decided that the best way to tell people about himself was to write a book. That is, so the theologians assure us, he inspired humans to write it for him. Dropping a book in an illiterate world? This doesn’t strike us as a good plan, and it went downhill. Once the book was finally finished, God neglected to find a way to prevent mistakes as the manuscripts were copied by hand for centuries: thousands of errors were made. Scholars still haven’t been able to figure out for sure the wording of the original manuscripts.

And, for centuries, God couldn’t find a way to make the book available to the masses. Even after the printing press had been invented, religious leaders resisted having the Bible translated into the languages of the people. Even now, with billions of copies available, this holy book is a dud, by which I mean that most of the faithful don’t like to read it. Actually read it, take to heart the idea that God’s word is there for the taking. If they really believed that, we wouldn’t be able to stop them from reading it.

Even after illiteracy was mostly eradicated, the availability of the Bible was limited for many centuries because Christian leaders thought it would be dangerous for parishioners to read it on their own. And even after it became universally available, it was so abstruse and difficult to read that very few Christians took the effort to read it. Any business plan with this many failures would result in the firing of the CEO, which in this instance, is God.

(3458) Price’s path to mythicism

Bible scholar Robert M. Price tasked himself with the mission to debunk the minority but growing  theory that Jesus was a mythical individual- that is, that he didn’t exist as a human. But is so doing, he found sufficient evidence to support that very theory. The following was taken from:


Price describes his journey, i.e., reaching the conclusion that Jesus-mythicism is a legitimate, defensible position. Originally, he had set out to debunk mythicism, assuming that it was the work of cranks. But his research included studying books by mythicists Robert M. Price and Earl Doherty. It’s hard to unsee the failure of the gospels as reliable, verifiable evidence for Jesus. He researched

“…the lists of prophecies that Christians claimed Jesus had fulfilled. It didn’t take long to see what Christians were calling examples of ‘prophetic fulfillment’ were in fact examples of literary constructions. These weren’t examples of recorded events that corresponded to passages from the Jewish scriptures, these were clearly instances where the writers of the Gospels had fabricated scenes based on scripture. Many of these scenes were in fact foundational to the biography of Jesus.”  (p. 111)

He also notes Robert M. Price’s conclusion (in The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man) that

“…even the Crucifixion itself was one of these scenes clearly derived from scripture. Every aspect of the Crucifixion scene, in every single Gospel, indicates that the scene is fully fabricated and not in any way based on eyewitness testimony or even merely on oral tradition. The scene is clearly meticulously crafted from scriptural references, a product of literary development, not secondhand accounts or even urban legends.”  (p. 111)

He admits, “…I had gone from thinking that mythicism was utter nonsense, to starting to develop my own theory of Christian origins in the absence of a human Jesus.” (p. 111, emphasis added)

Since the church has long promoted Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament expectations, it has been hard to perceive that the story of Jesus was actually created using texts from the Hebrew Bible. Even devout laypeople who get seriously into Bible reading are commonly awed by the “fulfilment” claim without seeing what was really happening. Price notes two books that provide close analysis of Mark’s methodology—and this is crucial since the other gospel writers based their stories on Mark: in 1988, Wolfgang Roth’s Hebrew Gospel: Cracking the Code of Mark, and in 2010, Adam Winn’s Mark and the Elijah-Elisha Narratives. “These works show how the writer of Mark constructed his narrative from one of the most popular and well-known narratives in the Jewish scriptures.”  (page 112)

So just what was Mark’s agenda? Why did he write his story of Jesus? Perhaps he was motivated by the widespread destruction wrought by the First Jewish-Roman War. In 70 CE Jerusalem was reduced to rubble, including the Temple, and no doubt any surviving members of the original Jesus sect were swept away as well. But the cult had enough churches scattered outside the battle zone—even as far away as Rome—that it was probably considered good strategy to create stories about Jesus, as a way to keep the cult going.

Of course, there had already been a lot of writing about Jesus as a dying-and-rising savior god, especially in the letters of Paul and a few spin-off forgeries of his letters. It would appear that these letters were a major influence on Mark as he created his own story of the Christ. So we’re getting closer to understanding Price’s title, the Pauline Origin of the Gospels.

This is the axe that could kill Christianity. A Jesus who existed only in the clouds or in some spiritual realm (a possible interpretation of Paul’s theology) will not do. If indeed Mark composed a fake history using Jewish scriptures as his template, then the entire enterprise of Christianity comes tumbling down. It cannot survive that conclusion.

But the imminent danger to the faith is that the mythicism theory is gaining traction every year, and it may eventually become mainstream. In the not too distant future it is likely that theologians (at least those not stubbornly biased) will view Jesus as either non-existent or at best irredeemably mythologized.

(3459) Comparing Zoroastrian beliefs with Judeo- Christianity

Zoroastrianism first entered recorded history around 600 BCE in present day Iran, or about 600 years prior to the dawn of Christianity. The similarities between the two religions has been noted by religious historians for many centuries, and the nexus between the two faiths has been debated. It appears certain that Zoroastrianism influenced both Judaism and Christianity, more or less as a consequence of the Jewish Diaspora. The following lists some of the similarities between these two religions:



  • Ahura Mazda is the highest God and Creator of the universe
  • Ahura Mazda is surrounded by seven beings called Amesha Spentas (Holy Immortals)
  • The greatest Holy Immortal is called Spenta Mainyu (Holy Spirit) who is also the spirit of Ahura Mazda
  • The number seven is a sacred number symbolizing the Amesha Spentas and recurs several times; e.g. there are seven divisions of earth.
  • Fire is a holy and sacred symbol of purity and righteousness. It symbolizes the Holy Immortal, Ashta Vahishta (Truth and Justice) who is the light of Ahura Mazda.
  • Ahura Mazda’s opponent is Angra Mainyu (Destructive Spirit) also called Arhiman
  • Angra Mainyu is the twin of Spenta Mainyu and they are both sons of Ahura Mazda who war against each other
  • Angra Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu met at the beginning to choose between “life or not life”; Spenta Mainyu chose life (Good), Angra Mainyu chose not life (Evil).
  • Angra Mainyu rules all that is Druj (“The Lie”)
  • Angra Mainyu created the Daevas (Sanskrit for “Divine”) subordinate evil spirits.
  • Angra Mainyu will be destroyed at the end


  • YHWH is the Most High God and Creator
  • YHWH is surrounded by Seven Spirits like flaming candles
  • The greatest Spirit is the Holy Spirit who is also the spirit of YHWH
  • Seven is a sacred number symbolizing YHWH’s Spirits, creation, completion, cycles and totality; e.g. seven days of creation.
  • Fire is a sacred tool of purification in Jewish and Christian theology. YHWH dwells in sacred fire that does not burn the righteous and truthful.
  • YHWH opponent is Satan (The Adversary), a destructive spirit
  • Satan’s spirit is opposed to the Holy Spirit and the two wage war through the deeds of humans.
  • Satan existed at the beginning of creation and chose evil
  • Satan is the liar, who was the liar from the beginning
  • Satan has subordinate evil spirits called Demons. Note: the greek for demon from which get the english word is Daemonius; the Sanskrit for divine is Daevas (Zoroastrian demons); more learned people could address if this is mere coincidence
  • Satan will be destroyed at the end

Christian should find it disturbing that a religion that predates theirs by several centuries and that has no reference to their deity is so similar in nature. The expected uniqueness of a true religion that post-dates a false one is sorely lacking.

(3460) Yahweh’s unmitigated cruelty

The story of what the Christian god, Yahweh, did to the Egyptians to force them to free the captive Jews in the Book of Exodus is fictional. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that Jewish writers proudly elected to portray their god in this manner. This level of cruelty is beyond human imagination. The following summarizes the ten acts of atrocity accredited to the god Christians worship:


Water turned to blood

“Thus says the Lord, ‘By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood. The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile’” (Exodus 7:17-18).

Plague of frogs

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants’”’” (Exodus 8:1-4).

Plague of lice or gnats

“So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, “Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.”’ And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt” (Exodus 8:16-17).

 Plague of flies

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land’”’” (Exodus 8:20-22).

Plague of livestock

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, “Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, behold, the hand of the Lord will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence. And the Lord will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt’”’” (Exodus 9:1-4).

 Plague of boils

“So the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 9:8-9).

 Plague of hail

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt—on man, on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.’ And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt” (Exodus 9:22-23).

 Plague of locust

“…if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. And they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one will be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue of what is left, which remains to you from the hail, and they shall eat every tree which grows up for you out of the field” (Exodus 10:4-5).

 Plague of darkness

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.’ So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days” (Exodus 10:21-22).

Plague of the firstborn

“Then Moses said, ‘Thus says the Lord: “About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals.

Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel”’” (Exodus 11:4-7).

The following was taken from:


Most people look to the 10th plague as the big one, firstborn’s death. Which is understandable. Killing droves of children to prove a point is generally seen as a bad thing.

I’ve heard this justified as a last resort, and that god was merciful until then. But I think they forgot to take the fact that this was ancient Egypt into consideration.

The first 9 are arguably just as bad if not worse. Because, it isn’t specified how long each one lasted most of the time. When all the water turned to blood in Egypt, most of the population would have died within a week, if not less. Livestock dying would have caused mass starvation. Lice? Hope you like infectious disease. Fire hail? I hope I don’t have to explain this one. Darkness wouldn’t be that bad, if plants were nocturnal. Honestly I’m surprised that Ramses even survived considering there wasn’t any food or water, there were lice everywhere, no one could see and the sky was on fire.

Christians should run rather than embrace this story, but they have no viable option to do so. It is in their Bibles and there is no easy way to take it out. They must own it. Most all will say it is just an allegory, but they cannot take away the fact that their god is characterized as an evil monster in the very book they carry to church and which forms the foundation of their faith.

(3461) Heaven not better than eternal nothingness

Christians who are unsure of the truth of their faith have a three-tiered expectation of what might happen to them after death- either they will go to heaven, go to hell, or cease to exist. In their minds, heaven is much better than the other two options, but in the essay below, it is argued that it would essentially be another form of non-existence:


I will be discussing the Christian view of heaven. In which heaven in considered to be a place of eternal happiness and joy.

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain.”

Generally speaking it’s agreed that in heaven we are reduced to an experience of joy. There is no death, crying, mourning or pain in heaven. With this being said it is suggested we are still attached to our consciousness and are still ‘ourselves’ as we know it now.

This concept of an afterlife makes no sense to me, the concept of heaven seems redundant. In heaven, there is no bad up there at all. Yet you are still conscious, which in that case you basically aren’t yourself, you’re essentially lobotomised into this drooling smiling creature.

If there isn’t any bad in heaven how are you even you, you may as well be a big cardboard cut out of yourself with a big grin drawn on. Either you enter a unconscious state, in which you don’t have any sensory perception, your behaviours and memories are no longer accessible due to your brain dying and you are 6ft under the ground or a pile of ashes in a jar. Other option is afterlife is real, everyone who wasn’t religious or a ‘sinner’ is now eternally tortured in hell.

The people who did follow god properly have now left a life of love, fear, happiness, sadness, depression, joy, anger, calmness and you know the extreme range of complex emotions humans experience that makes us human. To then be dumbed down into this ‘being’ who’s only experience is happiness. How on earth you could consider that human I have no idea nor any clue why you would want that.

It’s essentially being disabled, if you’re only happy you aren’t a normal person. You wouldn’t be ‘you’ as you know it. There are many memories I have which are not happy, which had a positive effect on me as a person. Such a huge part of the human condition includes suffering, it’s what makes us beautiful. We experience suffering and therefore try to reduce it by helping others and developing morals ect. That’s all gone in heaven.

It’s such an obvious human thought, to fool yourself into thinking you are so special that you will never die and your individual personality will be eternally existing whilst people who are morally inferior to you will be tortured in eternal hellfire. It’s such a hedonistic, greedy desire that sums up humans as we know it. We can never get enough, we can’t bare not having access to more life. So much we didn’t stop think about it pragmatically and forget what this is really all about.

