(3901) Dog pooping analogy
The absurdity of the Christian forgiveness scheme can be shown in many ways. In the following it involves a dog defecating on a neighbor’s lawn:
God creates his own problem (his creation born sinful), creates a nonsensical solution for his own problem (kills himself, as his own son, to appease himself on our behalf, because he decided that only blood sacrifice can forgive sin), and then punishes people who don’t go along with his nonsensical solution with eternal torment.
Imagine if anyone else used this kind of logic. If a neighbor’s dog poops on my lawn, and I complain to my neighbor about it. The neighbor is sorry and asks what they could do to make it up to me. Then I say, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I already killed my dog so that your dog can be forgiven.” He would rightfully be horrified, but I expand further, saying that if he doesn’t accept my dog’s sacrifice, then I would have to abduct his dog and torture them in my basement. I’d rightly be labeled a dangerous, bloodthirsty maniac, but when God does it, it’s okay? …How? How is what the Christian God does any less barbaric?
It takes a good measure of brainwashing for a person to not see the absurdity of Christian forgiveness. Why does there have to be any forgiveness in the first place? If a god was intent on judging people, it would simply see how that person lived their life- were they honest?, were they compassionate?, did they work for the betterment of all?- not whether they got their ‘sins’ washed by a blood sacrifice that they had to ‘accept’ before it became effective. Christianity is plainly absurd to anyone who thinks clearly.
(3902) Hostility to nature
The philosophy of Jesus to nature, living things other than humans, demonstrates his moral inferiority to other philosophers. The following was taken from:
In two of the weirder passages in the Bible, Jesus curses a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season and casts out demons into a herd of pigs. Here’s what Mark says about the fig tree: “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’” (Mark 11:12-14). The obvious question: Why would Jesus curse a tree for not producing figs out of season?
His treatment of animals does not appear to be any better. In confronting two demon-possessed men, the demons made the following request of Jesus: “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs” (Matthew 8:30). Mathew continues: “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water” (Matthew 8:32). In no other instance of exorcizing demons in the Gospels does Jesus need to cast them into another person or animal. But in this case, he apparently prioritized the desires of demons over the suffering of innocent animals.
A reason for this is never provided, but we can say that, if Jesus were morally perfect, he would have extended his circle of empathy to include all living things, not just humans, and would avoid committing violence against any sentient beings that can feel pain. In this regard, we can recognize that the teachings of Jainism—an ancient religion from India that is concerned with the welfare of every being in the universe—holds moral superiority over the teachings of Jesus, as it is a religion that truly teaches total pacifism.
Jesus set a poor example for this followers that, to this day, results in Christians being on average somewhat more callous toward environmental issues and animal welfare. It would seem that a universal god would have approached these issues in a more sublime manner.
(3993) A real God wouldn’t command faith
It is well established in everyday life that when someone asks you to ‘just have faith’ it is always in a situation where you have asked for some measure of proof or evidence, but cannot deliver same. But when it comes to a supposedly all-powerful god, it seems strange that such a deity would also be playing the faith card. The following was taken from:
Most Christians/Muslims say that having faith in their religion is necessary to enter heaven/avoid hell, but it just seems very suspicious to me. I mean I can understand why a human would require you to have faith in their supernatural claims if they can’t back it up with evidence, but I don’t know why an almighty God would require faith when he could easily provide evidence and eliminate all doubt. This is part of the reason why both Christianity and Islam seem so obviously fake to me.
Also, “faith” is not a good way to determine correct information. People have faith in the wrong things all the time, just look at the members of the heavens gate cult who had faith that they would physically ascend to heaven on a UFO, and if you think that cult members are too extreme/crazy just consider that if either Christianity or Islam is correct then over 2 billion people have faith in the wrong religion.
Not to mention, faith is a very unfair way to determine who gets saved and who doesn’t. For example, a child born in Egypt has an over 90% chance of being a Muslim, a child born in Colombia has an over 90% chance of being a Christian, and a child born in Thailand has an over 90% chance of being a Buddhist. If Christianity is true, does it really make sense for God to send the Christian to heaven for “having faith” when he KNOWS that they would most likely NOT be Christian if they were born in a different place? And is it really fair for him to send the Muslim and Buddhist to hell for “lacking faith” when he KNOWS that they would have most likely been Christian if they were born in a different place?
Honestly the whole idea of faith seems very scammy to me. It seems more like something that a human con artist would demand in order to get you to trust them without thinking and not like what an omniscient, omnipotent God would demand. Could any Christians/Muslims explain to me why they think that faith is a reasonable way to determine who gets saved and who doesn’t?
Anytime anyone asks you ‘to just have faith,’ it should be seen as a warning signal that they might be (or are probably) trying to fool you. There is no reason why Christianity had to use faith as it principal measure of post-life judgment. An omnipotent god, interested in human life, and willing to intervene, would be plainly evident through, for instance, answered prayers and miraculous events. Faith is needed only to buttress the acknowledgment of a non-existent god.
(3904) Soul failure
The more we learn about how our brains function, how our memories are stored and recalled, and how we process our consciousness, the less it seems possible that we could function in the afterlife in any way similar to our earthly life. The soul appears to be nothing more than a product of the imagination of people who feared death and non-existence. The following was taken from:
Some theists like to talk about the “soul”. This soul can travel to other dimensions. No one knows how. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that they attach all the qualities of the human body and physical earthly experience to the “soul”.
Let’s picture it. The body is dying, it can no longer control it’s arms and legs due to a loss of brain signals that can reach those extremities. As the brain dies so do it’s abilities to translate input from all senses. Now eventually the brain is going to shut off completely. Zero activity. Death.
Where do people think memories are stored? Where is the human experience stored? Where is recognition, sentiment and operational nuance stored? In the “soul” or in the numerous crevices of the brain?
If we unplug an external hard drive that contains all of our necessary assets, and try to run the program on the computer, it will tell you that those assets are missing. You will need to re mount the hard drive or that information will not be available.
The brain is dead. The information is not available. The “soul” does not contain the assets necessary to understand and remember what it did as a human. It does not compute.
Then what is the “soul”. It’s nothing. It’s an illusion created to give dumb people the idea that they will be rewarded for being obedient. Rewarded in death. When they can no longer complain about life.
If we as a species of supposedly intelligence apes can figure out that ghosts, goblins, poltergeists, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, alien abductions, wizards, witches, angels, demons, fairies, and unicorns are not real, then it seems we should be able to unite around the concession that the soul does not exist as well.
(3905) Christianity claims vs. Scientology
Christians often scoff at the ‘crazy’ claims of Scientology, but when their claims are put up side by side, a disinterested person would consider the difference to be indistinguishable. The following was taken from:
Joe has never been exposed to Christianity or Scientology. He knows nothing of their doctrines or history. He knows they are two religions that exist.
Tom the Christian and Mary the Scientologist visit Joe to present their cases.
Tom: God created two humans and placed them in a Garden that contained a Tree of Eternal Life and a Tree of Knowledge. The humans violated his rules after a snake talked them and were ejected. The Garden was then guarded by a monster with a flaming sword.
Mary: A quadrillion years ago, Overlord Xenu packed trillions of aliens into spaceships (that look like DC-8s) and sent the ships to earth to crash into volcanos. He then closed up the volcanoes with nuclear weapons.
Tom: Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were cursed with Original Sin. This sin was passed on via the DNA of parents to all humanity. This curse causes humankind’s anxieties and violent/destructive behavior.
Mary: Those aliens who were trapped in the volcanoes transformed into invisible beings called Thetans. When proto-humans arose, millions of Thetans inhabited their bodies. These Thetans causes humankind’s anxieties and violent/destructive behavior.
Tom: Jesus came from heaven to earth to die on a cross and be resurrected to pay the price of our sin, setting us free from its curse to live in peace and love for all eternity.
Mary: The truth of Xenu’s plan and its consequences on humans was discovered by L. Ron Hubbard. Through his powerful intelligence, he discovered how we can be free of these Thetans by practicing various techniques of Scientology such as auditing. Not only can we be free, but this freedom will result in our receiving amazing powers and success.
Tom: We know our claims are true because it’s all recorded in a very old book. It’s the true word of god because it says it’s says it’s the true word of. God. Therefore, it is true.
Mary: We know our claims are true because it’s all recorded in the relatively newer writings of L. Ron Hubbard.
Tom: We know our claims are true because we can show how the power of Jesus has restored millions of believers and gave them new purpose and a life of meaning.
Mary: We know our claims are true because we can show how the techniques of Scientology (via Hubbard’s writings) have restored millions of believers and gave them new purpose and a life of meaning.
Given these two choices, what reasons would Joe have to accept the claims of either religion?
Given two equally preposterous stories, if one is brought up to believe in one of them, they will find it difficult to see how their story has the same degree of incredulity as the other. In fact, anyone raised in a certain religion will likely never be able to measure accurately their faith against any other. And very few Christians will ever see that their faith is no more credible than Scientologists.
(3906) Paul’s struggle with churches defies miracles
Paul claimed that he was working miracles in the churches that he established, but it is also conceded by him, to his chagrin, that some of these churches started to follow other preachers or other doctrines than what he had preached. This is a formula for a likely contradiction- if miracles were actually happening, apostasy would be very unlikely to occur. The following was taken from:
It seems like Paul’s struggles to retain authority in the churches he planted argues against any actual miracles being performed in their presence. It’s hard to see why the churches in Galatia and Corinth would “so quickly” have deserted Paul for other itinerant Jesus preachers promulgating different doctrines, if Paul himself had evinced some genuinely miraculous and unique superpower in their presence. If, on the other hand, everyone was trading in the same stock of low-yield “wonders and miracles” (ecstatic group worship sessions; praying for a sick person who naturally recovers; praying for rain on Tuesday and lo! it rained on Friday), it’s easier to see why his converts were able to be pulled in different directions, if such was a compelling part of the conversion process.
I do wish Paul was more specific about what he was claiming he could actually do with his god-powers, especially in 2 Corinthians where he seems to be explicitly threatening his readers with them.
Of course, this theme could be expanded to all of Christianity. If it was true, and if miracles were occurring, and if prayers were effective, there would be very few people who would leave the faith. Instead, large percentages of Christians are leaving, mostly to atheism. In effect, Christianity over-promised its selling point. If it had toned down the theme of miraculous elements it would be in a better position today.
