(3801) The divine council
There are hints in early Jewish scripture that there existed a belief in a divine council, or a group of gods that governed the world. The first is in Genesis, when God become concerned about a tower that was being built and uses the pronoun ‘us’ instead of ‘I’:
Then the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men were building. And the LORD said, “If they have begun to do this as one people speaking the same language, then nothing they devise will be beyond them. Come, let Us go down and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
The following was taken from:
It’s a rather standard example of the so-called ‘divine council’. That is, Elohim (often, by the point of the writing of this text, synchretized with Yahweh), addressing lesser gods of the Canaanite pantheon. Such a council is described explicitly in several passages, such as at the beginning of Job, or in Psalm 82:1, or in 1 Kings 22:19–23, in which we can actually witness a trial by said council.
This represents additional evidence that monotheism is a theology that evolved over time and did not exist at all in early Jewish tradition. Eventually, the Jews settled on Yahweh as being the only god in existence. Then the Christians came along and reintroduced polytheism by making Jesus a god and also introduced the never-before-heard-of ‘Holy Ghost’ as a third god. The Bible tracks this evolution from a divine council, then to a singular god, and finally to a trinity [Note: The trinity is actually extra-biblical, though it can be quasi-defended by liberally interpreting several scriptures (some of which might be interpolations)].
(3802) Epicurean Paradox
The following diagram sheds light on the problem of evil as it relates to God’s properties as alleged by Christianity:
There still are no good answers to this dilemma, though apologists over the centuries have tried. To an objective mind, there are really only two possibilities- that the Christian god has an evil streak or he doesn’t exist. A third possibility- that God is not omnipotent solves this problem but it creates even greater problems regarding how people are to be judged for heaven or hell (because that requires an ability to literally read their minds, as what they say or do may cover up a disbelief that lies in their inner consciousness).
(3803) Abraham murdered Isaac
There is evidence that the (obviously fictional) story of Abraham killing his son, Isaac, in accord with God’s command (as it now exists in the Bible) was modified from the original, which had Abraham completing the murder (actually killing Isaac). The interjection of the angel to stay the execution was likely added because the infanticide was later seen as being rather unseemly. The following was taken from:
When he first came to believe he had discovered how the Biblical forefather Isaac died, Bible scholar Tzemah Yoreh says he went into mourning.
“I literally sat shiva for him, for the forefather I had lost, and for the Abraham who could perpetrate such a thing,” said Yoreh, who was then just 21.
The Biblical story we have inherited is not the original story, Yoreh believes. Using a variation of a well-known approach to Biblical scholarship, he sees hints of a bloodier version of Isaac’s binding that he finds too convincing to ignore.
In the earliest layer of the Biblical text, Yoreh believes, Isaac was not rescued by an angel at the last moment, but was in fact murdered by his father, Abraham, as a sacrifice to God.
One eye-opening hint at what he believes is the original story lies in Genesis 22:22. Previously, in verse 8, Abraham and Isaac had walked up the mountain together. But in verse 22, only Abraham returns.
“So Abraham returned unto his young men [waiting at the foot of the mountain], and they rose up and went together to Beersheba,” the text relates.
That strange contradiction, Yoreh says, may be why a few ancient midrashim, or rabbinic homilies, also assumed Isaac had been killed.
In one homily quoted by Rashi, the revered 11th-century French rabbi and commentator, “Isaac’s ashes are said to be suitable for repentance, just like the ashes of an [animal] sacrifice.”
“That’s a very weird midrash,” Yoreh says, “since Isaac is clearly alive in the next chapter. But that’s the way midrash works. It analyzes episodes without looking at the larger context. That’s why you can have midrashim about Isaac dying, because it doesn’t have to notice that he’s alive in the next chapter.”
There are many hints of Isaac’s untimely demise. The sacrifice story itself contains strange contradictions and clues that are best resolved, he believes, by assuming a very different, earlier narrative.
In verse 12, after staying Abraham’s knife-wielding hand in mid-air, the angel of God tells the father of monotheism, “I now know you fear God because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
That phrase, “have not withheld your son,” “could indicate Abraham was merely willing to sacrifice his son, or that he actually did so,” Yoreh says.
One hint that it may have been the latter is contained in the names for God used in the story. The Biblical text calls the God who instructs Abraham to sacrifice his son “Elohim.” Only when the “angel of God” leaps to Isaac’s rescue does God’s name suddenly change to the four-letter YHWH, a name Jews traditionally do not speak out loud.
Elohim commands the sacrifice; YHWH stops it. But it is once again Elohim who approves of Abraham for having “not withheld your son from me.”
These sorts of variations, rampant throughout the Bible, have led scholars to conclude that different names for God are used by different storylines and editors.
Indeed, Isaac is never again mentioned in an Elohim storyline. In fact, if you only read the parts of Isaac’s life that use the name Elohim, you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to see the story as one in which Isaac is killed in the sacrifice and disappears completely from the Biblical story.
“Not that the YHWH portions make much of an effort to bring him back to life either,” Yoreh notes. Indeed, Isaac seems to fade after the sacrifice, with his life story told in just one chapter, compared to more than a dozen chapters for both Abraham and Jacob.
Worse yet, Isaac’s chapter “is all recycled from Abraham’s life.” Just as Abraham signs a pact with the king Avimelech, so does Isaac. And just as Abraham passes off his wife, Sarah, as his sister to avoid being killed by Avimelech, so does Isaac with his own wife, Rebecca.
“It’s hard to characterize [Isaac’s life after the sacrifice] as distinct stories,” says Yoreh. “They’re just repeated elements, a recycling of the material.”
In the earliest Biblical narrative, Yoreh believes, Isaac died that day on Mt. Moriah. Far from setting an example in which God intervenes to end human sacrifice, Abraham, the father of monotheism, is revealed as a man who can walk his own son to the altar and even wield the blade himself.
This story is horrific as it stands, but if it had remained in the original format, it would have been worse. Nevertheless we can be assured that any god that gave such a macabre command, or test of faith, or any god that would even allow such a story to be included in his holy book, likely does not exist.
(3804) Prodigal son parable contradicts Christian teaching
Most Christians luxuriate in the parable of the prodigal son, seeing it as model for compassionate forgiveness. What they don’t realize that it is at odds with conventional Christian theology. In other words, if Jesus actually stated this parable, then he and Paul would disagree about the mode of salvation. The following was taken from:
I recently watched a YouTube video by Rabbi Tovia Singer that discussed how the “Prodigal Son” parable fundamentally conflicts with the Christian teaching of “Atonement,” which sparked my interest in this well-known parable. It appears that the famous parable is actually at odds with other core tenets of Christian teaching.
In case you are not familiar with this parable, contained exclusively in Luke’s Gospel (Chapter 15:11-32), here’s a quick summary:
A land owner has two sons, and the younger son asks his father for his share of the inheritance. The father complies with the son’s wishes, and then this son leaves for another land, where he fritters the money aware until he is destitute. He is forced to take a job feeding pigs, and even envies the food that the pigs eat.
Eventually, he comes to the realization that his father’s servants have food, and somewhere to live, so he decides to return to his father, beg forgiveness, and ask that he serve his father as a servant.
When he approaches the family home, he is spotted by his father, and even though the son asks to be treated as a servant, the father greets him with delight, and treats him with fine clothes and special food.
The older son hears all the commotion. When told about his brother’s return, he gets angry and confronts his father saying that he (the older brother) has served the father loyally and faithfully all this time, but has never received any such recognition. The father says “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”
I think it is pretty obvious that the father in this parable is meant to represent God, and the sons are just “God’s children,” as in the “human race.”
What stood out to Rabbi Singer (and indeed myself) is that forgiveness was not granted through the sacrifice of Jesus. Instead, it was the sincere repentance and humbling of the wayward son.
Hang on a minute, how can this be?
Christian teaching insists that forgiveness can only be given by asserting that Jesus is your “Lord and Savior” and that you acknowledge his death on the cross as being a sacrifice that takes away your sins.
Furthermore, it is interesting to note that this parable seems to be encouraging a wayward life, and then repenting, and you will then be rewarded. Contrast this with the faithful son, who gets nothing for his loyalty, except when he finally receives his inheritance.
Jesus seems to reinforce this view when describing the parable of the “Lost Sheep” (Luke 15:4-7):
“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.”
Again, the loyal and faithful sheep are left to their own devices, while the one “sinful” sheep is brought back to the fold with much joy and celebration.
Even Martin Luther seems to have embraced this concept of being a sinner when he stated:
“If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [or sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides.” [My emphasis]
Letter 99, Paragraph 13. Erika Bullmann Flores, Tr. from: Dr. Martin Luther’s Saemmtliche SchriftenDr. Johann Georg Walch Ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, N.D.), Vol. 15, cols. 2585-2590.
This seems completely contrary to the supposed ethics espoused by most evangelical Christians, who abhor any sin. Yet, it seems that unless you are a sinner who later repents, you will not receive rewards—that these rewards are denied to those loyal and faithful Christians who have never sinned.
So where does that leave Christians? Do they follow what Jesus himself taught, that forgiveness comes through true repentance, or do they follow what later Christian theologians “interpret” was the path to salvation: belief in Jesus’s sacrifice to take upon himself one’s sins?
One would think that Jesus’s own pronouncement would carry the greater weight, but Christian theologians insist forgiveness can only be achieved through the shedding of Jesus’s blood. What a dilemma!
It seems that I am in complete agreement with Rabbi Tovia Singer when he suggested that the “Prodigal Son” parable contradicts Christian teachings.
Keep in mind that the letters of Paul that teach salvation by faith alone were written before the gospels, but the gospels for the most part do not endorse this teaching. It is possible that the gospel authors were not familiar with these letters, or that they simply disagreed on this theological point. But what is important is that there is a major contradiction facing Christianity’s most important selling point- how does one get into heaven?
(3805) Why are there still Jews?
Christians are often fond of saying ‘if humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys,’ demonstrating a fundamental ignorance of how evolution works. But an analogous saying, ‘if Christians came from Jews, why are there still Jews,’ has some merit.
If the gospels and Acts are accurate, then Jesus was very famous throughout Judea and Galilee. He worked many miracles, sometimes witnessed by up to 5000 men plus women and children. If we believe the Gospel of John, he went to Jerusalem three times over a period of three years before being crucified there.
The time of his crucifixion was during the Passover celebrations, so Jerusalem was packed with many people, including for sure a lot of influential Jews who would later return to their hamlets with news of what happened.
According to Paul, the resurrected Jesus was witnessed by over 500 people, and according to Matthew, his resurrection was accompanied by a spectacular miracle of dead people rising out of their graves and walking about the city. Not to mention, at his death, a darkened sun and an earthquake.
According to Acts, Jesus remained in Jerusalem for 40 days after his resurrection, surely enough time for virtually everyone to know that he had risen from the dead.
According to Christianity, Jesus was the promised messiah, so that fact should have been recognized by scripturally literate Jews and then further reinforced by all of the miraculous happenings.
So given all of this, how could any Jews have remained unconvinced? The regions of Judea and Galilee comprised almost the entire worldwide Jewish population at that time, so a large percentage of Jews should have become Christians immediately, and the word would have spread quickly to the rest. All Jews should have become Christians if the gospels+Acts are accurate history.
Well, this didn’t happen. The Jewish faith in Jerusalem and nearby cities remained just as it was before Jesus. Something is wrong, and the best bet is that the gospels and Acts are giving us a false narrative. If Jesus existed, he was probably not that famous, performed no miracles, was executed by the Romans, and his body remained dead after being discarded in a mass grave.
(3806) Crossing the Red Sea
It is well known outside of religious circles that the story of Moses crossing the Red Sea is mythical. What is not well known is that this myth mushroomed out of a mistranslation. The following was taken from:
The biblical story of the Exodus is one of the most researched in all biblical archaeology, yet since research began in the mid-1800s, not one single piece of credible evidence to support any part of the story or the characters in it, including Moses, has ever been found. In fact, all serious archaeological and historical research into this story has ceased, as it’s now considered mythical in its entirety.
In the original Exodus story, there wasn’t any crossing of the Red Sea. The early texts referred to the people crossing the Yam Suph (יַם–סוּף in Hebrew) which actually means the Sea of Reeds or Reed Sea, which at the time the story was written was a large marshy region of the Nile Delta several hundred kilometres to the north of the Red Sea and on the route that anyone, fictional or not, leaving the Pi-Ramesses region of northern Egypt for the Levant would take (as mentioned in Exodus 12:37).
The name of the Red Sea arose because of an error in an early translation from Hebrew to Greek, first mentioned around a thousand years ago by a medieval French rabbi called Shlomo Yitzchaki (aka Rashi). However, this has never been corrected, and the error was perpetuated into further translations of the biblical story, including all the modern English versions of the Bible.
But allowing for the fact that this story is mythical, you need to consider the numbers of people supposedly involved. Exodus 12:37 says “… There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children”, which is an utterly fanciful number; perhaps as many as 2 million people, including women and children. This number of people supposedly wandered in a desert for 40 years, and didn’t leave a single trace — get real!
However, for people who still maintain this was a real event, have you for one moment considered how long a line of people this would be, and how long they would take to all pass any given point?
Even if they walked 20 abreast, the line of people would still be around 10 kilometres long, and at an average walking speed of, say, 4 kilometres per hour — a very generous assessment in such a massed and mixed crowd — it would still take 2.5 hours for them all to pass a single point.
More realistically, it would take double that, some 5 hours, and then you need to consider that even at its narrowest point, the Red Sea is over 30 kilometres wide and some 310 metres deep. You’d be looking at a transit time of around a day, even assuming everything went smoothly and everyone kept up a constant walking speed during that time, day and night.