We aren’t designed for eternal ecstasy, it makes no sense. Whatever you think about heaven, you cant tell me anyone in a state of ultimate nirvana could even somewhat reflect a human being outside of someone severely disabled/brain dead. Which in that case you may as well be ‘nothing’ as you are nothing like what you once were.

Being human means having problems, facing setbacks, surviving threats, engineering a better future, learning from failures, and experiencing sadness. None of these are included in the Christian concept of heaven. So even if you go to heaven, you won’t be a human, so you won’t be you. Christianity holds out a carrot on a stick, and expects you to chase after it, but when you look closely, you realize two things- it probably doesn’t exist, and if it does, it is more of a lemon.

(3462) Suffering messiah was a Christian invention

The concepts of the messiah believed by Jews were not aligned with the image of Jesus as a suffering servant. Rather, he was seen more or less as a triumphant superstar who would free the Jews from oppression and gather them together in an earthly ‘paradise.’ The following discusses the two types of messiahs expected by the Jews, neither of which aligns with Christian doctrine:


Yes, there was a consensus, and it did not include a suffering Messiah.

However, there were two flavors of Messiah that were popular, and only one of them was kingly. The other one was priestly.

By the time of Jesus, messianic ideas had primarily developed in two directions, based on differing exegesis and circumstances. The first direction derives from the expected Son of David, which is patterned on the remarkable period of Israel’s history under king David. Such a Davidic messiah is to be a glorious king who comes in power to throw off all of Israel’s bonds of subjugation to foreign powers. Thus, this type of messiah will herald an unmitigated defeat of Israel’s enemies, a cleansing of the land from foreign influence, a gathering of all those who have been scattered, and the initiation of a wise and sustained rule over God’s people. The conception of the Davidic messiah was primarily focused on political rule, with spiritual rule over the people being a secondary effect. Communities like those at Qumran, however, had rather different expectations, leading in a second direction. In addition to the Davidic messiah, they anticipated another, second, messianic figure that would function as high priest, often considered the foretold prophet-like-Moses, which Martyn calls the “Moses-Messiah typology”. Unlike the Davidic messiah, who would be a wondrous ruler but would not perform miracles, the Moses-Messiah would purify the priesthood and initiate an age of miracles that would serve to refresh cultic worship and renew the saving provision of God among the chosen people.

The exact delineation between these two notions of messiah is neither uniform nor clear, and Jewish expectations concerning messianic ideas varied considerably. Smith notes that against this backdrop, the Gospel of John encounters messianic expectations in a peculiar way. Jesus is the messiah of eschatological expectation, but does not fulfill messianic hopes in ways that are easily compatible with either of the main Jewish traditions of the time. Nevertheless, within the Gospel of John Jesus’ disciples detect from the diverse traditions about messiahship a certain applicability to Jesus, and confront him as to whether he is indeed the one they have expected. Brown particularly notes that Jesus’ repeated ambivalent response to the question of whether or not he is the Messiah occurred precisely because the popular definition used by his would-be disciples was so different from his own.

Keener states that John particularly develops the Moses-Messiah motif as it relates to Jesus’ claim to messiahship, but Martyn notes that signs are a key characteristic of the Moses-Messiah type, and John treats signs with suspicion, suggesting an overall distrust of the motif. In any case, it is clear that the Gospel of John is content to upturn traditional expectations about the messiah wherever they might be found. What this means is that traditional expectations of Messiah did not make their way into early Christianity without significant rethinking and modification, which can be confusing to those coming from a purely Christian tradition. As an example of this, the early church had a view of the messiah under a “suffering servant” motif, but Keener and Ehrman both note that the concept of a suffering Messiah was not part of the traditional expectations of Messiah. It was an innovation by Christians.

This should be disturbing to Christians who like to think of themselves as the divinely-anointed inheritors of the Jewish religious tradition. The fact that Jesus never fulfilled Jewish expectations of their savior is central to this equation. This is a signal that Christianity is truly separate from Judaism- not the second manifestation of Judeo-Christianity. In a sense, this removes its foundation and leaves it dangling perilously in the wind.

(3463) Matthew’s tacit admission

It is likely that Christians of the 1st Century noted that their prayers were not working especially well and that they appeared to have no earthly advantage over non-Christians when it came to either fortune or misfortune. This must have weighed heavily on a religious tradition that advanced the theory of divine intervention in the lives of every faithful person. In the following scripture, the author of Matthew appeared to take this observation to heart and had Jesus formally acknowledge this fact:

Matthew 5:45

He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Thus, Jesus is saying here that you will probably notice no difference in your earthly fate from those who are unbelievers or even the wicked. This stirs up two observations- (1) that it runs counter to the many Jesus quotes in the gospels about reliably receiving what you wan or need t through prayer, and (2) that it neatly camouflages the unstated but probable fact that there is no god intervening in personal lives. Either way, it puts a dent in Christianity that the scriptures had to concede a point that, if it was true, should not have been necessary. That is, the worldly contrast between Christians and non-Christians should have been noticeable from the very start.

(3464) Five most powerful reasons to disbelieve

In the following, John Loftus presents the top five reasons why a person should reject Christianity:


1) The Bible. It debunks itself. It contains forgeries, borrowed pagan myths, and is inconsistent within itself. It tells a plethora of ancient superstitious tales that lack objective evidence for them that don’t make any sense at all. It has a god that evolved from a polytheistic one who lives in the sky above the earth, who does both good and bad, who makes room for both angels and demons and thinks a god/human blood sacrifice can magically ransom us from the grip of the devil (the first widely accepted atonement theory). For this case see the later half of my book Why I Became an Atheist, and especially the books by Dr. David Madison, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief, and Dr. Hector Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies.

2) The Church. It’s supposed to be an institution of God’s people, who claim they are the only ones who have God the Holy Spirit inside them who informs them of the truth, teaches them what is good, and empowers them to do good deeds. Yet we see no objective evidence on behalf of this and plenty of disconfirming evidence against it. Their first mistake was to choose the currently accepted canonized texts of the Bible, which in addition to reason #1 above, contain many barbaric texts which should be rejected by all civilized people (called “condemned texts” due to “inspired imperfection” by apologists like Gregory Boyd). Where was the Holy Spirit when they choose those barbaric texts? The only excuse for the church of today is that they do not read the Bible. Ignorance is bliss they say. The history of the church and of the people claiming to have God the Holy Spirit inside them reveals a continuous spectacle of atrocities, such that its history is a damning indictment upon the god they profess to believe. Why can’t God do any better than that? Contrary to their empty rhetoric that atheists live as though their God exists, believers live as though their God doesn’t exist. But when they actually do read their Bible and follow its barbaric morality it’s additionally clear that their god doesn’t exist. Either way their god doesn’t exist. Get it? For this case see my anthology Christianity is Not Great, especially the books by Dr. David Madison, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief, and Dr. Hector Avalos, Slavery, Abolition and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship.

3) There is no objective evidence for any of its miracles. For this case see my anthology on miracles. As a prelude you should see why I claim there’s no objective evidence for any miracle in the Bible. At this time of year just consider one miracle, the virgin birth.

4) Science. It’s answering the very mysteries that produce religious belief in the first place. The fewer mysteries we have in the world then the less we feel the need to believe. Furthermore, when we put Christianity under the microscope of science, as we do in my anthology Christianity in Light of Science, Christianity doesn’t survive. As a prelude you might want to consider the top seven ways Christianity is being debunked by the sciences.

5) The problem of horrendous suffering. This evidence is as close to a refutation of your God as is possible. I wrote two chapters in Why I Became an Atheist for this case, and I’m doing an anthology on it now.

To be sure, any one of these five reasons independently should cause a person raised in the Christian faith to at least re-examine the basis of their faith, and for anyone who was not raised in the faith to immediately dismiss it without the need for any further research. But when you put all five together they form, synergistically, a decisive knockout punch.

(3465) Prayer-gambling analogy

It has been noted in scientific studies that people engaged in gambling are more motivated to continue gambling if they see many ‘close calls’ of winning the jackpot (such as on a slot machine) than if they see fewer of these near wins, even if the actual rate of winning is the same. This same phenomenon occurs with Christian reactions to the outcome of their prayers. The following was taken from:


Sometimes, prayers that “sort of work” are counted as wins in the same way seen in gambling.

Other recent work has considered the impact of “near miss” outcomes, unsuccessful outcomes that are proximal to a major win (Kassinove and Schare, 2001). Using a slot machine task that delivered occasional jackpot wins, near misses (where the reels landed adjacent to a win) were associated with higher self-reported motivations to gamble than full-miss outcomes, despite their objective equivalence as nonwins (Clark et al., 2009).Pathological Choice: The Neuroscience of Gambling and Gambling Addiction

Here’s an example of a near miss, or perhaps even one counted as a proper win, in prayer. I was talking to a fairly recent skeptic who has many Christian friends still. His twin brother recently went into a coma for a few very long weeks. His brother was, as his Christian friends assured him, prayed for on a consistent basis.

His brother came out of a coma.

Good news!

Except he wasn’t fully healed. He’s in a nursing home where he will remain, in a wheelchair, and can barely talk, having lost much of his motor function. He is permanently brain-damaged.

But because the doctor had told the family that he was probably going to die—that he wasn’t going to make it—those praying believers are now taking the credit for the prayers.

I asked my skeptic friend (a fairly prominent atheist YouTuber), “Do you think they count that as a success, in terms of prayer?”

“Yes.” There was no hesitation. In fact, they had even accused my friend of not being grateful for their prayers. “Since he’s made a comeback as far as being alive, they are taking credit for their prayers.”

Which is theologically rather odd. Jesus was fully healed. God has the ability, surely, to fully rather than partially heal someone. So why burden the family with this really challenging situation? Why destroy this man’s life chances and inhibit his ability to actually fully experience life and existence?

You could argue that this is a form of punishment. Do the praying believers want to take credit for that?

If God is all-powerful and omni-benevolent, then answered prayers should never take of the form of a partial victory, or getting some but not all of what was asked for, especially as above if it results in a less than desirable long-term situation. But Christians fool themselves into believing that God helped them to receive a little bit of what they wanted. No, this is an outcome of statistical probability, or, if they want to go down another route- an assist from a LIMITED god. When you throw out the ‘sort-of answered’ prayers, Christians have little to cheer about.

(3466) God fails to align canon universally

It is a well-known problem that the biblical Book of Jude quotes from the Book of Enoch, which was rejected from the biblical canon. This appears to be an arbitrary and illogical decision on the part of ecclesiastical authorities in the 4th Century. But also, there are significant differences between the Catholic and Protestant bibles. What one is left to wonder is why did God allow any ambiguities to exist concerning which books he inspired and which he didn’t. Since the Bible was to be his primary means of communicating to humanity, it seems that he would have made certain that all Bibles contained those books and no others. Did he inspire the authors of the books, but not the people who decided which of them should be included? The following was taken from:


The canon of scripture is an issue of perennial importance within the Christian Church. For the purposes of this work, the term “canon of scripture” will be defined as “the Books which were officially received as containing the rule of the Christian faith.” However, Christianity has historically been divided regarding the question of which books should be received. For example, within the fourth session of the Council of Trent (A.D. 1546), the Roman Catholic Church anathematized anyone who rejected books of the Apocrypha, such as Tobit, Judith, Esther, Baruch, or I and II Maccabees. Conversely, the Protestant Westminster Confession of Faith (A.D. 1646) rejected the books of the Apocrypha from their canon of Scripture. However, the books of the Apocrypha are not the only disputed works amongst Christians.

