(3651) The dismembered Bible
There is evidence that parts of the Bible were constructed using a cut and paste methodology, a technique that would tend to nullify the image of the Holy Spirit guiding the author to write god-inspired text. The following is an abstract of the book The Dismembered Bible: Cutting and Pasting Scripture in Antiquity:
It is often presumed that biblical redaction was invariably done using conventional scribal methods, meaning that when editors sought to modify or compile existing texts, they would do so in the process of rewriting them upon new scrolls. There is, however, substantial evidence pointing to an alternative scenario: Various sections of the Hebrew Bible appear to have been created through a process of material redaction. In some cases, ancient editors simply appended new sheets to existing scrolls. Other times, they literally cut and pasted their sources, carving out patches of text from multiple manuscripts and then gluing them together like a collage. Idan Dershowitz shows how this surprising technique left behind telltale traces in the biblical text – especially when the editors made mistakes – allowing us to reconstruct their modus operandi. Material evidence from the ancient Near East and elsewhere further supports his hypothesis.
The use of a cut and paste technique is not what we would expect to see in an alleged supernaturally-inspired text, but rather the way that humans might cobble together a story using what others had written as fillers. This discovery tends to sully the veneration factor of the Bible.
(3652) God praised, human vilified
Suppose a human is given the ability to design and construct a new world for people to live in, and many people who know this person and trust him, sign up to go to this new place after it is built. Now suppose the man decides to include the following elements in his new world:
Acne, rashes, infections, burns, bites, lice, shingles, psoriasis, bruises, gangrene, fungal disease, PMS, fatigue, hunger, molds, colds, flus, pneumonia, Ebola, measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough, asthma, fevers, yeast, appendicitis, tonsillitis, parasites, sepsis, Lyme disease, meningitis, rabies, yellow fever, tetanus, malaria, corona-virus, smallpox, polio, food poisoning, viruses, cancers, AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis, genetic defects, stillbirth, autism, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, paralysis, insomnia, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, aneurysms, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, hemophilia, kidney disease, liver disease, ulcerative colitis, anemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tuberculosis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, gout, mental illness, Alzheimer’s, senility, MS, cystic fibrosis, ALS, accidents, fires, floods, blizzards, tsunamis, mudslides, avalanches, droughts, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes, meteors, and volcanoes.
What would the people think when they arrived in this new world and faced these horrible realities? They would call this human designer to be evil. He would be condemned as an immoral monster, as everyone would know full well that he didn’t have to introduce all of these awful elements and could have built a much more comfortable, safe, and healthy environment for them to live in.
Ah, but if God designs the exact same world, he is praised and worshiped.
(3653) Arguments for and against
There exist many reasons why Christians believe in their theology, most of which have little if anything do with the underlying merits, but instead are mostly acculturation effects. On the other hand, there exist many reasons for a Christian to doubt the faith, and these are usually rooted in sound logic. The following spells out some of these ‘for and against’ arguments:
Some faulty reasons why people believe.
- People don’t really examine their god belief. They are taught it as children, they accept it, they never really think through the contradictions inherent in heaven, hell, omnipotence, etc.
- People want it to be true. They want there to exist a loving presence that cares for them, and gives meaning to their life. It’s literally wishful thinking.
- Social ostracism for disbelief. Everybody they know is a believer. If they leave the church, they fear losing their friends and family.
- People have no idea about other religions, differences between religions. They may not have seriously considered that there are people who hold different religious beliefs with equal sincerity. They may not even be aware that atheism is a thing, that you don’t have to believe in god.
- Demonization of atheism. Believers are often explicitly taught that atheists are bad, evil people, that they have “no morals”, etc.
- Christians have no idea of the history of the Bible; they assume the Bible was handed down as a whole complete unit at one time, the inerrant word of God, accepted by all Christians the world over. In fact it was written over a long period of time as separate writings, written by multiple authors with their own agendas, which were compiled much later by committees of people with their own agenda. Various sects supported various scriptures, and they disagreed as to which scriptures should be included in the Bible. In the end, many scriptures “lost” that battle and were left out entirely, not because “god” wanted it that way, but because committees of men wanted it that way.
I have compiled a few of my favorite arguments here, with an emphasis on Christianity:
1: The simpler explanation would be that the universe is what it appears to be rather than being just the part we can perceive of some much more elaborate type of universe.
2: If there was an all-powerful deity who wanted humans to know about its existence, then why doesn’t this deity simply reveal its existence in an unambiguous way to everyone? I mean, that should be well within the capability of an all-powerful or maximally powerful deity, right? No faith would be required. There would be no reason to be atheist. The deity would be as observable, testable, and provable as hurricanes, Australia or oak trees. Since this is not the case, it is reasonable to conclude that no such deity exists, or if a deity exists, it is not concerned with being detected.
2a: (related) Christians believe god sent one illiterate emissary at one point in time to one location on the earth to spread god’s message, then expected fallible humans to relay this message (by worth of mouth) to all humans in all places for all time. Does this make sense? Is it a good strategy? Are you familiar with the “game of telephone?” We can’t even always get reliable information about important things happening right now in today’s world; what’s the chance that a message spread by word-of-mouth would remain intact for thousands of years? (my guess: zero) Wouldn’t an all-powerful god come up with a better method for spreading the most important message of all time?
2b: Personal revelation was good enough for Paul/Saul, but why not me or you? Why doesn’t god reveal his existence personally to all humans on a regular basis?
3: “Who created the Universe?” argument. One of the most common theist arguments I’ve heard is “the universe must have a cause, and this cause must be a sentient, thinking, conscious agent.” Well, firstly, I don’t see why we couldn’t assume the Universe always existed. But even if I concede the first part (something caused the universe), I don’t see how you can conclude the second part (sentient superbeing did it). Humans used to believe the same thing about hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. Who caused the volcano? Obviously the Volcano God. Well, then we learned that the causes of these things are complicated natural processes. In fact, everything we investigate appears to be caused by complicated natural processes. It seems highly likely to me that the Universe, too, if it was in fact “caused”, those causes would be complicated natural processes.
4: The Muslim and the Hindu and the Christian all believe with equal fervor. Each has a list of personal reasons why they believe, and believe that they couldn’t possibly be wrong. As an outside observer, how can I figure out which of them is right? What tests can I conduct to figure out which religion is true? Are there any such tests?
4a: (related to 4) of all the hundreds of religions that have existed through the centuries in different parts of the world, most people believe that they were born into the one that is the one true religion. That is to say, the main factor which determines what someone believes is the religion of their parents, and to a great extent geography. Does this at all have any bearing on what is true?
4b: Showerthought: if you were to switch a baby born to Muslim parents with a baby born to Christian parents, the children would each likely grow up believing the other religion. Their entire worldview is shaped by their upbringing, and has no relation to what is actually true.
4c: Showerthought: what if the “true” religion is one you were never even exposed to? Or one that died out centuries ago? There’s a big “oops.” (which gets back to #2; if god wants everyone on earth to believe, why be so coy about it?)
5: In order for a deity to be the cause of something, first we have to demonstrate that a deity exists. The time to believe in a deity is after one follows the evidence to that conclusion, not before. Theists generally start with the assumption that the deity exists, then cherrypick the data that appears to support it, and ignore data which appears not to support it, which is logically fallacious.
6: All the “proofs” of god which are based on argument alone necessarily fall short. You cannot determine facts about the world just by thinking about it. You cannot theorize a deity into existence. You can’t “prove” a god using math. The best you can get is a theory or proposition. You still need to demonstrate it with evidence.
7: The explanation “god did it” is not really an explanation for anything. It’s just words, it’s as much of an explanation as if I said “fairies did it” or “magic did it.” To say that god did something tells you nothing about the nature of that god, what it is, what it wants, why it did the thing. It’s basically a placeholder for “I don’t know.”
The arguments against are well more powerful and persuasive and evidential than the arguments for. An objective person not inculcated in the faith at a young age can see this clearly.
(3654) Christianity light
Let’s imagine a different kind of Christianity, where there is no heaven or hell, no afterlife, but rather just this life. It is all about living a good life, following the philosophies of the prophets and Jesus, and helping your fellow citizens to make for as good a life as possible.
In this brand of Christianity, God actually does answer prayers, and it is well noted in statistical studies. There is very little evil or violence because of this.
And God knows that people who love him do so for pure reasons, not because they are afraid of being punished in a future life. There is no proverbial gun to the head with the warning ‘love me or else.’
It is highly probable that if there really was a god who, for some reason, decided to interact with sentient life forms, it would do so in this manner, not for egotistical reasons, but rather to provide a bit of assistance to help those civilization to better navigate their histories.
Christianity light doesn’t exist on our planet, but Christianity heavy does, and if it is true, then God must have a hard time separating those who truly love him and those who instead fall in line out of sheer fear.
(3655) Worship failure analogy
Suppose that a billionaire with no heirs randomly picks someone out of the phone book to will his fortune to. He dies, and the lucky person is suddenly a billionaire. Would it be reasonable to admire this person for their riches, or put them on a pedestal for becoming rich? No, they did nothing to deserve it.
According to Christianity, God always existed, or he suddenly came into existence without any prior cause. Did he do anything, take any effort, suffer any sacrifice, or spill any sweat to become who he allegedly is? No. Then, as the lucky rich man above, there is no compelling reason to worship this god.
The concept of worship was likely borrowed from the adulation that was commonly afforded to earthly kings, some of whom presumably had to work hard to get to that position, so it seemed reasonable that a celestial king should also be given respect and worship. It is an antiquated concept in today’s world, but Christians continue to worship away without giving it much thought.
(3656) Christian response to cultish scripture
Christians have been guided away from or trained to ignore scriptures in the New Testament that tend to be cultish in nature. But when forced to confront them, they typically use two ineffective excuses. The following was taken from:
In the famous judgment scene in Matthew 25, a few of the verses are quoted a lot, others not so much. The theme here is who deserves heaven and who deserves hell. Those who have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those in prison, etc., will win God’s favor. But those who fail these standards of compassion are out of luck:
“You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink… And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (verses 41-42 & 46)
How in the world do devout folks—so caught up in adoration of their ideal Jesus—reconcile themselves to these words of their savior in Luke 12?
“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! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)
Why is such division anticipated? Cult leaders commonly demand full allegiance to the group, hence family allegiances must be broken once you’re in the cult. This reminds us of the rude response of Jesus to a man who wanted to follow him, but he first had to go home to bury his father: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22) Such stridency is reflected as well in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Our cult’s god want all your devotion. Most Christians today, if they carefully pondered this commandment, would have to confess: No, that’s not how I live my life, focused all, all, all on God.
In a chilling story in Acts 5, Peter scolds a couple for not giving to the church all the money they earned from selling a field. They both dropped dead, and—no surprise—“…great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.” (Acts 5:11) Matthew 12:36-37 is in this same category of threat-theology: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
That’s how cults thrive: our god will get even with you.
In first gospel written, Mark, the focus is the much anticipated—and soon to arrive—Kingdom of God. That’s its primary message, with little preaching about moral ideals (hence Matthew added the Sermon on the Mount). We read that, at his trial, Jesus was asked if he was the messiah; this was his answer to that audience: “I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62) Maybe modern Christians give a wink-wink to this (“Well, Jesus just got the timing wrong, but he will arrive in the clouds to bring the kingdom”), and they assume it will be a wonderful thing.
Again, however, what did the gospel writers—the cult promoters—have to say about this? Matthew reports these words of Jesus:
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:36-39) Here Jesus seems to be driving home the point he made just a few verses earlier: “For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” (verse 21)
So when Jesus arrives, most of humanity will be killed off? It’s not hard at all to pick up on such cult madness in the gospels. These texts are not hidden away. They’re in full view. I often ask, “Are Christians just not paying attention?” Of course they’re not. One Catholic woman, years ago when I was speaking about Jesus arriving on the clouds, remarked: “I didn’t know he was supposed to come back.” Or when they do come across these horrible texts, they brush right by them: “I guess I don’t understand, but God is mysterious after all.” The ideal Jesus of the imagination is locked in—not to be dislodged by curiosity, skepticism and honest reading of the texts. The same can be said of professional Christian apologists who are committed to defending Jesus’ reputation.
Of course, the text that presents the biggest challenge—to theologians, Bible editors and translators—is Luke 14:26: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” The Greek word for hate is right there, and Luke reported this as a Jesus saying for a reason: loyalty to the cult, not to family, was a supreme value.
Defenders of the faith react a couple of ways to the cult-centric texts:
First: “You’re taking these words out of context!” But please, in what context would these verses be okay? And I have identified the context: the gospel authors were advocates for their particular cult.
Second: There are many wonderful, feel-good texts that must be considered as well. Yes, of course there are, but they don’t nullify these texts. In fact, they increase the tension; they add to the incoherence of Christian theology. Surely this is one of the best texts: “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” (Matthew 18:21-22) Jesus coaches people to behave this way, but given the dismal history of Christians fighting each other, we wonder if, here again, Christians aren’t paying attention. But, according to Jesus, God himself is not bound by this rule of abundant forgiveness: you’ll get tossed into eternal fire if you’re not compassionate enough; you will be judged by every careless word you utter; your town will be burned to the ground if you decline to listen to Jesus’ disciples.
A lot of ex-Christian folks have said that the Bible itself was one of the main reasons they walked away from the faith. When we look at all the words attributed to Jesus in the gospels, it’s not a stretch to suggest that maybe Jesus himself could talk you out of Christianity.
Arguing for context or the existence of compensatory verses is a feeble attempt to cover up the problematic verses of the New Testament that could be used as a primer for how a cult can control its members. Christians do not take a holistic approach to their scriptures, but rather use a selective ‘buffet-style’ tack to protect their image of their hero’s credentials.
(3657) Unanswerable questions about the first Easter weekend
Assuming that Christian theology is correct, that God sent his son to the earth to die for our sins, then it might be expected that he would have ensured that the details of this event would be accurately documented for all future generations to know exactly how it happened. However, many critical elements are in question because different gospels tell different stories. Here is a (partial) list of questions that cannot be definitively answered by any Christian:
Within the Gospels, you will find a different answer for each of the following questions:
- What day did Jesus die?
- What time did Jesus die?
- Who found Jesus’s empty tomb?
- Did Jesus carry his cross all the way, or part way?
- Did Jesus say anything while he was carrying his cross, or was he silent?
- What did Jesus say while carrying his cross?
- Did both robbers mock Jesus, or did one mock him and the other come to his defense?
- Did Jesus ask why God has forsaken him, or why God is mocking him?
- Was the stone sealing His tomb rolled away before the women got there, or wasn’t it?
- What did the women see in the tomb: one man, two men, or one angel?
- Did Jesus have compassion for the Leper who approached Him, or anger toward the Leper?