Need I say again, it’s a fictional story…
Anytime the Bible presents a story as being historical but is later determined to mythical, it damages its credibility. Had the Hebrews stuck to actual history, both Judaism and Christianity would be on sounder footing. Christians have been conditioned to believe this actually happened, and they are oblivious to the evidential dead-end that undercuts its place in history as well as the mistranslation that launched this myth in the first place.
(3807) God has communication issues
Is it possible for an omnipotent god (such as Yahweh) who has concerns for human life and plans for afterlife reward and punishment to engage in such an impotent method of communication? The answer appears to be ‘no.’ The following was taken from:
IF God exists and IF God really wants you to believe something and IF God is very powerful, then it would make sense for God to just write that knowledge on your heart. Why bother choosing a hit-or-miss method of communication like speaking through a prophet?
This would not decrease free will since you would still have the ability to reject him. The only difference is that it would be a truly informed decision.
So, one of the following must be true:
1) There is no God.
2) God lacks the power to impart knowledge directly.
3) God is not overly concerned with what you believe.
4) God is deliberately choosing an unreliable communication method for whatever reason.
If forced to choose, Christians would most likely settles on #4 and chalk it up to ‘mysterious ways,’ the go-to defense whenever their beliefs fun into a wall of incoherence. The atheist goes for #1, the deist for #2, and the misotheist for #3. What is missing for Christians is something on the order of ‘#5, God prints knowledge of himself on the hearts of every soul he creates, so books, priests, pastors, and missionaries are not needed to spread his message to humankind.’
(3808) God regrets making a mistake
Christians rarely consider the implications of the story in Genesis where God regrets his creation, realizing that he made a mistake. One thing is certain in life- if someone makes a mistake, they can make another mistake. There is no reason to conclude that if this god is real (he isn’t) and if the scriptures are accurate (they aren’t), then he can regret again and start all over, maybe not with a flood, but perhaps with a big asteroid? The following was taken from:
This brings me to my favorite Bible quote of all time:
Genesis 6:6 New International Version
6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
Tell me again about your infallible, all-powerful God, and how he regretted his Creation. Honestly how is this not Exhibit A in each and every single discussion about what a shitty God this character is? He literally admits in his holy book that he fucked up Creation so bad he had to wipe it out. “Regretted”. For the life of me I can’t figure out how this isn’t a bigger deal. This guy is eternal. If he regretted once, he can regret again. If he fucked up once, he can fuck up again. How can you trust anything about religion when for all you know, next week he could just say “whoops another fuck-up, lemme go ahead and start over again.”
I understand that some people take the story as literal history and probably far more others take it as a parable. But even accepting it as parable, what lesson am I supposed to even take from it? What morals does it even teach? It doesn’t say jack shit about what made Noah’s family better than everyone else. “Believe in God or I’ll drown all your neighbors?” If I’m a good follower, God’s gonna build me an Ark amidst the apocalypse? Holy shit I’d rather die with my neighbors. What kind of incentive is this?
How can anyone ever trust a supremely powerful being who famously said “I fucked up once and I promise not to fuck up again”?
There can be no question that assigning regret to God, admitting he made a mistake, was itself a big mistake by the author(s) of Genesis. It set up a scenario of uncertainty surrounding Yahweh’s capabilities, intentions, and methods of resolving conflict. And that this god might get caught up in another mistake.
(3809)l One reason why Jews rejected Jesus
One conundrum of Christianity is why Jesus didn’t bring the Jews, at least the majority of them, into the Christian fold. This surely involves many reasons, but one is likely the fact that, assuming a certain fidelity of the gospels, Jesus introduced the theme of an evil Satan and associated demonology that traditional Jews found to be both strange and ridiculous. The following was taken from:
Logically, I feel like one of the strongest points that early Jews could make against Christianity was the introduction of Satan in the New Testament and Christian mythology in general. My understanding is that in the OT, the creature most closely identified as Satan is essentially a member of God’s heavenly court and works with him to test humans and run experiments on Earth. Yet suddenly in the NT, this character has randomly been mutated into a fearsome evil entity that hates God and constantly tries to seduce humans to sin.
How would the introduction of a brand new character be received among the general population? Would early opponents of Christianity have pointed this out and said “Hey, if Jesus’ teachings are true then how come the characters he mention have no precedent in our religious books? Clearly he just made this up!” And if they didn’t use that as an argument, why not?
It can be assumed that if Jesus’ statements about Satan and demons are accurately documented, and that Jesus is a third of God, then it would be expected that these characters would be similarly described in the Old Testament. This is a fatal problem for Christianity, assuming that it continues to credit the Old Testament as its doxological foundation.
(3810) The fallacy of sending burdens
Some Christians believe that God metes out burdens to his followers to make them stronger or wiser, but that the burdens are always fine tuned so as not exceed the limits of the individual. In practical terms, this makes little sense. The following was taken from:
There is a wonderful seeing in Agnes of God, where in Jane Fonda is talking to the mother superior The convent, saying how devastating the death of her mother was. Mother superior replies with a platitude: “God never sends us any burden greater than we can bear.“ Jane responds, “ Does that mean if I were a weaker person, my mother would still be alive?”
The question arises, of course, as to why God feels it necessary to send burdens to anyone, especially when he knows what the results will be. It’s like the gay kid, raised in a religious home, desperate not to be gay, who prays and prays and prays for god to make him heterosexual, but god doesn’t. The most likely options for the boy are that he drops the religious bologna, and hopefully lives as an out, happy man, or keeps the religious bologna and becomes of celibate unhappy man, or keeps the religious baloney, and leads a life of furtive sex and self hatred.
The first option are ignoring the probably nonexistent God. The second option is giving into the probably nonexistent God, but it also says that god is enjoying his suffering, seeing as maybe the catholic god didn’t give him the charisma of celibacy. The third option is the interesting one: either God chooses not to help him, in which case God knows that the man is going to burn in hell. Or, the man commits a bunch of sins, and will burn in hell anyway. Neither of those scenarios makes this probably not existent God look all that good.
(3811) God flunks his omni’s
Christians have been loathe to place any restrictions onto God, and in so doing they have painted themselves into a corner, contradicting their own scriptures. The following was taken from:
According to some religious people, Gawd is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and even omnibenevolent. In plain English, this means that they think “he” knows all, is everywhere at once, has all the power, and is really excellent.
I fail to see where these people get this from. I’d say it’s not in the bible.
- “Omniscient” Yahweh did not know what Adam and Eve were going to do.
- “Omnipresent” Yahweh did not know where Adam and Ever were.
- “Omnipotent” Yahweh did not manage to defeat the iron chariots.
- “Omnibenevolent” Yahweh let “his” only son be tortured to death for something his all powerful self could have magicked away.
For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
1 John 3:20
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
“Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
God inflation is what is expected when people invent their gods because they certainly don’t want to think that their god is less in any sense than any other god. But, to be ultra omni, God would have to see you 24/7 from infinite angles, read all of your thoughts, know your blood pressure, how many hairs you have on your head, and where every atom is in your body, just for starters. It is impossible for any being, magical or not, to possess all of the omni traits. Christians have inflated their god out of the realm of reality.
(3812) The fidelity gap
Christians allege that the Bible was not a human product, but rather was a book produced by God, by use of divine “dictation,” and, assumably, guidance to select the books that should be included as well as assistance to copyists and translators to maintain the fidelity of the text to make sure it meets God’s intention. Because of this assumption, they are practically forced to assert that the Bible contains no errors (God is perfect). But we know it does contain errors:
So, how should Christians deal with this? There are two approaches- maintain against all evidence that the Bible is perfect, or admit that there are errors, but that the main themes relevant to devotions and salvation are correct. The first approach is dead on arrival and the second approach is likewise problematic.
If problems, errors, or contradictions are found in any book other than the Bible, it is easy to see them as being isolated in nature and that they don’t invalidate other parts of the book, although they might slightly cast some doubt. On the other hand, a book that supposedly was produced by an omnipotent god cannot be given the same degree of latitude. Any error found in the Bible does more than just cast doubt on the remaining parts- it invalidates the underlying claim of divine imprimatur.
What this means is that an error found in the Bible has greater significance than one found in another book. It causes more credibility damage. The only way around this problem is admit that the Bible was written by fallible humans in the absence of divine guidance or that this guidance was imperfect. But once either of those concessions is made, the ship has sailed.
(3813) Atheism is safer and more logical
In the absence of compelling evidence for the truth of any earthly religion, the safest and most logical approach is atheism, with respect both to the possibility of an afterlife and to the present life. The following was taken from:
Being an atheist, a good person and improving the planet is the best, safest and most logical position to take.
The safest – being an atheist means you are a neutral party to all religious beliefs, a non believer. As no religion can prove their deity is the true deity, not choosing a side and remaining neutral means that if there were a deity and you are a good person you never worshipped anything to begin with and it would be easier to build a relationship from a neutral stance as opposed to believing in another deity, being wrong, angering the correct deity and now having to unlearn what they thought was true which may lead to rejection of the true deity worsening their chances.
Most logical – being a good person and improving the planet, in the most likely case there is no afterlife we would leave behind a better world for those inhabiting world once we are gone. We don’t need religion to be good, we don’t need religion to improve the world or our lives.
So in conclusion being a good neutral party increases one’s chances of getting into paradise if there is one and improving the planet makes a better place for those still living if there isn’t one. Thus the most logical, safest and best position to take.
If any religion was true exclusively, it would be expected to be supported by compelling evidence. That such does not exist suggests that no religion is true. But if one of them is true, then atheism is the safest and most logical stance. In addition atheism encourages a greater sense of duty to making this world better, so it is a win-win situation.
(3814) Yahweh does the same evil as Satan
Most Christians have a view of God as being all good and Satan all bad. But a careful reading of scriptures reveals this distinction to be non-existent. Yahweh is just as bad as Satan in the performance of evil. The following was taken from:
Many traits within the Christians’ scriptures which in later Christianity are assigned to Satan are assigned to YHWH.
YHWH is said to create badness/misfortune/woe/evil (Isaiah 45:7; cf., GJohn 1:3).
YHWH makes people deaf or mute or blind (Exodus 4:11).
An evil spirit from YHWH torments a man (1 Samuel 16:14-16, 23).
YHWH is said to receive advice from a lying spirit to deceive a person, and YHWH allows the lying spirit to go forth and spread lies in order to fulfill YHWH’s plans against Ahab (1 Kings 22).
YHWH is said to deceive prophets into giving false prophecies (Ezekiel 14:9).
YHWH is said to order a king to sin in order to justify punishing the king’s subjects (2 Samuel 24).
YHWH is said to send people to perform real miracles and real prophecies in order to lead people away from worshipping YHWH (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
YHWH sometimes creates people with congenital disabilities even though the people born with congenital disabilities have not sinned, nor their parents (GJohn 9:1-3).
YHWH is said to plan to conceal the true message about salvation from people so that they may be damned (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
All of the preceding questionable actions by YHWH in the past can be assumed, based upon the Christians’ scriptures, to be still happening because of Malachi 3:6 and James 1:17 within the Christians’ scriptures, which jointly present YHWH as unchanging.
If Christians were truly thinking that the preceding list of deeds were not evil, then they would not be blaming Satan, whom they claim to be the lord of evil, for such deeds. Nor would they be trying to deny that YHWH actually does or did such things. Rather, they would gladly acknowledge such things and cite them as evidence of YHWH’s power. But they do not – because they do not want to be associated with worshipping such an evil god.
And sure, Christians may be able to present to me a single commentator (or even a school of commentators) who acknowledge that YHWH did and does such things, but the average Christian does not think of YHWH as doing such things; rather, the average Christian associates such things with Satan or similar demons.
This provides another reason why Christians should not read the Bible if they want to maintain their starry-eyed view of their celestial father. And further, what is amazing is that Yahweh thinks just like a Bronze Age Middle Eastern man. Quite a coincidence!
(3815) Jesus and the bronze snake
Some Christians would like to distance their faith from the genocidal, pestilential, vindictive god of the Old Testament, but there are too many ties for this to be accomplished. One of them was a comparison made between Jesus and a magical act performed by Moses. In an (obviously fictional) Old Testament story, Moses erected a bronze snake on a pole so that anyone who looked at it would be immediately cured of a snake bite. This piece of embarrassing theology cannot be dismissed by Christianity because it was codified in their own scriptures:
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
Some Christians will claim that this reference to Numbers was not an endorsement of the historical truth of this story, but rather was a literary reference to make a point about salvation (as an analog to physical survival). This may be salable, but the optics are still not good. And it is nearly certain that the author of John believed this story to be true. It is also ironic that Jesus is being compared to a snake, an animal that is used throughout the Bible to represent Satan or his minions.
(3816) Personal relationship fallacy
Christians assert that they have a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus or with God. The use of that terminology is highly questionable when comparing it to human relationships. The following was taken from:
Google the phrase “personal relationship with jesus” and you’ll find loads of Christian articles talking about how we can have a personal relationship with a divine, omnipotent, loving being that cares about us. Except, if you actually expect this “personal relationship” to even meet the basic standards of a mere human relationship – when logically an omnipotent god should be capable of infinitely better – the claim falls to pieces.
What do we expect from human relationships? Verifiable interaction. We meet people, we spend time with them talking to them, we exchange ideas, we make plans, we have back-and-forth conversations with an actual, discernable, verifiable being independent of us. The specifics of human relationships differ, but one quality they have is that it is abundantly clear that the person actually exists.