Denominations within the Orthodox branch of Christianity have also been known to accept additional texts that have not been accepted by either Roman Catholic or Protestant Denominations. For example, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon includes, “46 books of the Old Testament and 35 books of the New Testament that will bring the total of canonized books of the Bible to 81.” One text within this denomination’s Old Testament canon is the pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch (also known as 1 Enoch). Historically, the Book of Enoch is known to have “enjoyed a high reputation among the early Christians.” Biblically, the Book of Enoch is even explicitly referenced within the canonical epistle of Jude (Jude 1:14-15). It is with this citation of the Book of Enoch that many Christians have historically questioned the canonicity of Jude’s epistle as well.

The question becomes why was the Book of Enoch left out of the Roman Catholic and Protestant canon, whereas the epistle of Jude was accepted?

The differences and contradictions regarding the composition of the Bible are consistent with a work of man that was not inspired by a god. Full alignment among all Christian centers would have provided a measure of evidence of divine inspiration, but that is not what happened.

(3467) Yahweh should have withheld the existence of heaven

A smarter god would have understood that the best way to judge humans would be to see how they behave without possessing knowledge of a post-life reward, or any reward for that matter. What such a god would want to see is how well people do good for strictly goodness’ sake.

It has been noted that atheists who are altruistic are morally superior to Christians who do the same things, but their actions are polluted by the fact that they are, at least to some extent, doing them because they believe they will receive the reward of heaven. Atheists have no such expectation.

Yahweh could have withheld the existence of heaven, and then he could have examined the character of each person absent the complication of reward motivation. That would have been a better way to determine who really deserves a second life in a heavenly paradise.

(3468) Endogenous retroviruses

In what should be considered a fatal blow to creationism, intelligent design, or even the more benign belief that God guided evolution, the existence of endogenous retroviruses explodes all of these theories and proves in a de facto sense that life evolved on our planet without the assistance of a supernatural being or force (at least one that could be considered worthy of worship). The following was taken from:


I’ve been learning about endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) and how they infect cells of a host and attach their RNA sequence into the DNA of various creatures (humans included). Other than being fascinating, their very existence is the final disproof that God created anything at all.

ERVs attach to cell walls with their spiney proteins, invade a cell, then inject their DNA (RNA, actually) into the DNA of the host cell. The virus literally, snips a piece of the animals’ DNA out and places itself directly into the DNA of the other organism. The literal code of life (God’s fingerprints) is replaced by a virus.

So, let me get this straight. God creates ERVs, with all the complexity such viruses need to attach to cell walls, infect a cell, glue its RNA into our DNA sequence, which then gets passed on if it’s in a sex cell. So, how does this make any logical sense in a God-created Universe? God creates viruses, gives them DNA or RNA to infect, kill, and propagate? Does Genesis discuss God creating bacteria? Nope, forgot that one. Kind of important not to mention that. Funny, how all of life is interwoven and connected including to bacteria and viruses which are needed for a variety of functions.

So, God also created humans with our DNA, but then also created ERVs which can snip away DNA and fuse its own DNA in our DNA, thereby rendering God’s initial creation imperfect or incomplete? Or did God just want to do some tinkering to our DNA? But then, this means some human DNA is copied virus DNA and so…This is confusing. In fact, it makes no sense whatsoever.

Well, what about other viruses? Is HIV needed for essential functions? How about Ebola? Is this passing for benevolence? If I was a Supreme Being (maybe a supreme burrito) I would be ashamed of being called benevolent, nor would I respect creatures who called me all-loving if I had created Ebola and Zika, Malaria, Bubonic Plague, and HIV.

In fact, the creatures God created (humans) are currently creating antibodies and vaccines to protect us from his very creations. Funny, it’s almost like humans (his creation, remember) have reached the intellectual capacity to prevent the spread of his other creations (viruses, remember). That’s weird. Unless, the whole thing creationism thing is just bullshit humans made up, then it all goes away. There it is, another nail in the coffin of creationism.

It is difficult even to dream up a potential Christian response to this situation, as anything presented would cause considerable collateral damage to their assumptions about God. For them, the best strategy, assuming they care not to learn the truth, is to cover their ears and look elsewhere.

(3469)  King James Version deliberate mistranslation

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, published in 1611, became the gold standard for English- speaking Christians, many of whom even to this day insist that it is without error. The more modern translations have largely been influenced by the KJV, so its impact remains pervasive in the Christian world.

What few Christians know or are willing to admit is that the people translating the Hebrew scriptures into the KJV had an agenda to manipulate the text to make it more conducive to Christianity. This created the deceptive appearance of a nexus between Jewish scripture and Christian dogma. The following was taken from:


First of all, a little background on the KJV. King James assembled 47 scholars to create the KJV, but all were members of the Church of England. Not one single Jewish scholar was used to translate the JEWISH SCRIPTURES. So of course errors in translation would occur, the translators changed passages to make them messianic or prophetic, when they had no such meaning in the original Hebrew. Also King James instructed the translators to make sure the KJV reinforced his opposition to Puritanism, and to reinforce his notion of the divine right of Kings. So basically he changed a religious document into a political one.

On to the errors.

Obviously the first one would be Isaiah 7:14 Again, a little background. King Ahaz of Judah was being threatened by two opposing armies, which were threatening his kingdom, which included Jerusalem. G-d sent Isaiah and his pregnant wife to King Ahaz to reassure him this wouldn’t happen. Isaiah told King Ahaz to ask G-d for a sign that the two armies facing him would be defeated, but Ahaz declined. Isaiah said G-d would give him a sign anyway. The sign would be that a young woman would bear a child, and before that child was old enough to tell good from evil, the two armies facing him would be destroyed. Which is exactly what happened. The Hebrew word here is “Almah” and it does NOT mean “virgin.”

Another error.

In Psalm 22:16, the KJV has the phrase “pierced hands and feet”. The Hebrew is “Ka-ari” and it means “like a lion.” It was changed to make it a messianic prophecy. In fact, the exact same word is used 4 verses ahead of this, in Psalm 22:13. Here and everywhere else EXCEPT 22:16 ari is translated as “lion.” It’s another fake messianic prophecy.

And while we’re in Psalms, here’s another error.

Psalm 2:12 in the KJV says “kiss the Son”. The Hebrew here is “Neshku-bar” and it ACTUALLY means “Arm yourself with purity.” Again, it was changed to make something into a prophecy that wasn’t even a prophecy to begin with.

A fourth error

In Isaiah 9:6, the KJV has this; “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty G-d, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah here was talking about someone who had already been born. The KJV writers changed this from past tense, to present and future tense. Again, to make it messianic. You might ask if this wasn’t about Jesus, then who WAS it about? The answer is actually right there in the passage “The Mighty G-d” in Hebrew is “Hezekiah”

If anyone is interested I have a LOT more examples, but I imagine this post is long enough for now.

It should be obvious that if Christianity was the legitimate god-inspired successor to Judaism, there would have been no need to customize the Jewish scriptures in any sense- they would have already been perfect segues to the tenets of Christianity. Straight and honest translations would have sufficed.

(3470) Ravens feed Elijah

The biblical story of Elijah being fed by ravens is a stereotypical application of folklore to a story that that the author has intended to be taken as a factual event. This type of mythical intrusion erodes confidence in all Bible stories, including those that could plausibly be true.

1 Kings 17:2-6

Then a revelation from the LORD came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Brook of Cherith, east of the Jordan. And you are to drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

So Elijah did what the LORD had told him, and he went and lived by the Brook of Cherith, east of the Jordan. The ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning and evening, and he would drink from the brook.

The following is a quote from the following book:

Richard D. Nelson (1987) First and Second Kings. Interpretation. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, p 109

“The story of Elijah and the ravens reflects the common folktale motif of the hero being fed by beasts and reminds the reader of the canonical traditions of wilderness feeding. (The LXX caught this implication and makes specific reference to Exod. 16:8, 12.) Meat twice a day would be rich fare in ancient Palestine.”

A Christian must make a decision- to believe that ravens were directed by God to deliver food to Elijah and that they accomplished that task, or to see this as folklore, not intended to be taken as the ‘gospel truth.’ Either way creates a problem- being childishly gullible, or admitting that the Bible deceptively recounts an event that did not occur.

(3471) Miraculous protection

A story in Chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel presupposes the power of God to protect people who are thrown into a fire to be executed. Either this story is a fable or God is no longer in the business of offering special miraculous protection to his faithful followers.

Daniel 3:19-27

At this, Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders to heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual, and he commanded some mighty men of valor in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing fiery furnace.

So they were tied up, wearing robes, trousers, turbans, and other clothes, and they were thrown into the blazing fiery furnace.

The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the fiery flames killed the men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, firmly bound, fell into the blazing fiery furnace.

Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and asked his advisers, “Did we not throw three men, firmly bound, into the fire?”

“Certainly, O king,” they replied.

“Look!” he exclaimed. “I see four men, unbound and unharmed, walking around in the fire—and the fourth looks like a son of the gods!”

Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the blazing fiery furnace and called out, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire, and when the satraps, prefects, governors, and royal advisers had gathered around, they saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men. Not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them.

If you ask Christians, most will say that this event is factual history. Then if you ask them if God is protecting some of his faithful followers in the same manner today, they will likely balk in the face of zero evidence for the same. This ‘miracle’ did not happen, but it presents a problem either way- if it did happen, then why is God so disinterested and inert today? And if it didn’t, why does the Bible make a claim that it did?

(3472) History of the Trinity

Most Christians believe that God is composed of three divine beings- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Also, most Christians believe that God is eternal, that he has always existed. But does this mean that they believe that all three elements of God are equally eternal?

If the trinity of god-beings existed eternally, then why is the Son and the Holy Ghost not making appearances or even mentions in the Old Testament? It would appear that the Son did not exist until he was born of the Virgin Mary and that the Holy Ghost did not exist prior to the Pentecost. Otherwise wouldn’t God have informed the Jews that he was a 3-in-1 package from the very start?

So, it seems more likely, from a Christian perspective, that the Father has always existed, but that the ‘birthed’ out of his own essence the Son and the Holy Ghost approximately 2000 years ago. But if that is the case, then couldn’t he divide further into perhaps a Daughter or a Holy Phantom? Or into hundreds or thousands of supernatural beings (while still being just one)? Anyway, why stop at three? It is difficult to come up with a theory that makes any sense.

(3473) Managing Mary’s virginity

The emergence of the idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a perpetual virgin is a testament to how theology evolves over time, and this particular concept is very unusual because it directly contradicted canonical scriptures. Apparently this idea was so important to ecclesiastical authorities that the gospels themselves were relegated to second priority. The following was taken from:


But if Mary was a perpetual virgin, then why is Jesus said to have brothers and sisters in the New Testament (see Mark 6:3John 7:3)?   This was the ONE issue that my students at Rutgers – who were largely Roman Catholic – had problems with when I taught NT there.  Unlike my evangelical protestant students at UNC, who have no problem with Jesus’ mother having other children, but who can’t *stand* (many of them) the idea that the Bible could have mistakes in it, my Rutgers students would often go ballistic if I claimed that Jesus had siblings.

As a side note I should point out that the Roman Catholic Church has for many centuries insisted that Jesus did not actually have brothers.  That does not mean that the church denied that James and the other brothers of Jesus existed, or that they were unusually closely related to Jesus.  But in the Roman Catholic view Jesus’ brothers were not related to Jesus by blood, because they were not the children of his mother Mary.  The reasons the Catholic Church put forth for claiming this, however, were not historical or based on a close examination of the New Testament texts.  Instead, the reasoning involved a peculiar doctrine that had developed in the Catholic church, dating all the way back to the fourth Christian century.  In traditional catholic dogma, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not simply a virgin when Jesus was born, but she remained a virgin until the end of her days.  This is the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.

In no small measure this doctrine is rooted in the view that sexual relations necessarily involve sinful activities.  Mary, however, according to Catholic doctrine, did not have a sin nature.  She could not have had, otherwise she would have passed it along to Jesus when he was born.  She was herself conceived without the stain of original sin: the doctrine of the “immaculate conception.”   And since she did not have a sin nature, she was not involved in any sinful activities, including sex.  That is why, at the end of her life, rather than dying, Mary was taken up into heaven.  This is the doctrine of the assumption of the virgin.