It’s also interesting to note that the ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’ story was found without debate to be added by a later scribe, and therefore not part of any of the early Gospels. In other words, one of the most treasured and beloved accounts of Jesus has been found to be undebatable hooey, as opposed to the earlier accounts, which remain debatable hooey.
How the Bible could mangle the most important story in human history is unfathomable. It seems that God or the Holy Spirit fumbled this process and left everyone, including future movie directors, wondering exactly what happened. There is no way to construct a series of scenes that is consistent with all four of the gospels.
(3658) ‘Life is a test’ analogy
Christians often state that life is a test to see if you will end up in heaven or hell. Here is an analogy of such a test given in a classroom:
– The teacher provides a series of lessons and then states that a test will be given. Those who pass will earn a position in the firm, those who fail will be dismissed.
-Unbeknownst to the students, each person receives a different test.
– Some receive a test that includes the material covered in class, while others receive a test that has material that was never covered.
– Many students were not even in the classroom while the lessons were being given. They instead were in another classroom being taught different material.
– Some are given a lot of time to complete the test, but others are given only a few minutes. The teacher comes by and picks up the test even before some of them can attempt to answer the first question.
– During the test another teacher enters the class and starts to give a lesson but what she says contradicts what the original teacher taught, confusing the students and making them doubt some of their answers.
– After some students turn in their test, the teacher looks it over and tells them to change some of their answers to make them more correct, while other students are not given a second chance as such. They are simple told to leave the room- their test is over.
– It turns out that the grade each student receives depends on only one question on the test- how they answer the question to provide the name, the accomplishments, and the reasons to extol the teacher. This makes it very hard for students who know next to nothing about the teacher. But that doesn’t matter. They fail that question and the test, no matter how well they did on all of the other questions.
To say that this life is a test designed by God to determine the eternal setting of one’s afterlife is a joke. It does not merit serious consideration. Even if you say that God ‘grades on the curve’ it still doesn’t make sense. If God designed our life to be a test, then he is an evil, incompetent teacher.
(3659) Time to ‘passover’ God
People tend to emulate their gods as portrayed in ancient scriptures, sometimes for the good, but often for the bad. One of those bad examples in the Passover celebration that Jews hold each year, but which Christians must also acknowledge because their god too was at the center of the action. The following essay suggests that this macabre tail is a good reason for modern people to simply pass-over God itself:
This weekend, Jews around the world will celebrate the holiday of Passover, the name of which comes from the story of God “passing over” the homes of our distant ancestors on his way to slaughter the first born sons of evil Egyptians. Our forefathers, the story goes, marked their doorposts with lamb’s blood in order to spare their own sons the awful fate of their enemies.
In this time of war and violence, of oppression and suffering, I propose we pass over something else:
Two aspects of the Passover story have troubled me since I was first taught them long ago in an Orthodox yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y. I was 8 years old, and as the holiday approached, our rabbi commanded us to open our chumashim, or Old Testaments, to the Book of Exodus. To get us in the holiday spirit, he told us gruesome tales of torture and persecution.
“The Egyptians,” he told us, “used the corpses of Jewish slaves in their buildings.”
“You mean they used slaves to build their buildings,” I asked, “and the slaves died from work?”
“No,” said the rabbi. “They put the Jewish bodies into the walls and used them as bricks.”
My father was something of a handyman at the time, and this seemed to me a serious violation of basic building codes, not to mention a surefire way to lose a home sale.
“Is this brick?” the interested couple asks.
“No, no,” says the realtor. “That’s corpse.”
But just as troubling — even more so today in light of the brutal slaughter taking place in Ukraine — were the plagues themselves.
God, the rabbi said, struck all the Egyptians with his wrath, not just Pharaoh and his soldiers. Egyptians young and old, innocent and guilty, suffered locusts and frogs, hail and darkness, beasts running wild and water becoming blood. Mothers nursing their babies, the rabbi explained, found their breast milk had turned to blood.
“Yay!” my classmates cheered.
But Pharaoh, the story continues, still wouldn’t relinquish his slaves. Technically this was God’s fault as he “hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” but the issue of free will wouldn’t begin troubling me until my teens. And so God, in his mercy, started killing babies.
“Every firstborn son in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on the throne to the firstborn of the servant girl.” Exodus 11:5.
Surely, I wondered, there were some Egyptians who didn’t whip Jews, who didn’t have anything against Jews at all? Surely there were Egyptians horrified by slavery, Egyptians who disagreed with Pharaoh as often as we do with our own leaders?
“Everyone?” I asked the rabbi. “He struck everyone?”
“Everyone,” the rabbi said.
“Yay!” my classmates cheered.
God, it seems, paints with a wide brush. He paints with a roller. In Egypt, said our rabbi, he even killed first-born cattle. He killed cows. If he were mortal, the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims would be dragged to The Hague. And yet we praise him. We emulate him. We implore our children to be like him.
Perhaps now, as missiles rain down and the dead are discovered in mass graves, is a good time to stop emulating this hateful God. Perhaps we can stop extolling his brutality. Perhaps now is a good time to teach our children to pass over God — to be as unlike him as possible.
“And so God killed them all,” the rabbis and priests and imams can preach to their classrooms. “That was wrong, children.”
“God threw Adam out of Eden for eating an apple,” they can caution their students. “That’s called being heavy-handed, children.”
Cursing all women for eternity because of Eve’s choices?
“That’s called collective punishment, children,” they can warn the young. “Don’t do that.”
“Boo!” the children will jeer.
I was raised strictly Orthodox. Old school. Shtetl fabulous. Every year, at the beginning of the Seder, we welcome in the hungry and poor Jews who can’t afford to have a Seder themselves. It’s a wonderfully human gesture. A few short hours of God later, at the end of the Seder, we open the front door and call out to Him, “Pour out thy wrath upon the nations that did not know you!”
And God does. With plagues and floods, with fire and fury, on the young and old, the guilty and innocent.
And we humans, made in his image, do the same. With fixed-wing bombers and cluster bombs, with self-propelled mortars and thermobaric rocket launchers.
“Why did God kill the first-born cattle?” my rabbi said. “Because the Egyptians believed they were gods.”
Killing gods is an idea I can get behind.
This year, at the end of the Seder, let’s indeed throw our doors open — to strangers. To people who aren’t our own. To the terrifying them, to the evil others, those people who seem so different from us, those we think are our enemies or who think us theirs, but who, if they sat down around the table with us, we’d no doubt find despise the pharaohs of this world as much as we do, and who dream of the same damned thing as us all:
Imagine people in the 21st Century celebrating the way that God brutalized the Egyptians, while at the same time excoriating the Russians for the atrocities in their 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The dichotomy is alarming. God gets a free pass while humans are condemned for doing the same thing.
(3660) Generic theism
It is a disturbing and somewhat embarrassing fact that when Christian apologists attempt to ‘demonstrate’ the existence of the Christian god, it almost always turns out to be an argument for a generic, non-specific deity. It could just as well be Thor as to be Yahweh. The following was taken from:
When Christians try to argue for the existence of god, it’s always for the god of what I like to call generic theism, never the Christian god, the “holy” Trinity, the god-man etc. These arguments (the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas, the cosmological, teleological, ontological arguments etc.) aim at establishing the logical possibility of a supernatural entity or entities, not the logical possibility of a supernatural entity or entities as defined by Christian dogma.
In the Christian mind, the Christian god is logically possible because it supposedly meets the bare minimum threshold of generic theism. However, because these arguments seek to prove the Christian god’s existence by proving generic theism, they can be used to support the existence of any god, including Zeus, Thor, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl etc.
When Christians rely on a generic conception of god for apologetic purposes—as they always do—they explicitly admit they can’t produce a single argument directly establishing the truth or even remote likelihood of Christian theism.
About the only things Christian apologists can use to connect a generic god to their specific god is to point to the Bible, which is self-contradictory, or to anecdotes of miracles or answered prayers, none of which have stood the test of stringent scrutiny. So we are left with insipid non-specific arguments that any deity-believing religious faith could use equally well.
(3661) Christianity is not the religion of Jesus
If we assume that Jesus was a real person and that the gospels present a reasonable picture of his personality, it would seem that if he were to return to the earth today he would denounce the majority of contemporary Christian denominations. The following was taken from:
If Jesus were to come back to earth today, he would denounce Christians as Satan worshippers and reject Christianity as a disgusting perversion of his own teachings
Since Jesus’ death, Christianity has become an imperialistic, colonizing, genocidal, mercenary and fear mongering cult. The Christian church has weaponized the Jewish scriptures to persecute the weak and defenseless; it has gone on crusades to crush infidels; it has waged religious wars to subdue sectarians and exterminate heretics. The Christian religion has encouraged the enslavement and genocide of unbelievers in Europe, Africa and the New World.
Christians—the so-called false prophets Jesus railed against in the gospels—have used the “prosperity gospel” to trick their gullible and naive followers into surrendering their hard earned cash. They have opportunistically fleeced their flocks in the name of Jesus, gaining enormous wealth at their expense.
These same Christians have also twisted the scriptures to support their agendas of hate. Often these ancient texts are used by Christians to promote racist and homophobic agendas.
All of this is strange, given that Christians present the mythical Jesus as a kind, gentle and loving figure, a man with great compassion for the suffering multitudes. Needless to say, the historical conduct of Christians and the Christian Church is the exact opposite of what Jesus and the Jesus movement did, as recorded in the gospels. Because of this traditional portrayal of Jesus, it is safe to assume if Jesus were to come back to earth today he would be deeply ashamed of—and embarrassed by—the religion that professes to follow his own teachings.
The fact that Christianity has splintered so much and that the practice of it has devolved so far from what we think might have been its original expression tends to suggest that it is not a religion that is being guided by a supernatural force. It is difficult to believe that if Christianity is God’s project that he would have allowed it to fall into such chaos and disgrace.
(3662) God’s wrath as a marketing tool
Although Christians normally think of their god a loving deity, in reality, his default emotion is anger and wrath. Anyone who doesn’t worship or obey him is targeted for severe punishment in both this life and the next. The best explanation for this depiction of God was that it was useful to scare people into joining the cult. It was (then but not now) a good marketing tool. The following was taken from:
There were the consequences for not believing correctly. The horrible side of Christian theology is the certainty that there will be severe punishment for rejection of Jesus. Yes, torment by fire, forever. In the Old Testament, Yahweh promised destruction and suffering for backsliders who didn’t keep the law or who bowed down to other gods, but hell was missing. The authors of the New Testament added that, and they also kept alive the idea that God is wrathful. John the Baptist scolded the religious authorities who showed up to witness his baptisms: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7) The apostle Paul was certain that wrath was God’s default emotion:
“But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.” (Romans 2:5-8)
Later, when the gospel authors created Jesus-script, they included this nasty, get-even theology. Laypeople today—as surveys have shown—don’t do a lot of Bible reading. Even though the Bible has been in the hands of worshippers for a long time now, the church hype about their wonderful savior matters far more than troubling, even horrifying, Jesus quotes found in gospels. They hold fast to what Bart Ehrman has called “the ideal Jesus of the imagination.”
There are so many Jesus quotes that, if pious church folks heard them yelled by a crazy street preacher today, they would walk away quickly, muttering, “What a nut-job.” How did it happen that appalling, alarming Jesus-script ended up in the gospels? Their authors were not, in fact, concerned to promote an ideal Jesus of the imagination. Their purpose was to advance severe, intolerant theology; they were sure their religion was the only right one—and there would be dire consequences for those who ignored their message.
For example, when Jesus sent his disciples out to preach in villages, he assured them that people who didn’t listen to them would be punished:
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Matthew 10:14-15)
Sodom and Gomorrah were burned to the ground. So that will happen to towns that can’t be bothered to listen to wandering preachers? This mean-spirited theology is a sign of cult fanaticism. Clearly the author of Matthew’s gospel included this Jesus-script because this was how he wanted events to play out. Surely one of the reasons that hell-fire has had such staying power in Christian thinking is that fire as punishment is so prominent in teaching attributed to Jesus. We find this in Matthew 13:
“Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:40-42)
In the famous judgment scene in Matthew 25, a few of the verses are quoted a lot, others not so much. The theme here is who deserves heaven and who deserves hell. Those who have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those in prison, etc., will win God’s favor. But those who fail these standards of compassion are out of luck:
“You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink… And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (verses 41-42 & 46)
It is not difficult to imagine a different kind of god, one who is not so egotistical as to punish those who don’t bow down to him or who fail to see sufficient evidence to believe that he actually exists. A kind, compassionate, patient, understanding god could have been presented in the scriptures, and if so, it would have likely effectuated a kinder and gentler human history over the past 20 centuries.
(3663) Resurrection not needed for Christian continuity
Christians apologists often argue that if Jesus had not risen from the dead, that his followers would have given up and gone home, and returned to their normal lives and earlier beliefs. But history does not suggest that this is an inevitable outcome- we see many examples where a cult leader has died but the movement continues on without that person resurrecting (Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, David Koresh).
It is possible that Jesus’ followers decided to continue his mission on their own, thinking that it was what God wanted them to do. They didn’t necessarily need to see that he had risen from the dead, nor did they need to see visions that might have caused them to believe he had risen spiritually. It is very possible that Jesus never claimed any divine status and that his followers viewed him as being 100 percent human. He was a vessel that God was using to advance a new way of interpreting Judaism. Given that assumption, it would make sense for them to continue the movement without Jesus.
So, if Peter and John and the others continued to preach Jesus’ message it would not have meant necessarily that they had seen him risen from the dead.
Then, Paul came along and claimed to have seen the risen lord in a vision. At this time, Paul took his view of Jesus to the outskirts of the Holy Land, and impressed his theology onto the gentiles. Years later, the gospel authors penned their faux biographies of Jesus to include Paul’s concept of the resurrection. After the Jewish War of 70 CE there were very few people left who had observed or believed that Jesus had died and remained dead. And the rest is history.
(3664) Atheists should be seeing more miracles
If the assumption is made that God desires all to be saved, then it would seem that he would concentrate his efforts more on non-believers than those that are already in the fold. This means he should be working more miracles in the lives of the heathen than for believers. But, the anecdotes of miracles (whether they are real or not) always seem to come from long-time theists, and hardly ever among atheists or agnostics. This does not make sense. The following was taken from:
If Christianity were true, atheists would be the ones experiencing visions of god and witnessing miracles, not Christians.
The Christian god wouldn’t waste his time with believers for the simple reason they’re already saved. Instead, he’d focus on atheists because they’re most in need of salvation. This is because “God … wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Since its inception, Christianity has been a proselytizing religion. The necessity of proselytism is one of the core beliefs of mainstream Christianity. There is already precedent for the use of the miraculous to bring about conversion of unbelievers in the New Testament i.e. the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-9). So why wouldn’t god prioritize atheists over Christians in terms of witnessing miracles, experiencing visions and divine revelations etc?