(3907) Christianity in a nutshell
It is instructive to boil down Christianity into its primary elements, and then step back and see how much sense it makes. After doing this, anyone with an objective mind will immediately dismiss it as ancient folklore. The following was taken from:
This is a 10 step guide to understanding Christianity:
- There is an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God. This God is three different persons who are simultaneously the same person (don’t ask, it’s a mystery).
- God hates sin and evil, but decides to create it anyways.
- God created humans and made it impossible for them to meet his standard of goodness.
- He also created a system where failure to meet his impossible standards will result in eternal torture.
- But then God decides to create a loophole : God (or God’s son who is also himself) will come down to earth as a being that is 100% God and 100% man (don’t ask, it’s another mystery) to suffer and die so that humans can avoid eternal torture.
- While on earth, God will pray to himself (Luke 22:39-46), say scientifically inaccurate things (Matthew 13:31-32), make false predictions (Matthew 24:34), die for three days, and then go back to heaven.
- Decades after God’s death, anonymous people living in foreign countries will write down contradictory (and sometimes historically inaccurate) accounts of his life and death.
- Failure to believe these contradictory and inaccurate stories will lead to eternal torture no matter how good, kind or merciful you were.
- God has refused to provide any good evidence for these claims, despite the fact that it will literally take ZERO EFFORT on his part. This is because he doesn’t want to interfere with our free will (because we all know that giving people evidence to believe in something takes away their right to free will).
- God is perfectly good.
Why some people cannot see the blatant illogicality of Christianity is telling- the power of wishful thinking and inculcation, especially at an early age, is a powerful force to disable people from rejecting obvious fiction. For any person with a free mind, the 10 points above, taken as an ensemble, are sufficient to render 100% confidence that Christianity is false.
(3908) Slavery vs. gay marriage
Christians explain the Bible’s defense of slavery by asserting that God had to work with the people of the time and that slavery was an established practice 2000+ years ago. But now, that gay marriage has achieved the same degree of established practice, Christians are loathe to assign God the same degree of flexibility. The following was taken from:
In the Old Testament God explicitly permits slavery. He states that you may purchase a person as property, own them for life, and give them to your children.
‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
Leviticus 25: 45-46
45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
He also states that you may beat your slave so terribly that they die, as long as they linger for a couple of days after the beating
Exodus 21: 20-21
“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.
I have seen many Christians argue that god merely allowed this because other nations also allowed slavery at the time, that it was a product of the time, and that people would not listen to the rule if he made it so severe as to outlaw slavery completely.
However, this makes no sense. God’s morality, if objective, should not be bound by the laws of the time. If god truly disdained slavery as an unconscionable evil, as we do now, why would he withhold his hand merely because people really liked having slaves?
If you argue that slavery was required to survive, why would god make the earthly conditions such that the Israelites had to resort to an evil practice that he himself found repugnant merely to live?
Finally, if God will allow a practice he doesn’t like simply because it is popular for the time, it is illogical that he should not permit gay marriage. Slavery is an evil, disgusting and harmful practice, while gay marriage hurts no one and effects no one outside of the marriage.
Gay marriage is a common practice now in many countries. Many people would be harmed if god disallowed it. Many Christians do not obey God’s rule in this case and allow gay marriages in their churches. So why not allow gay marriage? If God did so, many more people would feel comfortable worshipping him. Clearly god’s sense of morality is not so strong that he will not bend the rules to the culture of the time. So what’s stopping him here?
(3909) Puzzling ending to Acts
The ending of the Book of Acts provides a likely clue that the author of this book was trying to cover up something. Most likely it was the inconsistency between what Paul had written about the end times versus what actually happened. The following was taken from:
Now we come to the stunning, puzzling ending of the Book of Acts, these two verses: “He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:30-31)
Fitzmyer makes two comments: (1) “What is striking about this final scene in Acts is that Paul makes no contact with Roman Christians and that nothing is learned about his appearance before Caesar, the climax to which the Lucan story has been building up. It deals only with his testimony to the Jews in Rome.” (p. 790) (2) “It ends abruptly and surprises the modern reader. Is it unfinished? Has it been somehow truncated in its transmission? No one knows.” (p. 791)
Acts is commonly dated by scholars to the end of the first century, or early second. In other words, could the author of Acts have been unaware of what happened to Paul in Rome, and how his life ended? It is so unlikely that the fanatical preacher for a small cult would have been sent to Roman, for his case to be heard by the emperor. This sounds like bravado: see how important our holy hero is! Since the author of Acts made up so much anyway (he has the holy spirit and angels playing active roles—the stuff of fantasy literature), he could have risen to the challenge of depicting Paul facing the emperor.
But there’s probably another reason that our author decided to sign off with the eloquent declaration that Paul taught “…about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” Writing two or three decades after Paul’s death, what an embarrassment that Paul turned out to dead wrong about Jesus “arriving on the clouds” while Paul was still alive. He had promised the Thessalonians (I Thess. 4) that their dead relatives would rise to meet Jesus in the air, and that he himself would be present to take part in the glorious event. There is so much in his writing about the arrival of Jesus soon. Married couples should stop having sex, to be pure when Jesus arrives; Christians shouldn’t take each other to court, because they would be judging angels after Jesus brings his kingdom. He advised the Corinthians (I Cor. 7): “…the appointed time has grown short… For the present form of this world is passing away.”
When the author of Acts wrote his story, he must have wondered how things had gone wrong. Perhaps he omitted any mention of Paul’s death, because he didn’t want to draw attention to this major flaw in Paul’s theology. No surprise to us, since it was hallucination-based theology. We almost have to admire this author’s skill at cover-ups! In his very first chapter he reports that Jesus ascended to heaven as the disciples watched. This cannot have happened, of course. But if you’re claiming that a resurrected body had been walking around for a few weeks, what else do to with it but sent it up to the sky—to avoid the embarrassment that it died again. This is one of many reasons we know that the resurrection story just doesn’t work. This author was okay with covering up what happened to Jesus, so why not do the same thing with Paul? Paul’s preaching “boldly and without hindrance” was his version of a happy ending.
It was probably a sore point for Christians that, by the time Acts was written, the expectations of Paul (for an early rapture and end times) had not happened. Thus, it would have discouraged an author to document the death of Paul when he himself believed he would not die a natural death. Christian apologetics were apparently getting an early start.
(3910) A Christian struggles with doubts
One of the ways that we know that Christianity is false is that many Christians are struggling with their faith. If it was true, Christianity should be delivering enough evidence of its truth (to avoid such confliction), as well as the fact that its holy book should be above reproach. Neither of these conditions exist. The following is a testimony from a Christian expressing disappointment and doubts about his faith.
I would say I’m Christian but am conflicted.
I look at god and I just feel disappointment. Is that a “blasphemous” statement? Probably, perhaps God is immune to criticism. I know the story, man suffers because Adam and Eve disobeyed him now we have free will to choose “good or evil” in this new wicked world.
I don’t want to follow some “vengeful” god or “jealous” god (Deuteronomy 32:35, Exodus 20:5).
I don’t want to follow a god that makes humans suffer to prove a point to the devil (I.e job). I don’t want to follow a god that seems its okay for man to suffer from Aids, Rabies, Covid, Death, and Pain all because Adam disobeyed.
It’s interesting how many try to distance their idea of god from the Old Testament, because quite frankly I see his actions no different from a warmonger. Killing babies, wiping out civilizations, tolerating slavery, punishing sons for the sins of their fathers.
I just cant reconcile my conscious and follow a god who has done and is doing these things.
I cannot follow someone who tells me that if I do an action it’s sinful but it’s okay if he does it because he’s “god”. Just as it is wicked for a man to kill children, it is just the same for god, just as it is wicked for a country to invade, destroy and eradicate populations, it is the same standard of wickedness that should be upheld for what god and his kingdom did with the surrounding nations of Israel.
And quite frankly I just feel like a hypocrite, fighting for pro life and the best justification I can give for god killing children is that he’s god so he does whatever he wants.
I am on the edge with Christianity quite honestly, from corrupt churches, legalism to the point of men being unable to have long hair or women not being able to wear pants. Perhaps it isn’t for me.
Christianity is supposedly being ‘monitored’ by an unlimited deity who can make anything happen as to his desires. That a Christian can express thoughts such as these strongly suggests the absence of said god.
(3911) Biological deadliness of evangelism
God revealed himself to only a small (less that 1%) slice of the population, requiring mega amounts of evangelism for his word to be spread to all peoples. But this effort inevitably led to the introduction of dangerous pathogens to immune-compromised people, and the inevitable scourge of deadly plagues. It seems that an omnipotent god would have realized this problem and would have spread his word worldwide in a more direct manner (e.g. multiple revelations) to eliminate the need for evangelism. The following was taken from:
1.) Starting in antiquity, humans developed countless religions and spiritual belief systems interpreting reality, so the “true nature of God” is clearly not self evident from nature alone – or all peoples would have reached the same evident conclusion. There would not be atheism either if this nature was self-evident.
2.) If God’s nature is real and has already been identified by any of the existent religions, evangelism is the only way that message could possibly be spread and accepted. There has been no proven accounts of people with no previous exposure or knowledge of a certain already-existent religion coming to know and believe in that religion through nature and divine revelation alone.
3.) In the case of some faith-dependent religions like Christianity, without the human interaction of evangelism, there can be no salvation.
4.) History has shown human interaction between distant cultures can lead to deadly communicable diseases that can wipe out large populations of the uninoculated. Interactions between Native Americans and Europeans often led to 90%+ of the Native Americans being wiped out by diseases they had not been inoculated to. In fact, the diseases from these initial interactions often wiped out people before they were even able to be evangelized to.
Even two millennia after Jesus, outsiders have not been able to interact with certain tribes such as the Sentinelese long enough to evangelize to them – in spite of often fatal efforts to do so. Doing so has a risk of wiping out the population altogether.