Protestants have long claimed that none of these doctrines about Mary is actually rooted in Scripture, and from a historians’ point of view, I have to say that I think they are right.  These are theological views driven by theological concerns that have nothing to do with the earliest traditions about Jesus and his family.  But if, for Roman Catholics, Mary was a perpetual virgin, and never had sex, who exactly were the so-called “brothers” of Jesus?

There were two views of the matter that Catholic thinkers developed, one of which became standard.  In the older of the two views, the “brothers” of Jesus were the sons of Joseph from a previous marriage.  This made them, in effect, Jesus’ step-brothers.   This view can be found in later apocryphal stories about Jesus’ birth, where we are told that Joseph was a very old man when he became betrothed to Mary.  Presumably that is one of the reasons they never had sex; Joseph was too old.  This perspective continued to exert its influence on Catholic thinkers for centuries.  You may have noticed that in all those medieval paintings of Jesus’ nativity, Joseph is portrayed as quite elderly, as opposed to Mary, in the blossom of youth.  This is why.   I should stress that even if this view were historically right – there is not single piece of reliable evidence for it – James still would have been unusually closely related to Jesus.

Eventually this view came to be displaced however, and in no small measure because of the powerful influence of the fourth-century church father Jerome.  Jerome was an ascetic himself, among other things, denying himself the pleasures of sex.  He thought that the superior form of Christian life for everyone involved asceticism.  But surely he was no more ascetic than the close relatives of Jesus.  For Jerome, this means that not only Jesus’ mother but also his father (who was not really his father, except by adoption) were ascetics as well.   Even Joseph never had sex.  But that obviously means he could not have children from a previous marriage, and so the brothers of Jesus were not related to Joseph.  They were Jesus’ cousins.

The main problem with this view is that when the New Testament talks about Jesus’ brothers, it uses the Greek word that literally refers to a male sibling.  There is a different Greek word for cousin.  This other word is not used of James and the others.   A plain and straightforward reading of the texts in the Gospels and in Paul leads to an unambiguous result: these “brothers” of Jesus were his actual siblings.  Since neither Mark (which first mentions Jesus having four brothers and several sisters; 6:3) nor Paul gives any indication at all of knowing anything about Jesus being born of a virgin, the most natural assumption is that they both thought that Jesus’ parents were his real parents.  They had sexual relations, and Jesus was born.  And then (later?) came other children to the happy couple.  And so Jesus’ brothers were his actual brothers.

The relationship between scripture and theology is more tenuous than most Christians would presume. Just like the idea of Mary’s virginity emerging in contrast to the gospels, the current Christian concept of hell is becoming less of a torturous experience and more of just a ‘separation.’ Slaves have become servants, women have become equal in status to men, and the virtue of prosperity has replaced the asceticism preached by Jesus. When theology becomes detached from scripture, it is a warning signal that something is seriously wrong.

(3474) Hominid species extinctions fueled religious belief

The extinction of various competing hominid species which left homo sapiens alone in the homo genus provided the framework for the development of beliefs centered around the ‘specialness’ of modern humanity as well as an incentive to believe in creationism, both of which fueled a tendency to create various religions. The following was taken from the book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind:

“Over the past 10,000 years, Homo sapiens has grown so accustomed to being the only human species that it’s hard for us to conceive of any other possibility. Our lack of brothers and sisters makes it easier to imagine that we are the epitome of creation, and that a chasm separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.”

The term ‘brothers and sisters’ is referring to other human species such as Neanderthals and Denisovans. Had these homo relatives survived to the present day, it would have been nearly impossible for humans to believe in creationism, or to see themselves as being distinctly special. This would have greatly depressed the scope and number of religions as well as the fervency of belief in them. It would likely have spurred a much faster and more dedicated commitment to science.

If we ever come in contact with other intelligent species in the universe, given a different outcome of their development, it might be likely that they would be less religious and more advanced than us because the evidence for evolution was ‘right before their eyes.’

Or, alternatively, if chimps, bonobos, and orangutans had become extinct 10,000 years ago, the human species might have become even more religious.

(3475) Endless excuses for God

Apologists sometimes have to work overtime to excuse God for all of the things that don’t make sense if you accept the idea that a ‘loving’ god created and is managing the world. In the following it is argued that no valid excuse exists for the mammoth amount of pain and suffering that living beings are being subjected to every minute:


It’s a good guess that the apostle Paul is partly to blame for the common belief that nature itself is proof of God. He wrote this in his letter to the Romans (1:20): “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.” So just look around you to see God’s stunning handiwork. One modern theologian, Barry Whitney, illustrates how theists can get swept up in this sentimental view of nature:

“We are fortunate indeed if we have experienced the serene beauty of a dampened forest or the majestic expanse of the open seas…Such moments are to be cherished, for they somehow assure the longing soul of its communion with a Presence which animates all of life by its love and care.” (Whitney, Evil and the Process God, p. 1)

This is a good example of a mind numbed by theology. Guy Harrison is far more truthful:

“Right at this moment, as you are reading this sentence, millions of creatures are being pierced, clawed, snapped in half, chewed and swallowed—while still alive. A constant and incomprehensible flow of pain and suffering is standard operating procedure, just the way life goes on this planet.”  (Harrison, 50 Popular Beliefs that People Think Are True, p. 280)

So all of life is “animated by God’s love and care”? Even the very pious, when hit personally with tragedy and suffering, struggle with doubt: wasn’t it the deal that God would take care of us?—after all, he has his eye even on the sparrow. That’s a nice image, but frankly, it’s meaningless. Christian theism is shattered by the grim reality that animals face, as John Loftus discusses in his essay, “The Problem of Animal Suffering,” in his new anthology, God and Horrendous Suffering.

A few years ago, when I was writing my book about the problems that falsify Christianity, the tentative title for the chapter on evil and suffering had been, “The Easy Acceptance of the Very Terrible.” It has been my experience for years that when Christians are confronted with examples of the most horrible suffering they divert their eyes—and avoid thinking about the problem: “Oh yes, that, but even so our God is wonderful.” Easy acceptance of the very terrible…to hold on to God.

Or they fall back on excuses that apologists have been touting for centuries: God is testing us, building our characters, punishing us; we wouldn’t appreciate the good if we don’t experience the bad—or he’s just plain mysterious and has a bigger plan for good that humans cannot grasp. Everything will come out okay in the end for the righteous—commonly heaven is thrown into the mix.

But none of these excuses work when applied to animal suffering (they don’t even work for human suffering, actually). Yes, it’s hard to grasp: the Cambrian Explosion happened more than 500 million years ago—so called because of the enormous diversification of species. So in all that time since, as Harrison put it, “creatures have pierced, clawed, snapped in half, chewed and swallowed—while still alive.”

At the beginning of his essay, Loftus states the ruinous implications of this for theism:

“For an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing god to have created the egregiously horrific and unnecessary predatory relationship among his creatures requires a rejection of god and his religion.”  (p. 88)

“Upon the supposition of Darwinian evolutionary biology, this suffering is natural. It is what we would expect to find. But upon the supposition of a theistic god, this is not what we should expect to find.”  (p. 89)

Christian apologists might argue this point by saying that the fact of animals eating other animals was the only way God could have designed the ecosystem- that it would have been impossible to fashion all animals to be vegetarian. This appears to be either a product of their lack of imagination or an unintended way to place limits on God’s power. There really isn’t a legitimate way out of this predicament for Christians and the problem is only getting worse as civilization becomes more and more focused on animal welfare.

(3476) Cults all the way down

There is an old adage that a cult has an eccentric, charismatic leader at its core, and that a religion forms only when that guy is dead. This is a template for most of the religions that have ever formed, and it is almost certainly true of Christianity. The following was taken from:


The history of cults is the true history of religion. It’s the same old story over and over again: some narcissistic asshole gets convinced that they’re the center of the Universe and decide that they can do whatever they want; then make up the most ridiculous superstitious bullshit to enable their control freak nature and power-trip sexual predator fantasies. And then there are always those who fall victim for this bullshit without realizing that they’re being used, abused and refusing to see any wrongdoing from their ‘holy’ leader. Sometimes this abuse structure survives after the death of the cult’s leader and takes on an organizational life of its own, which is where most religions come from. That’s why there’s always some prophet, a guru – an all-knowing, unquestionable figurehead and their mouthpieces that follow after. Islam started off as a Christian cult. Christianity started off as a Jewish cult. It’s cults all the way down.

Seeing Jesus as a cult leader is consistent with everything we (think we) know about his life and the early history of the church, as well as the history of cults that have developed since (Mormonism and Scientology are two recent examples). The transformation from cult to religion is somewhat tenuous, but statistically it is bound to happen on occasion. The situation was ripe for the Jesus cult to become a worldwide religion.

(3477) Jesus’ missing birthday

There is a perennial human tendency to celebrate the birthdays of famous people, such a Sir Isaac Newton (December 25), but in the case of Jesus there should have been an even greater motivation to do so. This is because his birth was accompanied (allegedly) by celestial phenomena (a miraculous star) and by regal visitations. However, there is missing any indication that early Christians celebrated his birthday or even had any idea when it was.

None of the early churches, and not even Paul celebrated it. It was an invention (that he was born on December 25) that came about around 270 years after Paul’s death, in 336 AD or about 240 years after the last canonical gospel was written. Speaking of the gospel accounts in Matthew and Luke, the best evidence suggested that Jesus, if he was a real person and if the birth accounts are at least semi-true, was born sometime in the spring or fall, based on the reports of shepherds in the fields at that time.

Christianity would be on much better standing if Jesus’ birthday was firmly established and was being celebrated by the vast majority of Christians in the 1st Century. This would have been evidence grounding him in history and boosting confidence in some of the miraculous facts surrounding his birth. But absent any evidence of an early birthday remembrance, this lines up better with a myth created after the fact.

(3478) Audience of the Ten Commandments

Although Christians like to characterize the Ten Commandments as being the eternally-relevant, divinely-inspired rules for humankind, it really is just a set of statues addressed to and for the advantage of a specific audience within the ancient Israelite population. The following was taken from:


When we think of who is included in the Decalogue, I think it’s important to think of the Decalogue, in many respects, as a gentleman’s agreement.  It’s addressed to men; the Hebrew form in which it’s written, is the masculine singular form.  It presumes a male who is a head of a household.  So it’s referring to protecting his person, his property, his wife; so that it’s very specifically written to men and men who have slaves, who own animals, who have extended property; so it’s clearly a privileged Israelite male.  So it’s a protection and a system of helping men of a certain economic level relate to one another in relative peace.

They also are of a certain age; they would be old enough to have their own household because it’s thought that the law to honor your mother and father refers to older parents and not, it’s not addressed to a difficult teenager!  It’s addressed to adults about maintaining and supporting their own parents.

So I think we need to be aware of the fact that the Ten Commandments is, in fact, addressed to a particular audience; and we might see principles that would serve the purposes of a society more generally; but it does refer to this one particular group, these men, Israelite men, who have households.

So those who are excluded tend to be those who aren’t Israelite, who aren’t privileged enough to have a household and who aren’t male.  I think though, that looking at them now, it’s more accurate to say what is excluded, rather than the groups that are excluded because when I look at them, I am sorry that they don’t include any reference to social justice matters, about the concern for the poor, for those who are somehow disadvantaged in a societal system.  So that I think on the whole, we can say that they are addressed to a particular group and, by definition, that it means that some groups are excluded; and it does not refer in any way to the social justice tradition that we see in the prophets.  And that tradition is something that we very much need to take into account in today’s context.

If God actually intended to provide a succinct decalogue of decrees that would help to guide humanity through its entire evolutionary history, this was a poor effort unbecoming the supposed skills of an infinitely-intelligent deity.