Because “God … wants all people to be saved,” he would have, for example, atheists witness miracles that couldn’t be explained as anything else except miracles, so that atheists would have no choice except to convert to Christianity. This means god, if he existed, and was as all-powerful as Christians say he is, would provide atheists with evidence convincing enough to convert them to the supposedly one true faith.
Put another way, in his zeal to save mankind, god would eliminate atheism simply by providing this irrefutable evidence in the form of real miracles etc, making it impossible for atheists to remain atheists.
Yet only believers have visions and witness miracles, not the atheists most in need of salvation. Which means that atheism still exists. This isn’t what you’d expect if Christianity were true.
It almost seems like you have to believe in miracles in order to see them. From a purely objective point of view, what you believe shouldn’t color your interpretation of what his happening in front of your eyes. There is no reason why an atheist could not experience and validate a miracle were it to occur. If the Christian god is real, then he is not, as the scriptures claim, hoping that all will be saved.
(3665) Back side of Noah’s flood
The fictional story of Noah and his arc has romanticized Jews and Christians for centuries, and, for some macabre reason, it is still considered an appropriate tale for children, even to the point of providing arc and animal toys for them to play with.
But it takes just a moment of reflection to realize why the story, ridiculous and gruesome as it is, does not work even as a fantasy trope. It is undeniable that Noah and his family would have been living in a village that contained a lot of their friends. The boys probably had girlfriends, the girls had boyfriends, the children had other children that they played with, and Noah and his wife likely had other couples that they dined with and with whom they helped each other out. In other words, they were not eight people isolated from the rest of civilization.
So, given that perspective, how on earth could they have been okay to see all of these people they loved die in the flood, whereas they had built a gigantic boat that could have saved them? The story is triple fictional- first of all, it makes no sense that an omnipotent god would have to resort to such a crude plan to expunge the world’s wickedness. Second, the geological mechanics of a world-wide flood do not meet scientific muster. And third, the interpersonal relationships of Noah and his family could not possibly have caused them to exclude their friends, lovers, and acquaintances from being saved on the boat. It took a lot of superficial thinking to write this story.
(3666) One strike and you’re not a prophet
If it assumed that there exists an omnipotent god who desires to warn of a future event through a human vessel, then it should be safe to say that this god would make sure that all prophecies delivered by this person would be accurate, given that one false one would destroy this person’s reputation. The following was taken from:
Prophesy must be a one-strike-and-you’re-out situation.
First — I’m arguing from an Abrahamic religion standpoint, but I would expect it to be true of any religion that centers upon an all-knowing deity.
Second — for the sake of the argument, I’m assuming all prophecy will be religious in nature, and not predicting a winning sports team, or what the weather will be tomorrow.
So. If someone is an actual prophet, given a vision of the future and permission to speak on behalf of an all-knowing deity, one *must* have a 100% accurate track-record in regards to prophecy. If one has a track record of being wrong, even just once, then people will not trust the prophecy due to the unreliable nature of the vessel delivering it. Any all-knowing deity would be aware of this and would not pick a prophet who has already tainted their reputation.
Additionally, I believe a prophet would be unable or perhaps unwilling to make any additional prophetic claims after the initial one at the very least until the initial one has come to pass, as, again, any incorrect claims would harm that person’s reputation and would thus ruin the message for the intended audience.
Therefore I believe anyone who makes a religious claim about the future that does not come to pass can be rightly called a false-prophet. And then all of their claims must be equally dismissed and that person’s status as a religious leader should likely be terminated.
Using this rule, virtually every prophet from biblical times to the present, since they all have misses along with their hits, should be viewed as being false prophets, and that there are no people, past or present, who have or are channeling messages from God. And this suggests there is no god either, or at least one who wants people to be prepared for the future.
(3667) The better philosophy
Some Christians acknowledge the mythical features of their faith, but still point to its value as a philosophical gold mine to guide one’s life. But that ignores the basic premise of the faith- that you are born sick and commanded to be well. The following presents a vastly superior philosophy than what is presented in the Bible:
We are all human and all equal; we all have the same intrinsic needs—for love, for connection, for respect, for fulfillment; we all have the right to live in peace and free from mental coercions. The idea that we all are born unworthy is not an idea that respects our humanity, nor does it uplift or empower anyone. We are not sinners, we are just people trying to live our lives and we are driven by needs, desires and pain. Sometimes we pursue the solutions to our needs, desires and pain in ways that are detrimental to ourselves and others and some of us are born into environments that provide more barriers to self-actualization than others but we are all striving for the same things. We are all just trying to be happy.
I do not believe in Christianity anymore but I do believe in us. I believe in humanity. If we follow our compassion and curiosity, we can lift even our weakest members to higher standards of health and happiness and the effects of this will be exponentially expressed in the future of our species. We owe it to ourselves and to every other human to take the steps we are able to make life on earth heaven.
This is the type of ‘religion’ that can ameliorate our lives and of those around us. In contrast, the Christian model is deeply flawed, and it results in unnecessary guilt, unnecessary stress, unnecessary fear, unnecessary graft, unnecessary wasted time and resources, and unnecessary violence. A real god could not help but do better… much better.
(3668) Christian anti-trans position defies science
One of latest pushes by Christians is to punish transexual persons, presumably because they are ‘fighting against God,’ who makes all people either male or female, and, of course, he doesn’t make mistakes. They often claim that science is on their side. They are wrong. The following was taken from:
Thesis: Science does not support a rigid gender/sex binary, therefore, Christians should stop using science to defend anti-trans positions.
Trans / Transgender: someone whose gender identity does not match their gender assigned to them at birth.Cis / Cisgender: *someone whose gender identity does match their gender assigned to them at birth.*MtF: Male to Female, a trans person who was assigned male at birth but identifies as femaleFtM: Female to Male, a trans person who was assigned female at birth but identifies as male
Note: While this is designed to be a Christian v. Christian debate, I’m not invoking the pilate program because I want anyone to feel free to challenge me on the science I’m using. I’m not a scientist so I’m sure there are ways I could better articulate my points.
The standard position in Christianity is to not affirm trans folks gender identity. This is usually based primarily on the Christian’s understanding of the Scriptures, however, often times there is an appeal to science as well. Acceptance of transgender individuals is seen as an active denial “basic biology.” A more poignant recent example is the rhetoric surrounding Judge Katanji Brown-Jackson’s response to the question of the definition of a woman. She responded to the question saying that she was not qualified to give the definition of what a woman was and many Christians mocked her for her response.
To be clear, this post is primarily targeted at Christians who would claim that science is ‘on their side’ with regard to this issue and that affirming trans individuals is tantamount to denying ‘basic biology.’
Generally, when asked what it is that determines sex the response is either: chromosomes (XX = girls / XY = boys) or genitalia (penis = boys / vagina = girls), however there are many problems with this.
In school, we often learn that chromosomal pairings of XX determine that a person’s sex is female, while the introduction of a Y chromosome determines that a person is male. However, as with most things we learn at the middle school / high school level, this is an over simplification and banking on this does not do justice to the reality of the situation.
To start, there are dozens of chromosomal combinations beyond XX and XY, some of them have relevance to sex determination, others do not, however, it does show that the discussion is more complex than what it is often made out to be. Some examples of chromosomal variations beyond XX and XY are:
As I mentioned, some of these are relevant for the discussion surrounding sex determination, others are not. Saying that “a woman has 2 X” chromosomes is obviously problematic because XXY, XO/XY, and XXYY combinations (along with others) do not fit this pairing. There is more to say regarding chromosomal differences, but they involve the next common determining factor: Genitalia.
In terms of genital complications there are a few different sorts of issues. Like the chromosomal examples, some impact categorization of sex based on genitalia and some do not, some could go either way. For the purpose of this post my focus will be on ambiguous genitalia and genitalia that does not align with chromosomal pairings. I’ll start with the latter.
Above I gave several chromosomal pairings that go outside of the standard XX / XY delineation. However, even within that binary we still have issues. Take for example Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS). This condition affects individuals with XY chromosomes and standard sex categorization would label them as males, however, they develop as female. This affects people in various ways, come are still born with male genitalia, but otherwise develop as a standard woman would (in terms of body structure, breast development, vocal range, etc.), others have no penis at all and only learn that they are “chromosomally male” after further testing, and presumably some live out their whole lives not knowing at all.
Beyond conditions like the above, there are conditions that result in ambiguous genitalia. These conditions result in genitalia that in one way or another do not fit a binary model. For example, persons with Ovotesticular Syndrome have both testes and ovaries. Similarly, many (not all) people with Mixed Gonodal Dysgenesis (XO/XY) have truly ambiguous genitalia.
Both chromosomal and genital characteristics play a part in categorizing sex, but there are exceptions. There are people who do not fit neatly into the box and people who it can truly be said are ambiguously sexed.
Intermission – Addressing Objections
Before I continue, I want to address something that comes up whenever this issue is discussed. Intersex conditions are rare and this fact is often used as an out for people when the existence of intersex people is pointed to show the lack of a gendered binary in the natural world. “Its such a small percentage of the population it simply isn’t relevant.” Beyond this, intersex conditions are chalked up simply as a result of the fall and simply hand-waved away. These responses are problematic for several reasons:
- While truly ambiguous genitalia / chromosol makeup is exceedingly rare, it does still happen. The existence of even one person with true ambiguity in this area is proof positive that the systems in place used to determine sex are not a 100% thing.
- Despite the rarity of intersex conditions, it is more common than typically thought. It is currently estimated that 1.7% of the population has an intersex condition. This is comparable to the 1-2% of the human population that are red-headed.
- While it is a small percent of the population, these are still people, people made in the image of God with value and worth imbued by the creator. For the complementarians out there, think for a moment. If you were on a committee to approve a pastor, priest, elder, etc, would you let someone with AIS be approved to the position, would whether or not their penis was developed matter? The way we discuss this has real life ramifications for people, regardless of how many people there are.
- While intersex conditions are rare, so are transgender identification. If a small percentage of the population can break the scientific binary gender classifications due to intersex conditions then there should be no issue with the small percentage of trans people that do the same.
Ultimately, this sort of response is dismissive and deflective.
So far, we’ve looked at several instances of intersex conditions. The existence of intersex conditions gives genetic and biological confirmation of people that live outside of our standard methods of categorizing sex. This is (unfortunately) a necessary element in the discussion of transgender individuals who may or may not be chromosol consistent with their sex assigned at birth, or who are born with full genitalia of a gender that they do not align with because it demonstrates evidence of a break in a rigid binary. However, being intersex is not the same as being trans and while I am not attempting to argue that Christians need to be affirming of trans individuals here, I do think it is important to show scientific evidence for breaks in the binary with trans folks.
For this, I will be discussing brain-mapping studies. Now, I want to proceed with caution here because sometimes this is brought up with too much force. More research needs to be done in this area before the scientific community reaches a consensus on this, however, I think it is relevant to discuss.
Several studies have been conducted that monitor the brain activity and structure of cis men and cis women and then compares them with trans individuals. Consistently, the results show that trans individuals will align with the gender that they identify with – even before any sort of treatment. For example, a trans person who is MtF will have a brain structure that aligns more closely with that of the cis women and vice versa.
This is important because oftentimes being trans is simply seen as a mental disorder, but the evidence we are seeing is showing that it is often something that is biologically built in with regards to (at the very least) the structure of their brain. Just as genitalia or chromosomes sometimes do not fit the binary, it seems that brain structures sometimes do not fit it as well.
From a scientific perspective (particularly a perspective that looks at the genetics, biology, physiology, etc.) there are people that do not fit neatly into the designated categories of male and female. As a result, while a Christian may choose to affirm only two genders based on their understanding of the Bible, they should not invoke science as a part of their argumentation or imply that those who affirm trans identities are rejecting science.
Christians are wrong on this matter because the Bible is wrong on this matter. Sexual biology and identity is not black and white. There are many shades of gray, and a truly compassionate religion enlightened by the guidance of a omnipotent deity would understand that.
(3669) Christianity growth compared to Mormonism
Christians often cite the ‘explosive’ early growth of Chrsitianity as evidence that it was associated with miracles and supernatural beings (i.e., the true religion). However, when we compare its growth to the modern day Mornom Church, it no longer appears to be so special. The following was taken from:
In just 300 years, Christianity grew from a small Jewish sect in Galilee to become the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. How can we explain this?
A popular explanation is mass conversion. Acts 2:41 reports that Peter converted 3,000 people with a single sermon. Early church historian Eusebius wrote that the apostles “went on to other countries and nations with the grace and cooperation of God, for a great many wonderful works were done through them, by the power of the divine Spirit, so that at first hearing, whole multitudes of men eagerly embraced the religion of the Creator of the universe.”1
Modern thinkers tended to agree. Yale historian Ramsey MacMullen wrote that Christianity grew so quickly that it must have had “successes en masse.”2
Christians explain these mass conversions with supernatural miracles; proof that Christianity is true! Even atheists think the early Christians must have been such good preachers they converted whole audiences. Whatever the explanation for mass conversions, it seems that Christianity could not have grown so fast without them.
At least, that’s what we thought until 1996, when somebody actually bothered to do the math. That man was Rodney Stark, sociologist of religion.
The math is pretty simple. Let’s do it ourselves. We need two numbers: a early starting count of Christians and a count around 300 C.E. Here’s Rodney Stark writing about the starting number:
For a starting number, Acts 1:14-15 suggests that several months after the Crucifixion there were 120 Christians. Later, in Acts 4:4, a total of 5,000 believers is claimed. And, according to Acts 21:20, by the sixth decade of the first century there were “many thousands of Jews” in Jerusalem who now believed. These are not statistics. Had there been that many converts in Jerusalem, it would have been the first Christian city, since there probably were no more than twenty thousand inhabitants at this time… As Hans Conzelmann noted, these numbers are only “meant to render impressive the marvel that here the Lord himself is at work” [1973:63]. Indeed, as Robert M. Grant pointed out, “one must always remember that figures in antiquity… were part of rhetorical exercises” [1977:7-8] and were not really meant to be taken literally. Nor is this limited to antiquity. In 1984 a Toronto magazine claimed that there were 10,000 Hare Krishna members in that city. But when [researchers] checked on the matter, they found that the correct total was 80.3
So let’s say there were only 1,000 Christians by the year 40, a full decade after Jesus’ death.
As for the ending number, at 300 C.E., historians have made many estimates, usually around 5-8 million.4
So, Christianity may have grown from about 1,000 believers in 40 C.E. to about 5-8 million in 300 C.E. – just 260 years. That would require a growth rate of 40% per decade, as shown by this table:
|Year||Number of Christians, given 40% growth per decade|
That really is tremendous growth. Now we can ask, does this kind of growth require mass conversions?