Compare that to the “personal relationship with Jesus”. What do we get? We get a collection of myths written over a thousand years ago. If we ask for actual personal interaction, we’re either expecting too much or told to “listen and hear Jesus in our heart”, because apparently the best the supposed omnipotent creator of the universe can manage is to “speak” to us in a way indiscernible from our own inner voice?
Nevermind the fact that according to the book of myths, Jesus/Yahweh in the past had spoken to people in a vastly less ambiguous way, and acted on multiple occasions in clearly observable miraculous ways. But apparently we’re supposed to believe this being exists even though nothing of the sort happens today, and all the supernatural claims in the book of myths are either unverifiable or verifiably false?
Apparently Jesus can’t be any more direct than this because we “need to have faith” for some reason. Of course, this assertion again contradicts the book of myths which claims Jesus/Yahweh did interact much more directly in the past, with no apparent regard for this “need to have faith” that supposedly necessitates Jesus hiding himself to the point that his mere existence is disputable.
Who would accept that sort of nonsense from a human relationship? Who would claim they have, say, “a personal relationship with Benjamin Franklin” because they read his autobiography and think they can hear his voice in their head? We’d consider such a person insane, and such a standard for a “personal relationship” ridiculous, but apparently when it comes to the supposed omnipotent creator of the universe, we should be satisfied with a standard beneath even the most basic human relationships?
The fact that “a personal relationship with Jesus”, which logically should be able to easily surpass even a standard vastly above human relationships, instead has to have the bar set vastly below human relationships, reveals the claim to be bunk.
Christians are participating in a wish fulfillment fantasy. The only relationship they are experiencing is an internal discussion within their own brains. It is painfully obvious that no supernatural being is involved in this relationship. If Christianity was true, God/Jesus/Holy Spirit would be a daily part of our lives, would audibly talk to us, and would inhabit our reality the same way as it is recorded in the Bible.
(3817) Christian marriages are not more successful
In fact, according to available data, they might well fail more often. This is an unexpected result if God is intimately involved in the lives of his followers, leading them to find the right partner, and guiding them to have a lasting relationship with their spouses. This would seem to be God’s mission considering how Jesus compared divorce and remarriage to adultery (Matthew 5:31-32). The following was taken from:
Conservative Christians think of themselves as the last line of defense for a time-honored and holy tradition, marriage. In the conservative Christian view, marriage is a sacred union ordained by God. It binds one man and woman together so that the “two become one flesh” until they are parted by death.
This view of marriage is unbiblical, to be sure. See Captive Virgins, Polygamy, Sex Slaves: What Marriage Would Look Like If We Actually Followed The Bible. But hey, who actually reads the Bible? Surely, what God meant to say is that marriage should take the form that is most familiar and traditional to us: One male plus one female who is given to the male by her father–that part is biblical–for life.
In this worldview, Christian marriage is under assault by an anti-trinity of powerful and dark forces: feminism, homosexuality and godlessness. Faith, on the other hand, saves both souls and marriages. When I was young, a slogan made its way around my church: The family that prays together stays together. Tom Ellis, former chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Council on the Family boldly claimed that “born-again Christian couples who marry…in the church after having received premarital counseling…and attend church regularly and pray daily together… experience only 1 divorce out of nearly 39,000 marriages.”
But then came data. According to research by the Barna Research Group over a decade ago, American divorce rates were highest among Baptists and nondenominational “Bible-believing” Christians and lower among more theologically liberal Christians like Methodists, with atheists at the bottom of the divorce pack. When the findings were made public, George Barna took some heat because Christians expected the difference to be more dramatic and to favor believers. Ellis suggested that maybe Barna had sampled badly. Perhaps some people who called themselves born again had never really devoted their lives to Christ. But Barna held his ground, saying, “We rarely find substantial differences” [in the moral behavior of Christians and non-Christians].
In 2008, Barna again sampled Americans about divorce rates. The numbers fluctuated a bit, but once again atheists came out painfully good from a prays-together-stays-together perspective. Thirty percent reported ever being divorced, in contrast to 32 percent of born-again Christians. Slicing the U.S. by region, the Bible belt has the highest divorce rate, and this has been the case for over a decade, with the institution of marriage faring better in those dens of blue-state iniquity to the north and west.
What is going on? Even some secularists are puzzled. Churches provide strong communities for families. Many offer marital counseling and parenting classes. Love, they say, is a commitment, not a feeling. God hates divorce. They leverage moral emotions in the service of matrimony: a righteous sense of purity rewards premarital abstinence and post-marital monogamy—replaced by guilt and shame when nonmarital sex is unveiled or a marriage dissolves. Couples who split may find themselves removed from leadership positions or even ostracized. On the face of it, even if there were no God, one might expect this combination to produce lower divorce rates.
The reality, however, appears complex. Churches do honor and support marriage. They also may inadvertently promote divorce, especially—ironically—those churches which most bill themselves as shining lights in a dark world.
To prevent that greatest-of-all-evils, abortion, such communities teach even high school students to embrace surprise pregnancies as gifts from God. They encourage members to marry young so they won’t be tempted to fornicate. But women who give birth or marry young tend to end up less educated and less financially secure, both of which are correlated with higher divorce rates.
After marriage, some congregations, such as those in the “quiver-full” movement, encourage couples to leave family planning in God’s hands. Leaders echo the chauvinistic beliefs of Church fathers like St. Augustine and Martin Luther or the Bible writers: Women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety (1 Timothy 2:15). Such teachings grow congregations, literally, from the nursery up, but the very same attitudes that help to fill church pews can erode marital bliss. Ample research shows that for couples under age 30 marital satisfaction declines with the birth of each child. (Parenting tends to make couples happier only after age 40, when kids become more independent, and only in countries with comparatively weak social supports for aging adults.)
Secular couples tend to see both marriage and divorce as personal choices. Overall, a lower percent get married, which means that those who do may be particularly committed or well-suited to partnership. They are likely to be older if/when they do formally tie the knot. They have fewer babies, and their babies are more likely to be planned. Parenting, like other household responsibilities, is more likely to be egalitarian rather than based on the traditional model of “male headship.” Each of these factors could play a role in the divorce rate.
But a bigger factor may be economics, pure and simple. In the words of some analysts, marriage is becoming a luxury good, with each partner, consciously or subconsciously looking for someone who will pull their weight financially and declining to support one who won’t. “The doctor used to marry the nurse,” says Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “Today the doctor marries the doctor.” Sixty percent of college educated women get married, as compared to 50 percent of women who hold only high school degrees or lower. Couples who stay married also tend to be wealthier than those who divorce. In Barna’s 2008 sample, couples with an income of less than $20,000 a year broke up almost twice as often as those earning $75,000 or more (39 percent vs 22 percent). Advocates who want to promote traditional marriage might do well to foster broad prosperity.
Even if they did, though, they might be swimming upstream. In 1960, almost three quarters of American adults were married; by 2008 that number had fallen to a half. The difference came from a combination of two factors—more divorce and more people who had never married. The concept of family isn’t becoming less important, but Americans are increasingly flexible in how we define the term. Over 80 percent say that a single parent living with a child or an unmarried couple with a child is a family. Over 60 percent say that a gay couple with a child is a family. A growing number say that marriage is obsolete.
In one of those peculiar twists of fate, conservative Christian obsessions with abortion and sexual purity may be accelerating this trend. Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, authors of Red State, Blue State, propose that Bible-belt opposition to abortion has increased the non-marital birthrate and acceptance of single parent families:
The working class had long dealt with the inconvenient fact of an accidental pregnancy through the shotgun marriage. As blue-collar jobs paying a family wage have disappeared, however, so has early marriage. Women are then left with two choices: They can delay childbearing (which might entail getting an abortion at some point) until the right man comes along or get more comfortable with the idea of becoming single mothers. College-educated elites have endorsed the first option, but everyone else is drifting toward the second.
Conservative Christians thought they could have it all by promoting abstinence until marriage. But virginity pledges and abstinence-only education have failed. If anything, they have once again accelerated the trend, leaving Christian leaders fumbling for answers. Some hope that more flexible, egalitarian roles for Christian wives and husbands may be the answer. Others think that doubling down on traditional gender roles is where it’s at. Either way, gone is the bravado that once proclaimed marital salvation by faith alone. “Marriages and families within faith communities are no healthier than in the rest of society,” concedes Christian author Jonathan Merritt. “Faith communities must provide support systems to salvage damaged marriages.” Whether the institution of marriage itself can or should be salvaged is, perhaps, a question none of us are prepared to answer.
Do atheists do it better? That is unlikely. Divorce rate differences between theists and nontheists tend to depend on how you slice the demographic pie, and for both groups, the shape of marriage itself is changing. As culture evolves, we’re all in uncharted territory together.
Chalk this up as another missed opportunity for evidence to support the truth of Christianity. This should be a slam dunk for Christians to tout that their divinely supported marriages are more stable than those of non-believers. Sorry, the data just isn’t there.
(3818) Religion skirts around science
It is enlightening to consider how the Catholic Church dealt with the growing scientific consensus of biological evolution during the 20th Century. The halting and uncomfortable way in which it was dealt with is illustrative of how science began to intrude on the domain of theology, even though it was not the initial intent. The following was taken from:
For nearly a century and a half after the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, the Catholic Church did a coy dance with evolutionary theory, deciding at last to accept it in the same way it decided Galileo deserved an apology—glacially and partially.
I at least give the Vatican credit for noticing something too often denied by others: that evolution, properly understood, presents a fatal problem for some of the most fundamental assumptions of their religion.
Since Darwin, a few popes had skated at the margins of the question. They rarely mentioned evolution in the last decades of the 19th century but repeatedly affirmed “the special creation of man”—one of the fundamental assumptions that evolution quietly eviscerates.
In Providentissimus Deus (1893), Leo XIII decried “the unrestrained freedom of thought” (his actual words) that he saw running rampant as the 20th century approached, warning that religion and science should stay out of each other’s sandboxes.
Whatever sharpens your hat, I guess.
A step forward came in 1950 with Humani generis, in which Pius XII said “the Church does not forbid” research and discussion related to biological evolution. But the encyclical contains a self-canceling message typical of papal pronouncements: “Men experienced in both fields” (science and theology) are free to study the issue, so long as their conclusions do not contradict certain assumptions—that “souls are immediately created by God,” for one, and that humans cannot have ultimately come from non-living matter.
Excluding possibilities out of hand before you begin is one of the best ways to get things wrong, of course. But before we jeer too much at the Vatican for taking 91 years to get it even half right, we should recognize that much of the scientific community had only fully accepted evolutionary theory in the previous decade. It was the modern synthesis with genetics, articulated by (among others) Ernst Mayr in 1942, that answered the most serious remaining questions and cemented the scientific consensus on evolution.
Then came the strongest concession. In an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1996, John Paul II improved on Pius XII. He noted that Pius had recognized evolution as a “serious hypothesis…worthy of a more deeply studied investigation and reflection on a par with the opposite hypothesis. [But] today,” he continued, “more than a half-century after the appearance of [Pius XII’s] encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis.”
Ignoring the fallible math, here’s where it gets interesting: The original speech was in French, with the last sentence rendered thus:
Aujourd’hui, près d’un demi-siècle après la parution de l’encyclique, de nouvelles connaissances conduisent à reconnaître dans la théorie de l’évolution plus qu’une hypothèse.
Like all major papal holdings-forth, the address was translated into several other languages. The English language edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the papal paper, translated it like so:
Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of more than one hypothesis within the theory of evolution.
(*gasp*) Somebody diddled with His Holiness!
The difference in the two translations is enormous. If the pope said there is “more than one hypothesis within the theory of evolution,” that’s a yawn. If he said “Evolution [is] more than an hypothesis,” that’s an earthquake.
A correction appeared three weeks later, but you know how that is. The faithful worldwide jumped on the translation they preferred. Some major media stories even got it backward, claiming that “more than an hypothesis” was the original error, and that “more than one hypothesis” was the correction. Answers in Genesis and other creationist organizations accepted the correct translation as evidence against the Catholic church. That’s all the expected gum flapping, none of it as interesting as the initial act of mistranslation.
In the correction, the English edition editor explained that they had taken an “overly literal” translation of the French text. But one enterprising media outlet ran the text by four French language experts, none of whom saw any possible reading other than “evolution [is] more than an hypothesis.”
Whether the switch was intentional is the fascinating question here. It’s always safe and fun to play the cynic and assume the conspiracy, but it’s pretty hard to picture anyone in the Vatican having sufficiently well-developed cojones to intentionally scramble the Pope’s words, something that was easily discovered. The fact that the editor in question was transferred from Rome to a parish in Illinois seems at first to suggest retribution, but that was five years after the bungle. And he was returning home.
It can be conjectured that if the Christian god exists with the assumed supernatural properties, that he would have seen this coming and would have spared the church the embarrassment they suffered over this issue. If this god doesn’t exist, then what happened is exactly what would be expected.
(3819) Setting in motion something that causes evil
Particularly in 17th Century America, many women were put to death because they were accused of being witches. If the Christian god is real, he must have watched this happen and chose to do nothing, even though he realized that there are no such things as witches. In other words, he allowed evil to happen as a consequence of a religion that he originated. Here is a present day analogy:
You are a guru that is starting a new religion. The principal premise is that women are not to work, but must remain as domestic providers- for home management, food preparation, and child care. In order to make this rule more likely to be followed, you tell your people that there is a force that can overtake a woman, making her want to work outside of the home, even though you realize that this force does not exist. It is simply a ruse to better enforce your rule.