(3479) Book of Daniel is a lost cause

The Book of Daniel is very important to evangelical Christians because they believe that it contains prophecies of the end times. But a scholarly investigation of this work reveals it to be not only not a look into the future, but actually an inaccurate look into the past. The following is an excerpt from an essay written by Dr. Richard Carrier on this topic:


So, genuinely critical scholars. Now enter the gullible scholars: Christian apologists who need Daniel to be authentic. Attempts by fundamentalists and unrelenting believers to “rescue” Daniel’s authenticity are of course abundant. None follow any credible historical method. Real historians apply the same standards to the Book of Daniel, and to Daniel as a person, that we do to all other ancient books and persons. And we attend to what’s more probable, not to what’s convenient or merely possible.

When we attend to the actual evidence we have and to what’s the most probable, we see there is no evidence attesting to there being a Book of Daniel, or any specific stories in it, in any source prior to the Maccabean era. Red flag. The earliest reference to Daniel as a person, in Ezekiel, appears to imagine him as a foreign wise man in distant mythic time, not as a Jewish prophet, much less of the Persian court; and makes no mention of his writing books, much less of his being Ezekiel’s contemporary. Red flag. Daniel makes too many mistakes that are impossible for an eyewitness and leading Babylonian and Persian official as its author is portrayed to be. Red flag. Daniel only produces detailed and correct historical data for the last ten years of King Antiochus. Red flag. It then gets completely incorrect everything that happened just before and after his death. Red flag. These coincidences are absurdly improbable on any other theory than that Daniel was written shortly before 164 B.C. as propaganda promoting an ongoing war and cultural program. And exactly in line with that conclusion, and thus supporting it as evidence, the content of Daniel thoroughly supports the political and cultural interests of the Maccabees at exactly that time. There is no evidence for any other conclusion.

Discarding the Book of Daniel would constitute a mortal blow to apocalyptic Christianity, and the evidence strongly suggests that they should let it go. In fact, this book is a template for the entire Bible- as a collection of mythic-laden stories very loosely connected to real facts on the ground.

(3480) Christian atonement theory is flawed

Most Christians are taught that the Israelites were instructed to sacrifice animals in order to atone for their sins. This is very misleading. Most sacrifices in the Old Testament were for offerings to God, as a way to give thanks for his protection and sustenance. Forgiveness of sins was always fully available in prayer. The only way that that sacrifice was tied to sin forgiveness was a ritual where one beast was sacrificed (as a faith offering) while a second beast was driven into the wilderness (the scapegoat) as a way to ‘carry away’ the sins of the entire tribe (not an individual person). So, to be more precise, Christianity should have had Jesus sent into the desert to die of starvation or predation, rather than being sacrificed on the cross. The following was taken from:


All throughout the OT, God forgives without atonement or sacrifices. He even says that he prefers people to obey without sacrifices. The bulk of sacrifices made in the OT are for fellowship and an offering to God. OFFERINGS are not for atonement. There was a scapegoat and then some minor sacrifices made for sins. Christians ignore this to make sense out of Jesus. Ask a Christian why Jesus died, and they’ll say , “in the OT, offerings HAD to be made for forgiveness of sins so Jesus died as an ultimate sacrifices to end all sacrifices”. The problem with this is it ignores the above.

In summary, the atonement theory of Christianity is inconsistent with its theological foundation in Judaism. Jesus ‘dying for your sins’ makes little sense to scripturally-literate Jews, and supposedly would also be considered invalid by Yahweh (assuming he exists).

(3481) Is God double anal-retentive?

Catholics believe that the rite of baptism is essential for one’s salvation. That is to say, a ritual performed mostly on babies is necessary before God will consider allowing that person into heaven. This is beyond ridiculous. But to add more wood to this fire, it is learned that a priest in Arizona, United States, for many years misspoke a single word during the baptisms that he administered, and that this mistake was seen by church authorities to invalidate the entire procedure. Those ‘damaged’ by this error are asked to resubmit themselves to be baptized ‘properly.’ The following was taken from:


A Catholic priest based in Phoenix, Arizona, has resigned after realizing he’d been incorrectly performing baptisms for over 20 years, rendering the rite invalid for thousands of people.

As he administered the ritual, Rev. Andres Arango would say, “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” However, the correct wording is “I baptize,” per the Vatican’s instruction, wrote Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, in a January 14 message.

No one, including priests, “may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority,” Olmsted wrote, citing Vatican teachings. Olmsted added that he didn’t believe Father Arango had “intentions to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments.”

Still, the official Diocese of Phoenix website said that Father Arango’s one-word alteration means that “all of the baptisms he has performed until June 17, 2021, are presumed invalid.” The diocese also called for those who believe  Father Arango had incorrectly baptized them to submit their contact details to receive the proper rite.

The question is whether God could be so anal-retentive as to deprive someone an eternity in paradise if they did not receive some holy water splashed on their face.. If so, he is a horrible monster. But even worse, if someone received that ritual but the priest misspoke a certain word of the liturgy, would God also deprive that person of heaven and send them to hell? Apparently there are some Catholics who believe this is true. If so, can anyone not be astounded at how far religion can make humans become detached from any sense of reality? Would a real god allow this foolishness to be perpetrated in his name?

(3482) God’s body

Our understanding of the structure of the universe and our knowledge of physics makes it impossible to view the Christian god as having a corporeal body; therefore most modern-day theology sees God as being a universal, omnipresent, omnipotent, non-material essence that exists anywhere and everywhere. Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou explodes this image of God, showing in her book God:An Anatomy that the earliest believers in this God, named Yahweh, considered him to have a body similar in shape and function as their own. The following is a review of this book:



An astonishing and revelatory history that re-presents God as he was originally envisioned by ancient worshippers—with a distinctly male body, and with superhuman powers, earthly passions, and a penchant for the fantastic and monstrous.

“[A] rollicking journey through every aspect of Yahweh’s body, from top to bottom (yes, that too) and from inside out … Ms. Stavrakopoulou has almost too much fun.”—The Economist

The scholarship of theology and religion teaches us that the God of the Bible was without a body, only revealing himself in the Old Testament in words mysteriously uttered through his prophets, and in the New Testament in the body of Christ. The portrayal of God as corporeal and masculine is seen as merely metaphorical, figurative, or poetic. But, in this revelatory study, Francesca Stavrakopoulou presents a vividly corporeal image of God: a human-shaped deity who walks and talks and weeps and laughs, who eats, sleeps, feels, and breathes, and who is undeniably male.

Here is a portrait—arrived at through the author’s close examination of and research into the Bible—of a god in ancient myths and rituals who was a product of a particular society, at a particular time, made in the image of the people who lived then, shaped by their own circumstances and experience of the world. From head to toe—and every part of the body in between—this is a god of stunning surprise and complexity, one we have never encountered before.

The fact that Yahweh is presented as a physical being in scripture and early belief is a problem for Christian theology, especially in our modern scientific world, where the structure of the universe and the natural forces that govern it preclude the ability of any locally-positioned, physical being to have the capabilities and talents ascribed to the Christian god. The original Hebrew god Yahweh will not do. This god does not work in the Christian image, so a deceptive, non scriptural make-over was needed to make his alleged omnipotence still possible in the minds of modern Christians.

(3483) Collective hallucination

Many Christians will admit that if a single person has a vision or hallucination, that it likely could point to something that isn’t real (although they fully excuse Paul’s vision of Jesus). But when multiple people see the same thing (like an appearance of the Virgin Mary, or a spinning sun) then it is much more likely to be a real phenomenon. But science teaches us that multiple people can have the same experience given the right conditions of pre-conditioned beliefs, state of wariness, lighting effects, etc. The following was taken from:


A collective hallucination is a sensory hallucination induced by the power of suggestion to a group of people. It generally occurs in heightened emotional situations, especially among the religiously devoted. The expectancy and hope of bearing witness to a miracle, combined with long hours of staring at an object or place, makes certain religious persons susceptible to seeing such things as weeping statues, moving icons and holy portraits, or the Virgin Mary in the clouds.

Those witnessing a “miracle” agree in their hallucinatory accounts because they have the same preconceptions and expectations. Furthermore, dissimilar accounts converge towards harmony as time passes and the accounts get retold. Those who see nothing extraordinary and admit it are dismissed as not having faith. Some, no doubt, see nothing but “rather than admit they failed…would imitate the lead given by those who did, and subsequently believe that they had in fact observed what they had originally only pretended to observe….(Rawcliffe, 114).

Not all collective hallucinations are religious, of course. In 1897, Edmund Parish reported of shipmates who had shared a ghostly vision of their cook who had died a few days earlier. The sailors not only saw the ghost, but distinctly saw him walking on the water with his familiar and recognizable limp. Their ghost turned out to be a “piece of wreck, rocked up and down by the waves” (Parish, 311; cited in Rawcliffe, 115).

The fact of collective hallucination reduces the probability that reports of such experiences in scripture, stories told, or current day sightings are in fact accurate, or have anything to do with a supernatural reality. It suggests rather that the human brain can be persuaded to share a similar sensory experience when placed in a group of hyper-religious people who are in a state of expectancy. Any reports in scriptures that allude to such events should be viewed with skepticism.

(3484) The seven worst verses

The Bible contains many good and bad verses, but the very presence of the bad ones is beyond the expectation of a book inspired by a tri-omni god who certainly would have been aware of the (then) future trajectory of human values/ethics/morality.

To be sure, there are some verses in the Bible that have crippled the evolution of human behaviors and politics, and have contributed to great suffering and strife. It is beyond certain that they originated in the minds of mortal humans- imperfect, uninformed persons who probably never realized that future humans would believe that what they wrote emanated from the infinite mind of God. Here is a good estimate of the seven worst biblical verses:

Proverbs 13:24
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

This verse has contributed to centuries of corporal punishment of children.

2 John 10:11
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.  Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.”

This verse has spawned the intolerance of Christians to other faiths or people of no faith, including within families.

Leviticus 24: 19-20
“Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.”

Until more modern times, this verse contributed to barbaric forms of punishment.

Leviticus 20:23
“And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them.”

This verse was a fertilizer for genocides.

Mathew 10:37
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

This verse has caused painful fractures in many families.

Romans 1: 26-27
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

This verse has contributed to violence, ostracism, and shame brought upon all non cis-sexual humans.

Colossians 3:22
“Slaves, obey your masters in all things. Do not obey just when they are watching you, to gain their favor, but serve them honestly, because you respect the Lord.”

This verse dragged out the institution of slavery well beyond the point where it otherwise would have been abolished.

The Bible is NOT the prime source of morality as Christians like to claim. It is a hodgepodge of some uplifting as well as some truly horrible moral guidance. This is not the kind of book that an omnipotent god would inspire.

(3485) Humans hold a degree of power over God

An unintended consequence of many of the stories written in the Bible is that it makes it clear that human behavior causes changes in the behavior of God. This should not occur if God is both omniscient and omnipotent, and therefore his behavior should not be influenced by anything humans do. The following is taken from:


God is not immune to human influence. His emotional state is altered many times in the Old Testament based on the behavior of humans.

An all powerful being would not be moved by anybody or anything. He would not get angry. Anger is an emotional reaction to aggravating stimuli. If humans can stimulate God in such a way, they possess power over him in this area, and he is not omnipotent.

A being with ultimate power would be emotionally immovable. The Bible makes clear this is not the case with Yahweh.

Imagine having an ant farm. Would something an ant does cause you to become irate and lose your temper? Probably not. The authors of the Bible made a big mistake by characterizing Yahweh as being too human in his response to how humans behave.

(3486) Rope through the eye of a needle

Mark 10:24-25

But Jesus said again,“ Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

It has commonly puzzled Bible readers why Jesus would compare the difficulty for a rich man to enter heaven to a camel going through the eye of a needle. Christian apologist have deceptively re-interpreted the ‘eye of the needle’ to mean a narrow gate where a camel would have to be unpacked before it could make it through, but this has no basis in fact and would seem like a very ridiculous design error anyway.