So to recap, God created the laws of biology, obscures his own true nature and form to be non-self-evident from nature alone, and then inspires a “correct” human religion which requires the nature of God to be spread via biologically dangerous human interactions that may wipe out entire populations, even before conversion. The moral dilemma of biological endangerment through evangelism calls into question the tri-omni nature of God:
Omnibenevolence: Does God not care that the human interactions required for eternal salvation will lead to suffering and death, often before that message can even be conveyed?
Omniscience: Did God not know that evangelism could lead to biological extinction when he created the laws of biology? If he didn’t know…
Omnipotence: Is God powerless to change the laws of biology to protect the spiritually necessary act of evangelism? Why would a perfect all-powerful God create diseases in the first place knowing that community worship and evangelism exposes followers or potential followers to increased risk of death from disease?
Or, alternatively, does God not want evangelism or his true nature to be revealed, and intentionally designed the laws of biology to lead interactions between distant cultures to be biologically deadly, which would belie the notion that God seeks a personal relationship with all people and/or that faith is the pathway to salvation?
A real god would have understood biology better than Yahweh and likely would have revealed himself world-wide, to avoid both a centuries or longer wait for all to hear the good news and a catastrophic amount of death due to the introduction of new pathogens to newly evangelized nations.
(3912) Abundant absence of evidence
Christians like to say that just because there is a lack of evidence for god, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t exist. But when we expect to see a lot of evidence for something, but it is absent, this should give us confidence that such a thing does not exist. This applies to the Christian god. The following was taken from:
If evidence is lacking when/where we expect it to be abundant, then it very much allows us to dismiss a hypothesis, and absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
For example, billions of “encounters” have occurred in the past two decades between children and the tooth fairy. Is there a photograph of one? A recorded tooth thievery? Of course not, and I trust that I need not delve any further.
As of current, an estimated 6.648 Billion people in the world carry smartphones with cameras built into them.
Approximately 31.2% of the world self-identifies as Christian.
All things being equal, that’s more than 2 billion Christians in the world with smartphones right now.
In a survey of Christians, roughly 22.6% of all respondents reported hearing an “audible voice” they identified as God. Not an emotion, feeling, or instinct. A voice.
Again, all things being equal, that right there is an expected 450 million people on Earth who have smart phones and have had “encounters” with God. Every single of them has failed to produce a recording of God’s voice, regardless of the total and collective number of times they’ve had such experiences.
So… where’s the audio recording, or a picture of God’s face? I humbly submit that God is precisely as photogenic and recordable as a leprechaun, and for exactly the same reasons.
As a point of comparison, The odds of winning either the Powerball or Mega Millions are roughly one in 292.2 million and one in 302.5 million, respectively.
We are still waiting to hear God’s voice, or to see his image (possibly in a burning bush), or to see an image of an angel or a demon, or perhaps the Virgin Mary, or maybe some of the other saints, or to see things appear or disappear, or to levitate against the pull of gravity, or to see a dead person rise up back to life. All we have along these lines are obvious fake images or recordings. Until the real thing appears, we can safely assume that the hypothesis of Christianity is false.
(3913) The great asteroid argument
Christians believe that the Great Flood of Genesis was an act of God for which they have approving sentiments. But when an analogous humanity-killing act of God, an asteroid, is brought into the conversation, their logic crumbles. The following was taken from:
This is an original argument I came up with on the fly a couple months ago. It has yielded some pretty good results thus far. Something like this:
So god caused the biblical flood, killing pretty much everything on the planet, cause he was sick of humanity’s shit, right? You’d call that an “act of god.”
Same thing for the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, right?
(Nervous squirming) Yes. (This step is crucial in order to determine if they believe in dinosaurs and/or space for future arguments)
Well what if you could go back in time and stop the great flood? (How is irrelevant) Would you?
They inevitably answer “No.” Because religion.
What if I went back? Would you stop me if you could?
This is where I’ve lost a couple people, but the others answered “yes.”
Ok, well what if there was a huge asteroid heading straight for Earth right now? That would be another “act of god,” right?
Well NASA would try to stop it from hitting Earth. Would you try to stop them? Careful how you answer, because “No” means you’re not a real christian, and “Yes” means you’re an explicit threat to humanity, and a fucking psychopath.
This is pretty much where it has ended the three times I’ve made it this far.
This is what religion can do to people. It can actually cause them to see efforts to save the planet as thwarting the will of God. It should be obvious that religious belief can be a clear and present danger to the earth and its inhabitants.
(3914) Falling down becomes kneeling
The gospel authors copied from each other, but then also changed some of the narrative to fit their image of Jesus. This introduced contradictions that destroy any concept of inerrancy, though some Christians stubbornly continue to assert just that. In the following it can be seen how the author of Luke, while copying from Mark, made a change to present Jesus in a more favorable light. The following was taken from:
You can see the progression of copying even within the Bible itself, for example, Luke was written later on:
And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.
In one account, he’s emotional. He’s “unmanly”. In the other, Luke dusts him off, makes him “manly,” and instead of falling to the ground in grief, he’s now in control and “kneels” down. It’s within reason to think Luke copied the work of the others and edited the story to fit the image of Jesus he wanted to tell.
As an aside, it’s an actual Biblical textual contradiction. He either knelt or he fell, both can’t be true. There are lessons here for “The Bible is inerrant” folks.
Luke’s image of Jesus was a man in full control of his emotions and the situation he was in. Therefore, he could not have Jesus being distressed or troubled, and he certainly didn’t like the image of Jesus ‘falling down.’ Therefore a more controlled action, that of kneeling, better fit his agenda. It’s up to Christians to decide which account is more accurate, and up to atheists to see that the gospels are not factual history.
(3915) Entropy de-evidences God
The process of entropy, where isolated systems tend toward a state of greater disorder, is a signal that a god is not marshaling the universe in any predictable manner. Science has determined the amount entropy in the universe is constantly increasing and will inevitably lead to its heat death. There are some predictions that the universe will die before its heat death in only 5 billion years:
However, even if it survives this death trap, there is still the fact entropy will win in the end and the entire universe will end up without regular matter at a constant temperature just above absolute zero.
Regardless of the cause of its death, it is certain that the universe is dying as we speak, and this is not what would be expected of a universe created by a supernatural god. The following was taken from:
As we have already said, one-way processes are harbingers of death, and the universe is characterised by an increase in disorder. This process, which in physics is called increase of entropy, cannot go on forever. Heat will continuously flow from hotter to colder environments, until the temperature of all environments is the same. This kind of end for the universe is called “heat death” or “thermodynamic equilibrium.” Certain claims concerning the fact that the universe could not exist for all eternity had also been put forward previously. For example the Islamic philosopher and theolog Kindi, who lived in the 9th century, developed lines of thought concerning the passage from the finite quality of the objects in the universe to the vastness of the universe that had nevertheless an end, and from this to the universe’s end over time. However, within the scope of natural sciences, it was discovered for the first time that the end of the universe was inevitable when the entropy law was formulated in the 19th century.
According to the Aristotle-Ptolemy system, widely accepted until the 16th century, stars would exist for all eternity thanks to an inexhaustible fuel. Galileo’s and Newtonian physics, which were dominant in the 19th century, had nothing to say about the end of the universe. The evolution of groups of stars, was explained first of all in Kant’s, “A General Natural History and Theory of the Heavens” which was an application of Newtonian physics. Later, when this theory was developed by Laplace, it showed the importance of the transformation in the universe, but this transformation could be seen as something having a circular nature; in other words, the Kant-Laplace approach also did not reach a conclusion on whether the universe would end. What is more, since the first law of thermodynamics, which was formulated in the first half of the 19th century, stated that the total amount of energy remained the same, even if the form of energy is changed, it could be taken as proof that the universe would exist for ever. When, amidst the dominance of such a view, the entropy law stated that the energy within this constant total was evolving into less usable forms, and that thus the universe had to have an end, it created a shock effect in the world of sciences and among philosophers.
For example, Bertrand Russell stated his depression following the fact that scientific laws had anticipated the end of the universe, in the following way: “Even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home… that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temper of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”
The people who invented Christianity, and those who wrote the Bible, could not have understood this phenomenon, or had any idea that the world is dying just like any other living organism. To them, the universe was static and unchanging. Science has given us a new and rather daunting perspective of reality- it has no regard for human life or its achievements. The universe has a time limit. This is not the expectation of a universe created by a god.
(3916) Three ancient superstitions
Christianity is very much a patchwork enterprise, taking bits and pieces of theology and cementing them together in a somewhat incompatible manner. It is not like a skyscraper that gets built at one time, but more like a house that keeps adding on new rooms and additions. Three of these ancient bits of theology stand out as the most prominent. The following was taken from:
Christianity is a blend of three ancient superstitions:
(1) a tribal god selected one tribe to be his chosen people, and even they suffered because of his bad temper. His chosen people got beat up over the centuries—one foreign conqueror after another—hence the belief emerged that this god would send a hero, a messiah, to rescue them. This developed into nasty, revenge theology: apocalypticism. Most of the people on earth will be killed as a remnant of the chosen people survives.
(2) When the Jerusalem temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, the ancient practice of sacrificing animals to get right with this god—he appreciated the flow of blood—came to an abrupt end. Of course, Judaism turned out to be the better for it, but Christianity headed in the wrong direction: just one human sacrifice was sufficient.
(3) There were several dying-rising savior cults in the world in which the Jesus cult emerged, so we’re not surprised that this belief was added to the Christian mix: the human sacrifice had come back to life, and believing in this resurrection was a key to getting to live forever. The apostle Paul especially embraced this bit of magical thinking.
This is the blend of superstitions behind the popular affirmation that Jesus “is lord and savior.” It has had remarkable staying power, and even today there are armies of apologists, i.e., theologians who vigorously defend these beliefs. So many people have huge emotional investments in believing there’s a way to get out of dying. Jesus is their ticket to eternal life, a theme that the gospel of John, for example, pursues relentlessly.
Where can we find actual data that would justify these beliefs? For a long time serious thinkers have critiqued this blend of superstitions, pointing out the fallacies and silliness. As Peter Boghossian has pointed out, “In the last 2,400 years of intellectual history, not a single argument for the existence of God has withstood scrutiny. Not one. All refuted. All failures.”
Once a person becomes aware of the way that Christianity evolved, it becomes nearly impossible to view it as a reliably true faith. Many if not most practicing Christians are blithely unaware of this information, and most church leaders want to keep it that way.