As it turns out, this matches almost exactly the growth rate of the Mormon church over the past century. Mormonism has grown at 43% per decade, and without mass conversions.5
Exponential growth explains the explosion of Christianity perfectly. In fact, it also explains why Christianity seemed insignificant until about 300, when it suddenly became a huge force in the Roman Empire.6 The growth rate remained the same, but in terms of absolute numbers, Christianity would indeed explode around that time – from 6 million to 33 million adherents – if it tracked with the growth rate of Mormonism.
So, the early growth of the Christian church is impressive, but no more impressive than the growth of Mormonism.
And in fact, Christianity had several advantages that Mormonism never had.
For example, Christianity was the only missionary religion in the Roman Empire. Jews and pagans did not try to convert each other. Christianity had that field all to itself. Contrast that with the world faced by Mormonism, in which dozens of missionary religions compete with Mormonism for new adherents.
Second, Christianity was an exclusivist religion. If an ancient Roman converted from one brand of paganism to another, he was free to keep his old gods. One brand of paganism gained an adherent, and another did not lose one. But Christianity was intolerant of other beliefs. If someone converted to Christianity, then Christianity gained an adherent and paganism lost one. This was also true of Judaism, but Jews did not evangelize. Mormonism is also an exclusivist religion, but it is competing mostly with other exclusivist religions (Christianity and Islam).
Third, Christianity offered equal status to women, who had very low status in Judaism and in Roman society. Instead, Mormonism actually offers women lower status than in the society at large – hardly an attractive feature to half of all potential converts to Mormonism.
Fourth, we have no mention of primary evidence relating to Jesus that ancient people could use to defend or discredit Christianity. In contrast, primary evidence that discredits the bogus career of Joseph Smith is easily available, because he lived in the modern era.
Fifth, Christianity competed only with Judaism – which had no missionaries – as a text-driven religion. Texts are a powerful way to spread, unify, and preserve religious movements, and the pagan world had few of any importance.7 In contrast, Mormonism had to compete with dozens of other text-driven religions during its infancy, most notably orthodox Christianity and Islam.
Sixth, after Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, whole villages thought it best to “convert” to Christianity,8 and entire cities of barbarians “converted” with their leader when their settlement was subsumed in the Roman Empire.9 Mormonism has never benefited from such state support.
Even with all these disadvantages compared to early Christianity, Mormonism seems to have slightly outpaced the growth of the early Christian church.
Clearly, we have no need of mass conversions or magical explanations. The early growth of Christianity is, actually, much less impressive than the growth of Mormonism in the 20th century, which required neither mass conversions nor miracles.
The early growth rate of Christianity is comparable to Mormonism, and given the advantages that Christianity had over Mormonism, it becomes even less special and less evidentiary.
Even if a Christian continues to cite the early growth of Christianity as evidence for its legitimacy as the one true religion, then they must also concede that the modern drop in membership in the United States as well as most of Europe qualifies as evidence against that claim. The difference is that we currently live in a much richer information-available world, and if Christianity is true, then that situation alone should propel its explosive growth (because, for example, video proof of miracles, if they were really happening, could be sent around the world in seconds).
(3670) Four views of Revelation
If God intended the Bible to provide clear (non-confusing) information to humanity, it is hard to understand how the Book of Revelation was selected to be included. There are at least four ways it can be viewed, as discussed below:
Basically it comes down to a few years before the civil war, a LOT of new religions were popping up with preachers on corners preaching their own interpretations of the Bible with no scholarly background. There four main views of Revelation today which are the preterest (Rev was about stuff in the Roman empire), idealist (Rev is symbolic of the spiritual struggle within ourselves with God and the opposer), historicist (Rev is about the whole span of time from Jesus to the end of time), and futurist (Rev is all about what will happen in the future).
Most people who study Revelation have a mix of a few. The Bible was written for more abstract thinking culture compared to our western concrete thinking. Just like the books of wisdom, we have to slowly mull it over and like with every other thing in the Bible, it has to be reinforced with other scripture, otherwise you end up with microchips, 5G, one world order, craziness.
Given the ambiguity of how to interpret Revelation, and the way it has spawned so many outlandish theories about what it means, there is no doubt that the Bible would be considerably more credible if it had been left out. A god guiding the creation of ‘his’ ultimate ‘guidebook’ would have understood that.
(3671) Prayer is both useless and harmful
Christianity places a tremendous value on the use of prayer, both as a means of reverence and a way to effectuate desired outcomes. Although the former might be of some value, the latter has been scientifically demonstrated to be ineffectual. But prayer is not just a harmless waste of time, it causes real world harm. The following was taken from:
Prayer is a fundamentally negative, harmful activity that literally accomplishes nothing. “Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.” —Madalyn Murray O’Hair
Prayer literally accomplishes nothing. First, prayer is illogical. God is omniscient, so praying to him is pointless because he already knows what you want. Second, prayer is silly, especially when you think about how the celestial Sugar Daddy answers the prayers of two people praying for opposite things. Third, there isn’t a shred of scientific evidence prayer works, beyond a placebo effect.
Prayer is harmful. First, it is a passive-aggressive substitute for real, substantive action to ameliorate someone else’s plight. When someone is in need, they require proper nourishment, medical care etc. Instead of helping that person, Christians and others use this suffering as an opportunity for moral grandstanding. This makes prayer not only selfish, but arrogant.
Second, prayer is dehumanizing because it assumes the person being prayed for doesn’t have the ability to look after themselves. Far from respecting the dignity of the human individual, prayer objectifies the person being prayed for, reducing him to an object to be pitied.
Similar things can also be said for the petitioner; instead of relying on his own efforts to improve his lot, he relies on a celestial Sugar Daddy to look after him. This is not only dehumanizing, but destructive of personal autonomy because it reduces the person to a beggar in a relationship based on mindless and infantile dependence.
Anytime anyone uses a tactic that they believe is helping someone, but in reality is doing nothing, it is detrimental to the receiver, not only because it wastes time, but it gives the petitioner a false sense of providing help, making it less likely that that person will provide any real-world assistance. It anesthetizes the prayer giver into thinking his job is done.
Prayer plays an outsized role in Christianity. It should have been marketed solely as a means of praise and giving thanks. When Christianity invented the false promise that prayer provides physical benefits, it inadvertently created far more harm that good.
(3672) Bible versus modern morality
Christians often believe that the Bible provides an objective morality, good for its time and still just as good for the present. But this is not true. The following is a partial list of things that the Bible considers moral, but which are, for the most part, no longer considered moral today:
– holding slaves
– beating slaves
– punishing the descendants of guilty people
– beating misbehaving children
– sacrificing animals (not for food or products)
– use of human sacrifice
– forgiveness requires the spilling of blood
– killing homosexuals, witches, people working on the Sabbath, etc.
– requiring rapists to marry their victims
– offering daughters to be gang raped
– commanding women to remain silent, not to teach men
– prohibiting people with physical defects from entering the temple
– forbidding divorce
– forbidding divorcees from remarrying
– limiting God’s favors to only Jews
– promoting the use of physical torture (hell)
– not storing up for your future needs (Sermon on the Mount)
It takes little effort to see that the Bible is a horrible source of morality for the modern society, yet Christians continue, blindly, superficially, and disingenuously, to insist that it does just that. The Bible is not a book that stands the test of time, and anyone looking for solid guidance on moral living should look elsewhere.
(3673) Jesus and ritual purity
The idea that Jesus intended to start a new religion from the Jewish faith that he grew up with is a common theme in Christianity’s shameful rewrite of history. He probably had some progressive ideas, but for sure never intended that his ministry would spawn a religion that separated from Judaism on many key points. One of the evidences that Jesus was still honoring Jewish traditions involves the issue of ritual impurity, as discussed below:
From as early as the second century to today, some Christian readers of the New Testament Gospels have concluded that these depict Jesus doing away with Jewish law or replacing Judaism. This interpretation often includes the view that Jesus told his audiences that rules regarding ritual purity were irrelevant and outdated. But these views are simply incorrect.
Ancient Jewish law focused on three sources of ritual impurity: corpses; male and female genital discharges; and skin conditions known in Hebrew as tzaraʿat, translated into Greek as lepra. English translations of the Bible mistakenly identified this with leprosy, a disease that would have been unknown to the ancient Israelites.
Anyone in a state of impurity was not permitted to visit the temple until a certain period of time had passed and they had washed in a ritual bath.
The Gospels depict how Jesus interacts with many people who were experiencing ritual impurity. At the end of every one of those episodes, the people he meets are no longer in a state of ritual impurity. Their encounter with Jesus results in both their healing and purification.
For example, in Gospel stories describing the life of Jesus, people with lepra are purified when Jesus heals them.
In the Gospel of Mark, a woman who had been “suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years” — another condition causing impurity — leaves Jesus with her defiling discharge healed.
And even corpses, which are inherently impure under Jewish law, are no longer corpses after Jesus brings them back to to life.
Since many modern Christian readers are unfamiliar with ancient Judaism’s ritual impurity system, they often fail to recognize that Jesus repeatedly removes the sources of ritual impurity from people he encounters. These sources of impurity seem to be connected with death or the loss of life.
My scholarship has examined how Jesus roots out ritual impurity throughout his ministry. These encounters with people who are ritually impure do not depict him rejecting the ritual impurity system, but battling the root sources of impurity (forces of death) and defeating them.
These events demonstrate Jesus caring so much about ritual impurity that he took actions to resolve it wherever he encountered it, because it was a barrier to accessing the temple, where God’s presence dwelt.
These skirmishes with impurity culminate with Jesus’s own death on a Roman cross. At the very point when it looks like death has defeated Jesus and he has become irrevocably ritually impure, the Gospels depict Jesus’s resurrection and triumph over death itself. Jesus’s resurrection becomes a central aspect of Christian theology.
A lot of this depends on the accuracy of the scriptures, and that Jesus was more than legendary, but based on what appears on the surface, it is safe to say that Jesus had no intention of starting a new religion, and that he was honoring Jewish traditions during his time on earth as a teacher.
(3674) Jesus the magician
Although ancient manuscripts could be edited, changed, or forged quite easily, stone art has more permanence. This provides a window into how Christianity was perceived, particularly in the 3rd and 4th centuries. What it reveals is that Christian beliefs were not as uniform as they are in the present day, and that Jesus was often thought of as a magician. The following was taken from:
Jesus commonly appears on ancient Christian sarcophagi in the role of a magician. This comes as a surprise to many modern viewers. Catholic tradition holds that the diversity in early Christian belief stems from heresies that branched out from an original kernel of orthodoxy. This view of the roots of the early diversity in Christian belief is difficult to reconcile with the books of the New Testament – which presumably represent the earliest Christian writings – let alone the heretical works refuted by early apologists like Justin Martyr and Tertullian. Christian history also holds that, while Gnostic sects like the Valentinians existed in the city of Rome, they had died off there or conformed by the third century, and that Christian belief at that time was very similar to that of today. In contrast, the imagery from ancient Roman sarcophagi, carved in stone, is evidence of incompletely-formed Christianity in Rome late into the 4th century. This funerary imagery clearly shows the problem with interpreting the ancient Christian community solely through texts of the clergy.
Christian sarcophagi have been grossly overlooked as a tool for studying early Christianity. They’re much less vulnerable to being revised to alter their details or meaning to conform to current theology than are written materials. This is true despite the merciless “restoration” work visible on many of the sarcophagi, performed, for example, by antique dealers seeking to increase an item’s value or perhaps by 18th century apologists nervous about the lack of crosses in early Christian art. These restorations are usually very apparent, and rarely obscure the original composition (occasionally providing humor, when the deceased woman’s portrait is recarved as Jesus, or when a soldier is recarved as Peter). Furthermore, extant sarcophagi have come down to us through a much more random (less selective) process than have Christian texts, which, independent of any rewriting, have been selected for their suitability to ecclesiastic agendas while others were either banned or abandoned and forgotten. Where we have only tiny scraps of the earliest Christian manuscripts, there is a wealth of ancient information written in stone that can be inspected first-hand by anyone with access to the world’s great museums and churches. To be sure, some sarcophagi have been reworked and others are modern forgeries, but many exist, particularly in Rome, with imagery that can be solidly identified as 3rd and 4th century work. Surprisingly, the stories told by sarcophagus imagery are often different from those of the gospels.
We find that a high percentage of sarcophagus images related to scriptural texts (whether canonical or not) depict acts that would be immediately identified by ancient viewers as magic. Patristic writings reinforce this view of Jesus as magician, but specify that his powers came from a different source than those of other magicians. Jesus is the most common figure on the sarcophagi, and often performs miracles or acts of magic. The only other New Testament miracle worker to appear is Peter, the second most common figure on the sarcophagi, though the two most common scenes of Peter are noncanonical. Peter’s water miracle is the second most common scene on the sarcophagi, and he always uses a wand for his miracles. The disagreement between the narratives in existing texts and the details of sarcophagus imagery suggest that Christian thought was not nearly as uniform as Christian history suggests it was.
This creates a problem for Christianity. If it was true, then it would be expected that beliefs associated with it would start out being very consistent, and then, over time, spread out and become more diversified. But the opposite is true. Early beliefs were very different, and over time became more orthodox. This has the look of an amorphous legend that later became refined through the use of intimidation and brute force.
(3675) Leviticus bans 76 things
In case you were wondering if God sticks to the big picture, or if he is concerned with details, reading the Book of Leviticus in the Bible should remove all doubt. The following was taken from:
Here’s chapter and verse on a more-or-less comprehensive list of things banned in the Leviticus book of the bible. A decent number of them are punishable by death.
Unless you’ve never done any of them (and 54 to 56 are particularly tricky), perhaps it’s time to lay off quoting 18:22 for a while?