What is far more plausible is that this scripture was a victim of a copying error where the Greek word for ‘rope ‘(which would make much more sense in the context of a needle) was mistakenly copied as the very similar Greek work for ‘camel’. The following was taken from:


It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven. This verse is commonly believed to mean that it would be a very challenging feat for a rich man to get into heaven. People have theorized over the years that this verse was talking about a camel trying to get through the gateway of a city. It would have to be unpacked, dismounted and crawl on its knees to get through the doorway. Archaeological history shows us that there are no cities out there with such a gateway that would require a camel to have a tough time. So what does this mean? The easiest and simplest answer would be that this was a translation error.

The word for Camel in Greek is κάμηλον

The word for rope in Greek is κάμιλον

Notice the striking similarities between the words. And now go through the verse again with the new word. The meaning of the verse changes completely as now it’s an impossible feat for a rich man to get into heaven. Jesus is quoted as having said many times that the rich have their reward.

If absolute certainty that rope was the intended word, it would be a very feasible guess.

How could these errors happen? An ancient times, times of antiquity, they didn’t have a copying machine or printing press. The original manuscript would be in City 1. If City 2 wanted a copy, they would have to go to the first city with a scribe. Sometimes there would be multiple scribes in one orator who would be dictating the words and describe would write down what they heard. Other times, the scribes would just copy the symbols of each letter without knowing what it says. You don’t need to know that d o g spells dog to write down the symbols. Few people were classically educated back in the day. Few people could fluently read and write. If the scribes for City 2 came back with a mistranslation, and then City 3 wanted a copy, they would copy the transcripts from City 2. Now City 3 has the manuscripts with the mistakes from City 2 plus their own mistakes. Studies have been done where people were handed scrambled versions of a text and they were able to mostly put back together the original message, so this would show that we have the bulk of the original message. However, Little changes such as the camel being next to impossible and the rope being impossible would make drastic differences in many portions of the theology.

If ‘rope’ was the intended word, it would mean two things- that the Bible isn’t perfect, and that there is no easy work-around to give rich people a better chance to enter heaven (unless they might claim that a rope can mean a very fine filament). The Christian apologetic campaign to doctor up this scripture would have been more challenging if this copying error had been avoided, but, we all know, there is no limit to the imagination of determined apologists.

(3487) Why virginal birth was accepted in biblical times

Although today, sexual reproduction is very well understood, this was not the case when the Bible was written. As such, the idea that a virgin could give birth was not seen as being impossible. This is because it was thought that a man’s semen was only the ‘spark’ that gave life to the fetus that was otherwise fully physically formed from the woman’s body. So, easily, God could have given the spark instead of Joseph. The following was taken from:


Who was Jesus’ biological father? As modern readers, we might wonder how the product of a virginal conception could truly be human—since the Y chromosome did not come from a human father. Andrew Lincoln explains that this issue would not have been troubling to an ancient audience or to the writers of the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke:

Their understanding of conception, shaped by a patriarchal culture, would have been some variation of the dominant Aristotelian theory. On this view, the male semen provides the formative principle for life. The female menstrual blood supplies the matter for the fetus, and the womb the medium for the semen’s nurture. The man’s seed transmits his logos (rational cause) and pneuma (vital heat/animating spirit), for which the woman’s body is the receptacle. In this way the male functions as the active, efficient cause of reproduction, and the female functions as the provider of the matter to which the male seed gives definition. In short, the bodily substance necessary for a human fetus comes from the mother, while the life force originates with the father.

Those who heard the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke would have considered Jesus to be fully human since his mother supplied all of his bodily substance. Lincoln clarifies:

“In terms of ancient biology, even without a human father, Jesus would have been seen as fully human. His mother, Mary, provided his human substance, and in this case God, through the agency of the divine Spirit, supplied the animating principle instead of a human father.”

It is unlikely that claims of a virginal birth would be included in any new religions today, but 2000 years ago, it made sense. They had no idea that a Y chromosome was needed to make a male baby. So, modern day apologetics has to go beyond the idea of God simply supplying a ‘spark’ to the fetus, but must also now include a manufactured set of chromosomes including the crucial Y chromosome needed to make a male. Parthenogenesis will not do because it will always make an XX female.

(3488) Lynching

Lynching was an extra-legal form of execution performed primarily by a mob of vigilantes that involved beatings and hanging. In the United States, approximately 75% of lynchings were performed on black people. The following map shows the distributions of  lynchings in the United States over the first three decades of the 20th Century:

What is notable is that the prevalence of lynchings overlays what is known as the ‘Bible Belt’ where the population is predominantly Christian. Additionally, the fervency of the average Christian in this area is stronger than in any other region. Therefore, this is an unlikely correlation if it is assumed that God is working through Christians to achieve what Jesus termed as ‘being perfect.’

It is obviously true that factors other than religious belief were also at play, but the heavy concentration of lynchings amidst the most religious areas would still be surprising if the Christian god was real and if he was actually providing inspiration and influence among his most faithful followers. The commandment ‘do not kill’ would surely have been something that a real god would imprint on his chosen ones. The pronounced concentration of lynchings in God’s most favored territory suggests his lack of existence.

(3489) Argument from inconsistent revelations

The fact that many alleged revelations of God exist or have existed, but all of which conflict decisively with each other, renders the task of finding the right one mostly a matter of luck- usually by the chance of being born into the right one. It can be argued that if a real god existed, it would not permit this degree of ambiguity to exist. The following was taken from:


Thesis: The argument from inconsistent revelations is the strongest argument we atheist/anti-theist have. Not because it focuses on the possibility of a God, but because it directly attacks the idea of an historical God.

This argument, also called the right /wrong hell dilemma, can be boiled down to a simple sentence:

“Because there are many different revelations, and all of them are contradictory with eachother, and also because there can not be two revelations that can be true at the same time, choosing to belive is nothing but a gamble, and thus, religion itself is a matter of luck, if there is any god whatsoever”

We see, that theist have 2 burdens to carry around: the first (is there any god whatsoever?), which is , paradoxically, the lightest one, and the second (which revelation is the right one?).

Let’s dig deeper: any historical god ( a god that has revealed, during the history of mankind, itself), must be first proven to exist. And due to the lenght of the argument, i’m not going to explain why i belive god does or doesn’t exist. I am already starting with the idea, that a god , indeed exist. But it cant be an historical/revelated one. Why?

Every single revelation contradicts each other.

some examples include:

polytheism vs monotheism . the abrahamic religions, claim (with the maximum clarity) that there can be only one god. May he be Allah, Christ, or YHWH. Paganism /Hinduism/ecc. claim instead that there are many divine entities, with usually a supreme one, and many other minors/secondary.

Son or not son of god? Christ is usually regarded, at least for Christians , as the son, and also part of the christian god. Muslims and Jews alike, see him only as a prophet (Muslims) or as a random guy (Jews) (i’m not totally sure about the jewish part of the claim, if you are a jew and your religion see him as a prophet or anything else, feel free to comment). In paganism or other religions, the figure of Christ is not even mentioned.

Messiah or not? For Islam and Christianity, Christ is the messaiah, while for Jews, he was not.

Difference in customs: many many differences in orders about what to eat, when to fast, about the sexual life of an individual ecc

As you can see, the different scriptures, which are claimed to be (usually) the word of God, are clearly too different, and they can’t be all true at the same time, some of them must be wrong /talking about a non existent god. And above everything , we have no proof that one of them is right. For as long as we know, they could all be wrong (but not the opposite).

So, for what we can know or be reasonably assured of, if there really is a god who has some sort of interest in humans and desires to contact them or give them advice or rules or even possibly judge them for rewards or punishments in this life or the ‘next,’ it seems most likely that this god would want to root out any semblance of ambiguity regarding (1) its existence, (2) the non-existence of human-imagined gods, and (3) its rules and expectations. That this situation does not exist and has not existed for the entire sweep of human history implies rather strongly that no supernatural being has ever intervened in earthly affairs. Thus, as a corollary, this means that if a god or gods exist, it or they have not visited us in any palpable way, and the assumption that they don’t exist (atheism) is functionally sound pending the potential receipt of new evidence.

(3490) God’s human rights violation

Human rights have become an important topic especially over the past century. It doesn’t take a lot of consideration to understand that Christianity promotes a terrible human rights violation. The following was taken from:


As a former Christian I could never get a good answer to this paradox when I asked other Christians in my community, including various priests, so I am curious to see how other Christians address this issue.

Premise 1) God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient.

Premise 2) Respecting other people’s beliefs is a foundational human right that should not be violated.

Premise 3) Torturing and murdering people for their beliefs (ie the Holocaust, Inquisition, etc.) is a disgusting act of evil.

Premise 4) People who do not believe in Christ/God, or even reject Christ/God, are punished by being sent to hell. (*This is according to the Bible, so please do not muddy the discussion by using your own personal views or alternate interpretations to get around this statement. The relevant verses are completely black and white on this point and is reaffirmed consistently in both the old and new testaments.)

Conclusion/thesis: Given the premises laid out here we can conclude that the monotheistic god of the Bible is in fact evil on the grounds that he tortures people for eternity who are not deemed loyal. This is a clear case of a dictator mentality.

How do Christians square this circle? If we agree in our human societies that torturing and killing others for their beliefs is barbaric, why do we give an allegedly all loving deity a pass for sending billions to their own Holocaust in hell for all of eternity, and all because they rejected or didn’t believe in him?

When humans engage in these sorts of authoritarian acts we rightfully call them mass murderers, genocidal maniacs, and evil bastards… but even their punishments are at most a human lifetime whereas hell is horrific gruesome torture FOREVER. This also touches on the why do finite crimes deserve infinite punishments issue.

A common cop out that I’ve heard is William Lane Craig’s “divine command theory” or the simpler “who are we to question god’s will or god’s plan?” That sounds a lot like how Germans rationalized Hitlers behavior- “who are we to question the almighty fuhrer?”

Christianity no longer fits the paradigm of modern ethics; that being that ‘thought crime’ (what you believe to be true) should not be punished, but rather that punishment should be meted out only for deleterious physical actions. The Christian concept of judgment is no longer viable in modern society.

(3491) Religious indoctrination

In the following Pew Research Center study, it was shown (unsurprisingly) that there is a statistically-significant correlation between the religious beliefs of one’s parents and the lifelong beliefs of the child. But it also shows, in the case of mixed faiths, which parent believes and which doesn’t (Catholicism in this case) makes a big difference:


Roughly six-in-ten people who were raised exclusively by Catholics now identify with Catholicism, including 62% of those who were raised by two Catholic parents and 58% of those raised by a single parent who was Catholic. By comparison, only about three-in-ten people raised by one Catholic and one non-Catholic parent identify with Catholicism today, including 32% of those raised by one Catholic parent and one religious “none” and 29% of those who come from a mixed Catholic/Protestant background.

Analysis of the data shows that among those who were raised by one Catholic parent and one Protestant parent, those whose mother was Catholic are much more likely to be Catholics as adults. Nearly four-in-ten people raised by a Catholic mother and a Protestant father (38%) now identify with Catholicism, compared with just 14% among those with a Catholic father and a Protestant mother.

These correlations do significant damage to Christianity’s rules for eternal judgment. The religious composition of your parents should have no effect on whether you end up in heaven or hell. If Christianity was true, studies such as this should fail to reveal statistically-significant differences.

(3492) Ten theological problems in Mark

Mark was the first gospel written, so historians place a lot of significance on it to ferret out the true history of Jesus, since the initial biographical effort of anyone is less likely to be deceptively embellished as the ones that follow. In the case of Matthew and Luke we know that much of Mark was copied and added to in the process, making those books less historically reliable. But even in Mark, we encounter many theological problems, as listed below:


In Mark, the first gospel written, 1) the virgin birth isn’t mentioned—why would Mark skip that? 2) Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist for the remission of sins; 3) Jesus suggests to a paralyzed man that sin caused his affliction; 4) he tells his disciples that he teaches in parables to fool people, to keep them from repenting; 5) demons recognize Jesus because they belong to the same spiritual realm—and Jesus transfers them into pigs; 6) God speaks through water vapor, i.e., a cloud; 7) Jesus describes the horrible suffering God has in store for humanity when the Kingdom of God arrives; 8) the disciples are constantly portrayed as clueless; 9) the resurrected Jesus promised that baptized Christians will be able to drink poison, heal people by touch, and pick up snakes;10) verses 16:9-20 of the gospel are a fake ending. How did a fake ending get included in the Bible?