(3917) Yahweh should have been an ‘earth-only’ god
At the time that the Abrahamic religions were evolving into existence, humans had no concept of the size and structure of the universe, mistakenly believing the earth to be the largest and most significant celestial body. At that time it made sense to portray Yahweh as being the creator of the entire universe. But given our current-day understanding of the cosmos, this idea no longer makes any sense. The following was taken from:
The Abrahamic religions screwed up by potraying their god as the creator of the universe. Obviously to them it’s all believable and makes perfect sense, but if you’re someone that wasn’t indoctrinated and can think critically, you will have a harder time accepting that the supposed creator of this immense universe in which we’re a speck of dust is a humanoid creature that shares our interests and feelings… it would have been more plausible to come up with some “God of the earth” narrative, just make up some story that there is a powerful spirit lurking around on this planet that protects humans. It’s still silly, but “creator of the universe” is just… nope I ain’t buying that.
Especially when you look at the time span of the universe, for billions of years we weren’t here, and then all of a sudden this creator decides to bring us into the game so he can have a special relationship with us… you’d think this would make much more sense under a model of a universe where we were instantly created. No wonder creationists cling on to the whole young earth thing, they know how much the actual reality of the universe isn’t compatible with the idea of their god.
Although it would still not pass a test of objective rationalism, to have Yahweh being the ‘god of the earth,’ and therefore plausibly focused on human life, would make more sense than him being credited as the god of the entire universe, with trillions of not just stars and planets, but galaxies as well. A localized Yahweh has some play in it- a Yahweh of the whole shooting match doesn’t.
(3918) God watches as children abused by clergy in France
If the Christian god is real, it would be expected that he would do what is necessary to protect the reputation of his church. But what happened in France over the past seven decades seems to belie that point. The following was taken from:
Victims of abuse within France’s Catholic Church welcomed a historic turning point Tuesday after a new report estimated that 330,000 children in France were sexually abused over the past 70 years, providing the country’s first accounting of the worldwide phenomenon.
The figure includes abuses committed by some 3,000 priests and an unknown number of other people involved in the church — wrongdoing that Catholic authorities covered up over decades in a “systemic manner,” according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé.
The 2,500-page document was issued as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up. Victims welcomed the report as long overdue and the head of the French bishops’ conference asked for their forgiveness.
The report said the tally of 330,000 victims includes an estimated 216,000 people abused by priests and other clerics, and the rest by church figures such as scout leaders or camp counselors. The estimates are based on a broader research by France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research into sexual abuse of children in the country.
The study’s authors estimate 80% of the church’s victims were boys, while the broader study of sexual abuse found that 75% of the overall victims were girls.
Just do the math- 330,000 children abused in 70 years- that comes to 13 additional children being abused by the Catholic Church every day over that period of time, or approximately one every two hours.
This implies one of the following:
(1) God is not omniscient and has no control over this situation.
(2) God is omniscient, but chooses not to intervene in the free will of priests or other church officials.
(3) God does not exist.
None of these options are easily digestible for Christians, but if they are honest with themselves, they would select #1 and continue to believe that their god is good. Atheists, on the other hand, have a much easier time with this selection.
(3919) Moral judgment affected by amygdala damage
It is certain that, according to Christianity, the ability of a person to process moral judgments is critical to their success in attaining heaven and avoiding hell. This would seem to be a fair way to evaluate people, until it is realized that damage to a certain part of the brain, not the fault of the person, can erode one’s ability to act morally. The following was taken from:
The so-called “trolley car” problem is a classic thought experiment widely known in the fields of ethics and moral philosophy. It involves imagining that you are standing beside a switch at a fork in a railway track, with a runaway trolley hurtling down toward a group of five workers. On the other branch of the line is another lone worker. Do you flip the switch to divert the trolley toward the lone worker to save the group?
Most of us know that killing an innocent person is wrong. Yet, faced with this dilemma, most people decide that flipping the switch to save five people by sacrificing one is the right thing to do. But, as a new study shows, people with a rare form of brain damage are impaired in their ability to make such utilitarian moral judgements.
Jack van Honk of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and his colleagues examined five South African patients with Urbach-Weithe Disease (UWD), a rare inherited condition that causes an accumulation of calcium salts in the skin and soft tissues, making them hardened and shrivelled. Approximately 400 cases of this disease have been documented to date, more than half of whom have damage to a brain structure called the amygdala.
The amygdala is a small, almond-shaped structure that is known to be involved in emotional processing and is popularly referred to as the brain’s “fear center.” Previous studies of patient S.M., a 50-year-old woman who developed UWD as a child, showed that she cannot recognize emotions in the facial expressions of others and does not experience fear when exposed to live snakes, spiders, haunted houses, and horror films.
Subsequent research showed, however, that inhalation of 35% carbon dioxide can evoke fear and panic attacks in S.M. and two other UWD patients, suggesting that while the amygdala seems crucial for fear triggered by external threats, other brain mechanisms are responsible for internally triggered fear.
On the basis of animal research showing that the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala plays an important role in outcome-based decisions and behaviors, van Honk and his colleagues hypothesized that this structure would also play a role in utilitarian moral judgments made by humans. The researchers first used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging to confirm that the five UWD patients do indeed have damage localized to the basolateral amygdala in both hemispheres of the brain, and then compared their decisions on a series of moral and non-moral decisions to those of 11 control participants without brain damage.
In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they report that the UWD patients exhibited a breakdown of moral utilitarian judgment on the trolley car problem, frequently choosing to save one person instead of saving larger numbers, even when their decisions would result in killing thousands of people. The authors conclude that the basolateral amygdala is critical for value-based decisions to sacrifice another person for the greater good.
The complex neuroscience of morality
A study published last year showed that while S.M. and several other UWD patients cannot predict fear in others, they deem it impermissible to cause others fear, leading the researchers to conclude that although social emotion recognition and morality may be related, they are distinct from one another.
The authors of the new study suggest that heightened sensitivity to social pain may play a role in their patients’ inability to make moral judgments. In interviews, the patients stated that they had understood both the actions required of them and their outcomes, but decided not to sacrifice the individual because it was too upsetting and “hurts too much.”
The more we find out about the brain’s structure and the multifaceted functions of its parts, the less we can assign blame to persons who act or believe in ways that are detrimental to the common good. Christianity takes none of this into account, and the people who created it had no idea of how the brain operates or how peoples’ actions are not totally in their control.
(3920) Jesus is not the OT god
As Christians were inventing the idea of the trinity, they walked themselves into a trap. They essentially made Jesus and the OT god one and the same (that is, they believe there is only ONE god, not THREE). But it takes zero effort to see that Jesus and the OT god must have been different gods, with different behaviors, motivations, and beliefs. The following was taken from:
To me at least, the plain as day conclusion after all that reading is that there is no conceivable way Jesus and OT God (yhwh if you will) are one and the same.
One orders people to kill innocents, is capricious, harsh, and unforgiving. The other is rebellious, compassionate, kind, and generous.
Of course, my summary here doesn’t do it justice, but it is just crystal clear to me after many many readings that these two entities: 1) Have almost completely different core values. 2) Have almost completely different motivations stemming from said values. 3) Have VERY different attitudes toward rules and authority. 4) Have almost completely different ideas of human “sinfulness” and how that should be managed.
Then theologians try to tell me they are the same entity. It doesn’t pass the sniff test. It’s like who am I supposed to believe, your hand-waving and rhetorical wiggle dance, or my own good-faith reading, internalization, and reflection on the actual scriptures?
Christians are playing a word game, making Jesus and his ‘father’ into the same being. They are polar opposite entities. The trinity is like a trying to put two similarly-charged metal balls together with a third uncharged ball. They repel and cannot stay touching each other.
(3921) Christian god much worse than mortal father
Christians are sometimes led to believe that Yahweh, their god, is a good role model for a Christian dad to emulate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The following compares the Christian god to their own father:
My dad shows up, in person, in the flesh. He loves to interact with me, speak with me, teach me.
Christian God could, but chooses not to. Christian god thinks I’m unworthy, dirty, beneath him, or simply not important enough to directly interact.
My dad cares about me so much, he would do anything to help me. If there was vital information I needed to know, he would lecture me through the damn ground making 110% I knew it.
Christian god expects me to pick the right interpretation of a thrice translated bible, but like the correct bible. Not the Ethiopian one.
My dad would never lay a hand on me, his children, his wife, or his passed elderly parents. Even if I failed him, all he would want is to help me grow, learn, and be better. My dad always gives me more chances.
Christian god would let me be tortured in the worst way for failing him. Branding, rape, torture. Nothing is off limits to the horrors he would allow me to fall into.
My dad gets older and the world tires him and is often frustrating. Still, he never wishes atrocities on anyone. He would never allow violence and war crimes in his own house.
Christian god uses bears to murder children, demands the mutilation of baby boys, and slaughters all the peoples of earth in a flood.
My dad chooses to be as clear and unambiguous as possible with me. If I misunderstand 6th grade math, or need instruction as a little boy about morality and controlling my temper, he clearly teaches and when I don’t understand, he tries again until I do.
Christian god chooses to interact apparently through a Rube Goldberg machine. Through insane dues ex machina and the butterfly effect, to win football games. He could exert his influence in any way possible with zero sweat of his back, but he deliberately chooses methods that obscure his involvement.
My dad signed our names on pinewood derby cars together. My dad wrote me postcards and letters when he was on trips, and called me frequently.
Christian god hides his signature in natural phenomena, and will punish me if I fail his “Where’s Waldo”.
My dad used to come home from long trips and before going to bed would quietly walk into my room. I could always smell the cold on his leather jacket. He’d stroke my head, give my forehead a kiss, and me a gentle hug before going off to bed. He made me feel safe as a child, knowing he was safe and he was there.
Christian god threatens me, my loved ones, my family, with violence. My “Heavenly Father” would have my mother and my wife beaten and tortured if they “fail him”. Christian god will torture and beat the people he “loves” for failing a task he designed, knowing they would fail. And chose not to redesign the task to spare the ones he supposedly loves.
My dad designed his world around his family. Around being there for us.
Christian god designed the universe around himself. Needing to create an entire race just to praise him, on pain of eternal damnation if they don’t.