1. Burning any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11)
2. Failing to include salt in offerings to God (2:13)
3. Eating fat (3:17)
4. Eating blood (3:17)
5. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve witnessed (5:1)
6. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve been told about (5:1)
7. Touching an unclean animal (5:2)
8. Carelessly making an oath (5:4)
9. Deceiving a neighbor about something trusted to them (6:2)
10. Finding lost property and lying about it (6:3)
11. Bringing unauthorized fire before God (10:1)
12. Letting your hair become unkempt (10:6)
13. Tearing your clothes (10:6)
14. Drinking alcohol in holy places (bit of a problem for Catholics, this ‘un) (10:9)
15. Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (cf: camel, rabbit, pig) (11:4-7)
16. Touching the carcass of any of the above (problems here for rugby) (11:8)
17. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12)
18. Eating – or touching the carcass of – eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (11:13-19)
19. Eating – or touching the carcass of – flying insects with four legs, unless those legs are jointed (11:20-22)
20. Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (good news for cats) (11:27)
21. Eating – or touching the carcass of – the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon (11:29)
22. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any creature which crawls on many legs, or its belly (11:41-42)
23. Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4)
24. Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5)
25. Having sex with your mother (18:7)
26. Having sex with your father’s wife (18:8)
27. Having sex with your sister (18:9)
28. Having sex with your granddaughter (18:10)
29. Having sex with your half-sister (18:11)
30. Having sex with your biological aunt (18:12-13)
31. Having sex with your uncle’s wife (18:14)
32. Having sex with your daughter-in-law (18:15)
33. Having sex with your sister-in-law (18:16)
34. Having sex with a woman and also having sex with her daughter or granddaughter (bad news for Alan Clark) (18:17)
35. Marrying your wife’s sister while your wife still lives (18:18)
36. Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19)
37. Having sex with your neighbour’s wife (18:20)
38. Giving your children to be sacrificed to Molek (18:21)
39. Having sex with a man “as one does with a woman” (18:22)
40. Having sex with an animal (18:23)
41. Making idols or “metal gods” (19:4)
42. Reaping to the very edges of a field (19:9)
43. Picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard (19:10)
44. Stealing (19:11)
45. Lying (19:11)
46. Swearing falsely on God’s name (19:12)
47. Defrauding your neighbor (19:13)
48. Holding back the wages of an employee overnight (not well observed these days) (19:13)
49. Cursing the deaf or abusing the blind (19:14)
50. Perverting justice, showing partiality to either the poor or the rich (19:15)
51. Spreading slander (19:16)
52. Doing anything to endanger a neighbour’s life (19:16)
53. Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18)
54. Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)
55. Cross-breeding animals (19:19)
56. Planting different seeds in the same field (19:19)
57. Sleeping with another man’s slave (19:20)
58. Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23)
59. Practicing divination or seeking omens (tut, tut astrology) (19:26)
60. Trimming your beard (19:27)
61. Cutting your hair at the sides (19:27)
62. Getting tattoos (19:28)
63. Making your daughter prostitute herself (19:29)
64. Turning to mediums or spiritualists (19:31)
65. Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)
66. Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (19:33-34)
67. Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36)
68. Cursing your father or mother (punishable by death) (20:9)
69. Marrying a prostitute, divorcee or widow if you are a priest (21:7,13)
70. Entering a place where there’s a dead body as a priest (21:11)
71. Slaughtering a cow/sheep and its young on the same day (22:28)
72. Working on the Sabbath (23:3)
73. Blasphemy (punishable by stoning to death) (24:14)
74. Inflicting an injury; killing someone else’s animal; killing a person must be punished in kind (24:17-22)
75. Selling land permanently (25:23)
76. Selling an Israelite as a slave (foreigners are fine) (25:42)
This should cause any Christian to stop and reflect. Does it really make sense that Yahweh himself was so invested in the minutia of what humans were doing, or is it more likely that certain people made up rules that they thought made sense for their time and place, or which provided them with a certain degree of power?
(3676) Pasting Christianity onto Judaism
Christianity is a retrofit. It started going in one direction, but then a roadblock occurred (Jesus getting killed by instead of conquering the Romans), so then it took a new tack, this time in a direction that created a separate religion, but one that wanted to affix itself atop the existing one (Judaism). The final product was more like a hodge podge than something uniquely designed. The following was taken from:
That’s because the entire Christian notion of Jesus as God incarnate is one that was made up after the fact (and over a long period of time), and which had to reconcile some contradictory facts (that Jesus was supposedly the messiah, and that Jesus had been crucified by the Romans) and retroactively jam the round peg of Christian theology into the square hole of the Jewish scriptures.
Jesus himself was a Jew, who followed the Law and urged others to do the same, and who evidently understood himself as a Jew preaching Judaism rather than God Incarnate preaching a new religion, Christianity.
Jesus’s followers, and possibly Jesus himself, believed him to be the Jewish messiah: that is, literally, the “anointed one”, the (future and rightful) anointed King of Israel. And given the fact that Israel was under Roman occupation, to be the anointed King of Israel meant throwing off the Roman occupation and restoring Israel as a sovereign nation.
So Jesus is the Jewish messiah… But then he got crucified by the Romans, the very people he was supposed to defeat. One can’t have been crucified by the Romans, and be the one to defeat the Romans and restore the kingship of Israel.
So Jesus’s followers had to come up with a new definition for being the messiah, one that can be consistent with his having been crucified: Jesus isn’t supposed to defeat the Romans or restore an Earthly kingdom, but is defeating death and establishing a heavenly kingdom. And eventually this involves Jesus being not only some sort of spiritual or angelic figure, but of being God himself incarnate (and eventually, the third member of the Holy Trinity).
So the followers of Jesus have essentially just created a new religion. But new religions popped up all the time, in order to be taken seriously a religion needed an ancient pedigree. One way to do that would be to claim continuity with an existing religion (such as Judaism), and that’s exactly what the followers of Jesus did. But now they had to create a basis for their beliefs about Jesus and their novel conception of the messiah, and this is how you get these bizarre claims about Jesus fulfilling various prophecies or scriptural passages from the Jewish scripture and being the “new Adam” and so on.
So the Christian conception of Jesus Christ is sort of this retro-fitted, duct-taped together mishmash of nonsense that got pieced together over many decades, and is based almost completely on theological and political motivations rather than any rational or evidential ones. And so that’s why its such a hot mess.
It is incredibly unlikely that a Jewish preacher, one who had garnered a lot of popularity around Judea and Galilee, had any intention to start a new religion, especially one that would appeal mostly to the gentiles. It is almost certain that if Jesus had not been crucified, but rather lived out his life and died of natural causes, that Christianity would never have happened. Instead there would be a sect of Judaism that followed the teaching of Jesus.
(3677) Religions reflect the culture where they originate
In the final analysis, religions are a cultural artifact, reflecting the ethics, mores, and morality of the time they were created, or else the times during which they were modified. This fact is well seen in Christianity, as it embodies the rather crude (relative to today) society in which it was born. The following was taken from:
Modern Christians dismiss bible passages promoting slavery, homophobia and misogyny as totally irrelevant. Their excuse is we live in much different times then the people who wrote the bible. We’re supposedly more enlightened because they were wrong. But how do they know this? How do they know their god would agree with this? What is their criteria for determining which bible passages are correct and which incorrect?
The fact of the matter is that religion is a cultural activity. Your religion is generally determined by which culture you were born into. If your culture promotes gender equality and gay rights, your religion will promote those values too; if your culture promotes slavery, female (or male) “circumcision” and child marriage, chances are your religion will promote those practices as well.
Anything within the religion itself that contradicts the narrative accepted by society, such as bible passages that are simply indefensible from a modern perspective, is resolved through cherry picking and cognitive dissonance.
You can learn a lot about a Christian’s culture by looking at how they view their god. For example, if god is accepting of diversity, equity and inclusion, they come from a liberal culture; if not, they come from one that is conservative.
Although, some modifications have been made to Christianity, it has the disadvantage of being confined by the Bible, which has been revered as being ‘co-written by God, ‘and so any changes can only come begrudgingly, to try to maintain the veneer of it being a supernatural text. If Christianity was originating today, it would reflect modern culture- there would be no talk of slavery, no sexism (placing men above women), no condemnation of homosexuality, no mention of witches, or even angels or demons, and almost certainly no mention of a place where people will be tortured for eternity.
(3678) Bible fails prophecy standards
One way to demonstrate that the Bible is the product of a supernatural authority is to show that it has text that has reliably predicted the future. Although the claim is often made that biblical prophecies have been accurately fulfilled, a closer examination reveals that none of them comply with rigid standards of prophecy. The following was taken from:
One of the main more indirect and vague assertions Christians (and other religions) like to make is the idea that it fulfills some sort of prophecy. And to its credit I would add that IF true it would be considered effort, a prophecy would count towards proof of a God and/or supernatural entity that could transcend time and space being able to predict events yet to pass. However, all prophecy claims by Christian in my opinion have not met to the criteria of such claims, so I decided to write out what criteria there is for a prophecy within reason. I believe that no such prophecy from the Bible has been fulfilled and met this standard(s).
1) The prophecy has to be specific and keep vagueness to a minimum: pretty obvious if you want a reliable prophecy the method of how it was fulfilled should be specified beforehand and clearly.
2) The prophecy must have been fulfilled within a specific and established time frame: this one is clear as well, it cannot claim “x city will fall in the future” because cities always fall and rise, it has to have happened within a clearly specified time prediction.
3) The event of the prophecy should have been reasonably unexpected to the people of the time. A prophecy on an event that was expected does not count for obvious grounds that any mortal could have predicted it and it completely hand waves away any divine insight.
4) The prophecy has to have been written before the event, post event prophecies do not count because they were no longer a prophecy predicting future events.
5) Self fulfilling prophecies should not be counted: For example the Jews returning to Israel has been directly influenced and motivated through justification of scripture.
6) NT prophecies fulfilled by OT claims do not count like verses about messianic prophecy because we do not have historical evidence of the claims being made + it’s reasonable that the NT authors had knowledge of messianic prophecies from the OT hence they fabricated it into the text.
Every Bible prophecy fails on at least one of these points. If God actually wanted to give us a true, undeniable prophecy, he could have done so. For example, he could have caused the following scripture to have been written:
“And the day will come when it will be known that the sun is 40 times farther distant than the moon.”
Such a ‘prophecy’ or prediction of future knowledge would have electrified interest in the Bible, and would have been strong evidence that something other than human intelligence was involved.
(3679) How ‘soon’ became ‘anytime’
Most contemporary Christians are unaware that 1st Century Christians were virtually certain that Jesus would return within their lifetimes. Their expectations were adjusted only after many decades passed without the arrival of Jesus. Instead of saying Jesus would return ‘soon,’ it became more likely for them to say that he could come at ‘anytime.’ It is a difficult task for an apologist to explain why early Christian authors (and followers) acquired such a false impression. The following was taken from:
The early followers of Jesus were deeply apocalyptic, but not just in the technical sense of ‘apocalypse’ meaning ‘revelation’. The ancient literary genre of the apocalypse was dominated by predictions about the end of the world. This community, diverse as it was, believed that God’s plan for the end of the world had been revealed to them. Through Jesus’ teachings, and especially through his resurrection, they knew the end was near.
Protestant Christianity is today commonly known for its many sects which boldly proclaim that the ‘end times’ are upon us. This worldview is usually associated with Baptist, Charismatic, and Pentecostal denominations, as well as groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, or various Worldwide Church of God splinter churches. Yet, this thinking is not at all new. It can be found across the last two thousand years. Most Christians are aware of these predictions, and dismiss them as bad theology gone awry. Often, Mark 13.32 is cited to explain away these failed predictions: ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the Father.’
While apocalyptically-minded ministers proclaim that Jesus will return in our near future, many Christians are unaware just how deeply apocalyptic the earliest followers of Jesus were. Their predictions about the imminent end are found across the New Testament and other early Christian literature. But as time dragged on and these predictions failed to be fulfilled, the idea that the end was about to happen was gradually replaced by a more ‘realized’ eschatology: the end could still occur at any moment, but Christian theology increasingly emphasized the present reality of salvation and new creation over the future arrival of those things. The word ‘soon’ lost all meaning and became ‘any time’.
The examples below do not simply show that early Christians believed they were living through the world’s final days. They also show how this was more than a common opinion; it was the cornerstone of their theology. The resurrection of Jesus in the recent past was essential to their entire belief system. Likewise, the return of Jesus in the near future was equally essential, and a direct consequence of Jesus’ resurrection.
1 Thess 4.16–17 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in the Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.
1 Cor 4.9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals.
1 Cor 7.26–31 I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. […] I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
1 Cor 10.11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
1 Cor 15.20–23, 51–52 But in fact the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in the Messiah. But each in his own order: the Messiah the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to the Messiah. […] Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Php 4.5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Rom 8.18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
Rom 13.11–12 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.
Rom 16.20 The God of peace will soon crush the satan under your feet.
1.15 ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
8.38–9.1 ‘Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the son of man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.’
13.28–31 ‘Then they will see the son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’
14.61–62 Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am. And you will see the son of man seated at the right hand of the power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’
11.29–30 But some were demanding a sign from him. But he said, ‘This generation is an evil generation. It asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the son of man will be to this generation.’
3.1–2 In those days John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
3.7–9 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor.” For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
4.17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
10.14–15, ‘If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. […] When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. For truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the son of man comes.’
16.27–28 ‘For the son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the son of man coming in his kingdom.’
23.32–36 ‘So, fill up the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to Gehinnom? Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you shall come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.’
24.30–35 ‘And they will see the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’
26.63–64 Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the son of man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
1.1–2 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.
8.13 In speaking of a new covenant, he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.
10.24–25 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
10.37 For yet in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay.
5.1–3 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.
5.8–9 Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the judge is standing at the gates.
17–19 But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus the Messiah; for they said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.’ It is these worldly people, devoid of the spirit, who are causing divisions.
1.20 He was destined before the foundation of the world, but he was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.
4.7 The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.
4.17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God. If it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
REVELATION OF JOHN
1.1 A revelation of Jesus the Messiah, which God gave him to show his slaves what must happen soon.
1.3 Blessed is the one who reads, and the ones who hear the words of the prophecy, and the ones who keep what is written in it, because the time is near.
2.5 ‘So remember where you have fallen from and repent, and do the first works. But if not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand from its place if you do not repent.’
2.16 ‘So repent. But if not, I am coming to you soon, and I will wage war against them with the sword of my mouth.’
3.11 ‘I am coming soon. Grasp what you have so that no one may take your laurel.’
22.6 And he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets sent his angel to show his slaves what must happen soon.’
22.10 And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of this scroll’s prophecy, because the time is near.’
22.12 ‘See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to give each according to his work.’
22.20 The one who witnesses these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon. Amen.’ Come, Lord Jesus.
2.18 Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that an anti-messiah is coming, so now many anti-messiahs have come. From this we know that it is the last hour.
4.1–3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus the Messiah has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the anti-messiah, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world.
7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus the Messiah has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the anti-messiah!
Eph 11.1 The end times have come upon us, so let us, then, be of a reverent spirit and fear God’s patience, so it will not turn to our judgment.
Mag 6.1 Jesus the Messiah, who was with the Father before the ages and appeared at the end of time.
SHEPHERD OF HERMAS
Vis 3.8.9 Then I asked her about the times, if the end is now. But she cried out, saying, ‘Foolish man, do you not see the tower is still being built? So when the tower’s construction is finished, the end comes. But, it will be built up soon.’
Vis 4.3.3–5 I said to her, ‘Lady, [I saw] a huge wild animal, which could have destroyed entire peoples. However, by the power of the Lord and his great mercy, I escaped it.’
‘You escaped it well,’ she said, ‘because you cast your anxiety upon God and opened your heart to the Lord, believing that you could be by nothing other than his great and glorious name. […] You escaped a great tribulation […] So go and tell the Lord’s chosen ones […] that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is about to come.’
Par 9.3.2 The virgins standing around the gate told the men to hurry up building the tower.