Commentary on the above:

1) If the virgin birth occurred, it should have been well known among Christians circles, making it virtually impossible for Mark to leave it out of his book and expect it to be popularly accepted.

2) If Jesus was thought by Mark to have been born sinless, the idea of him being baptized would seem ridiculous.

3) We now know that paralysis has nothing to do with sin.

4) The idea that God would come to the earth and try to conceal his salvific message from anyone makes no sense.

5) We now know that demons don’t exist, as the ability to see, think, speak, or move objects requires the possession of a physical body, and we also know that these alleged massless creatures cannot be sent into swine to make them commit suicide.

6) God speaking from the sky is the epitome of mythology, but anyway, why does he not speak to us this way anymore?

7) Why would an omni-benevolent god relish so strongly a plan to inflict enormous pain and suffering on imperfect creatures that he created to be imperfect?

8) Why would a god intent on spreading this message to humanity choose illiterate and unintelligent people to be his witnesses and missionaries of his message?

9) Why would God allow his scriptures to include false promises of physical protection when such scriptures would inevitably lead to the injury and death of many of his followers who took these promises to be literally true?

10) Why would god permit a fake ending to his gospel to survive and be included in the Bibles of future Christians?

All of these problems strongly suggest that we are not dealing with the plan of an infinite, omnipotent, supernatural being who intends to inform and judge humans. It is rather the precise expectation of a theology built around the ignorance of the people who created it.

(3493) Projecting humanity onto the gods

It would be expected that a religion imagined into existence by humans would project human characteristics onto the gods, including their fears, likes, dislikes, and needs, and, in the case below, the desire to be worshiped or to worship. This is what we see in Christianity and other religions. The following was taken from:


All recipients of admiration, all persons esteemed, all venerated lovers—get a taste for what it feels like to be worshipped. Nothing elevates the mood better. You can skip through a day of a hundred and one trials when you know someone somewhere adores you.

And adoring someone else is almost as pleasant as being adored. Having an object of regard to lavish one’s praises upon lifts the mood. It’s a giddy thing to pen a poem to your lover’s eyebrow.

Such ‘worship’ may be the height of human disposition. And since religions deal in professed superlatives, worship was absorbed into religions as the ultimate offering to the gods and considered the most excellent state of existence for humanity, an existence projected into a perpetual afterlife of adoration of the gods.

That is, since being adored is the best experience we humans could have, humans imagined adoration must be the best experience the gods could have too—an obvious projection by humanity onto the gods.

But really, as we know, the religious injunction to worship is all about human needs and nothing at all about the gods’ needs. Why would gods need worship?

Do gods require an emotional push to get through a sullen Sunday afternoon? Do gods have ego needs? Do gods have an anemic self-image, a confused identity? Do gods need reasons to smile? Do gods get disheartened and spend their time moping when only one billion of many billions of people adore them? Do gods crave apologies and heart-shaped spiritual candies from their inattentive flocks?

The gods require none of this. It would be enough for gods to contemplate eternal verities tracing through their minds at any given moment of time. A true god would rather ponder a mathematical conundrum than be accosted by the inharmonious din of human singsong.

Worship is a human need, not a God’s. This explains the persistence of worship in the absence of actual deities. Given that Gods and otherworldly entities do not exist, though they have been worshipped by millions of people over thousands of years, we may interpret the felt urgency of worship as a deeply rooted human feature.

If Christianity had fashioned their god as being ‘above the fray’ and immune from becoming mad, frustrated, vindictive,  jealous, or desiring worship, it would have been a much more believable religion. But it didn’t. So Yahweh seems to be nothing more than a weak god…or much more likely, one that doesn’t exist.

(3494) Reluctance to probe

If Christianity was true, practically all sources of information, including the sciences and history, would coalesce around and support the underlying dogma. As such, Christians should be motivated to devour such sources of knowledge, as each new discovery would reinforce their faith. But, the opposite is true. They tend to avoid such subjects and purposely shield themselves from being exposed. This is a tacit admission that their faith is on shaky ground. The following was taken from:


But there is usually a reluctance to probe, at least among the Christians I know today. “I know what I believe,” is commonly a cover for not really wanting to investigate. Why disturb the faith comfort zone? In order to get along in most areas of life, Christians usually want to check things out—get the facts—for example, when buying a car or a house. The fundamentals of their faith, however, aren’t given the same scrutiny. I suspect there is more doubt lurking below the surface than people want to admit. Don’t go there! Even study of science might seem risky, especially since some areas of science make the faith look especially vulnerable. After all, Christianity arose in the ancient world when basic understandings of the world—as provided by science—were unknown. For example, a lot of people know very well that heaven really isn’t up there, and clergy efforts to relocate it seem contrived.

If someone told you that they believed that the car they intended to buy was the best on the market, but when you asked them how they knew that to be true, they told you that they didn’t investigate the qualities of any other cars, would you have confidence in their assessment? Christians are like that. They tend to insulate themselves from scientific facts, the early history of their church, and anything about other faiths or even about other denominations of Christians. As a result, they tend to be under-educated about these subjects and generally fit the description of being ‘fat, dumb, and happy.’

(3495) Atavism

Atavism is a recurrence in an organism of a trait or characteristic typical of an ancestral form that is due to genetic recombination. In a world where living things were designed by God or where God guided an evolutionary process, atavism should not be observed. The following was taken from:


Returning to the topic of vestigiality, though, there’s another phenomenon that’s closely related and provides a similar kind of evidence for evolution – the existence of atavisms. In the same way that vestigial traits are anatomical features left over from earlier ancestors, atavisms are basically leftover genes. Underlings explains:

These are dead genes that occasionally mutate and switch back on, resulting in an individual growing a feature no longer expressed by typical members of the species. For example, one in 500 whales is born with external rear leg remnants, sometimes even possessing feet and toes. Horses have only one toe per leg, but occasionally some are born with up to three toes, just like their extinct relatives. Sometimes humans are born with functioning tails, just like monkeys. It’s even possible to cause chickens to develop teeth-like structures by providing a single missing protein to otherwise dead genes. These degenerating leftover genes are what we might expect to find if whales evolved from a land mammal, horses evolved from a three-toed ancestor, humans evolved from a tailed primate, and birds evolved from dinosaurs with teeth – but what sense do they make if all species were instead unique creations by a perfect God?

The creationist response to this question may be that, well, since the same God created birds and mammals and reptiles and everything else, it’s no surprise that he gave them all the same varieties of genes. The fact that dead genes sometimes get accidentally activated proves nothing about how organisms are related, because God used the same genetic blueprint for all of them anyway. But the thing is, atavisms only appear in organisms that are ancestrally related on the evolutionary tree; in other words, mammals and birds may both display atavisms from reptiles (because they both evolved from reptiles), but you’ll never see mammals displaying atavisms from birds, or vice-versa, because neither mammals nor birds evolved from each other. And it’s the same way with vestigial features, as the Cassiopeia Project explains:

There are no vestigial structures that were not previously functional in an ancestor. All vestigial organs make sense only in the framework of evolution; and of course we do not find vestigial organs that argue against evolution. No nipples in amphibians, or vestigial feathers on mammals; no primates carry vestigial horns or degenerate wings; we do not find arthropods with leftover backbones; no snakes have wing parts; and no humans have gizzards.

The patterns in which atavisms and vestigial features appear don’t just show that organisms are interrelated; they show how they’re related, and how they evolved from each other. They point to one very specific evolutionary tree – and evidence for this tree can be found in other fields as well, like embryology.

Organisms designed from scratch or even those which have evolved through an evolutionary process where each stage is being managed by a supernatural force should not show signs of atavism. In the former case, there would be no genetic contamination to allow this to happen. In the latter case, a guided, smooth transition of genes would preclude atavistic occurrences. Taken as such, atavism shows that God did not create living things from scratch, and neither did he guide evolution. So we are left with unguided evolution, where a god is not needed to explain anything about the biosphere.

(3496) Let the dead bury their own dead

In what must be the most disastrous and insensitive statement that Jesus made in the gospels, something that ALL Christians ignore and don’t EVER follow, was this statement in Luke in response to a man who wanted to bury his father before preparing to follow Jesus:

Luke 9:59-62

Then He said to another man, “Follow Me.”

The man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

But Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You, however, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Still another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first let me bid farewell to my family.”

Then Jesus declared, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

This dialogue also appears in Matthew but not Mark, so it appears to be a later invention that might have come from the disputed ‘Q’ document, or it was copied by either Luke or Matthew from each other. It appears to be a classic element of a cult manifesto- in an attempt to separate prospective followers from their family ties.

As noted, all contemporary Christians ignore this scripture. Some apologists have tried to soften the edges of it by saying that it’s a metaphor for putting God first in your life, but if so, the precise example given was indelicate to say the least.

This provides evidence that early Christianity, by around CE 80, had developed the iconic trimmings of a cult- whereby new followers were hazed by the demand to ‘divorce’ their families and surrender their energy and passions exclusively to the cult. Although this scripture might have worked somewhat in its time, it no longer does, and instead represents an embarrassment to Christianity- a faith that still reveres the Ten Commandments, one of which demands that one ‘honor thy father and thy mother.’

(3497) Jesus misquoted or he misleads

In the final chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, Jesus is quoted as making several statements related to his imminent return to the earth as well as the fact that it is too late for anyone to change themselves because of this fact. The following was taken from:


“10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near.”

Surely if the time was actually 1,900+ years into the future it would have been ok to seal them.

Then we have Jesus supposedly saying (and these words are printed in red ink btw) that he’s was going to “come quickly” 3 times:

7 “Look, I am coming soon!(R) Blessed(S) is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”(T)

[Note also verse 11:  “Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”

12 “Look, I am coming soon!(AC) My reward is with me,

20 He who testifies to these things(BD) says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Then we have an angel: 6 The angel said to me,(N) “These words are trustworthy and true.(O) The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets,(P) sent his angel(Q) to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

It wasn’t as trustworthy and true as they thought. The ones who received this letter the 7 churches in Asia must have been very disappointed when they got this letter and then died of old age.

Before you tell me he was speaking in “God’s time” which isn’t our time I want to tell you that he knew he was talking to humans and should have used human language -to not do so is trolling.

The final statement above is relevant to making this point- either this scripture is totally misrepresenting Jesus or Jesus deliberately misled humanity by making it seem like he would return in what humans would consider a short time (regardless of what he considered to be a short time).

So, for Christians, they  must pick one of these two options. Going with the first would tend to invalidate the entire Book of Revelation, while going with the second would admit that Jesus was a troll. Either option is distasteful to any Christian trying to hold on to their faith. And it can be certain that many Christians of that time [and even the present time] made decisions about their lives based on the expectation of a quick return of Jesus that they would not have made if they realized he would tarry for the long term. This caused unnecessary damage to their lives.

To be sure, Christianity would have fared better in the long run had this book not been added to the Bible.

(3498) Mark’s problematic anointing

The author of the Gospel of Mark told the story of women approaching the tomb of Jesus a day and a half after the crucifixion with the intent to apply ointments and spices to the corpse of Jesus. This is almost certainly not historical and future gospel authors, recognizing this, downplayed this scene. The following was taken from:


Mark actually depicts a premortem anointing of Jesus (“She has anointed my body beforehand for its burial” in 14:8), which suggests that the intent of the women in Mark 16:1 was likewise in relation to the preparation of Jesus’ corpse for burial. The problem is that Jesus was already wrapped in his burial clothes and it would be absurd to suppose that the women intended to unwrap him and wash him anew.