Later, you learn that in one of your churches, some women have decided to find work outside the home, and that the leaders of that church have taken punitive actions. At first, it seems not too bad. They simply put them in a cell for few days, But later, they start to apply physical punishment. Then it gets even worse- they put some of the women to death.
At this point, you realize that many innocent women are being killed only because of something you put into motion. What do you do? If you are like Yahweh, you simply let it happen. But if you are a good person, you put a stop to it and state that the ‘force’ does not really exist, and that killing is not the way to deal with rule infractions.
So if Yahweh was as good as you, he would have informed the people of Salem, Massachusetts and other places that witches are not a real thing, and to quit killing the falsely-accused women. This implies that one of two things are true- Yahweh is an evil deity, or he doesn’t exist.
(3820) Hell and a just god cannot co-exist
A presumed existence of hell does not allow one to postulate that a just or fair god is in control of peoples’ eternal fate. The contradictions are too blatant, as is pointed out in the following essay:
Definition: Hell is a place for eternal suffering for humans and spiritual beings (i.e. angels and demons) that don’t worship God nor follow his commands.
Claim 1: Hell exists because a just God exists.
Claim 2: Everyone deserves to go to Hell because no one is righteous (Romans 3:10), the caveat being, God is the final judge, and being merciful, lets some people avoid this fate if they, through faith, accept Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Observation 1: Hell is not just.
In Ezekiel 18:20, the Lord says to Ezekiel, “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.”
To paraphrase, the Bible makes it clear that we’re not to be punished for the sins of other people. This makes intuitive sense and even holds in the court of law in most secular courts, we don’t go to jail for someone else’s crimes.
Thus, it makes no sense anyone would go to hell since sin exists because of the original sin of Adam and Eve. God told them not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. But because they disobeyed, all of humanity suffers and is doomed to die (go to Hell). Let me ask you, were you in the Garden of Eden, and did you ever get a shot at either obeying or disobeying God when, allegedly, there were no other temptations in the garden and when you would’ve been unashamed of being naked?
The Bible says all are born into sin, the mere action of being born makes us guilty. However, we never chose to be born. Our parents chose to have sex and make us enter into this fallen world. Thus, the act of giving birth is allowing for another sinful human to exist–sinful by default–why? Because our parents chose to have us, and they, like us, aren’t immune to original sin. This contradicts God’s justice, who made it clear that we aren’t to be punished for other people’s crimes.
Third, we never chose our race, culture, or geographical location, which all factor heavily into what we believe.
Thus, if we go to hell because we don’t believe in the Christian God because we were born in the Sentinel Islands where we never even had access to the Bible, then we’re in effect, suffering the consequences of Adam’s original sin, and also, the consequence of being birthed by the very people that have the most influence in shaping our beliefs, all of which we never had the choice to decide on.
Observation 2: In the Old Testament, justice consisted of administering punishment that fits the crime.
Leviticus 24:19-21: And a man who injures his countryman – as he has done, so it shall be done to him [namely,] fracture under/for fracture, eye under/for eye, tooth under/for tooth. Just as another person has received injury from him, so it will be given to him.
-Here’s a contradiction for you: Hell is eternal. Even a serial killer doesn’t deserve this fate. If our years on earth is divided by eternity, our existence on earth is essentially insignificant and approaches an asymptotic 0. It’s even worse when your main crime is being born in a culture that doesn’t teach Christianity.
-Imagine being a Buddhist monk who volunteers at Children’s Cancer hospitals all his life, only to share the same fate as Adolph Hitler and John Wayne Gacy. According to Leviticus, this isn’t just, because the punishment doesn’t fit the crime! If you argue that Jesus nullifies the law (he fulfilled the law), then in away, he made the laws more unjust for the average person because we suffer consequences not as a direct result of our own actions, but as a result of information God wants us to believe (but not having seen) when said information isn’t distributed equally nor thoroughly around the Earth.
Observation 3: Accounts of Hell are inconsistent throughout the Bible.
-Are we annihilated after death? (It’s what most Jews believed).
-Do we immediately go to Heaven or Hell? (It’s what Jesus implies in the book of Luke).
-Will we die, only to resurrect in bodily form when Jesus returns? (This is mentioned in Revelations and other places throughout the Bible).
Whichever one it is, the Bible isn’t very clear nor consistent about what happens to us when we die. Heaven and Hell by Bart Ehrman is a great academic introduction into the afterlife, but furthermore, I invite greater examination into the scholarly docs he cites.
Hell Exists because a just God exists –> This is a contradiction. We see that hell is not just, according to the Bible! So a just God would not accept nor perpetuate an unfair, unjust means of judgement. That means either Hell doesn’t exist, or God doesn’t exist. But if God doesn’t exist, Hell doesn’t exist either because it is a construct created in religious or mythological contexts. No one empirically arrived at the existence of Hell independent of a God or gods. So whether or not you believe God exists, it’s logical to assume that Hell doesn’t exist.
Alternate theory: Hell exists because God is not just. Then the Bible is filled with dishonesty. It shouldn’t be trusted–including any implications that Hell exists. Also, under this scenario, you therefore can’t trust that having faith in Jesus will lead you to avoid hell to begin with.
Another theory: Hell doesn’t exist, but a just God exists. I can live with that. But this makes it impossible for one to say that the Bible is a credible source of information as the Bible makes it clear that Hell (albeit in unclear ways) exists.
There really is no way for Christians to massage this problem away. It is a fatal blow for the faith. In making up a macabre place to scare people into compliance, they inadvertently made their god out to be an evil psychopath.
(3821) Faith is an excuse for a god who isn’t there
One of the conundrums of Christian theology is why God makes it difficult to acknowledge his existence, given the eternal significance of making this detection, and in light of Christian dogma that supposes that God is omnipotent, compassionate, and wants the best for everybody?
The typical answer is that God craves faith over proof. He is especially delighted when people come to believe in him without the advantage of having much evidence for his existence. (uh, even though he provided plenty of evidence to most of his revered Bible heroes?)
Here is an analogy. Suppose you have a son who lives far away from you. You want your son to love and admire you. So what is the best strategy- essentially ignore him and expect that he will believe you are a great person on the basis of faith- or spend time with him, talk to him frequently, and show him all of your good qualities? Most parents would say that the second option is the better way to attain the love and admiration of the child. But not God, apparently, he thinks the first approach is better.
If God values faith over evidence-based adoration, then he is not operating on all cylinders. Touting the value of faith is simply a way that Christians mask over the problem that their god is nowhere to be found. It is an excuse to make it seem like he’s there, when he isn’t.
(3822) A scene that could not exist if Christianity is true
This is a recent photograph of Muslim worshipers performing the evening (Isha) prayers at the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia:
This could not happen in a world where Christianity is true. Why? Because Yahweh would not have allowed a bastardized, invalid version of his faith to flourish and gain so many followers, most of whom are hostile to his chosen ones.
(3823) The worst segue in history
This is in the Bible where a man is put to death (in one of the most painful ways possible) for picking up sticks, followed immediately by (the Lord) giving frivolous fashion advice. Neither the ridiculous execution of a person hurting NO ONE, nor the overly-specific details of how to wear clothing, nor especially putting these two things directly adjacent in a text befits the ‘inspired’ product of any being worthy of being called a god. This scripture is a total disgrace:
And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. 33And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. 34And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. 35And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. 36And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.
37And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 38Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: 39And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring.
This is the King James Version. Later translators saw this problem and tried to mollify it somewhat. They had the man picking up wood instead of sticks (as if that makes his transgression worse) and also inserted the phrase ‘later on’ before Verse 37 to try to make it seem like there was a period of time where the congregation mourned the man’s death. But in all, this scripture is not redeemable and it shouts from the highest mountaintop and in the loudest volume that this is the literary work of benighted humans and was not inspired by anything remotely resembling a god.
(3824) Everything is God’s fault
One of the unintended consequences of Christians imagining that their god is omnipotent and omniscient is that the blame for every bad or evil event logically flows to God himself, and that everyone else is blameless (they are simply acting consistent with the way God made them). The following was taken from:
This seems to me the deepest, most misguided, most pernicious flaw in Christian and other monotheistic types of rhetoric that describe an omnipotent god.
God is described my many monotheists as All-Powerful, he supposedly created the universe in its entirety, and has total control over and knowledge of it.
And yet those same monotheists treat a wide variety of phenomenon within his universe as simply not his fault or responsibility to stop.
This is a massive logical disconnect. If things in the universe, including even human actions, happen as a result of cause-and-effect and aren’t simply random chaos, then every single thing that happens would logically be the doing of the god described above.
If he has infinite knowledge, he would have known exactly what his creations were going to do based on the way he created them at the beginning, even if his hand were present at the very outset of the Big Bang, his infinite knowledge would allow him to know what shapes elementary particles would take 15 billion years down the line. Everything that happens would be as he consciously dictated it and not only does he not set things in motion differently, he doesn’t intervene in the many horrendous things he’s set in motion.
There are a variety of monotheistic responses to this, most of which are very heavy on semantics or convoluted philosophy in order to somehow avoid the basic question of how a being who created everything, knows everything, and controls everything is not responsible for everything.
The most popular of which is the notion that “freedom” or “free will” somehow does not make god the specific cause of our wrong actions, and they therefore aren’t his fault, but this makes no sense. If god alone made the entire universe how it is, with total power over and knowledge of everything. Then it’s all his fault, including free human action, which is really only the freedom to act on our nature (which he dictates) within the parameters of the universe he created.
The classic analogy to this argument is a person who builds robots that go about killing people. Who is to blame- the robots or the robot maker? The only way around this problem is to suppose that God is not omnipotent and not perfect- he did his best to construct the universe, but certain things were outside of his control, and therefore a lot of purpose-less suffering occurs to his lament. But that kind of a god is very different from what most Christians imagine.
(3825) The house trap analogy
Christian theology analogs well with a situation where a person traps you in a house that has a flaw that will eventually kill you. The person then blackmails you by saying he will fix the flaw but only if you bow down and worship him. The following was taken from:
Let’s imagine someone built a house that included a dangerous flaw that he knew about and was absolutely capable of fixing. Then this person locked me inside this house with no way to escape, but came by later and tells me about this flaw.
He tells me that he could fix this flaw and would, if I promised to suck up to him, give him credit for everything I accomplish, and pledge to behave a specific, self-abnegating, and generally obnoxious way for the rest of my life and only associate with other people who did the same. And if I refused he would burn the house down with me in it.
Would I be out of bounds to say “you should just fix it and no, I won’t be your bitch!”?
Cuz that’s kinda what the whole “we were all born sinners and will always sin and we will go to hell without being baptized, confessing Christ, and being born again” gospel message is. If it were true, it was a setup. No one asked to exist, no one asked for a “sin nature,” no one asked to be trapped in this state of being.
If God is omnipotent, he could change the rules. And if God is love, he fucking would.
A real god would metaphorically place you in a house without any booby traps, and just let you live your life unfettered by threats of torture if you don’t worship him. The architecture of Christian theology is broken beyond repair.
(3826) Falling coconuts disprove God
When confronted with the evil perpetrated against innocent victims, Christian apologists often say that God does not interfere with the free will of the attacker, so he lets it happen. But when you consider a coconut tree, which occasionally kills or severely injures people when a coconut falls, this argument loses relevance. The following was taken from:
Here is a logical reason why the Abrahamic religions are wrong:
People die from coconuts falling on their heads
This is bad
There is an omniscient omnipotent omnibenevolant god Iao.
Plants do not have free will
Due to him being all powerful, Iao would be able to miraculously make the coconut not fall when someone is standing underneath it. He also knows about it because there is nothing possible to know that he does not know, regardless of if the future is determined or not. Since coconuts killing people by falling on them is bad, him being all loving would make him want to stop this bad thing.
Since plants have no free will then there is no reason why Iao would cross any moral event horizon by preventing this action, however, Iao’s existance is incompatible with a world where premises 1, 2, and 4 are true (which they are in our world), since premise 3 means he would prevent people from dying by coconuts falling on their heads, thus, this is an incoherent set of premises, and Iao cannot have the properties in premise 3 and have the other premises be true.
Iao’s properties as described are sometimes said of various gods in world religions. Premise 1 is true of this world, and is well documented, and premise 2 is a fairly common value. Premise 4 is only there to stop the free will argument. Furthermore Iao need not have created the world, nor to have always had the properties given to him in premise 3.
Furthermore, this cannot be explained by any sort of “tough love” argument since coconuts fall on people through no fault of their own. Coconuts could also be made to fall when people are not underneath them.
Unlike some other people who have used similar arguments, there is a reason to call a god without these properties a god. If they are immortal with reality warping abilities then that’s enough for them to be a god in my book. However, religions that posit an omniscient omnipotent omnibenevolant god are incorrect. If such a god existed, the world would lack a great many of the problems it has now, and coconuts killing people by falling on them is simply the one I picked because I believe that it makes the tightest argument for such a god not existing.
This implies the following- if coconuts were never known to hit people, given the number that have fallen, a statistical analysis could show this to be a very improbable situation. It would be evidence for a supernatural force protecting people from falling coconuts. This could be extended to tornadoes, lightning, and falling trees for example. This is not what we observe- inanimate objects indiscriminately harm people at statistically plausible rates, and this is evidence that the deity supposed by Christianity does not exist.