Par 9.12.2–3 ‘The son of God is older than all his creation, so he became the Father’s counselor in his creation. So it is ancient.’
‘But why is the gate new, lord?’ I said.
‘Because,’ he said, ‘he was made manifest in the last days of [the tower’s] completion. So the gate is newly made, so those who are about to be saved may enter through it into the kingdom of God.’
16.5 Again, it was revealed how the city and the temple and the people of Israel should be handed over. For the scripture says, ‘And it will be in the last days that the Lord shall hand over the sheep of the pasture and the enclosure and their tower to destruction.’ And it came to pass.
At the end of the day, a book full of false promises should be discarded. Jesus did not come back as promised, and at some point, it will time for Christians to admit that he isn’t coming back at all.
(3680) Who was the Pharaoh in Exodus?
Supposedly the Jews were held captive in Egypt for hundreds of years, so they should have been acquainted with all of the pharaohs there. But for some strange reason, the biblical account of the exodus from Egypt, a story that featured the then current pharaoh to a great extent, never includes the name of that person. It is flagrant omission. The following was taken from
My question is simply: Who was the Pharaoh of Exodus?
What was his name?
That seems like such a blindingly obvious question that few even ask it, and fewer still ask why the story never sees fit to mention his name.
I cannot believe a story that seemingly does not know such a simple, obvious and easy detail. It’s literally unbelievable that they never mention his name.
It’s such a colossal, staggering omission. Imagine if you were reading a history of the second world war and the leader of the axis powers was only ever referred to as the furher. Would that strike you as odd?
Would you start to wonder why?
Would you believe anything else in that history book?
You will never encounter a Christian (or Jew) who can explain this baffling oversight – believe me, I have asked.
Why is the Pharaoh never named? No believer can answer that. Most will just look stunned for a moment, and then sort of stammer that that’s not important.
I privately suspect that not one in one hundred has ever read Exodus and knew he was never named before I asked.
Of course the real answer is that the story is fictional and the creators didn’t know the names of any Pharaohs.
Which is bloody lucky, when you think about it.
Today we have an essentially complete list of Pharaohs, along with pretty good regnal dates for all of them. The creators of the exodus story didn’t have that. If the creators of the story had made up a name it would be embarrassing.
But yeah… One of the most important, defining ‘events’ in your entire mythology sorry, ‘history’ and you forget to jot down the guy’s name.
This is tell-tale marker letting the reader know that they are reading a fictional story. It is like the canary in the coal mine, and the canary is dead. Christians often tout the fact that real people, like Herod and Pilate, are named in the Bible, and so this allegedly gives a bit of historical credence to the account, but the Exodus account does not share that attribute. It is one more reason to conclude that this story is fiction, and that the ten plagues and the Passover never occurred.
(3681) Evaluating evidence for a soul
Christianity’s truth rests on whether an immaterial soul exists, such that it operates within the human body and will continue to live on after the death of the body. So either a soul exists, and there will be an afterlife, or it doesn’t and this is our only life. The following explores the evidence associated with these two possibilities:
We have two models of how human minds work.
H1: One posits that everything that makes you, ‘you’, your memories, self concept, conscuous experience, etc is a result of brain activity. If you were a car, you’d be a self-driven car.
H2: The second model posits that there is a ‘soul’, a ghost in the machine that somehow operates the brain and thus the body. If you were a car, you’d be a teleoperated car.
First fact to recognize is that, regardless of what you may think about evidence for the material world, we have comparably zero evidence for the spiritual world. So, positing a soul is like positing magic fairies. We’ve never observed such a thing, or even anything in that realm. The hypothesis should be dead on arrival.
But let’s ignore that, and let’s evaluate H1 and H2. The question is: given what we know can be damaged or irrevocably changed by altering brains, what is more likely, H1 or H2?
Memories can change. Personality can change. Values and goals can change. Self-concept can change. The character of conscious experience can change. People can develop multiple split personalities. Etc.
All of this is perfectly compatible with H1. However, to continue to maintain H2 in light of this evidence, you have to assign less and less power to the ‘player’ (soul), to the point where they’re not playing at all.
Following the gaming analogy: if the game has a huge glitch and one of the NPCs changes their values and goals completely (think Gandhi in Civ IV going from a pacifist to a bloodthirsty dictator), we can attribute that to a damaged AI. If, on the other hand, a player controlled character changes their values and goals after damage to the game, it is reasonable to conclude there is no player or somehow the player is no longer in control (which is practically equivalent to there being no player).
If H2 was true, we would expect that the personality of people would be remarkably consistent, even in the case of brain damage, age-related changes, or in the event of excess drug or alcohol intake. But we observe the opposite. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that H1 is correct, and that the death of the body will result in a permanent loss of consciousness. The Christian claim of an afterlife is not supported by any credible evidence.
(3682) Pet apocalypse
If Christians are correct, at some time in the (near?) future, Jesus will return and all of his faithful followers, both dead and alive, will be jettisoned off of the planet and taken to heaven. The damned will be sent to hell. The locations of either of these places is not well established, but most Christians will say that they are in some other ‘dimension’ of the universe. Very few believe that heaven or hell will exist on the earth.
What this implies is that all humans will be taken off of the planet, either immediately or after several years of ‘tribulation.’ Because Christian theology does not support the idea that animals will be raptured, it can be assumed that everyone’s pets, their horses and other farm animals, zoo animals, aquatic animals in aquariums, as well as all animals in nature will be left behind on the earth. Then what happens?
Some Christians believe that their pets will be raptured along with them. Does this also include their pets that have died? If not, is it just bad luck if a dog dies before the rapture? Does this mean that the lucky living dogs and cats and other pets will have eternal life in heaven?
The scriptures make it clear that there will be no marrying in heaven (Matthew 22:30, At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven) so why would a pet be with you if your spouse is not?
Very few Christians think this far about what heaven might be like. But if you convince them that they will not be married and that their pets will not be there (and likely slowly dying back on earth), is it likely that they would consider the experience to be ‘heavenly’?
(3683) God is the only being who deserves hell
If God is truly omnipotent, and hell exists, and it is, as the Bible states, the final and eternal punishment venue for the majority of humanity, then God is an infinitely immoral monster. Hell could exist only because he wants it to exist (he is omnipotent, right?). The following was taken from:
If inflicting infinite punishment for finite crimes is infinitely immoral, then the Christian god is an infinitely immoral monster who deserves to rot forever in the hell he created for humanity
The concept of hell is immoral and disgusting. Forcing people to believe under threat of eternal torture is downright manipulative and traumatizing. The people serving this god aren’t good people at all. They’re scared of being tortured for eternity so they abdicate their autonomy to become the brainless personal devotees of some personality cult.
Scaring people into doing what you want does not make you good. In the case of the Christian god, it makes him the worst monster to have ever existed. Fortunately for us, he doesn’t exist.
The god described by Christianity should be vilified by every human being as a spectacularly cruel ‘mob boss’, who extorts slave worship under the threat of unending torture. Anyone who worships such a thug should not be respected. There’s only one being who belongs in hell- the fucker who created it.
(3684) No default setting for human belief in gods
It is commonly thought that humans are ‘hard-wired’ to believe in gods, and often this assertion is used to provide evidence that we live in a world created-by, inhabited-by, and controlled-by supernatural beings. However, the truth is that atheism has been ubiquitous throughout ancient history. The following was taken from:
People in the ancient world did not always believe in the gods, a new study suggests – casting doubt on the idea that religious belief is a “default setting” for humans.
Despite being written out of large parts of history, atheists thrived in the polytheistic societies of the ancient world – raising considerable doubts about whether humans really are “wired” for religion – a new study suggests.
The claim is the central proposition of a new book by Tim Whitmarsh, Professor of Greek Culture and a Fellow of St John’s College, University of Cambridge. In it, he suggests that atheism – which is typically seen as a modern phenomenon – was not just common in ancient Greece and pre-Christian Rome, but probably flourished more in those societies than in most civilizations since.
As a result, the study challenges two assumptions that prop up current debates between atheists and believers: Firstly, the idea that atheism is a modern point of view, and second, the idea of “religious universalism” – that humans are naturally predisposed, or “wired”, to believe in gods.
The book, titled Battling The Gods, is being launched in Cambridge on Tuesday (February 16).
“We tend to see atheism as an idea that has only recently emerged in secular Western societies,” Whitmarsh said. “The rhetoric used to describe it is hyper-modern. In fact, early societies were far more capable than many since of containing atheism within the spectrum of what they considered normal.”
“Rather than making judgements based on scientific reason, these early atheists were making what seem to be universal objections about the paradoxical nature of religion – the fact that it asks you to accept things that aren’t intuitively there in your world. The fact that this was happening thousands of years ago suggests that forms of disbelief can exist in all cultures, and probably always have.”
The book argues that disbelief is actually “as old as the hills”. Early examples, such as the atheistic writings of Xenophanes of Colophon (c.570-475 BCE) are contemporary with Second Temple-era Judaism, and significantly predate Christianity and Islam. Even Plato, writing in the 4th Century BCE, said that contemporary non-believers were “not the first to have had this view about the gods.”
Because atheism’s ancient history has largely gone unwritten, however, Whitmarsh suggests that it is also absent from both sides of the current monotheist/atheist debate. While atheists depict religion as something from an earlier, more primitive stage of human development, the idea of religious universalism is also built partly on the notion that early societies were religious by nature because to believe in god is an inherent, “default setting” for humans.
Neither perspective is true, Whitmarsh suggests: “Believers talk about atheism as if it’s a pathology of a particularly odd phase of modern Western culture that will pass, but if you ask someone to think hard, clearly people also thought this way in antiquity.”
His book surveys one thousand years of ancient history to prove the point, teasing out the various forms of disbelief expressed by philosophical movements, writers and public figures.
These were made possible in particular by the fundamental diversity of polytheistic Greek societies. Between 650 and 323 BCE, Greece had an estimated 1,200 separate city states, each with its own customs, traditions and governance. Religion expressed this variety, as a matter of private cults, village rituals and city festivals dedicated to numerous divine entities.
This meant that there was no such thing as religious orthodoxy. The closest the Greeks got to a unifying sacred text were Homer’s epics, which offered no coherent moral vision of the gods, and indeed often portrayed them as immoral. Similarly, there was no specialized clergy telling people how to live: “The idea of a priest telling you what to do was alien to the Greek world,” Whitmarsh said.
As a result, while some people viewed atheism as mistaken, it was rarely seen as morally wrong. In fact, it was usually tolerated as one of a number of viewpoints that people could adopt on the subject of the gods. Only occasionally was it actively legislated against, such as in Athens during the 5th Century BCE, when Socrates was executed for “not recognizing the gods of the city.”
While atheism came in various shapes and sizes, Whitmarsh also argues that there were strong continuities across the generations. Ancient atheists struggled with fundamentals that many people still question today – such as how to deal with the problem of evil, and how to explain aspects of religion which seem implausible.
These themes extend from the work of early thinkers – like Anaximander and Anaximenes, who tried to explain why phenomena such as thunder and earthquakes actually had nothing to do with the gods – through to famous writers like Euripides, whose plays openly criticized divine causality. Perhaps the most famous group of atheists in the ancient world, the Epicureans, argued that there was no such thing as predestination and rejected the idea that the gods had any control over human life.
The age of ancient atheism ended, Whitmarsh suggests, because the polytheistic societies that generally tolerated it were replaced by monotheistic imperial forces that demanded an acceptance of one, “true” God. Rome’s adoption of Christianity in the 4th Century CE was, he says, “seismic”, because it used religious absolutism to hold the Empire together.
Most of the later Roman Empire’s ideological energy was expended fighting supposedly heretical beliefs – often other forms of Christianity. In a decree of 380, Emperor Theodosius I even drew a distinction between Catholics, and everyone else – whom he classed as dementes vesanosque (“demented lunatics”). Such rulings left no room for disbelief.
Whitmarsh stresses that his study is not designed to prove, or disprove, the truth of atheism itself. On the book’s first page, however, he adds: “I do, however, have a strong conviction – that has hardened in the course of researching and writing this book – that cultural and religious pluralism, and free debate, are indispensable to the good life.”
The fact that belief in gods is not a preset tendency of human minds suggests that the fabric of reality is made of a natural substrate. It is especially interesting that atheism thrived in eras where science could not explain natural phenomena, such as lightning and thunder, that were often mistaken by prehistoric people as the actions of gods. The argument that humans have a default belief in gods, or that they were somehow designed to be that way, does not match the evidence.
(3685) Son of God, not God the Son
The doctrine of the Trinity is firmly ensconced in most Christian denominations despite being non-biblical. It is not the only Christian tradition that developed after the Bible was finished, but it is the most significant, and the most damning. The following discusses why trinitarian beliefs are foolish:
Those who worship Jesus Christ do so because they believe that Jesus is God. In other words they adhere to the doctrine of the trinity. That doctrine is not taught in the scriptures. Jesus is repeatedly referred to a the “Son of God” in the bible but not once is he called “God the Son.”
“He said to them: “You, though, who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 In response Jesus said to him: “Happy you are, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father in the heavens did.” Matthew 16:15–17
The bible uses terms that we humans can easily understand. We all know the relationship between a father and a son and we all know the father is not the son nor is the son the father. Speaking of Jesus the bible says this:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;” Colossians 1:15
That verse shows two things. First of all that Jesus was created. He was the very first thing that was created thus he is the “firstborn of all creation” and secondly he is “the image of the invisible God.” Just as my son has been called the spitting image of me so it is with Jesus and his father. He has inherited the qualities of his father and he reflects those qualities.
The doctrine of the trinity was unheard of in Christianity until many years after the death of Jesus. It was then that apostate Christians began to absorb pagan religious ideologies and beliefs into Christianity. This corrupting of Christian beliefs was finalized at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 C.E.
“The Council of Nicaea met on May 20, 325 [C.E.]. Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father.’ . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.”
—Encyclopedia Britannica (1970), Volume 6, page 386
The Encyclopedia Britannica also states:
“Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies.”
But didn’t Jesus said that he and the Father are one? Yes Jesus did say that.
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30
What did he mean when he said that? Did he mean that they were the same person? No. If saying that they are one makes him God then the following verse make all the disciples of Jesus God also.
“I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word, 21 so that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” John 17:20,21
Jesus here was praying to his heavenly father. If he was the Father why would he pray to himself? It is clear that Jesus is in union and harmony with his Father in order to accomplish his Father’s will. He was asking that his disciples be granted the same status.
So, we are left with this question- if the Trinity is correct theology, why didn’t God make sure that it was clearly presented in the scriptures? If the Trinity is incorrect theology, why did God allow it to become so widely believed? Either way, God is remiss…or absent.