The best one may reasonably expect is that the ointment would be applied to the garments and not the body itself. It seems that some scholars have appealed to sentimentality to explain this. C. E. B. Cranfield wrote: “Their intention to anoint a body that by the morning would have been dead two nights and a day seems strange (in the climate of Palestine), but is not incredible, since love often prompts people to do what from a practical point of view is useless” (CGTC, p. 464). Adela Yarbro Collins instead notes that “their intention to anoint the body of Jesus is problematic, since they arrive after the body has been in the tomb for two nights and a day, but this aim fits well in the overall narrative” (p. 794), producing dramatic irony in the narrative (not only was the body gone but it was already anointed while still alive).

It seems like later evangelists dependent on Mark found the intention problematic as well. Luke depicts the women as preparing spices and going out to the tomb with them, but says nothing about anointing the body (Luke 23:56, 24:1); the spices may have been intended to be left as a grave good. Matthew drops the whole issue of spices and ointments entirely, with the women just going to the tomb to look at it (28:1). And John portrays the Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea as preparing Jesus’ body with an enormous quantity of spices and perfumes that was present underneath the linen (John 19:38-40), “in accordance with Jewish burial customs”. The women likewise no longer arrive at the tomb with the intent to anoint the body (20:1-2).

It appears that the author of the Gospel of Mark had a misconception about Jewish burial customs and mistakenly added a scene of women intending to apply 36-hour postmortem spices. It is interesting to note how the later, better informed, gospel authors dealt with this problem while simultaneously copying large portions of Mark’s gospel.

(3499) Jesus hates democracy

Although the rise of democracy is seen as the crowning glory of humanity’s evolution of political systems, it is clear from the Bible that this form of governance will vanish from the earth once Jesus returns and it will continue to be absent in heaven. Christianity extols the concept of theocracy. The following was taken from:


Christianity is inherently theocratic, just like we find with the Hebrew religion in the Old Testament. It’s wrapped in the language and culture of its day, which includes theocracy. The same language in Revelation says Jesus is expected to reign in a kingdom over people on earth, and later in heaven.

A reign over people assumes a theocracy. That was the political philosophy adopted in the Ancient Near Eastern world. The biblical god and his son are tied to a form of government that is rejected by modern, educated, civilized people. One cannot have a kingdom without doing away with democracy. So Jesus will do away with democracy! It’s the Christian political preference. They still talk of a kingdom and a reigning Jesus. Heil Jesus! This language also includes ancient forms of punishment that a king will inflict upon the disobedient. What could be problematic about any of this? Plenty. I invite further comments.

What would the reign of Jesus on earth for period of time, or a millennium (or eternity in heaven), look like? Would it look like the kingdom of Yahweh in the Old Testament, who meted out grotesque punishments for trivial offenses, promoted slavery, misogyny, racism, and the killing of gay people, nonbelievers, witches, and so on? Why would those kinds of disobedient people be in his future kingdom in the first place? If they are, then why? If not, would everyone obey god’s laws? If they would all be obedient, why would a god need to reign over people who love Jesus? What does king Jesus do? Would his reign be like a traffic cop who decides the speed zone on every street? We can do that for ourselves! Or would Jesus be a mere figurehead to be worshipped, while the rest of us take care of buiness, sort of the what we find in the United Kingdom. If this is the case, there would be no reason for the reign of Jesus, or to enforce his laws. It wouldn’t actually be a kingdom at that point, nor does it need a king who has anything to do with his people. Plus, there would be no need for soliders to fight off a different deity with his army, or fortified walls to protect his kingdom from such an attack! Think on that!

As for punishments, the god of the Bible is tied to the barbaric punishments found in the Ancient Near Eastern world, with its eye for an eye revenge form of justice. They were to cut off the parts of bodies that inflicted harm, or were harmed by an offender. Plus there was genocide, the taking of women as spoils of war, the stoning a son who was disrespectful of his parents. Plus, in Christianity there is an eternal conscious torment in hell, or torment by other means for what may seem like an eternity in Purgatory, or annihilation by an excruciating amount of pain into non-existence (does anyone think these barbaric people thought of a quick and painless execution?) Why was this draconian punishment handed out? Because “these people deserved it”, would be the unanimous barbaric reply. God apparently agreed, since he understood nothing about what we have leaned in the last century from psychology, which overwhelmingly shows us we are not evil so much as ill, based on our environment and genetic makeup. So with the rise of psychology and prisons also comes the fall of the barbaric, biblical, kingly god.

The rise of a prison as a punishment had to wait until the late 18th century. God didn’t reveal this to us because it never occurred to him. But it replaced whippings, stocks and pillory, being drawn and quartered, being dragged through the streets by a horse, or being tarred and feathered. By contrast prisons, counseling, and treatment are much more humane forms of dealing criminals, and has the benefit of keeping them out of society so we can live in peace and safety.

Apologists might try to massage this point by saying that any reality governed by a supreme being must be a theocracy, given that it would be unseemly if the majority of his followers were to vote against one of his decrees. But that reflects a lack of imagination, forgetting that a god could foster democratic institutions without sacrificing his overall management of the universe. But Christians should be concerned that the theocratic themes of the Bible match the politics of the time it was written, suggesting that if Christianity were to originate today, it might have a very different look.

(3500) Secular morality is vastly superior to religious morality

Although many Christians believe that for anyone to be truly moral they need to be a Christian, and therefore assume that atheists are less moral than they are, the opposite is true. Secular morality trumps religious morality on virtually every facet of human interaction. If Christianity was true, the opposite should be true. The following was taken from:


As Israeli soldiers and settlers continue to brutalize, humiliate, and kill Palestinians with impunity, there is one major human rights organization in Israel documenting and protesting these crimes: B’Tselem. Given that B’Tselem is a humanitarian organization dedicated to fighting for justice, human rights, and the alleviation of suffering, you might think it is a religious organization, right?


The most devoutly religious people in Israel either turn a blind eye to the suffering of Palestinians or actively promote and celebrate that suffering. B’Tselem, by contrast, is a decidedly secular organization, founded by Hiloni (secular) Jews, with members motivated by humanist values of empathy and compassion.

This is not some aberration: In the broader Israeli society, secular people are typically much more willing to see the humanity of Palestinians and defend their rights than religious people.

Secular Israelis evincing more compassion than their religious peers is consistent with a much larger pattern: throughout the democratic world, on issue after issue related to well-being, equality, and morality, secular people are more likely to come down on the side of social justice than the religious.

Given the pervasive misunderstanding that the religious among us are the moral ones, while the secular are immoral, the truth needs to be trumpeted—if not tromboned and bassooned—that reality tends strongly in the opposite formation.

It should be noted that many liberal and progressive religious people hold quite similar positions on many of these issues as secular people. This is to be expected, given that liberal and progressive religious people do not take their scriptures literally, instead accepting their human origins; they tend to favor the findings of science over the claims of faith whenever there is conflict between the two; they tend to be skeptical of supernatural phenomena and not believe in miracles; they tend not to believe in heaven and hell as actual places and are even unsure about life after death; and they tend to hold a more poetic, metaphorical, or decidedly abstract understanding of God.

In other words, liberal and progressive religiosity is itself highly secularized, which explains much of the convergence.

Below is a list of current leading social justice issues which reveals, in all its ethical glory, the secular/religious divide.

Let’s begin with gay rights.

There is no rational justification to jail, torture, kill, discriminate against, or deny the equal legal and civil rights of people because of their sexual orientation. Full stop. Although it has taken us thousands of years to get to this obvious point, no thanks to the world’s homophobic holy scriptures, and although social justice for homosexuals is still not fully realized throughout much of the world, the data show that, when it comes to supporting equal rights for and acceptance of homosexuality, the more secular people lean toward the more moral, compassionate, and rational side of the issue, while the more religious lean toward the more immoral, hateful, and irrational side. For example, according to a national Pew study, while only 70% of Catholics, 51% of Black Protestants, 45% of Muslims, 36% of Evangelicals and Mormons, and 16% of Jehovah’s Witnesses are accepting of homosexuality, 83% of secular Americans are. Another study found that while only 45% of Catholics, 38% of mainline Protestants, and 19% of Evangelicals strongly agree that homosexuals should have the right to marry each other, 67% of secular Americans hold this position.

Closely related: women’s equal rights. Should women be allowed to pursue the same educational, professional, and leisure pursuits as men if they so choose? Should women earn the same pay for the same work? Be allowed to vote? Be allowed to work outside the home? Of course. Again: both reason and empathy dictate such a feminist/humanist position. And while many religious people agree with secular people on this matter, the fact remains that the more religious are the least supportive of women’s rights, while the more secular are the most supportive. Additionally, studies have found that atheists and agnostics are far more likely to believe women’s claims of sexual assault than religious people, who are much more likely to think rape claims are lies.

As for transgender rights: Should people whose gender identity does not align with their birth sex, and who take the courageous step of aligning these two, be afforded the same dignity and rights as others? To the more secular, the answer is much more likely to be “yes,” while to the more religious, “no.”

How about race and ethnicity? In study after study, and on measure after measure, the more secular exhibit the lowest levels of racism and favor enacting more deliberate, effective steps towards achieving racial equality and justice than people who are more religious. (African Americans are an obvious exception, tending to be both highly religious and also highly supportive of correctives to racism.) According to data presented by Professor and Pastor Ryan Burge—and again, aside from African Americans—atheists and agnostics are most likely to agree that racial problems are systemic and common; secular people are among those most likely to strongly agree that white people have unearned advantages; and atheists and agnostics are the least likely to blame African Americans for their higher than average rates of poverty and unemployment. Other studies have found that secular people are far more supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Racism is closely linked to the broader, evolved human capacity for ethnocentrism and xenophobia. How do we feel about and treat those who are not of our clan, our group, our culture, our nation? The data are clear: it is the most secular who are among the most open to and welcoming of immigrants and refugees, while the most religious are the least.

What about Mother Earth? As we know, the unfolding climate crisis created by industrialization’s excesses will cause extended suffering. And yet again, it tends to be the most secular among us who not only understand the evidence around climate change, but are most in favor of doing something about it, compared to the most religious. This is not to say that there aren’t many religious people who are also actively concerned about green issues. But on average, the secular are much more likely to lean towards the eco-friendly end of the spectrum. For instance, a Pew study found that while 42% of Mormons, 45% of Evangelicals, 55% of Catholics, and 58% of Black Protestants support stricter environmental regulations, 68% of non-religious Americans do.

As for the death penalty, yet again, it is the more secular who take the more humane position, while the more religious take the more inhumane; while 17% of Black Protestants, 14% of Catholics, 13% of White Protestants, and 9% of Evangelicals strongly oppose the death penalty, 34% of atheists and 24% of agnostics strongly oppose it—leading the country in this position.

Same things with guns: strongly secular people tend to be more in favor of sane, lifesaving legislation than strongly religious people.

Supporting universal health care? Same deal.

Supporting animal rights? Ditto.

Adhering to COVID restrictions and getting vaccinated? You know it.

Supporting women’s bodily autonomy and reproductive freedomIndeed.

In favor of rational drug legislation? You got it.

To be sure, the world is far more messy and complex than captured in the simple religious/secular divide presented here. Many highly religious people of color have a strong social justice bent. And many famous secularists, to say nothing of inhumane atheist dictators, have been strongly opposed to social justice and human rights. Additionally, correlation is not causation, and there are certainly many factors accounting for the relationships and averages presented in this article that transcend the narrow confines of these variables.

But the overall pattern is still robust. Secularism is highly correlated with a social justice agenda. And a social justice agenda is all about increasing human dignity, promoting fairness and equity, and ameliorating oppression and suffering. This is where the moral heart of secular humanism resides, and the world is better for it.

It would be expected that if a moral god was inspiring the behaviors of its followers, that they should exhibit a very high and emulatable sense of morality. Absent that observation, which is an easily defensible assertion, the best explanation is that no god is involved in this equation.

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