My dad raised his children to grow in loving, caring, educated adults.
Christian god cares about none of that. Christian god doesn’t care what we do, or how we do it, only so long as we stroke his ego. Because for some reason he needs fallible little monkeys to acknowledge that the infinite being is infinite.
My dad cares about his family. Loves his family. We are his life and he is ours.
Christian god cares about himself and deliberately obscures his presence by choosing the most discreet ways to alter and shape the world. The almighty being could do anything in any fashion, but with informed power and wisdom, tricks some clever monkeys and tortured them forever as punishment.
My dad is a role model. My dad was an amazing father and an amazing husband. He was kind, generous, and wise. And a far, far better person than the Christian god is.
Yahweh fails as a caring, compassionate, loving father to his followers, no matter how brainwashed they have to be to actually worship such a vile, murderous, capricious entity. Perhaps Yahweh needs some lessons, and to see how earthly fathers treat their children would be a good start.
(3922) Why do people love Jesus?
People are programmed to love Jesus without giving it a lot of thought. But if someone takes a careful and objective view of the gospels, a side of Jesus emerges that should make it difficult to respect, much less love him. The following was taken from:
I don’t understand why Jesus is seen to be such a good guy just because he said the bare minimum in terms of ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’
He was the one to introduce thought crime, basically the cause of so much anxiety to so many people.
He was the one to introduce the idea of eternal torture!
He was the one to make divorce adultery and marrying a divorced woman adultery, causing so much suffering and even death to so many women who were forced into unwanted marriages, stuck with violent men or just divorced and having to be single forever.
He said himself, he wasn’t there to bring peace. He asked people to leave their families behind, didn’t even let them bury their dead.
He asked people to sell their possessions while he was being covered in expensive perfume.
He demonized anger, which is a perfectly normal emotion, saying people who are angry at their brother/sister will be judged. He made people feel ashamed of sexual attraction. So many people don’t know how to deal with their emotions because of his teaching and are repressed.
He made people think being persecuted is a good thing, to the point that the persecution complex of Christians were created.
He never said anything to stop slavery, instead used the term in his parables.
I’m sure there are more points I am missing. I see so many people leaving Christianity but still clinging to the idea of awesome Jesus and my question is why? How?
There are many good reasons to counter the idea that Jesus was a good person, at least if we credit the gospels as being a reasonably accurate portrayal of his personality. Christians have been brainwashed to consider Jesus as the perfect model of a human and that they should love him. All of this without taking an impartial reading of the gospels.
(3923) Betrayal story likely a reflection of Genesis
The story of Jesus’ betrayal has many facets of symbolism and legend, but little resemblance to factual history. In the following it is conjectured that it might have been inspired by a story in the Book of Genesis:
It is very hard to know whether the story of the betrayal of Jesus is based on historical events or on something else. The earliest written account that we have of the death and resurrection of Jesus is found in the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians. In a part of this letter, I Corinthians 15:3-9, Paul recounts what appears to be a fixed tradition about the death and resurrection of Jesus that he had previously passed on to the Corinthian Church.
This account does not appear to be aware of any betrayal by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. In particular, Paul states that, after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to all of the twelve, while the stories told in the gospels would lead us to the conclusion that there should have only been eleven at that point. This has led many to the conclusion that Paul, writing to the Corinthians sometime around 54 CE, was not aware of any story of such a betrayal.
Nowhere else in his letters does Paul refer to betrayal. There are some translations of 1 Corinthians 11:23 that might seem to refer to a betrayal event (e.g. NRSV “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread…“), but it should be noted that the Greek word that is translated as “betrayed” in the NRSV is the same word that is translated as “handed on” within the same verse and by no means needs to refer to the betrayal stories in the gospel. The choice to translate it as “betrayed” is doubtlessly dependent on the gospel stories.
So the first account of a betrayal by a man named Judas Iscariot comes from the Gospel of Mark, likely the first gospel written. As I mentioned in the episode, it seems unlikely that the followers of Jesus would have had first hand knowledge of the secret plots that any enemies of Jesus might have laid against him. But, since they believe that the scriptures predicted everything about Jesus, they would not have hesitated to search the scriptures to come up with some explanation for how he was betrayed.
There is reason to believe that the story of Judas in the Gospel of Mark has been inspired by a passage in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 37:25-27) in which Judah (or Judas in Aramaic and Greek), one of the sons of Jacob, decides during a meal to sell his brother Joseph off to some foreigners for a sum of money.
Now, obviously, that doesn’t mean that there was not a Judas who may have had a role in the arrest of Jesus, but I believe that it indicates that many of the details of his story were filled in by somebody referring to what we call the Old Testament scriptures today.
So, with all of that understood, if Ehrman is correct and this tradition about the 12 tribes circulated from Jesus, there would have been no need for it to be reconciled with the Gospel stories of the Betrayer until after Mark created the story.
The following scripture is seen as being contradictory to the betrayal story:
“Truly I say to you, in the renewed world, when the Son of Man is sitting on the throne of his glory, you (disciples) also will be seated on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28; cf. Luke 22:30)”
It would seem that Jesus would have been aware that one of the twelve would not be available for this duty.
(3924) Sun worship makes more sense
The ancient act of sun worship, though outdated, actually makes more sense that worshiping an unseen, unheard man in the sky. The following was taken from:
Arguably, worshiping the Sun as an abstract God makes more sense than the idea of the Abrahamic God with personal characteristics. The Sun lacks sentience but has a purpose – it is the source of all energy on Earth, indirectly responsible for all life on Earth and maintains all life. As well as this, its position is necessary to maintain the order in our solar system as it lies at the center. Additionally, unlike the rest of the solar system, it’s self-sustaining and extremely long-lived, billions of years old. These are empirical and visible facts. Praising this (worshiping) is more understandable than praising an incomprehensible sentient entity that we have no direct evidence off beyond Holy Scripture and subjective miracles.
(3925) Simplest explanation for the crucifixion
Although Christians are trained to believe that Jesus was crucified because he ran afoul of the Jewish authorities who found him a threat to their power, the real reason, assuming Jesus was a real person, was almost surely was that he was seen as insurrectionist threat to the Roman government. The following provides a simple explanation:
The Gospels’ answer is that he was claiming to be the Messiah, the son of God (see John 19:7 and Mark 14:60-65) and so the Sanhedrin condemned him to death.
The likely historical answer: Jesus was likely sentenced by the Romans for claiming to be the King of Jews and that would have been viewed as inspiring insurgency.
The Gospels had to vindicate Pontius Pilate (despite Josephus telling us he is a ruthless cruel leader) and blame it on the Sanhedrin because they are writing to a gentile audience and so did not want to paint Rome as the bad guy.
The Romans were very sensitive to any Jew claiming political power, as an insurrection of the population was their greatest fear, even to their own lives. Jesus proclaiming to be a ‘King of the Jews’ and enjoying immense popular support was enough to set off alarm bells.
(3926) Car lot analogy
Although Christians might be encouraged to follow their questions and doubts about the faith, this is really all for show. There is no freedom of thought or reward for following your earnest findings or beliefs. There is a dictatorial one size fits all directive and it negates any encouragement to explore all of the possibilities. The following was taken from:
I have heard some theists, often Christians or Muslims, say that an important part of religion is wrestling with your beliefs and being introspective. However, all of this investigation and questioning is meaningless if the questioner is told they must arrive at a certain conclusion. This is especially true if the questioner is threatened with hell as punishment for coming to the “wrong” conclusion. Being able to question is meaningless if one cannot follow through to the conclusions their questions lead them to. Many atheists who were initially religious did wrestle with their faith. They came to the conclusion that they did not believe in god. But religion paradoxically tells it’s followers that their questioning must ultimately lead them to accept god.
Imagine I owned a used car lot, and I told you you could look at any car on the lot you wanted. You could ask me about the prices, features, mileage etc, and I encouraged you to think very carefully about which car you wanted. Now imagine that after I told you all this, I said that no matter what, you must buy this one car. I will not let you buy any other car. This makes my permitting you to look at the other cars meaningless. No matter what you do, and no matter how many cars you look at, you must buy the one car I showed you anyway. I look like I’ve given you a choice, but I’ve really given you no choice at all.
If you decide you like a different car instead, it will be rigged to catch fire and burn you whenever you drive it. This is not a democracy, this is not freedom, this is not compassion. It is a putrid form of uncivilized thought from ignorant and callous ancient humans whose writings by a stroke of historical coincidence still control the minds of billions of current-day people. Frankly, this is embarrassment to the human race.
(3927) No fact checking possible
Fact checking the gospels or any other books of the Bible is not possible because these writings came from a time where skepticism and critical thinking were in short supply. People of this time were ready to believe almost anything somebody told them. The following was taken from:
Carrier has described the era when Christianity arose:
“There is abundant evidence that these were times replete with kooks and quacks of all varieties, from sincere lunatics to ingenious frauds, even innocent men mistaken for divine, and there was no end to the fools and loons who would follow and praise them. Placed in this context, the gospels no longer seem to be so remarkable, and this leads us to an important fact: when the Gospels were written, skeptics and informed or critical minds were a small minority.”
Even today, it would seem, there is little skepticism about the gospels among church folks. After all, these documents are part of the inspired word of their god. So they can be trusted, we don’t need to fact-check them. But this is awkward: there are so many gospels texts that many Christians themselves stumble over. Surely something is wrong; in this case they might welcome fact-checking. Let’s look at a few examples.
“When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret [or mystery] of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything comes in parables, in order that they may indeed look but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”
Is it really possible that Jesus bragged to his disciples that he taught in parables to prevent people from repenting? The main thrust of Mark’s gospel is the message that the kingdom of god was about to arrive at any time. People had to be warned to be prepared. So these two verses make no sense. We might wonder instead how the author of Mark’s gospel came up with this idea. Devout New Testament scholars have struggled with these verses for a long time. We would dearly like to do some fact-checking here. But how would we do that? We don’t know who the author of the gospel was, we don’t know his sources, which is what any historian would want to check first. There are no letters, diaries, or transcriptions available. Instead theologians are left to guess and wonder what the gospel author had in mind.