(3686) What if Lazarus had been cremated
The story of Jesus raising Lazarus four days after he had died (John Chapter 11) is one the most famous in Christian lore. The fact that it appears in none of the other three gospels doesn’t faze most Christians (although it should).
But if we think of this in a more modern context, consider the situation where Lazarus has been cremated and his ashes have been cast into a lake. Now Jesus appears days later and there is no corpse, no tomb, and nothing other than memories of his friend. What does he do now?
So, if we try to imagine the scene, as if we were directing a movie, would we have Jesus stand in the courtyard and conjure up some mambo-jumbo words and suddenly out of nowhere, Lazarus suddenly pops into view, standing good as new?
This would be like constructing a clone after the fact. But we know that if a clone was made while Lazarus was still alive, it would not be Lazarus himself, but rather it would be analogous to his twin. So how could the posthumous clone be Lazarus himself?
The entire story seems to hinge on the fact that Lazarus’ decaying body remained in the tomb. The alternate scenario of cremation doesn’t work. This might be why some Christians decry cremation. But in the minds of the un-indoctrinated, a dead body is the same whether it is entombed or cremated- it is not coming back to life either way.
(3687) Second Thessalonians was damage control
The Second Letter to the Thessalonians has long been considered to have been written by a different person than Paul, although it was deceptively fashioned to appear as his authorship. It was likely written well after Paul’s death, and its purpose appears to have been to reset expectations regarding the timing of Jesus’ second coming. The following was taken from:
Scholars who see 2 Thess as pseudepigraphical often claim that it conveys an eschatology contrary to 1 Thess.
Second Thess claims that the Thessalonikans are fully aware—‘you know’—that a series of prerequisites must happen before the eschaton can begin. There must be a ‘rebellion’, the exaltation of a ‘lawless one’, a desecration of ‘the temple of God’, various satanic miracles, and finally the parousia of Jesus. The author criticizes the Thessalonikans, ‘Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was with you?’
First Thess was written in response to a letter Paul received from the Thessalonikan church: some of their comrades have since died, so did they miss out on the new creation? Paul must reply to teach his despairing students a point of theology he apparently failed to explain when he only briefly visited with them in-person: those dead companions have not missed out, because in fact Jesus will raise them back to life at the time of his parousia.
A historical reconstruction may go as follows: Paul arrived in Thessalonika and proclaimed the gospel. Some locals came to believe, so Paul laid out for them a scant framework of his theology—including the return of Jesus and a new creation—before leaving for another city. Soon after, some of their number died. They wrote a letter to Paul, worrying that their dead friends would never see the new world. The very premise of the 1 Thess correspondence is that, based on what Paul taught them, the Thessalonikans expected the end would occur in the immediate future, without warning, but these recent deaths threw a wrench in their faith. Paul’s response in 1 Thess was not to tell them they had misunderstood when the eschaton would occur; he doesn’t suggest it was later than they expected. Rather, he reiterates his belief that he and some of them (‘we’) would still be alive when Jesus returned, but that the dead would be rewarded before the living.
If the Thessalonikans were already informed in-person by Paul that the eschaton had a list of prerequisites, potentially delaying the eschaton by years, decades, or longer, why would the people have been so distressed by any of their members dying? They would have expected this to be a possibility because—as 2 Thess claims—Paul already taught them a rather elaborate eschatology. The intention of 2 Thess was to temper apocalyptic expectations, to dial back the notion that the parousia would happen ‘like a thief in the night’ in the near future.
Aside from the author of 2 Thess actively attempting to dissuade his readers from trusting at least some other letters claiming to be from Paul (2.1–2; 2.15; 3.17), the eschatological contradiction between 2 Thess and Paul’s undisputed letters is most clear in the use of a specific verb.
2 Thess 2.1–2
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is ἐνέστηκεν.
1 Cor 7.26, 29, 31
I think that, in view of the ἐνεστῶσαν crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. … I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short … and let those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
The verb ἐνίστημι means ‘to be at hand’, but its tense ενεστηκεν brings this imminent event into the ‘present’ time. In his undisputed letters, Paul repeatedly insists the eschaton is imminent, and the passage with the most similar usage of ἐνίστημι is a paragraph (1 Cor 7.26–31) where Paul relays his urgency three separate times (‘the impending crisis’; ‘the appointed time has grown short’; ‘the present form of this world is passing away’). First Cor 7.26 uses ἐνίστημι in the form ἐνεστῶσαν, giving it the meaning of ‘present’. Paul is not calling the crisis merely ‘impending’, but ‘present’; it is not coming over the horizon, it has arrived.
Second Thess 2.2 denies what Paul himself insists in his undisputed letters, that the end times were already underway. It is possible 2 Thess is a pseudepigraphical text attempting ‘damage control’ over a delayed eschaton.
Early Christians believed that Jesus was going to return ‘very soon,’ in fact so soon as to make most earthly matters irrelevant. So, when Jesus failed to return as expected, something had to be done to assure the faithful that they were still on the right track. Second Thessalonians was a fraudulent attempt to meet that goal, to make it look like Paul knew all along that the eschaton would be delayed.
(3688) Christianity’s fundamental flaw
The question is often asked why did Jesus need to be punished and killed in order for God to forgive people? The following is a good analogy:
“Imagine you’re in a hospital dying of cancer. One day, a man walks in and says ‘Let’s take all the cancer cells out of your body, and put them in my body.’ That’s what Jesus did with your sins on the cross.”
At the time, I thought it was weird, but never really critically assessed it. Looking back, it’s insane. If we could just pull cancer cells out of a body, why would we put them into a different body?
But ultimately it really points out major flaws in Christian theology. If God is capable of taking sin from a person and putting them on someone else, then surely he is equally capable of destroying sin without the aid of another person.
Imagine a doctor excising a cancerous tumor from someone and then placing it in another person. That is what God allegedly did, placing the tumor in his own son, such that it would kill him. This is bad theology, bad philosophy, and a bad example to set for humankind.
(3689) Afterlife belief followed failure to see current life benefits
Early humans developed a belief that there were supernatural agents pulling the strings of nature, a sun god, a moon god, a god of thunder, and so forth. Even as the gods became more sophisticated, they continued to be tied to natural phenomena, or, in some cases, cultural issues such as gods of fertility and gods of war.
But, for the most part, human belief in and worship of gods was directed at obtaining favors from the gods to ameliorate the conditions of the present life. Belief in an afterlife was not particularly strong.
A good example is the Jewish faith. From what we can tell from the early scriptures (Torah and beyond), the Jews did not emphasize the existence of an afterlife, other than a shadowy and evanescent place called Sheol, which really had nothing in common with modern theories about heaven.
That is, until approximately 200 BCE, when we begin to see some texts that mention a substantial and fully conscious experience in the afterlife. What spawned this change? A leading theory is the Jews became disillusioned by the fact that they were faring no better than the gentiles in this world, and how could that be if they had the only god, or, even if they held polytheistic beliefs, the best and strongest god on their side?
So, the natural way to resolve this conundrum was to imagine that the score would be resolved in a future life where they above all others would enjoy the favors of God. This theory implies that the failure to gain expected benefits from their god in this life spawned the belief in an afterlife, so as to resolve their cognitive dissonance.
This same template likely played out in other cultural venues- ‘if the gods are failing us in this life, then they must be planning to reward us in the afterlife.’ That was one way to resolve the failure to see benefits in this life- the other was to realize that the gods simply don’t exist.
(3690) Theists underestimate omnipotence
Christians mindlessly tout their god as being omnipotent and omni-benevolent while at the same time underestimating what these terms imply. A world governed by a god with those attributes would look very different from ours. The following was taken from:
An omnipotent, omniscient, unerring, and benevolent creator would be able to resolve any and all problems, inconsistencies, and imperfections, while keeping all the other things intact, even if it may seem illogical. After all, it was the creator who defined and created logic.
- Offer irrefutable proof of one’s existence while preserving free will.
- Remove any and all suffering while keeping any “moral lessons” the suffering purports to provide.
- Make a world that is not rife with evidence for the natural origin of the cosmos, planets, life, and religion.
- Create life that is not arranged into a seemingly evolutionary tree.
- Provide a clear divide between animals without souls and animals with souls.
- Make the word of god clearly and indisputably distinct from all human or natural creations.
- Make the “true faith” utterly distinct from the other human-made ideologies and false religions.
- Clearly separate the general feeling of awe from the feeling of god’s presence.
- Treat any and all illnesses and ailments of all believers. The “divine plan” must have already accounted for their suffering, and would have been changed to accommodate them without changing the rest of the plan.
- Be involved with human affairs from the start, and not only introduce oneself after millions of years of the species’ existence.
- Reveal oneself globally, simultaneously, without preference for ethnicity or region.
Any objections to these ranking such as “but that would negate free will” or “that’s not God’s plan” or “you will get your reward in the next life” or “you just cannot comprehend God” are moot. An omnipotent entity could have resolved any and all of these, plus those we cannot fathom, while keeping any number of creation’s aspects intact.
The fact that the world could be improved in even one single way is irrefutable proof of the non-existence of a benevolent omnipotent creator.
The best refutation of the claim of God’s omnipotence is simply taking an objective view of the world as it exists. The only viable explanation for theists is to admit that God deliberately damages the world while hiding evidence of his existence. This hardly seems like a deity that deserves worship. Barring that concession, it leads to a god who is not all powerful, who has no ability to answer prayers or avert tragedies, and who might as well not exist at all.
(3691) The angelic demon
When you are writing fiction, fatigue or even subtle carelessness can result in embarrassing contradictions, and that is what happened when the author was writing about a scene in Acts, Chapter 16:
One day as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl with a spirit of divination, who earned a large income for her masters by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!”
She continued this for many days. Eventually Paul grew so aggravated that he turned and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” And the spirit left her at that very moment.
It makes no sense that a bad spirit, one that needed to be exorcised, would be proudly proclaiming orthodox Christian theology . Beyond the obvious contradiction, this story includes the alleged existence of a spirit that can overtake the vocal instrument of a human being- by now, we all know that this is pure, unadulterated mythology.
(3692) Cultural background of Jesus’ miracles
It is important to consider the cultural background of the times that existed during the birth and early years of Christianity. What this reveals is that the types of miracles described in the gospels were widely believed to have been performed by people other than Jesus. This suggests that the gospel authors took advantage of this situation to include similar stories, knowing that they would be considered credible. The following was taken from:
Miracles were widely believed in around the time of Jesus. Gods and demigods such as Heracles (better known by his Roman name, Hercules), Asclepius (a Greek physician who became a god) and Isis of Egypt all were thought to have healed the sick and overcome death (i.e. have raised people from the dead) .Some thought that mortal men, if sufficiently famous and virtuous, could do likewise; there were myths about philosophers like Pythagoras and Empedocles calming storms at sea, chasing away pestilences, and being greeted as gods, and similarly some Jews believed that Elisha the Prophet had cured lepers and restored the dead. The achievements of the 1st century Apollonius of Tyana, though occurring after Jesus’ life, were used by a 3rd-century opponent of the Christians to argue that Christ was neither original nor divine (Eusebius of Caesaria argued against the charge).
The first Gospels were written against this background of Hellenistic and Jewish belief in miracles and other wondrous acts as signs—the term is explicitly used in the Gospel of John to describe Jesus’ miracles—seen to be validating the credentials of divine wise men.
It is probable that if Jesus actually worked no miracles (a good assumption) then the authors of the gospels would have felt compelled to include them in their writings- so as to elevate Jesus to at least the same status as that conventional ascribed to others. At the very least, stories of miracles coming out of a culture that widely believed in them should be taken with a high degree of skepticism. It would be similar to reading someone’s stories about witches written in the 15th Century (probably well accepted during its time, but dismissed out of hand today).
(3693) Time line of Jesus’ body
We can assume that for the first 13.8 billion years of the universe Jesus did not have a body. Otherwise he would have floated down to the earth fully formed (similarly to how he rose during his ascension). Instead he had to be gestated for nine months inside a teenage girl, and go through a normal maturation process to become an adult man. So Jesus claimed his first body about 2020 years ago.
This implies he was previously just a spirit being similar to the Holy Spirit. [Some Christians might say that Jesus was born (first came into existence) at the nativity, but by comparing the scripture in John 1:1 ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ to John 1:14 ‘The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us’ lets us know that Jesus existed at the beginning of time.]
When Jesus died on the cross, his body was placed in a tomb, and then about 36 hours later it was re-animated. The scriptures assure us that Jesus’ resurrected body was the same one he had before being killed:
And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have,”
We know that his physical body then left the earth during his ascension:
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven,”
According to the following scripture, Jesus retained his physical body even after his arrival in heaven, because at a later date the soon-to-be martyred Stephen looked up and saw him standing next to this father:
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
So, extrapolating from the above, we should assume that Jesus still has the same body that he had while on earth, and that he will return in the same body, as implied by Acts 1:9-11.
To summarize, Jesus was present at the beginning of time (at least 13.8 years ago at the Big Bang), lived all of that ensuing time as a spiritual being, then 2020 years ago he acquired a human body, was killed in this body, was raised from the dead in the same body, then ascended to heaven in the same body, and retains that same body today. Then, in the (near?) future he will float back down to the earth in the same body and in the same way that he ascended (once again as implied by Acts 1:9-11).
To make this work out, we must use the cosmology assumed by the Bible authors, that there is a dome above the earth with the sun, moon, and stars affixed to the underside. So when Jesus’s body ascended he went up through an opening in the dome to the topside, where heaven exists. Then, when Stephen was about to be stoned to death, the dome opened up so that Stephen could see Jesus standing next to the father (Acts 7:54-56)
This all could have made sense at the time it was written, but we are in the 21st Century now, and we know that there is no dome above the earth and thus no heaven up there as well. So if Jesus still has his body (the one he’s going to return in, because we don’t have any reason to believe that he will be gestated again) he must be on some other planet, supposedly one that has conditions similar to earth, and that he must have some miraculous means of surviving the trip back to earth without a space suit.
The problem is that very few (to next to zero) Christians really think about how this theology can work, given a modern view of science. The entire story is painfully and obviously mythical if even a small measure of serious thought is applied to it. But Christian leaders don’t want that, they want their congregants to think superficially and accept the dogma at face value.
(3694) Ubiquitous adoption- the Bible’s greatest asset
The major reason that the Bible has enjoyed such an elevated popularity is that it was adopted by people in power at felicitous times in human history. Not because it contains remarkable insights that were not previously known at the time of its construction (which it doesn’t). The following was taken from:
Whenever I debate religion, I always want to start at first principles, because it loses its rationality immediately for me. Everything in Christianity depends on the Bible being the word of god, and not just an old religious text written by people, just like any other. The old Buddhist and Vedic texts, some of which pre-date the Bible, have just as much beauty and insight as anything else, yet we’d both agree they’re just fiction and prose that have lessons and metaphors you can take from it. They even have prophecies of how the fundamental world functions, some of which have been proven true by quantum physics. Still, we all agree that’s all just luck and clever philosophy.