(3827) Jesus would hate Christianity
It is nearly certain that if Jesus came back to life today, he would not be a Christian. He would remain Jewish as his background, tradition, and studying had led him initially. He would see Christianity as a bastardization of who he was and what he promoted. The following was taken from:
We do not know what Jesus of Nazareth did and said. From the canonical Gospels we know only what is attributed to him in the short, edited books of one inventive storyteller (“Mark”), two imitators who revised and added to Mark’s story to make it agree with their own ideas, and one egotistical forger (“John”) who often contradicts and wants to supplant the other three. All of these men wrote decades after Jesus had died. They were not writing as historians, but to record their understandings, expositions, alterations, or inventions of stories about a man who they believed was in some way an agent of the god of their people.
If one goes outside of the official Gospels, he finds himself in a dark forest where no path can be discerned. It resounds with many voices clamoring to be believed. Some of them depict a Jesus even more strange than he of the New Testament.
Collectively, the Gospels propound mutually contradictory ideas about Jesus’ nature, purpose, and significance.
A probable idea of the “historical” Jesus is that he was a working man who decided—likely under the influence of John the Baptist- that he had a vocation as an itinerant preacher. He then wandered about Palestine preaching—wrongly, as it turned out—the imminent divine judging and transformation of the world, and urging his fellow Jews to get in Yahweh’s good graces before it was too late by practicing their religion more sincerely. He did not introduce novel doctrines. Rather, he propounded traditional Jewish values, adapted to his belief that the end of the world was near. The Gospels state that he challenged contemporary conventions, but these stories retroject conditions at the time that they were written into the time of Jesus. He may, however, have criticized religiously prominent Jews for their vanity, injustice, avarice, and hypocrisy (Matthew 23:1-7, 23-28; Luke 20:45-47). The truthfulness of episodes in the Gospels that portray Jesus in conflict with religious authorities can be questioned.
Jesus died nearly 2000 years ago. His body presumably would have been disposed of by his supposed Roman executioners in some place unknown ever since. Some of his followers imagined or invented the story that he had become alive again and shown himself to them. Then after a while he had floated up into the sky and disappeared, a tale that only partly explained why his miraculous reanimation had not been observed by the public.
Some of Jesus’ fellow Jews who heard his discourses adopted some of the principles that he expressed, perhaps even basing their mode of life upon them. Several such persons living in proximity could form a group, and if the group attained sufficient size it could constitute a sect. Jesus left no writings, so those who regarded themselves as his followers were able to modify his supposed precepts, and their ideas about his nature and significance, to suit their needs and circumstances. The sect of Jesusism promoted (perhaps founded) by the self-styled apostle Paul became the dominant sect and evolved into a dogmatic religion: Christianity.
The question arises: if Jesus-as-he-really-was could in fact be reconstituted now and were shown the character, effects, and history of the religion that regards him as its founder, what would be his reaction? This essay demonstrates why he would be horrified, disgusted, despairing, and angry.
Christianity would be much more believable if its central figure had come out of a neutral theological background, rather than being tied to Judaism and the concomitant silliness that God had chosen them above all others. A universal Christ untethered from the brutish Old Testament god could have set the faith on a much better trajectory of peace, love, and compassion. Jesus was not a Christian and would have hated what it became. Christians are clueless to all of this.
(3828) Bible doesn’t know of the Americas
One of the criticisms of the Bible is its limited geography, which is easily explainable if it was written by the people of the time who were not world travelers, but is harder to consider if it is granted that God inspired the scriptures. One of the glaring omissions is that North and South America are completely missing. The following was taken from:
Despite claims that mention of Chinese empires and the lands of the former USSR can be found in the pages of the Old Testament, even the most zealous of evangelicals face difficulties when trying to find references to the Americas in the Bible. In his paper “Is America in Bible Prophecy?” even Thomas Ice, director of the evangelical Liberty University in Virginia, has to content himself with Old Testament verses such as Haggai 2:6-7, Isaiah 66:18-20, and Zechariah 12:2-3, that nebulously refer to “all nations.” Despite this lack of references, one poll showed that as many as 86% of American evangelicals believe that the lands of the United States are “uniquely blessed” by a God who doesn’t acknowledge their existence in his holy book—despite there being an estimated 7 million people living in the Americas at the time that the final biblical books were composed.
One of the hardest things for American prophecy students to accept is that the United States is not clearly mentioned in Bible prophecy, yet our nation is the only superpower in the world today. —Tim LaHaye (American Baptist minister)
One response to the uneasiness felt by Americans in the 1800s regarding the Bible’s silence about the Americas was to create addenda to the canon of Scripture so as to include references to them. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, claimed in the 1830s that he had found records of ancient civilizations that had been written on golden plates in a language that he called “reformed Egyptian.” According to Smith, the founders of these civilizations were Jews who had travelled from Israel to the Americas at various times in antiquity and had formed tribes and established significant communities there, building cities and synagogues, and observing the Law of Moses. After the Crucifixion, Jesus even arrived and gave advice to them. Following intertribal warfare, only one of the tribes survived—the Nephites—the descendants of whom, according to Mormon tradition, are the Native Americans.
Smith’s book has, however, been thoroughly debunked and reflects his poor understanding of life in the Americas prior to the start of their colonization by Europeans in the Middle Ages. He refers anachronistically to a whole range of things that were not available in pre-Columbian America, such as silk, camels, steel, horses, cattle, barley, and wheat. DNA testing has also shown us that native Americans have more in common with those living in Russia and Kazakhstan than any Semitic group. It is believed that they descended from humans who crossed a land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska tens of thousands of years ago, rather than from anyone who may have travelled by boat from Canaan in Old Testament times.
Another line of thinking that has led people to believe that the American people and its lands are sanctified is undergoing a resurgence, in spite of its demonstrable implausibility. It holds that, following the invasion of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 721 BCE, the ten tribes living there left and set up home in the British Isles. The descendants of the tribes who made Britain their home were those that went on to found the United States and form the majority of the population living there today. The hypothesis, known as British Israelism, sees Great Britain and the United States as a ‘new Israel’ and their indigenous populations as a new ‘chosen people.’ However, this conjecture smacks of people reaching a conclusion and then cherry-picking data that can be contorted to suit it. One such piece of evidence given is the similarity between some words in English and Hebrew. For example, the Hebrew word for ‘eye’ is ‘ayin’ ( עַיִן) and its word for ‘wine’ is ‘yayin’ (יין). As Russell Spittler quite succinctly suggests, however, the purported links between the two languages have “no ample basis in linguistic scholarship and are based on coincidences only,” and the connection between English and Hebrew could hardly be any weaker.
Those who do not resort to Mormonism or British Israelism to find a link between the Bible and the Americas say that its pages are merely about God’s miraculous interventions with one group of people at a specific time in ancient history. For many people, this raises more questions than it answers. Why does God not interact with people today in the same way that he did in Old Testament times? Why, for example, does he not cause seas to part (Exodus 14:16), turn people into pillars of salt (Genesis 19:26), and cause donkeys to talk (Numbers 22:28) in today’s Florida like he did in ancient Israel? And why did an omniscient and omnibenevolent God choose the inhabitants of a miniscule area of the Earth’s surface with whom to engage? For many, the more preferable analysis is that the Bible was written about what was an ultimately localized tribal god, by humans who, at the time, did not typically travel outside a ten-mile radius of their place of birth.
Imagine if the Bible had made mention of a large land mass west of Spain where millions of people resided. This would have represented significant evidence that it was a work of divine inspiration, as no one at the that time could have conceived of such a reality. It is another missed opportunity for the Bible to show evidence for what Christians claim it to be.
(3829) Moses and Sargon
It is evident that the birth story myth of Moses was patterned after an earlier myth of Sargon of Akkad. The following was taken from:
Moses’ entrance to the story purposefully employs the motif of the infant born of humble parents who becomes (or is unknowingly) a prince. At the time of the writing of Exodus this story had been known in the Middle and Near East for almost 2,000 years through the Legend of Sargon of Akkad. Sargon (2334-2279 BCE) was the founder of the Akkadian empire, the first multi-national empire in the world.
His famous legend, which he made great use of in his lifetime to achieve his aims, relates how his mother was a priestess who “set me in a basket of rushes and sealed my lid with bitumen/ She cast me into the river which rose over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki/the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener” (Pritchard, 85-86). Sargon grows up to overthrow the king and unite the region of Mesopotamia under his rule.
The festivities came to a climax when a wooden cabin was wheeled out and large crowds dressed in ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian costume prostrated themselves in front of it. The doors opened to reveal a palm tree from which fifty-three white doves flew up into the sky. Beneath them a baby Saddam, reposing in a basket, came floating down a marsh-bordered stream. Time magazine’s reporter was particularly struck by the baby-in-the-basket theme, describing it as “Moses redux”. But why on earth would Saddam Hussein wish to compare himself to a leader of the Jews? The journalist was missing the point. The motif was a Mesopotamian invention long before the Hebrews took it up and applied it to Moses. The Iraqi dictator was alluding to a much more ancient and, to him, far more glorious precedent. He was associating himself with Sargon.
The writer of Exodus also wanted his hero associated with Sargon: a true hero who would rise from inauspicious beginnings to achieve greatness. Those who believe the Exodus story is a cultural myth point to Moses’ beginnings, along with many other facets of the story, to prove their claim.
Uniqueness is not a necessary attribute of authentic scholarship, but it helps to contribute to it. The suspicious similarities between Sargon and Moses hints at the repetitious use of myth to aggrandize a fictitious literary character, whether or not this myth was patterned on a unique physical person.
(3830) Christian forgiveness is self-centered
Christianity is very big on forgiveness but very short on restitution. It teaches that you can harm others (steal from them, injure them, kill them) and receive instant forgiveness by transferring your punishment to Jesus and the cross. However, it does not require one to provide redress to those who were harmed as a condition for that forgiveness. The following was taken from:
A great show on Netflix called BoJack Horseman brought up a really good point against Christianity’s view on sin (the show makes almost no reference to religion except one scene where a side character ends up in a convent). After being told her sins have been washed clean, the character asks a nun something along the lines of “but what about the lives I’ve ruined, the people I’ve hurt? Has that pain been washed away too?” The nun brushes off the question and I think that’s emblematic of why Christianity’s “forgiveness” trope is so problematic. You can be forgiven for your sins, but the people you’ve hurt remain hurt. Why does the process of healing sin never address this? One of the many ways Christians are incredibly self-centered.
Here is what is missing from the gospels:
“Master, what should I do to be forgiven for what I did?”
“You must do these things. Apologize to the person you harmed, and promise to never again visit pain upon them. Then, restore what you have taken, even to the twice over. Do them favors, and help them to regain what you have taken from them. When you have accomplished these things, then your father in heaven will forgive you for what you have done.”
(3831) Being good is good enough
Christianity is built on a model of encouraging good behavior, being kind, compassionate, and helping the unfortunate, but where it stumbles, and stumbles mightily, is that it shoves all of that aside and states that your eternal destiny hinges solely on believing in and worshiping an unseen sky deity. In the following it is shown that any god that fails to accept being good on its own merit is not worth the time of day:
And let’s, for arguments sake, say that god is real, and that his judgment will sentence us each to our after lives. Why is it that God, whose intent is to have all the people of the world be “Good Samaritans“ and be better humans, care if we choose not to pray to him? Can we not be deemed good people without dedicating our charitable actions to a higher being? Why should a god judge those who do not believe in them or not differently? If we follow the same morality as those who do go to church, then how are our actions any different?
Religion is only a tool used to guide people to be good, so why would a god judge if we are creating our own individual moral compasses, instead of using a standardized one? In fact, doesn’t the idea that we believe that after our deaths, we will not be judged on the character and actions we constructed during our life, make them that much more meaningful and truthful; that we were good not because of the promise of heaven or the overshadowing fear of hell, but to make the world a better place? Why would a god who knows all frown upon those helping without hope of reward while accepting those who are charitable only in an attempt to win a ticket and secure their place in heaven?
We do not need the looming threat of eternal damnation to be good people and if we treat others by the guiding principles of religious doctrine not because they are in the Bible, but because they are the right thing to do, and if the God that judges us is rational, they why would we be punished for being righteous and making the world a better place on our own morality? And if this god is too vain and too self-absorbed to accept any falter from total devotion, then I, for one, would much more accept to be damned, because this god’s “justice” would not be just at all.
It should be obvious that a truly omnipotent being would not be so self-absorbed or insecure as to REQUIRE that people worship it as a pretext for insulating them from damnation. Imagine a political figure who gets upset because somebody votes for their opponent (oh wait!). Any god that creates a universe and either creates or comes upon an evolved intelligent species would most likely not interfere, but assuming that it did, and it prepared places for post-life reward and punishment, it would almost certainly place the entire emphasis of this judgment on how they lived their lives and virtually none on whether they believed in it or worshiped it.
(3832) God fails to reign in his followers
If we assume that Yahweh is the true god of the universe, and that he converted from Judaism to Christianity at the time of Jesus, then one must ask whether he is satisfied with the way his followers have behaved over the past two thousand years. Does he have the power to influence them so that they don’t embarrass the faith or discourage others from joining? Here are some of the bad things that Christians have done over the past twenty centuries:
– killing witches
– killing apostates
– killing Muslims and Jews
– imprisoning and killing scientists
– killing native populations and stealing their land
– promoting slavery
– harassing and killing LGBTQ
– practicing misogyny
– abandoning family members who disbelieve
– harassing and killing abortion providers
– sexually abusing children
– child marriages
– extorting money from the poor who can’t afford it
– extreme corporal punishment
– promoting a prosperity gospel
– promoting firearms
– fighting against other Christian denominations
– discriminating against foreigners and immigrants
– damaging democratic norms
– fighting against scientific discoveries
– promoting white supremacy
The record of how Christians have behaved makes it seem that if Yahweh is the true god, then he has not done much of anything to ensure that his followers set a good example for others to encourage them to join the faith. This suggests that Yahweh does not exist, or that he has remained the god of the Jews.