“I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
I suspect many Christians would dearly love to fact-check this. Do they live in constant panic that the god of the Cosmos is monitoring everything they say? That this deity is doing the same thing with more than seven billion humans? I refer to this as totalitarian monotheism: you’re being spied upon constantly. There is no evidence whatever that this is the way any god operates. But how would anyone fact-check that? This text is found only in Matthew’s gospel, but given the wrathful god of the Old Testament, it’s no surprise that it shows up here—completely undocumented as anything that Jesus himself said.
“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.”
Matthew reports that this is what happened when Jesus died on the cross: his death was so magical that people came alive in their tombs—and on Easter morning walked round Jerusalem. This is pathetic superstition. These two verses are a devastating blow to Christianity. It’s hard to insist that the resurrection of Jesus was “real” if this author—a Jesus propagandist—thought lots of dead people came alive; this was in the context of other cults that worshipped dying-and-rising gods with magical powers. This incident—which includes these newly live dead people “appearing to many”—is not reported by any of the other gospels. Nor was this horde of the walking dead noticed and reported by anyone else. Fact-checkers would say, “Don’t waste our time with this. Use your common sense.”
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”
I’ve come across Christians who don’t even know this text exists. And those who do know it are ready with excuses, e.g., “Jesus couldn’t have meant that!” “You’re taking it out of context!” …without being quite ready to admit that the Bible got it wrong. Yet the Greek word for hate is right there, although some dishonest Bible translators just remove the word hate. If you can’t believe that Jesus could have said any such thing, then why did the author of Luke’s gospel report that Jesus said it? Note that hatred of family isn’t enough: you have to hate life itself.
Here is the parallel version of this text found in Matthew 10:37-38:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Which was written first? It’s hard to know for sure if Matthew was modifying Luke’s text, or if Luke was intentionally intensifying Matthew’s text. There no mention of hating life in the Matthew version. We can assume that devout believers today—those who are not cult fanatics—would be relieved if fact-checkers could show that Jesus has been grievously misquoted. But how would they go about this task? We don’t know the actual authors of either Matthew or Luke, we don’t know their sources. No contemporaneous letters, diaries, or transcriptions are available. There is no way at all to verify—or disqualify—these as words of Jesus. Both gospel authors had creative imaginations and agendas, e.g., membership in the Jesus sect meant that divided loyalties were not tolerated.
“So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day, for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.”
If modern readers came across these words in a medieval book of magic spells, they might shrug them off, “Oh, how grotesque! You mean people took that seriously?” Or if it these words turned up in Professor Snape’s Potions Textbook at Hogwarts, no one would be surprised: a bizarre touch in a work of entertainment fiction. But no, John 6:53-57 is a text that drags Christian theology to a low point. I wonder how many Christians have seriously pondered this Jesus quote. They are probably more familiar with the words of the eucharist in Mark 14:22-24:
“While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take, this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’”
There’s nothing here about the bread and wine functioning as magic potions. In fact, Luke 22:19 adds to the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” But where do these words come from? We find these verses in I Corinthians 11:23-26:
“…the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
This is a fact-checker’s nightmare: Paul claims that he received these words from the Lord, that is, from his visions of the dead Jesus speaking to him. It’s possible these words of Paul ended up in the gospel accounts of the Last Supper—but Paul doesn’t mention disciples gathered around Jesus in an upper room, the image we are so used to. To top off the confusion, the episode in John 6:53-57 doesn’t happen at the Last Supper; at that event in John, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples; there’s no eucharist.
Christian laity should be banging on the doors of devout New Testament scholars and theologians, begging them to hone their fact-checking skills and clear up this mess. But there is no way to clear it up, as these scholars and theologians know full well. There are no contemporaneous letters, diaries, or transcriptions for them to consult. Moreover, John’s gospel contains so many long Jesus quotes entirely unknown in the other gospels. Richard Carrier has functioned as a superb fact-checker:
“John’s Gospel contains long, implausible, never-before-imagined speeches of Jesus (and yet, no Sermon on the Mount, or indeed hardly any moral instruction of any sort), and entirely new characters and events also never heard of before (Nicodemus, Lazarus, Cana)… John has thus run wild with authorial gluttony, freely changing everything and inventing whatever he wants. By modern standards, John is lying.” (On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, Kindle, p. 542)
One of John’s major inventions is his story of Doubting Thomas, found in chapter 20—and it’s not hard to see why he invented it. Thomas happened not to be there when the resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples, and he didn’t believe them that Jesus was alive. He wanted evidence; he had the instincts of a good fact-checker! Thomas was with the disciples when Jesus showed up a week later.
“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’” (John 20:27-29)
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. Jesus didn’t like fact-checkers, but this has been the steady chorus of religious leaders of all brands for millennia: don’t ask for evidence, just trust us that we know what the god(s) want and expect. Humanity ended up with so many different, conflicting religions because nobody, in fact, has such privileged knowledge. It’s all pretend, even if it’s sincere, devout, pious pretend.
Although fact checkers are abundant in today’s world, there is still a generous supply of gullible people who allow themselves to be deceived by religious leaders who present a very saccharine view of the scriptures along with a not-so-subtle hint for these people to avoid trying to figure them out for themselves. This is why some Christians feel confident in their beliefs whereas they would not be so assured if they studied the scriptures thoroughly on their own.
(3928) God not all-powerful due to worship demand
Christianity is self-contradictory in that it made out its god to be all-powerful, but at the same time having his psychological state vulnerable to whether or not humans respect or worship him. The following was taken from:
A being that desires worship is dependent on others for fulfillment and is therefore not all-powerful
If a being is made happy by the worship of others and angry by the lack of it, then that being is is not all-powerful. Being all powerful includes the power not to have your emotional state involuntarily altered by outside influence. If not being worshiped bothers God, and if being worshiped makes him happy, then God’s emotions are ultimately at the mercy of lesser, created creatures. Any being who can be altered by lesser creatures is not all-powerful.
The scriptures should have avoided any mention of God being angry or disappointed by the actions of human beings. But, of course, when you are creating fiction, there is always a chance that you will assign contradicting qualities to your characters.
(3929) Loren Boebert bible citizenship test
Loren Boebert is a United States congresswoman infamous for her hateful Christian nationalism. She has stated that the government should not be separate from the church- in direct opposition to the founders’ principles. She has also stated that Bible literacy should be a condition for citizenship and holding office. So, to help her in this effort the following offers a Bible quiz:
You might have seen the most recent lunatic pronouncement coming from the Christofascist right wing here in the United States, this time from noted wingnut Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado. Boebert appeared on the show Flash Point, and in response to a question about what we should do to improve our country, she said, “Maybe we need to have some sort of legislation that requires Constitution Alive! and biblical citizenship training in our schools, and that’s how we get things turned around.”
It hardly bears pointing out that Constitution Alive! is a Christian ultra-nationalist approach to interpreting the Constitution, and says right on its website that its goal is “restoring America’s Biblical and Constitutional foundations of freedom.”
I’m more interested, though, in Boebert’s “biblical citizenship” test idea. So in the interest of seeing if she’s qualified herself, I submit a short quiz I put together to test her understanding of the Bible (along with biblical references, in case you want to check my sources). See how you score, Representative Boebert.
1. Which of the following should be sufficient to prohibit you from entering a church?
a) Having a flat nose.
b) Having a broken hand.
c) Being blind.
d) All of the above.
Answer: (d). Oh, and guys? You better have intact balls, too. Leviticus 21:18-21 says, “For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.”
2. A guy and his wife are walking home one evening, and he’s attacked by a guy with a knife. It looks like the attacker’s going to kill him, but his wife saves the day by grabbing the attacker by the nuts and giving a good squeeze. What should he do to reward her for her valor?
a) Give her a great big kiss.
b) Buy her a nice gift.
c) Tell all his friends about how brave his wife is.
d) Cut off her hand.
Answer: (d). Deuteronomy 25:11-12. “When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.”
3. Some people move in next door. They seem nice, but upon inquiry, you find out that they aren’t Christians. What is the appropriate response?
a) Treat them with kindness and compassion, because that’s what the Bible says to do.
b) Try to convert them to Christianity.
c) Stone them to death.
Answer: (c). Deuteronomy 17:2-5. “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, and hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; and it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.”
4. Well, suppose there’s an entire town where people aren’t Christian. What should you do about them?
a) Let them be — as long as they’re not hurting anyone, they have the right to believe what they want.
b) Try to convert them to Christianity.
c) Kill them all.
Answer: (c). Deuteronomy 13:12-14. “If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men… are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly.”
5. Okay, we killed all the people in the non-Christian town. What should we do about their cattle?
a) What kind of stupid fucking question is this? Why should you do anything about the cattle?
b) Kill them all.
Answer: (b). Deuteronomy 13:15 goes on to say, “Destroy all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.”
6. You ask your kid to load the dishwasher, and he rolls his eyes and tells you to go to hell. What should you do?
a) Ground him.
b) Withhold his allowance for the week.
c) Stone him to death.
Answer: (c). Leviticus 20:9. “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.”
7. Someone treats you badly. How should you respond?
a) Forgive him.
b) Turn the other cheek and let him hit that one, too.
c) Laugh as you’re smashing his children on a big rock.
d) All of the above.
Answer: (d), even if that’s hard to imagine. Matthew 6:14, Matthew 5:39, and Psalm 137:8-9, respectively, if you don’t believe me.
8. What should the punishment be for kids who make fun of a priest’s bald head?
a) Nothing. Ignore it. Kids do that sort of stuff sometimes.
b) Tell their parents and let them deal with it.
c) Get some vicious bears to eat the children.
d) Stone them to death.
Answer: (c). Ha! I bet you thought it was (d), but no. 2 Kings 2:23-24. “And he [the prophet Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare [ripped apart] forty and two children of them.”
9. As a good Christian American, can I own slaves?
a) What? Are you kidding? Owning slaves is inherently immoral! I don’t care what your religion is!
b) Yes, as long as they’re Canadian.
Answer: (b). Leviticus 25:44. “Both thy male and female slaves, which thou shalt have, shall be from the countries that are around you; of them shall you buy your male and female slaves.”