Then the Bible comes along, with a few vague prophecies, some are accurate (reasonably by luck), some are accurate with some major mental gymnastics, and some are inaccurate. The science is all wrong, which is fine since it was written well before science existed, but that would have been a good sign pointing towards its validity. If the authors were inspired by god, it would make sense they’d be inspired with an accurate representation of how the world works. I just don’t see a good reason why having faith in this specific text makes anymore sense than having faith in any other old text. In fact, it being old seems to be the only reason, since it has some mystery surrounding it. If someone claimed to be inspired by god and write a religious text (it happens all the time and people buy right into it) you’d never believe them. It’s almost as if the mere fact of its unfalsifiability is its biggest asset towards believability. A good way to phrase it, is if you didn’t already believe it was the word of god, you never would. Of all texts written, even of those specifically written to help us live our lives, the Bible just doesn’t stand out except for its ubiquitous adoption. Again, something I don’t think should count as a good reason, because I would never argue that a majority of the human race couldn’t believe a bad idea.
Some might say that feel its truth while reading it, or they just feel its truth in general, but every religious person says that about their specific religious text, and the human mind and emotions are so impressionable anyways. Feeling that something is true must be the absolute last piece of evidence, if at all, because of how unreliable it is. We often feel what we want to feel. Everyone really thought the earth was flat at one time, and the earth revolves around the sun. So anyways, that’s the question I’m trying to answer basically. Why believe the Bible is the word of god, and not just an old religious book?
A book ‘written’ or ‘dictated’ by a supernatural being should stand out in a remarkable way. Being constructed in a pre-scientific age among people who had no knowledge of foreign lands and foreign peoples gave that supposed authorial being a gaping opportunity to ‘show its stuff’ and dazzle humanity with amazing insights. But rather, it was all mundane. There is no reason to conclude that the Bible couldn’t have been written by human minds in a godless universe. And using Occam’s Razor, that is the explanation that requires the fewest assumptions.
(3695) Divinely-inspired imperfection
Christian apologetics has finally found a way to handle its criticism- admit to the contradictions and claim instead that they are evidence for the faith. The following book by Greg Boyd does just that:
Gregory A. Boyd, Inspired Imperfection: How the Bible’s Problems Enhance Its Divine Authority.
In Inspired Imperfection, Gregory A. Boyd adds another counterintuitive and provocative thesis to his corpus. While conservative scholars and pastors have struggled for years to show that the Bible is without errors, Boyd considers this a fool’s errand. Instead, he says, we should embrace the mistakes and contradictions in Scripture, for they show that God chose to use fallible humans to communicate timeless truths. Just as God ultimately came to save humanity in the form of a human, God chose to impart truth through the imperfect medium of human writing. Instead of the Bible’s imperfections being a reason to attack its veracity, these “problems” actually support the trustworthiness of Christian Scripture.
Yes, that’s correct! God divinely inspired imperfection, the kind of imperfection that didn’t forbid people to own and beat slaves, that didn’t forbid taking virgins as the spoils of war, and so on. It was an inspiration that had to wait until modern times to understand as imperfect! Yep. Got it!
This is definitely a case of having your cake and eating it too. The corollary to this argument must be that if there were no imperfections, then that would be evidence against the faith. This kind of upside-down logic is needed only when your product fails to meet the typical standards of truth.
(3696) Religious people more likely to believe conspiracies
It should probably come as no surprise that people who believe in a religion are more likely to believe in (other) conspiracy theories. Both require a detachment from strict rules of evidence and both satisfy a desire for secret knowledge. The following was taken from:
A large study published in the journal Political Psychology suggests that the link between conspiracy belief and religiosity is rooted in cognitive similarities between the two beliefs. The overall findings suggest that people with higher conspiracy belief also tend to be more religious, and this is likely driven by overlapping ideological and political worldviews.
Scholars have noted the similarities between religion and features of conspiracy theories, but the nature of this overlap is uncertain. Some researchers have suggested that the two beliefs fulfill similar psychological needs, such as morality, belonging, and sense of control. Others suggest that the beliefs share cognitive styles, with both alluding to invisible forces at play and offering “anomalies as explanatory starting points.”
“Several similarities have been noted between religiosity and conspiracy theory beliefs: Both suggest that there is more in the world than is visible, both promise to address similar needs like to understand the world, and both tend to speak to similar political orientations. But it was unclear what these parallels mean empirically for their relation. They could either serve as surrogates or as complements for each other,” explained study author Marius Frenken, a doctoral research assistant at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz.
This correlation would not exist if religions had sufficient evidence to conclude their veracity. In that situation, non-religious people should be more likely to believe in conspiracies because their dismissal of a well-evidenced religion would indicate their lack of logical acumen.
(3697) Christianity used as a pacifier and security blanket
Almost all Christians realize that there are logic holes in their beliefs, that there is a mismatch between Christian dogma and the way the world works; yet, despite this cognitive dissonance, they cling tight to their delusions, not out of spite, but because the alternative would cause too much emotional turmoil. Those who do leave the fold are the ones who value self-respect over reassuring fantasy. The following was taken from:
The bible is filled with irreconcilable contradictions, legendary fabrications and outright forgeries. This is a well-known fact. An embarrassing one for Christians who believe in the inerrancy of the bible. Yet these same Christians refuse to confront these problems head-on, preferring to explain them away with mind-numbing apologetics that merely dodge the issue. This is how low Christians must sink in terms of stupidity and ignorance in order to maintain their religious delusions.
It’s obvious Christians prefer a world where they can hold onto their childish beliefs as if they were pacifiers and security blankets. No Christian wants to confront the harshness of reality because they fear what will happen if they shine the light of day onto their beloved falsehoods.
In a proverbial sense, most Christians know that the ‘emperor has no clothes’ but they are afraid to say it out loud, or even to think it out loud. In a sense, humankind is stuck in a mind warp, embracing the make-believe delusion of religion while at the same time using science, logic, and critical thinking in every other facet of life.
(3698) Asteroids spawned life
New research has bolstered the theory that life on earth was seeded by asteroids carrying the building blocks of DNA and RNA. As more evidence piles up, it becomes more probable that life originated naturally and did not require a ‘spark’ from a supernatural being. The following was taken from:
A fresh examination of meteorites that landed in the United States, Canada and Australia is bolstering the notion that early in Earth’s history, such objects may have delivered chemical ingredients vital for the advent of life.
Scientists had previously detected on these meteorites three of the five chemical components needed to form DNA, the molecule that carries genetic instructions in living organisms, and RNA, the molecule crucial for controlling the actions of genes. Researchers said on Tuesday they have now identified the final two after fine-tuning the way they analyzed the meteorites.
Unlike in previous work, the methods used this time were more sensitive and did not use strong acids or hot liquid to extract the five components, known as nucleobases, according to astrochemist Yasuhiro Oba of Hokkaido University’s Institute of Low Temperature Science in Japan, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Nucleobases are nitrogen-containing compounds crucial in forming DNA’s characteristic double-helix structure.
Confirmation of an extraterrestrial origin of a complete set of nucleobases found in DNA and RNA buttresses the theory that meteorites could have been an important source of organic compounds necessary for the emergence of Earth’s first living organisms, according to astrobiologist and study co-author Danny Glavin of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
Scientists have been seeking to better understand the events that unfolded on Earth that enabled various chemical compounds to come together in a warm, watery setting to form a living microbe able to reproduce itself. The formation of DNA and RNA would be an important milestone, as these molecules essentially contain the instructions to build and operate living organisms.
“There is still much to learn about the chemical steps that led to the origin of life on Earth — the first self-replicating system,” Glavin said. “This research certainly adds to the list of chemical compounds that would have been present in the early Earth’s prebiotic [existing before the emergence of life] soup.”
The researchers examined material from three meteorites — one that fell in 1950 near the town of Murray in the U.S. state of Kentucky; one that fell in 1969 near the town of Murchison in Australia’s Victoria state; and one that fell in 2000 near Tagish Lake in B.C.
All three are classified as carbonaceous chondrites, made of rocky material thought to have formed early in the solar system’s history. They are carbon-rich, with the Murchison and Murray meteorites containing about two per cent organic carbon by weight and the Tagish Lake meteorite containing about four per cent organic carbon. Carbon is a primary constituent of organisms on Earth.
“All three meteorites contain a very complex mixture of organic molecules, most of which have not yet been identified,” Glavin said.
Earth formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago. In its infancy, it was pelted by meteorites, comets and other material from space. The planet’s first organisms were primitive microbes in the primordial seas, and the earliest known fossils are marine microbial specimens dating to roughly 3.5 billion years ago, though there are hints of life in older fossils.
The two nucleobases, called cytosine and thymine, newly identified in the meteorites may have eluded detection in previous examinations because they possess a more delicate structure than the other three, the researchers said.
The five nucleobases would not have been the only chemical compounds necessary for life. Among other things needed were: amino acids, which are components of proteins and enzymes; sugars, which are part of the DNA and RNA backbone; and fatty acids, which are structural components of cell membranes.
“The present results may not directly elucidate the origin of life on the Earth,” Oba said, “but I believe that they can improve our understanding of the inventory of organic molecules on the early Earth before the onset of life.”
Every year, and like steady drumbeat, science marches on and treads on territory once the full provenance of religion. Scientifically-minded Christians have embraced biological evolution but were hanging on to the idea that it could only begin after God set the first life form into motion. That theory just became less likely and Christians should brace for more dis-confirming evidence to come.
(3699) Evangelicals becoming more liberal
We have observed, just over the past 50 years, a shift by evangelicals to accept more liberal positions, apparently in an attempt to staunch the exodus of well-educated congregants who have come to terms with modern science, ethics, and historical scholarship. This shift in focus is being disguised as being ‘the same as we believed in the past.’ The following was taken from:
Evangelicals in the nineteen seventies rejected Karl Barth, women in leadership/teaching roles, the annihilation view of hell, inclusivist salvation, the mythical interpretation of the Genesis creation stories, the late dating of 2nd Isaiah and Daniel, and they especially rejected homosexuality and evolution. Any attempt to reject the historicity of the Garden of Eden story of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin (from whence this all began) was rejected outright without a second thought. These liberal views are now being accepted by evangelicals while still calling themselves evangelicals rather than liberals.
Karl W. Gilberson said “The Evolution Wars Are Here to Stay and Heads Will Continue to Roll.” Later I’ll be sharing books by evangelicals, or former evangelicals, who now embrace evolution. It’s something I never expected would happen. This dispute is taking place along with the debate evangelicals are having over homosexuality. It must be fun being an evangelical these days. Not! Evolutionary science and the acceptance of gay marriages is the wave of the future among evangelicals. You can count on it. Gone will be a historical fall into sin by two individuals named Adam (male) and Eve (female)–which never made sense anyway–and the prohibition against homosexuality. There are apparently no limits to their ability to find loopholes in the Bible so they can obfuscate their theology. It will become the new evangelical orthodoxy in the future, as I have predicted. Then amnesia will set in, and future evangelicals will claim true evangelicals always stood for these things! Their amnesia will provide quite the laugh to the rest of us, since we saw it coming. In fact, that’s what they’ve been doing since the inception of their faith when it came to the question of who should be circumcised.
When religious belief bends to the winds of improved knowledge, it lends a reason for skepticism, as it would be expected that a movement created by God would set the trajectory of humankind rather than struggle to keep up with it. It is fairly certain that the current wars evangelicals are waging against abortion and gender identity will end in a cease fire within most people’s lifetime.
(3700) Magnets affect god beliefs
It appears that human brains can be manipulated with outside sources of energy to change their beliefs about God and immigrants. It seems to show that the fear centers of the brain are interwoven in peoples’ theistic beliefs. The following was taken from:
A joint team of American and British scientists have discovered that powerful magnetic pulses to the brain can temporarily change people’s feelings on a variety of subjects – from their belief in God, to their attitude to immigration.
The study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, saw scientists use a metal coil to create strong magnetic fields around certain parts of the brain.
The non-invasive practice is called trancranial magnetic stimulation, and has can be used to treat depression.
However, researchers have now found that by targeting the part of the brain that deals with threats, they can temporarily change people’s beliefs and views.
The team, comprised of scientists from the University of York and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), used 39 politically moderate students as test subjects.
The two were split into two groups – one, the control group, was given a sham dose of magnetism that was not strong enough to influence brain activity.
The other got a strong pulse of TMS that was strong enough to temporarily shut down their posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC), a part of the brain that “plays a key role in both detecting discrepancies between desired and current conditions and adjusting subsequent behaviour to resolve such conflicts.”
In other words, this part of the brain processes threats and conflicts, and decides how to respond to them.
Before receiving their doses of TMS, both groups were asked about their own deaths. In this area, the tests built on previous studies, which have shown that being confronted with the threat of death can alter a person’s belief in God.
In the second part of the study, students were asked to read two letters written by immigrants to America, one which praised the country, and another which criticised it – again, the text of the critical letter was taken from another study that proved it increased stronger feelings of loyalty and bias towards the subject’s own ethnic group, at the expense of the other.
The students were then treated with their respective doses of TMS, with half receiving a dose capable of severely lessening activity in the threat-processing centre of the brain.
The collected results showed a marked difference in attitudes between the two groups.
Amongst those who received the strong magnetic dose, 32.8 per cent fewer had decreased beliefs in God, angels and heaven compared to the control group who received no dose.
And 25.8 per cent more of those who had received TMS had a more positive response to the immigrant who had written a negative letter about their country.
In other words, those given the magnetic treatment were found to have decreased beliefs in God and more positive views towards immigrants.
Dr Keise Izuma, of the authors of the study from the University of York, said: “As expected, we found that when we experimentally turned down the posterior medial frontal cortex, people were less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas despite having been reminded of death.”
Speaking about the part of the test which involved attitude to immigrants, he added: “We think that hearing criticisms of your group’s values, perhaps especially from a person you perceive as an outsider, is processed as an ideological sort of threat.”
“One way to respond to such threats is to ‘double down’ on your group values, increasing your investment in them, and reacting more negatively to the critic.”
“When we disrupted the brain region that usually helps detect and respond to threats, we saw a less negative, less ideologically motivated reaction to the critical author and his opinions.”
Whether we’re dealing with everyday threats, such as security at work, or more abstract ones, such as the idea of God and death or the issue of immigration, our brains are using the same basic structure – and its activity can be reduced with magnetic fields.
This research does damage to the Christian judgment scheme that theorizes that a person’s beliefs are solely within their control, and that therefore those beliefs are fair game to base future (post-life) delivery of rewards and punishments. A real god would understand the intricacies and vulnerabilities of human brains and would not endorse the Christian model of heaven versus hell.
Follow this link to #3701