(3833) Pale Blue Dot
One photograph is enough to make one doubt the underlying theology of Christianity, a religion that advances the idea that the Earth is the special creation and focus of the same god who created the entire universe. The following was taken from:
In 1990, the Voyager Spacecraft 1, when it was 3.7 billion miles from our sun, took a photo of Planet Earth. It was dubbed a Pale Blue Dot, but it is almost undetectable in the vastness of space. This provides dramatic illustration that the ancient concept of the cosmos—the one that prevailed when the Bible was written—is false, i.e., earth at the center of creation, with a god residing close overhead. Carl Sagan commented:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.” Moreover, the inhabitants of this planet came up with “…thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines…” But most important—and of relevance especially to confident Christian theology:
“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”
Christian theologians have tried, over the centuries, to modify and improve the Bible concept of God, but as our knowledge of the cosmos advances, that task has become increasingly difficult. Well, no: impossible. Our continual appeal to Christians is: show us where we can find reliable, verifiable, objective evidence for the deity you believe in and worship. So far, they have not delivered.
The discovery of our position and relative obscurity in the universe has placed a lot of pressure on Bronze Age belief systems that are based on the Earth being at the center of everything. The Pale Blue Dot photograph is kryptonite to Christianity.
(3834) John and the Hellenization of Jesus
The startling theological shift from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke to the Gospel of John, represents a transformation from Jewish to Greek philosophy. It was a culmination of the transfer of Christianity from a predominantly Jewish religion to a pagan one. The following was taken from:
In John we find the culmination of Greek philosophy that has created the Jesus that we are the most familiar with today. A fully-formed Hellenized Jesus has emerged to become an equal with God. The Gospel of John (ca. 120 CE) is complex and mystical. It’s purpose is to propagandize the message that Jesus is God Himself, creator of the universe, and so powerful that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (3:16).
The anonymous author of John makes liberal use of allegory and double-entendre to illustrate this theme. The literary style of the author matches the mysticism of his subject perfectly:
The writer [of John] achieves a rather constant variation through the use of synonymous words and phrases, restatement of phrases and clauses, changes in word order of repeated statements, and the repetition and restatement of certain thoughts on the same subject, even to the point of outright contradiction.(1)
For John, nothing is at it seems and Jesus symbolizes the catalyst for eternal life and the path with which to achieve everlasting life in the divine realm where Jesus has descended from. Even the casual reader of the four gospels can easily discern the jump between the Synoptic tradition with Mark through Matthew and the apocryphal John.
We see in John a desire to use Greek pagan concepts and philosophies as a tool for communicating Jesus as the Logos to a Christianized Gentile audience. John’s Logos would not be understood by Jews and his book would only be familiar to someone practiced in the pagan mystery cults that flourished in the Hellenistic world. Heraclitus of Ephesus used the word Logos around 500 BCE to describe his concept of the regularity with which the universe seemed to operate. The universe was a divine machine and Heraclitus credited the Logos (literally the reason) as the ultimate rationale which secretly operated the universe and the heavens above.
John is distinct from the Synoptic Tradition because of the nature of the transformation of Jesus. The shift takes us from the Judaic idea of a chosen people’s messiah, to a Wisdom, a sophia, that pervades all things and all people. The Word that has existed from the beginning, and while the Word came and dwelt among men, “they knew him not.” (1:12) John has promulgated the Logos in a radically new way. Suddenly, man is not only capable, but deserved from the beginning of time, to accept the Logos, the Word, the Christ, as a gnosis, an available knowledge of the Elect. This gnosis tills man’s evil nature and produces fertile ground so that the perfect God and the flawed Man can meet and establish a fellowship. Like other Greek philosophical constructs: beauty, wisdom, and truth, Jesus, as the Logos, becomes God.
The Hellenization of Jesus is complete in John. Jesus’ eschatalogical, or end of the world, message is removed and Jesus instead comforts those who have vigilantly awaited his second coming:
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.(5)
John’s Jesus relieves the tension that filled the early Christians; the long overdue wait and the tardiness of the apocalypse which never came has been explained at last. By the beginning of the second century, when it was realized that Jesus was not coming as promised, John comforts his fellow Christians and allows them the luxury to carry on in life as normal. John’s Jesus is preparing their proper place and it is on his timetable, not theirs, and in due course he will let them know when it is ready. Nearly two thousand years later, we are still waiting for John’s mansions to materialize.
Reality doesn’t change but peoples’ perception of a historical figure can change. Jesus could have been as depicted in the synoptic gospels or as described in John. Both realities cannot co-exist, and, indeed, both of these traditions may well be wrong. But inclusion of John in the Bible is perhaps one of the best clues that Christianity is more of a philosophical movement than an historical one.
(3835) Rambo theory of Jesus
Some tongue- in- cheek portrayals of Jesus have him sporting an automatic firearm in a pose that says ‘I’m taking no prisoners.’ Although frivolous, there is truth in how some biographers tend to exaggerate the exploits of their subjects. This likely happened with Jesus. The following was taken from:
Personally, I subscribe to what’s called the Rambo theory of Jesus. Basically, the character of Rambo was based on a very real person whom the author of First Blood knew. He was a WWII vet who did odd jobs for the guy’s father while he was growing up and suffered from bad PTSD.
He decided to use him as a foundation of a character to write a book about the troubles vets have reintegrating into society when they come back from war and wrote about some of the things the man went through. He updated the war involved to Vietnam to make it topical and also included some more generic stories which other vets experienced, but the actual guy hadn’t, to flesh out the plot. It turned out to be kind of a boring book, so he completely made up a final act where Rambo fights a bunch of dirty cops in the woods using the special forces skills he learned so as to give a more interesting story that would sell more copies.
The book was then optioned into a movie, which focused on that last bit and this was focused on more and more in all the subsequent movies, video games, etc. Now, just a few decades later, when people think of Rambo, they think of an invincible super soldier who’s PTSD is just a little bit of flavour to add depth to the character and distinguish him from all the other invincible super soldiers and has no relation at all to the very real person whom Rambo was based on very, very recently.
Same thing with Jesus. People were telling stories. It may very well be that there was some real dude the guy was based on, but any particular thing may come from someone else entirely or just be completely made up because someone a decade later thought it would make a more interesting plot point. This means that even if there was a basis for the Jesus character, reading the Bible gives you about as much information on him as loading up the latest Mortal Kombat game and strafing a ninja with bullets from a machine gun Rambo had hidden under some leaves tells you about a man who did some odd jobs for a kid’s dad back in the 40s or 50s.
Even current biographies are subject to the Rambo effect, knowing that what they write will be more popular if they include some exciting tales. The tendency to exaggerate if not make up stories is hard to suppress. This is most surely what happened in the gospels, as the authors wanted to make Jesus into a Jewish Rambo.
(3836) Neanderthal soul conundrum
Scientifically literate Christians understand that humans evolved from lower forms of animals over millions of years. This creates a problem for locating the first humans who were given a soul along with the accompanying prospect of gaining eternal life. At some point someone must have gotten a soul while their parents didn’t. This demarcation is unavoidable.
But there is another problem with trying to marry evolution with Christianity. We know that the hominid species Neanderthal co-existed with humans for thousands of years before becoming extinct about 40,000 years ago. There was a period of approximately 5-10,000 years where Neanderthals and homo sapiens co-existed in the same geographical areas. By any Christian logic, Neanderthals were not given souls. But we know that they cross-bred with homo sapiens during this time. There are three possibilities:
1) Humans with souls procreated with soulless animals (Neanderthals) leaving their progeny in soul limbo.
2) Neanderthals did have souls but then they became extinct long before God revealed his existence.
3) God did not provide souls to humans until after the Neanderthals became extinct.
All of these possibilities cause problems. But perhaps the biggest problem for Christianity is the 100,000-year gap in time between the evolution of the homo sapien species and the time where God revealed himself. There seems to be no good explanation for this other than to concede that the Judeo-Christian faith is strictly a product of human imagination.
(3837) Monotheistic censorship
Judaism was a polytheistic religion for many centuries before the idea of monotheism took hold. This created a problem because a lot of their old scriptures made reference to a multiplicity of gods. So, to correct this problem, they did some editing (monotheistic censorship) to make the scriptures consistent with their evolved theological views.
In the following example it can be seen what was done with Deuteronomy 32:8, which originally told the story of the ‘Most High’ god (El) assigning nations (after the Tower or Babel) to the lower gods (Yahweh being one of them). The later revision made Yahweh himself the ‘Most High’ and changed the reference to other gods to be other people, or in some cases other angels or sons of god.
New Revised Standard Version
When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods;
New International Version
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.
The following was taken from:
Let’s look at Deuteronomy 32:8-9:
When the Most High apportioned the nations,
when he divided humankind,
he fixed the boundaries of the peoples
according to the number of the gods;
the Lord’s own portion was his people,
Jacob his allotted share.
In this case, we can not only see this concept, but also its subsequent redation (one of my professors says point blank “monotheistic censorship”) – the Masoretic Text has “Israel’s numbers” instead of “the number of the gods”. But the Septuagint has “the number of the angels of God”. And a Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript of Deuteronomy (4Q37/4QDt) has “the number of the sons of God”. So we can see a pretty clear progression of editorial and interpretative work which resulted in a complete removal of the reference to other gods and its replacement with human beings.
Also note that the divine name switches inside the passage from the Most High (El Elyon) to Lord (Yahweh). The standard interpretation is to assume these are the same being, meaning the most high god distributed the land among his divine sons but kept Israel for himself. But alternatively, it could also be read as Yahweh being one of the sons of the most high god.
The idea that the most high god partitioned the Earth and gave each of his divine sons one nation is attested in other Semitic religious systems, e.g. in Ugarit, we have “the seventy sons of Athirat” (the consort of the most high god) and in Emar, we have “the seventy gods of Emar”. And in the Second Temple literature, we see that the number of the angels which protect the various nations of Earth is also seventy, e.g. in 1 Enoch 89.59.
If Yahweh is truly the only god in existence, then there is little explanation for how the Israelites came to believe in the Most High god El and his consort of lesser gods. Why would Yahweh have allowed these misconceptions? It almost seems like the Hebrews made up a number of gods but later decided that there was only one.
(3838) Love and fear do not mix
Christianity is vulnerable to a non sequitur where one is commanded to love someone that they fear. In reality, this situation does not work. Love delivered under the threat of punishment for failing to love is not true love. The following was taken from:
If a Christian believes that non-believers are sent to hell then they can never be sure that they really love god or if they just fear him. If someone puts a gun to your head and tells you to make them a sandwich, you probably wouldn’t be making that sandwich because you like them so much. Maybe you could convince yourself you wanted to make them a sandwich , but you wouldn’t have the choice to do otherwise. You would always know in the back of your mind that if you refused they would shoot you. Likewise Christians can say they really truly love god, but if they believe the only other alternative is hell they really don’t have a choice but to love him. Love isn’t love when the only choice is to love the person or die.
How could this work better? First of all, get rid of hell (Isn’t that blatantly obvious?). Also get rid of any notion that God will punish you in this life if you fail to love him. Then base everything regarding the afterlife (if there is to be one) on how one lives their life. Period. You cannot truly love someone that you fear will hurt you if you fail to love them. Christianity fails to understand this truth.
(3839) Matthew repairs Mark’s deficiency
It seems that the author of Mark was so sure that the end times were near that he felt it unnecessary to have Jesus give lessons in morality or ethics. The time was too short to worry about such things. But, about 15-20 years later, when it because obvious that the end was not near, ‘Matthew’ wrote his gospel, using most of Mark, but also adding in some moral lessons, most notably the Sermon on the Mount. The following was taken from:
The primary message of Mark’s gospel is the imminent arrival of the kingdom of God. In Mark 1:14-15 we read: “…Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’” And at his trial, in Mark 14, Jesus promised those present that they would see him coming on the clouds of heaven. In this gospel Jesus is presented as an apocalyptic prophet, i.e., he proclaims that the end of the age is near. Recent studies have suggested that Mark was influenced especially by the apostle Paul’s belief that the arrival of Jesus on the clouds was “any day now.” For this reason the author of the gospel might have felt little need to add ethical teaching—since the world was about to be transformed. Later, when Matthew copied most of Mark’s gospel, he added what we know as the Sermon on the Mount, perhaps to make up for this deficiency.
The full terror of the apocalyptic message is presented in Mark, Chapter 13. As the kingdom arrives there will great calamity and suffering, and it’s about to happen. There is the warning at the end of the chapter to remain alert, keep awake. There are indeed Jesus cults within Christianity even now that look forward to the upheaval that their Jesus will bring. But I’m pretty sure that, outside these extremist groups, most Christians are stumped by Mark 13. They’re certainly not comfortable with it, because it doesn’t fit with their image of Jesus as lord and savior.
Anyone at that time who was familiar with Paul’s letters likely had the erroneous concept that Jesus was going to return anytime, perhaps tomorrow, or later in the year, or next year, but certainly not 20 years into the future. That was the dilemma facing the author of Matthew. In addition to toning down predictions of the imminent end of the age, it was also important to add in some moral teachings for what was beginning to look like a long haul before Jesus would return.
(3840) The verse that destroys Christianity
It doesn’t matter whether or not Jesus uttered the quote documented in Matthew 15:24. Either way, it destroys Christian theology:
Matthew Chapter 15
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
If Jesus came to save the entire world, he would never have said that he came to save only the lost sheep of Israel. If Jesus never said this, and God intended as part of Jesus’ mission to expand his godship beyond the Jews to the entire world, then he would have prohibited such a quote from being included in the gospels (since he is omnipotent, it would have been well within his control to keep gospel authors from writing such a Jew-exclusive statement).