10. How much authority does Lauren Boebert have to talk about the Bible, religion, and such matters?
a) Zero, because she has the IQ of a Pop-Tart.
b) Zero, because someone as clearly sociopathic as she is has no standing to preach morality and ethics to anyone.
c) Zero, because she’s female.
Answer: Well, they’re all correct, honestly, but the biblically-supported one is (c). 1 Timothy 2:12. “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
So in telling you to sit down and shut the fuck up, Representative Boebert, please don’t take it personally. I’m just trying to make sure that I’m living up to my “biblical citizenship training.”
Maybe once Loren actually ‘learns’ her Bible she will retire and stay home, do the housework and take care of the kids, something she is obviously more qualified to do than to be a representative of American government.
(3930) Eight areas where God is not detected
We could never prove that a god doesn’t exist because there is a possibility that such a god lets everything happen by the natural laws of physics and does not intervene in any fashion. But when a group of people claim that there is a god with the characteristics of the Christian god, then we can point out how such a god can be disproved. In the following it is discussed how the Christian god is missing in eight separate areas of our lives where he otherwise should be detected:
Victor Stenger makes the Argument from Absence, which observes that we don’t find God where we’d expect to. This is a direct response to a popular Christian argument that goes something like this: “You say God doesn’t exist? Well let me ask you this: have you looked everywhere in the universe? How do you know he doesn’t exist if you haven’t looked everywhere?”
This is simply the “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist” argument, which is off topic because the typical atheist isn’t arguing that. However, when you look in places where you’d expect to find evidence of God, and you find none, that is evidence against God.
Stenger explores eight areas.
1. Cosmology. We should find evidence for God in cosmology, but natural laws are sufficient. We find no data that needs a miraculous violation of laws. “Well-established cosmological knowledge indicates that the universe began with maximum entropy, that is, total chaos with the absence of structure. Thus the universe bears no imprint of a creator.”
2. Evolution. We should find God in the structure of living things, but evolution is a sufficient explanation. Complex organisms evolved from simpler ones in a variations-on-a-theme way. Life forms are marvelously complex, but elegance is what we’d expect to find in a designed lifeform, not mere complexity. Far from being evidence of a Creator, the junk in DNA argues for the opposite conclusion.
3. Souls. We should find evidence that God gave humans souls, but the supernatural isn’t necessary to explain consciousness, memory, or personality. There is no evidence that souls are anything more than wishful thinking.
4. Revelation. The Bible claims that God communicates through revelations, but we can’t verify this. In particular, there’s no reason to believe the supernatural claims. Even many of the un-supernatural claims like the Exodus and David’s empire now appear to be false.
5. Prayers. Jesus in the Bible claimed that prayers are reliably answered. The Bible has no qualifiers like “if you’re worthy” or “if your prayer lines up with God’s plan.” Christians make billions of prayers, but there is no convincing evidence that God answers any. Prayer is easy to study scientifically, but the comprehensive Templeton Study found no evidence of the value of prayer.
6. Inhospitable universe. The Bible makes clear that the universe was created with man in mind, but the vast majority of the universe (even the majority of the earth) is inhospitable. The universe has 200 billion galaxies, but earth was the actual purpose? There’s no evidence pushing us in that direction.
7. New information. If God communicates with people through prayer or revelation, there should be evidence of people having information they could only have gotten supernaturally. Instead, no such claim has checked out, and the Bible has no information that wouldn’t have already been available to the people who wrote it.
8. Morality. Is God the source of morality? Given the barbaric morality God displays in the Old Testament, it’s clear that he is no moral authority. For example, God said that slavery was fine, but we say that it’s abhorrent. Both can’t be right. Christians must pick.
This relates to Hitchens’ Moral Challenge: identify a moral action taken or a moral sentiment uttered by a believer that couldn’t be taken or uttered by an unbeliever—something that only a believer could do and an atheist couldn’t. There is nothing.
But now think of the reverse: something terrible that only a believer would do or say. Examples from the Bible easily come to mind—Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac, for example. Today, Christians justify lots of things, from Westboro Baptist Church’s “God hates fags” to any hateful or selfish conclusion justified by “because God (or the Bible) says” such as condemning homosexuality, blocking civil rights, prohibiting stem cell research, and so on.
Could God be hiding under a rock somewhere that we haven’t peeked under? Sure, but this secretive god isn’t the Christian god who’s eager for a relationship. These are eight places where we would expect a god to be, and our searches have come up empty.
A deist god could exist, but the Christian god really cannot- unless he is far less intrusive than Christians claim or he is not all-seeing and all powerful- but these concessions are not digestible for most Christians. So, to be safe, we can say for all practical purposes, we can prove the non-existence of this particular god.
(3931) Refuting claims of Bible science
Apologists like to cherry pick and creatively interpret scriptures to create the illusion that the Bible contains scientific information that was unknown at the time, therefore presenting this as evidence for divine inspiration. But a closer, objective look at this claim reveals it to be unfounded. The following was taken from:
Christian apologists are eager to tell us that scientists didn’t inform us of many facts about cosmology, physics, and biology. No, they were in the Good Book all along if we just had the faith to trust it!
One supportive source they often cite is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Arno Penzias. He said in 1978:
The best data we have (concerning the Big Bang) are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.
Really? From the Old Testament you get at 13.8-billion-year-old universe? Expansion from a point? A universe that’s not only expanding but whose expansion is accelerating? Dark matter and dark energy?
If it’s all there in the Bible, tell us the rest: what caused the Big Bang, if anything? Is there a multiverse? How are Relativity and quantum physics unified? While you’re at it, tell us if string theory is correct.
It seems to me that the Bible is as useful at informing us of scientific realities as The Bible Code is for predicting the future, but let’s consider some of the Bible verses that apologists think are so clairvoyant and see if the wild claims hold up.
Claims about cosmology
1. The Bible says that the earth is a sphere.
[God] sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers (Isaiah 40:22).
Well, we’re actually looking for the earth as a sphere, but that does sound intriguing. First, though, consider another verse in the same book of the Bible:
[God] will wind you up tightly into a ball and throw you into a wide, open land. There you will die. (Isaiah 22:18)
The first word means typically circle in the sense of a perimeter—think of a guard walking the perimeter of a camp. The second verse shows that Hebrew had a word for sphere, and if the author wanted to identify the earth as a sphere, the correct word would’ve been used. Notice also that Isaiah 40:22 isn’t written as if it’s sharing scientific knowledge. It touches on the earth as a flat disk only in passing.
2. The Bible knows that the earth is in empty space.
He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing (Job 26:7).
This is scientifically vague and gives no clear description of our solar system. The earth isn’t just there; it moves around the sun. If you’re hoping that Job had a planetary model in mind, just four verses later we read about the “pillars of heaven.”
3. The Bible knows that the number of stars is uncountable.
Therefore there was born [of Abraham] as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore (Hebrews 11:12).
How many descendants did Abraham have when this book was written in the first century? A million people? Whatever it was, “As many descendants as stars in the sky” is hyperbole. The author can’t have meant that there were then 1021 Jews in the world (which is roughly the number of stars). Again, the Bible is saying nothing remarkable.
If the point of any of these verses were to give new, surprising scientific knowledge, they would make that clear. Each reads as if it’s using ideas accessible by the people of the time.
These passages have been picked by modern Christians because they vaguely sound like information that science has taught us. But that’s backwards. Instead, imagine giving each to an unbiased reader of that time. Would they derive the science that these apologists imagine? Would they see a heliocentric solar system, for example? The apologists need to show that these facts came from biblical insights rather than modern science, but they can’t.
Claims about earth science
4. The Bible knows about the water cycle.
Many verses are cited to argue that the Bible understood the water cycle where water evaporates from the ocean, condenses into clouds, falls as rain, and flows back to the ocean.
He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; who makes lightnings for the rain, who brings forth the wind from His treasuries (Psalms 135:7).
For he draws up the drops of water, they distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down (Job 36:27–28).
All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again (Ecclesiastes 1:7).
This shows nothing that an observant person from Old Testament times couldn’t have figured out. Water left in a pot will gradually vanish into the air. If that pot is heated, the water vanishes faster. Rain comes from clouds. The sea doesn’t get deeper even though rivers keep flowing in, and so on.
And the primitive understanding of meteorology is evident when these passages are taken at face value. God is given credit for water turning to vapor and falling as rain, but we know that physics is sufficient. Imagining treasuries to store the wind (from the first verse) would be cute coming from a child, but this is not wisdom from the omniscient creator of the universe.
Or take the third passage above. Just two verses earlier we see the geocentric solar system of the time:
The sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again (Ecclesiastes 1:5).
5. The Bible knows that wind circulates as cyclones.
Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns (Ecc. 1:6).
Here’s a time lapse simulation of the jet stream in the northern hemisphere. Sometimes the air flows in a circle, though usually not.
Yes, wind comes from different directions. This verse tells us nothing remarkable.
6. The Bible knows about ocean currents and undersea mountains.
The Bible tells us of “the springs of the sea” (Job 38:16). It also talks about birds and fish traveling “the paths of the seas” (Psalm 8:8), whatever that means. David imagines God blowing away the water to reveal “the channels of the sea” (2 Samuel 22:16), and Jonah, thrown into the ocean, imagines descending to “the roots of the mountains” (Jonah 2:6).
Why is this impressive? Fishermen of the time surely observed that the ocean has currents, and swimmers and sailors would have noticed that some parts of the Mediterranean dropped steeply, just like on land.
The Bible could’ve told us something new. Science has only recently revealed the deep sea geothermal vents and the ecosystems that live there. And the deep trenches created by tectonic forces at plate boundaries. And the magma flow that drives oceanic spreading at mid-oceanic ridges. Why didn’t the Bible reveal this?
Claims about health
7. The Bible knew all about disease.
- The Bible says that unclean land animals such as rabbits, pigs, horses, and bear are not only unclean to eat but also to touch. If you touch the carcass of one of these, you are unclean until evening. (Leviticus 11:28)
- If you touch a dead person, you’re unclean for a week and must go through ritual purification (Numbers 19:11–12).
- A man who has a nocturnal emission is unclean. Seven days after his last emission he must bathe in running water (Lev. 15:13). The rules are the same for a menstruating woman (Lev. 15:28).
- Cover your poop because it grosses God out (Deuteronomy 23:13–14).