If Jesus was truly God himself, it makes even less sense. How could he have said this knowing full well that he came to save everyone? The only thing that makes sense, given that Jesus actually made this statement, is that he was not God and didn’t realize at this time what God wanted him to do. But neither of those conditions are acceptable to Christians. It is a mess, and this verse rips open the heart of Christian dogma.
(3841) Witnessing, memory, testimony, transcription, duplication, translation
There are many hurdles over which the news about Jesus had to jump before it came to modern ears. Each of these introduced error, distortion, exaggeration, fraud, and agenda.
Even if someone was at the feeding of the five thousand, they might have been in the back, and after being momentarily blocked out from seeing what was happening, suddenly saw a bunch of people eating fish and bread, and it seemed like a miracle. What they actually witnessed was nothing of the sort.
Thirty years later, when they were remembering the event, they might miss some details, or add on some details that they didn’t see. We know that memories can change over time.
When they talked to others about what they experienced, they likely had an incentive to jazz up the scene, add in something they knew to be untrue, to make the story more exciting or memorable. This happens all of the time.
When someone hears a story and then writes it down, more distortions occur, as the writer misunderstood the witness testimony, or deliberately adds some details to make his story even more compelling.
When scribes copied the books of the Bible, they may have either inadvertently or purposefully changed what was originally written. Once a change was made, it likely would be carried forth in future copies. When the older texts were lost, there was no way to verify what the original said.
When texts are translated to other languages, nuances of those languages can easily introduce differences in meaning. Not to mention, many translators are incentivized to make textual changes to promote their interpretation of the faith. This has been observed in many of the modern translations of the Bible.
So what we think we know about Jesus, or any other person in the Bible, has passed through these screens, leaving such a murky picture that it seems impossible to know the truth. So why would a supernatural all-powerful god deliver his ‘good news’ in such a primitive, inefficient, and unreliable manner? Why didn’t he just miraculously produce perfect books in every human language?
(3842) Paul would have been shocked
Paul, who conceived of resurrection to involve a spiritual body (after shedding this ‘mortal coil’), would have been appalled particularly at two stories that were later documented in the gospels- the Road to Emmaus and Doubting Thomas. These involved revived physical bodies. The following was taken from:
Luke’s account of the disciples on the Emmaus Road, and John’s story of Doubting Thomas are found only in those gospels. Why would that be, since they are both so amazing? The former appears to be a literary creation based on a couple of verses in the fake ending of Mark’s gospel (16:12-13): “After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.” In another form: in Luke’s story, Jesus is unrecognized when he walks with the two disciples, and later, when he’s having a meal with them, at the moment when he is recognized—poof! —he vanishes.
In John’s Doubting Thomas episode, we’re told that, “Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20:26) Robert Conner has pointed out, in his book, Apparitions of Jesus: The Resurrection as Ghost Story, that the gospel authors borrowed elements from contemporary ghost folklore as they created their resurrection accounts. Which brings us to another fundamental problem with these solitary episodes in Luke and John: they were written decades after the supposed events, and cannot be verified by contemporaneous documentation.
We can suspect, moreover, that the apostle Paul would have been shocked by these stories. He would have said No Way! A newly alive dead Jesus who sat down to eat with disciples—and who invited Thomas to stick his finger in his sword wound? In I Corinthians 15, Paul is emphatic that it is spiritual bodies that are resurrected, not dead flesh that was put into the ground—or a tomb:
“So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.” (vv. 42-44) Paul, in all his letters, never mentions the story of the Empty Tomb on Easter morning, probably for two reasons: (1) it hadn’t been invented yet by the later gospel writers, (2) a revived body walking out of a tomb wasn’t at all what Paul meant by a spiritual body.
So Paul believed in a spiritual resurrection of the dead, and arguably also conceived of Jesus as a spiritual (not physical) being, but the authors of the gospels were convinced of a physical resurrection- of Jesus and presumably the rest of us as well. This mismatch certainly sprays some embarrassment onto Christianity, seeing as how Paul is considered to be the theological guru of the faith.
(3843) Matthew ignored the context of ancient stories
The author of the Gospel of Matthew would not win any journalistic prizes. He had a bad tendency to pick small elements out of ancient stories to flesh out stories of Jesus while ignoring the context of his sources. This is a fatal fault for a writer. The following was taken from:
The author of Matthew’s gospel had an approach to scripture that many contemporary Christians would find bizarre: he simply ignored the context of the ancient stories, and landed on words he was sure had predictive significance. In Matthew 1:22-23, the author quotes Isaiah 7:14 to prove that the virgin birth of Jesus had been predicted hundreds of years before. Here’s basic homework for Christians: read all of Isaiah, chapter 7, and decide for yourselves: does it have anything whatever to do with Jesus? Matthew also made a mistake: he consulted the Greek translation of Isaiah 14, which incorrectly translated the original Hebrew, i.e., which reads young woman, not virgin.
Mark told his story of Jesus without a virgin birth; in his gospel Jesus is designated “son of God” at his baptism—and John’s gospel omits it as well. But apparently Matthew was persuaded that the virgin birth of other sons of gods—it was a common idea in the ancient world—was worth attaching to his Jesus story. Interestingly, when Luke wrote his virgin birth story, he ignored Matthew’s Isaiah quote. He might have thought it was inappropriate—just as we do.
And speaking of Luke’s birth story, when we compare it with Matthew’s, we find more evidence that Matthew just made stuff up. Luke’s birth story includes details about the baby Jesus being presented at the Jerusalem Temple, and praised by a prophet and prophetess. Then this:
“When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him. (Luke 2:39-40)
This cannot be reconciled with Matthew’s bizarre report that Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod, which is found in 2:13-15, and nowhere else in the New Testament. Why in the world would Matthew tell such a story, which is extremely unlikely? If Herod had been hunting for the baby Jesus, his parents could have hidden out among the peasantry in their own country. But, once again, Matthew had been hunting in the Old Testament for a text he could apply to Jesus; he landed on Hosea 11:1: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” The text in Hosea plainly says that the child called out of Egypt was Israel, and much of Hosea 11 is a complaint about the disobedience of Israel; Matthew cared nothing at all about context. Luke omits mention of this detour to Egypt—as Joseph and Mary were on their way home to Nazareth! —because it is just too absurd.
Perhaps Matthew’s most ridiculous make-believe episode is a truly dangerous one for the credibility of the Christian faith. He reports (27:52-53) that, at the moment Jesus died on the cross,
“The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.”
This is magical thinking, i.e., the death of Jesus brought many people back to life (sounds a lot like Harry Potter, right?), but not only that, these newly alive dead people toured Jerusalem on Easter morning. None of the other gospels report any such thing, nor do any of the historians of the time. Matthew just drops this bit of nonsense into his story, without any follow-up: did these zombies head back to their tombs a few hours or days later? Even conservative scholars have conceded this is a tall tale, but that inevitably raises the question: Is the resurrection of Jesus itself a tall tale? Especially since the Jesus resurrection stories are so incoherent and contradictory.
It is safe to assume that nothing in the Gospel of Matthew should be taken seriously. When he was not copying the Gospel of Mark, nearly word for word, he was searching the Old Testament and building fables around little snippets of verses without understanding the context of what was being discussed. To him, anything could be a prophecy as long as you had a good imagination.
(3844) Mark’s gospel filters what came later
The Gospel of Mark can be seen as a circuit breaker in the theological evolution of Christianity. It sets a barrier beyond which almost everything added on by future gospels can be confidently viewed as legendary. This is because if the added sensational elements of Luke, Matthew, and John were factual, it would have been very unlikely that they would have not been mentioned in Mark. The following discusses Mark’s positioning as the oldest and most ‘reliable’ gospel:
Mark is most commonly believed to be the first, for several reasons below among others.
1) It’s the most apocalyptic, it presents predictions of the imminent end of the age without any qualification. Matthew subtly tones down the imminence of the end, Luke tones it down more directly, John removes it. This implies that Mark was written early, before the first generation had started to die.
2) It doesn’t contain legendary material around Jesus’ birth, or present Jesus in as exalted a way as the other gospels. For example, Mark simply reports Jesus’ baptism as a fact, but Matthew appears to have a difficulty with the sinless Jesus having to be baptized for repentance, so he has John ask why Jesus comes to him, saying it should be the other way round. This is probably the result of theological difficulties in the early communities leading to explanations being formed. As Mark doesn’t contain them, it’s an older and more accurate account of the historical Jesus with less legendary and theological material.
3) Luke’s introduction states that it’s not the earliest, saying that there are other accounts and his account is the result of research. One of the accounts Luke used was almost certainly Mark, and probably other sources (in scholarship this is usually called Q but it’s uncertain if that was a single document or a mix of oral and written accounts).
4) Mark’s ending is brief and factual. The earliest manuscripts end with the women who saw the empty tomb being afraid. There are a number of alternative endings after that which are generally regarded as later compositions. This implies that Mark was written before resurrection traditions were well-established, again dating it earlier than the other gospels which have developed resurrection narratives.
It is clear by the progressive revelations expressed in the sequential ordering of the gospels that myths were continually being added, stories were being embellished, and apologies were being offered. Some of these happened in the 40-year gap from Jesus to Mark, but we cannot be sure how much. But after Mark, we have a good idea of when myths such as the virgin birth, the raising of Lazarus, and the ascension came to be believed. Establishing Mark as the first gospel gives us a solid basis to confidently rule out many of the myths that most Christians believe to be true.
(3845) The Red Sea route for dramatic effect
When you look at a map, you realize that there is something strange about the story in the Book of Exodus regarding the route the Jews chose to escape Egypt. There was no good reason for them to take the difficult route either across the Red Sea or through the Reed Sea. There was an easy land route to the north.
However, the storytellers wanted a dramatic start to the epic journey out of Egypt, with the opportunity to demonstrate the awesome power of their God. It helped that plotting the route across the Sea also provided the opportunity to describe the destruction of the entire Egyptian army.
This is, in effect, double fiction- first the made-up story about the Hebrews being enslaved in Egypt along with the ten plagues and a recalcitrant pharaoh, and second, making the illogical choice to unnecessarily cross a broad and deep sea.
This would be similar to writing a story about people fleeing Paris to get to their home in Berlin and on the way crossing over the Matterhorn Mountain in the Alps. It just doesn’t make sense. So even when the Bible invents fiction, it does so in a very illogical way.
(3846) Bible ‘heroes’ were awful people
If someone reads the Bible to gain inspiration about how they should live their lives, they will end up being reprehensible people. The heroes of the Bible are uniformly the worst expression of morality and ethics. The following was taken from:
It’s ridiculous reading the Bible with clear eyes and seeing how ludicrous it all is. Not only are there clear contradictions with reality, but all the central characters in the Bible praised for their holiness are actually terrible people:
Adam: First one to screw up, and immediately tries to blame the woman for his choices, setting a terrible precedent for thousands of years.
Noah: A drunkard who inadvertently justified racial prejudice for generations.
Abraham: He would be considered mentally ill if he were around today. We would lock up anyone who even thought a voice in their head was telling them to murder their son. And he gets to be the father of three world religions, what a sick joke.
Jacob: A scheming bastard who seems stunned whenever someone else does the same to him. Polygamy isn’t a great look either, even when done out of obligation to your father in law.
Joseph: Original fulfiller of the Monte Cristo style revenge fantasy.
Moses: Would be considered a terrorist if around today. Commanded his followers to commit actions that would make ISIS blush, including hardcore enforcing of racial purity, and happily slaughtered the people he was called to save if they wouldn’t tow the line. And yet it still wasn’t enough for Yahweh, who decided too withhold him from reaching his lifelong destination because he didn’t obey to the letter one time.
Joshua: Genocidal warlord
Samson: A straight up idiot. Couldn’t work out why he kept getting ambushed with the weaknesses he told his squeeze about. Also mass murderer, but it’s okay because they were totally the worst people guys.
David: The reason I decided to write this post. Truly a repulsive human being on every level, and yet he is venerated as the effective founder of the Israelite nation because of one overused story. He was a tribal warlord who once chose to lose a battle so he could take another man’s wife. He also blatantly stole another man’s wife and property, which later writers applied all their powers of spin to make seem justified. What’s strange is that the books of Samuel somewhat acknowledge that he was a bad king; he lost his kingdom multiple times and had to hide from his own son cuckolding him. But the books of Chronicles dress him up as the ideal religious king (which results in half his stories being removed).
Daniel: Completely fictional character.
Jesus: Most overrated character in history. He was clearly a cult leader whose followers got a bit too excited, so much that even his death didn’t stop it. Failed doomsday predictions, bad analogies and teachings, and with his supposed powers he could have done something far more useful.
Paul: Another mentally ill figure. Misogynistic and homophobic. Influenced Christianity more than Jesus. I wish he was never born.
If anyone acted like one of these characters, they would be shunned by decent society. The Bible is a horrible resource for modeling good behavior. It is no wonder that Christians are not heavily encouraged to read the Bible, rather they are trained to rely on listening to sanitized sermons.
(3847) Religion of death
Judeo-Christianity worships a god, Yahweh, who has an obsession about killing people. These scriptures are in every persons’ Bible, so this indictment is not controversial.
The Bible commands us to:
- Kill adulterers (Leviticus 20:10)
- Kill all witches (Exodus 22:18)
- Kill blasphemers (Leviticus 24:14)
- Kill false prophets (Zechariah 13:3)
- Kill fortune tellers (Leviticus 20:27)
- Kill anyone who sins (Ezekiel 18:4)
- Kill the curious (1 Samuel 16:18-19)
- Kill gays (Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:21-32)
- Kill all non-Hebrews (Deuteronomy 20:16-17)
- Kill sons of sinners (Isaiah 14:21)
- Kill non-believers (2 Chronicles 15:12-13)
- Kill anyone who curses God (Leviticus 24:16)
- Kill any child who hits his parent (Exodus 21:15)
- Kill children who disobey parents (Deuteronomy 21:20)
- Kill those who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:15)
- Kill disobedient children (Exodus 21:17, Matthew 7:10)
- Kill strangers close to a church (Numbers 1:48-51)
- Kill all males after winning battles (Deuteronomy 20:13)
- Kill those who curse father or mother (Leviticus 20:9)
- Kill men who have sex with other men (Leviticus 20:13)
- Kill any bride discovered not a virgin (Deuteronomy 22:21)
- Kill those who worship the wrong god (Numbers 25:1-9)
- Kill anyone who does not observe the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14)
- Kill everyone in a town that worships the wrong god (Deuteronomy 16:13-16)
- Kill anyone who kills anyone (Leviticus 24:17)
There is no good defense for this other than to say (weakly) that most of this is in the Old Testament and Jesus did away with these rules. Well, that might play for non-thinking Christians who have a shallow understanding of the foundation of their faith, but it doesn’t work when someone looks closely at how this faith evolved. It began with primitive Bronze Age men who held a brutish view of the world and ended with reverence for a man (Jesus) who said some nice things but who also stated that no law in the Old Testament was obsolete. So, there it is. This is Christianity, and this is why we know it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with any god anywhere.
(3848) The Red Sea route for dramatic effect
When you look at a map, you realize that there is something strange about the story in the Book of Exodus regarding the route the Jews chose to escape Egypt. There was no good reason for them to take the difficult route across the Red Sea or through the Reed Sea. There was an easy land route to the north.
However, the storytellers wanted a dramatic start to the epic journey out of Egypt, with the opportunity to demonstrate the awesome power of their God. It helped that plotting the route across the Sea also provided the opportunity to describe the destruction of the entire Egyptian army.
This is, in effect, double fiction- first the made-up story about the Hebrews being enslaved in Egypt along with the ten plagues and a recalcitrant pharaoh, and second, making the illogical choice to unnecessarily cross a broad and deep sea.
This would be similar to writing a story about people fleeing Paris to get to their home in Berlin and on the way crossing over the Matterhorn Mountain in the Alps. It just doesn’t make sense. So even when the Bible invents fiction, it does so in a very illogical way.
(3849) Christian doctrine conflicts with Hebrew Bible
A man cannot stand by cutting off his legs, but this metaphorically is what Christianity is trying to do. They have attacked the foundation of their faith (Judaism) and have created doctrines that are inconsistent with the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible/Tanakh, such that they don’t have legs to stand on. The following was taken from:
Christianity is dependent on the Jewish scriptures, aka the Hebrew Bible/Tanakh, to substantiate its claims. When I use the terms ‘Bible’ and ‘biblical’ I am referring to the Hebrew Bible, not the Christian scriptures, aka the “New” Testament.
The Hebrew Bible contains multiple passages that clearly contradict, undermine, and disqualify Christian doctrines as legitimately biblical. These passages show that Christianity is not a true religion because Christians claim that the Tanakh is the word of God along with the Christian scriptures, and a contradiction between the Tanakh and Christian doctrines/scriptures means that at least one of them must be rejected as false.
The idea that Jesus’s death and resurrection abrogated the Torah will be dealt with below. In short, the Torah forbids deep, fundamental changes such as the introduction of new gods or nullification of the commandments. Alleged prophets are to be judged by the standards of the Tanakh; the Tanakh is not judged by the standards of the alleged prophets, which is what Christians do for Jesus. I.e. They misinterpret the Bible through the predetermined conclusion that Jesus was a god rather than using the Bible to judge the claims of Jesus and his followers.
Since the Christian religion is dependent on Jewish scripture but not vice versa, Christianity cannot be true. (Even though Christianity is disqualified as true, this does not prove that Judaism is true.) Below are examples to substantiate the argument. I encourage anyone who responds to actually read the biblical citations to see how blatant the contradictions are.
The Bible is clear that:
God is one and only one: Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 45:5-7; 44:6, Exodus 20:2-3, among many others. There are no biblical passages that proclaim God a Trinity. (Christians believe in 3 gods: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Matthew 28:19, 1 Corinthians 8:6, John 8:58, etc. I am aware of the Christian arguments, if you can call them that, for the Trinity. But they are unconvincing because they are not arguments, merely assertions without evidentiary, rational, or biblical support. In fact, the concept of the Trinity is entirely incoherent. I know Christians will probably disagree with this point more than others, but from a non-Christian perspective, Christians are clearly not monotheistic.)
God is not a man: Numbers 23:19, Hosea 11:9, Isaiah 55:8-9, etc. (Christians teach that one of their gods is a man: i.e. Jesus. “[Jesus is] completely God, completely human, with a rational soul and human flesh.” -Athanasian Creed. Jesus also stated that he didn’t know what the Father knew, Mark 13:32, which ties into Isaiah 55 because God’s thoughts were not Jesus’s thoughts. )
Anyone who tries to seduce Jews to worship other gods must be rejected as a false prophet, even if they perform miracles or prophesy truly: Deuteronomy 13. (The Christians worship more gods than YHVH, including a man, (as stated above) which is expressly forbidden by the Torah. The Catholic/Orthodox practice of worshiping angels and saints also falls under this prohibition. It would be cruel and irrational for God to warn the Jews not to fall for prophets who entice them to worship other gods and then to send a prophet telling them to worship him as a god. Christians simply do not have a satisfying answer to this challenge.)
Israel (the Jewish people) is God’s son: Exodus 4:22, Hosea 11:1. (Christians believe Jesus was the only begotten son of God: Nicene Creed, Mark 1:11, 9:7, Matthew 16:15–17, etc.)
Human sacrifice is abhorrent to God: Deuteronomy 12:30-31, Jeremiah 19:4-6, Psalm 106:37-38, Ezekiel 16:20, etc. (Human sacrifice is the heart of Christian theology. Jesus was a man, and Christians teach that his death was a sacrifice for sins, ergo, they accept human sacrifice as a legitimate form of appeasing and worshiping God. Furthermore, the Torah lays out with specificity which animals and produce could be offered in the Temple for worship and atonement, and humans are not listed as acceptable sacrifices. There is no biblical reason to suppose that human sacrifice is something God would want.)
One person cannot die or be punished for the sins of another: Exodus 32:32-33, Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18 verses 1-4, 20-24, 26-27, Jeremiah 31:29-30. (Christians believe that the human sacrifice of Jesus had the power to forgive/absolve the sins of all humanity. Many of these passages also undermine the doctrine of Original Sin.)
People do not need an intermediary, and the Torah is not an impossible standard: Deuteronomy 4:7 and 30:11-20, Exodus 29:45-46. (Christianity teaches that an intermediary, Jesus, is needed: Romans 8:34, 1 John 2:1-2, Hebrews 7:25. They also teach that the Torah is an impossible standard and a curse: Galatians 3:10-13.)
Torah cannot be changed or abrogated: Deuteronomy 4:2; 13:4. (Christians rejected the Torah’s authority and abrogated it in multiple points: e.g. Acts 10:15, Galatians 2:4, 3:3, 6:12, 5:2, Mark 2:23-28. They also “changed” it by introducing foreign doctrines (Trinity, incarnation) and practices such as the Mass, Christian holidays, etc.)
Blood sacrifice is not necessary for atonement: Leviticus 5:11-13, Jonah 3:10, Numbers 16:47, Isaiah 6:6-7, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 34:14, 40:6, 51:16-17, Hosea 6:6, 14:2, Micah 6:6-8, etc. (Christians believe that the blood sacrifice of Jesus is the only means for atonement: Hebrews 9:22-28.)
Christianity is like a house that was built long ago, and then a new addition was added, but the new part was of a different design, motif, and construction, such that the aggregated home no longer looks like a uniquely-designed building, but rather one that had been mindlessly stitched together. Christians blithely ignore the Old Testament, not realizing that in so doing, they are ‘cutting off their legs.’
(3850) Mass confusion
It would be nice if you could read the Bible in its entirety and conclude that it was presenting a coherent message throughout. This, it is not. Not even close. The confusion a fully literate Bible scholar must feel is palpable. The following was taken from:
Paul says in Gal 2:16 & Rom 3:20 that it’s by faith alone. James 2:21–24 states that it is by works. Acts 2:21 & Rom 10:13 say to just call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved, HOWEVER, Matt 7:21 states that not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Matt 25:34–46 teaches that heaven is obtained only by helping the poor and needy and without doing those things one is eternally condemned.
Rom 8:29–30 & Rom 9:15–16 makes it very clear that salvation is only the result of election and predestination by God regardless of what anyone does. Yet, in the same book we are instructed in Rom 10:9 that we actually must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord AND believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead. (Is believing something that someone can do if they sincerely see no evidence for believing it???)
Mark 16:16 declares you must be baptized, but then in 1Cor 1:14 we hear the great missionary Paul thanking God that he didn’t baptize any of them, except for one or two. Rom 2:13 teaches that you must keep the law. Then we have Matt 10:22 & Mark 13:13 saying that only those who endure to the end will be saved. Phil 2:12 warns the reader to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling while John 3:16 says all you need to do is believe. James 2:14 makes it clear that faith alone is of no value while Gal 5:4 says you are damned if you do not use faith alone.
Luke 21:19 teaches it is only by standing firm while 1Chron 28:9 claims that all we have to do is seek Him yet Rev 20:11–13 says no no no, we will be judged according to our works. But Matt 7:2 says we will be judged according to how we judge others. In John 3:5 Jesus states very clearly that in order to be saved, you must be born of water and of the Spirit. What does that even mean especially when we hear the same Jesus in Matt 19:16–17 just as clearly state that we must keep the commandments? Heb 9:28 says even in sin, if we eagerly await His second coming, He will give us salvation. We hear in Acts 10:35 that in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.
For women to be saved (or at least preserved), please read 1Tim 2:15 which I quote… “But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” This verse immediately follows the one who blames the woman for making Adam sin which immediately follows the one that commands women not to speak in church and never to have authority over a man. If anyone is still confused about what they need to do to have eternal life, we conclude with the very words that John quotes Jesus as saying in John 6:53–54 “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Now, out of all those various teachings about how to be saved, and for a minute, let’s assume that one of them is true… and you are lucky enough to pick the right one… you still only have a 50/50 chance of salvation because there are numerous scriptures that teach you can never lose your salvation while numerous others teach that you can. Everyone sins many times every day. Just a few of the sins are selfishness, gluttons, worry, anger, racism, greed, slander, gossip, lust, not giving all your money away, unkindness, not being kind to the poor, not praying without ceasing, working on the Sabbath, and many more which are specifically warned against in the Bible, a number of which are classified as abominations. What hope is there for anyone if any unconfessed sin at death results in hell as some verses teach? There is just no way to read the Bible and understand what it teaches about salvation without contradictions and mass confusion.
If a perfect God inspired the Bible, is it possible for there to be any mistakes or confusion in it? If the most important thing possible is your eternal destiny, should not the requirement(s) for salvation be crystal clear so that everyone can understand it? How then, can 1 Cor 14:33 state that God is not the author of confusion?
There are hundreds of Christian denominations differentiating themselves from all others in the world and not only are there major disagreements of how one can be saved, but also major controversies about each of the following doctrines:
What is the proper form of baptism (sprinkled or full immersion); the words to be used in baptism (in the name of Jesus only or in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost); should babies be baptized or only those who understand and accepts the Gospel; the Eucharist or communion… (should real wine or Welch’s grape juice be used) and regardless, does it or does it not turn into the actual and literal flesh and blood of Jesus, and if so when; are babies saved if they die (despite no scriptural support that they are); can women teach or even talk in church; are black people fully human?
What is marriage (one man one woman, or 700 wives with 300 concubines, or multiple wives, or captured young virgin slave girls that we see being forced to marry in Old Testament scripture… see Deut 21:10–13); is speaking in tongues of God or of the devil; are demons and witches real or should witches be burned at the stake as is commanded by the Bible to do; does the Bible contain any myths or analogies or is every story literally true; the age of the earth (some say 6000 years, others say 4,500,000,000 years); evolution; end of time…(pre-rapture, post-rapture or no rapture).
Is hell literal, is hell eternal, if so will there be outer darkness or red hot fires; should you just whip a disobedient child or stone it to death; divorce and remarriage (many teach it is a sin for an abused wife to even leave an abusive husband… if so, should she count it as joy to be beaten or can she at least call the police); are movies and dances sinful; is drinking permitted; how about smoking or even coffee drinking; how short can a skirt be; can women wear slacks; can men wear long hair; and many others, including are Mormons even Christians? (Franklin Graham said no until a Republican Mormon ran for president.)
Oh, how the Bible so quickly changes to say whatever the preacher wants it to say. And they all use verses from the Bible in support of each of their stated doctrines. Hundreds of denomination and not any two of them agree on everything. If you are confused about any of this, 1Cor 14:33 suggests that something is wrong with you.
If God is the ghost author of this book, then he should be sent back to remedial writing. You would think a book authored by an infinitely intelligent and wise supernatural being would be impeccably consistent and free from error. The Bible seems more like something people would screw up.
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