- Take seriously the appearance of leprosy. Anyone found to be a leper must be shunned. (Lev. 13)
Don’t touch dead bodies? Bury your poop? Yes, that’s good advice, but who needs to be told this by God? The Bible is hardly a medical authority and couldn’t even provide the simple recipe for soap. The healings of Jesus the Great Physician teach us that illness can be caused by evil spirits or sin, despite what modern medicine says.
As for being shocked by naughty body parts, this advice does little to improve health, and the recommended bathing is just a ritual cleansing. Without soap, it doesn’t do much more to get rid of germs than the required sacrifice of two birds.
Concerns about leprosy are valid, though this shows no knowledge beyond the common sense of the time.
8. Kosher laws actually make good health sense.
The Bible has an entire chapter to outline rules about what can and can’t be eaten. For example, shellfish are forbidden.
But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you (Leviticus 11:10).
There is a logic to these seemingly arbitrary laws, but health was not the point. Eating improperly cooked mackerel or mutton (ritually clean) is no wiser than eating improperly cooked shrimp or pork (ritually unclean).
Claims about physics
9. The Bible informs us that matter is made of atoms.
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:3).
Apologists may imagine that this says that matter is made from particles too small to see, but this chapter is about faith, not physics. The NET Bible gives another interpretation of the bolded phrase: “the visible has its origin in the invisible.” The verse isn’t saying that matter is made of atoms but that the (visible) world was created by (invisible) God.
The ancients did propose the idea of matter being composed of indivisible particles, but that was centuries before the book of Hebrews and not in Palestine.
10. The Bible teaches that light moves.
Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place …? (Job 38:19)
(Some of these examples are so poor that I wonder if those who propose them honestly find them compelling.)
This verse only says that light and darkness reside somewhere. Perhaps motion is implied because light and darkness must get out of the house sometime.
But no, darkness isn’t a thing—it’s just an absence of light—and neither light nor darkness are stored anywhere.
11. Air has weight in the Bible.
[God] imparted weight to the wind and meted out the waters by measure (Job 28:25).
Wind pushes on you. If that is wind’s “weight,” then even children know that. A childlike view of the world can imagine that the properties of nature are assigned and maintained by God, but that’s not what science tells us. Instead of common sense observations of nature, the Bible could’ve given us some of the basics laws of physics.
12. The Bible knows about thermodynamics—it talks about moving from order to disorder.
The Bible has several verses (Isaiah 51:6, Hebrews 1:10–11, Psalms 102:26) that use the simile that the earth will wear out like a garment.
Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not wane. (Isaiah 51:6)
The ancient authors saw that living things die and human constructions deteriorate—nothing remarkable here. From that they extrapolated that the earth itself is temporary as an excuse to celebrate God’s permanence. Why is this anything more than a literary motif?
13. The Bible knows about dinosaurs—read about Leviathan in Job 41.
God is humiliating Job in this chapter. Job thinks he has the balls to question God? Then perhaps he can share how well he’d do fighting Leviathan, a sea monster that laughs at human weapons and “regards iron as straw, bronze as rotten wood.”
Christian commentators try to shoehorn the long description into that of a crocodile, whale, or dinosaur, but this fails because Leviathan breathes fire (41:18–21). The attempt also fails because there were thousands of dinosaur species, not just a single fierce, fire-breathing monster. This description of a single creature sounds nothing like a survey of dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs were long extinct before humans appeared. There would be no point in God spending an entire chapter talking about how he’s so tough that he can conquer a dinosaur if Job doesn’t know what dinosaurs are.
Let’s stop there at thirteen examples, an unlucky number for the Christian eager to imagine that the Bible educates us about science.
It should be noted that if the Bible was indeed inspired by an omniscient god, then it almost certainly would have contained lots and lots of knowledge that was unknown to humans at that time. The fact that it doesn’t adds weight to the theory that the Bible is a product strictly of human minds.
(3932) Pop quiz for Christians
In the following, four questions are posed for Christians to consider, and, just in case they find themselves speechless, the answers to these questions are also provided:
There are thousands of genetic disorders/diseases—glitches and goofs as genes are passed along—that cause horrendous human suffering. What are the implication of this for the claim that human life was intelligently designed by an all-powerful, loving god?
Let’s continue with the issue of illness. Do Christians today commonly assume that illness is a way that their god punishes people? My guess is that they don’t. If a friend or relative gets sick—especially something like cancer—our first impulse is not to ask, “What horrible sins has he/she committed.” Yet we find the illness/sin link in Jesus script. In Mark’s gospel (2:1-12) Jesus heals a paralytic—by forgiving his sins. In John 5:2-18, Jesus heals a man who had been sick for 38 years: “…you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” (v. 14) Are you okay with this idea that the god of Jesus gets even with sin by inflicting illness? How does that work in your theology?
The consensus of mainstream Bible scholars is that the letters of the apostle Paul were written well before the gospels. His first letter to the Corinthians can perhaps be dated to 53-54 CE. The gospel of Mark—chronologically the first of the four in the NT—seems to have been written in the wake of the first Jewish-Roman War that ended in 73 CE. Please compare the words of the Eucharist found in 1 Corinthians 1:11 with those reported in Mark, which was written twenty years later:
Corinthians 1, 11:23-26:
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
“While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’”
Paul never met Jesus, he was not at the last supper; he claimed that he received these words “from the Lord”—by which he meant his visions of Jesus. What are the implications when we see these texts side-by-side? What conclusions can we draw from these words of Paul predating the gospels?
The Christian Bible contains both the Old and New Testament. The whole thing is God’s Word. But because of the terrible temper the Old Testament god—and great stretches of rules for sacrificing animals the right way—it is quite common for the devout to claim that the New Testament is their primary guide to life. But explain how that is possible, when there’s Jesus script forbidding this attitude:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
Answers and Comments
When believers pray for their god to heal someone—and even organize prayer marathons to be more effective—the assumption must be that their god can work on the cellular level in the human body to knock out illness. If that is so, we have to wonder how an all-knowing god is so negligent. Why isn’t god paying close attention to all the glitches and goofs that cause genetic disorders/diseases—and using his almighty power to clean them up, before they can do damage? The claim that our bodies have been intelligently designed by a loving creator doesn’t make sense when we see that genetic glitches happen, and cause so much suffering. But, full stop: the errors in human anatomy have been well documented, which destroys the intelligent-design claim. For example, see Abby Hafer’s book, The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not.
“Are you okay with this idea that the god of Jesus gets even with sin by inflicting illness? How does that work in your theology?” We have all seen really nice, good people who have suffered terribly from horrible diseases. The devout commonly retreat to “it’s a mystery” —rather than speculate on the terrible hidden sins the person must have committed. But the truly honest approach would include admitting that the gospels—with the Jesus-scripts I quoted—reflect first century superstitions about illness and sin: a god is going to get even with you for sinning. Such superstitions had deep roots in the ancient thinking. The prophet Isaiah had no patience with the sinful pride of high society ladies: “…the Lord will afflict with scabs the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their scalps and heads.” (Isaiah 3:17)
By the way, unless the god is right there (whispering in your ear?) to explain which sins caused the suffering, what’s the point? Illness as punishment for sin is actually bad theology, and Jesus-script doesn’t change that fact. It’s best to delete such superstition from your worldview.
The eucharist is described in 1 Corinthians 11 and Mark 14. “What are the implications when we see these texts side-by-side? What conclusions can we draw from the words of Paul predating the gospels?” Yes, this requires study and extra effort. Curiosity has to kick in: when were these two documents written? How might they be related? Since none of the gospels had been written when Paul was so active in his promotion of the new Jesus sect, how did he find out about Jesus? What did he find out? Not much, apparently; we search in vain in his letters for details about the life, ministry, preaching, and miracles of Jesus of Nazareth. He even brags about not consulting the people who had actually known Jesus:
“For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin, for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)
And he tells his readers exactly how he found out the wording of the eucharist: “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you…” That is, by way of his private revelations/visions (we could call them hallucinations) of Jesus, whom he was confident was not dead, but alive. Hardly a surprise at a time when there were other ancient cults that believed in dying-and-rising gods.
Given Paul’s intensive missionary zeal, which included writing long letters advocating the faith, it’s not a stretch to suppose that Mark had Paul’s text of the eucharist in 1 Corinthians 11—which he didn’t learn from any human source—in front of him when he wrote his gospel. This is one of the implications of the side-by-side comparison of these texts. Mark wasn’t writing history at all; he was passing along Paul’s theology. Mark added the setting, i.e., a last supper, with Jesus surrounded by disciples; that part was missing in Paul’s vision. Here’s some important homework on this issue: Tom Dykstra’s book, Mark Canonizer of Paul: A New Look at Intertexuality in Mark’s Gospel (2012).
Readers have to pay close attention to notice such things; they have to be curious, and be willing to question everything. New Testament scholars—both devout and secular—have sharpened these skills. But most of the laity, as surveys have shown, read the Bible casually, if at all. They are trained by priests and preachers not to question everything. Thus they miss important clues that the New Testament itself plays a major role in falsifying Christianity.
“…it is quite common for the devout to claim that the New Testament is their primary guide to life. But explain how that is possible, when there’s Jesus script forbidding this attitude…”
Supposedly, for Christians the Bible is the holy word of their god. In fact, there are many texts in both the Old and New Testament that the faithful wish were not there. But it just won’t do to rank the Old Testament as inferior. God’s genocide in the Noah story? Jesus promised that, at the coming of the kingdom of god, there will be as much suffering as at the time of Noah. How is that better? The god of the Old Testament promised to punish and wipe out those who broke his laws. The god of the New Testament added eternal fire after death as punishment. How is that better?
Matthew’s Jesus-script includes the insistence that “not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law…” But we can see Matthew’s motivation: almost from the beginning of the Jesus sect, there were those who wanted it to remain a Jewish sect—Matthew was so inclined. The apostle Paul thought otherwise, and preached to the Gentiles. He downplayed the importance of the law, one primary example being the elimination of circumcision as a condition for converting to Christ. In the long run, Paul’s side won that battle.
But it won’t do to downgrade the Old Testament—how dare you anyway if it’s still part of god’s holy word? It’s right there on the church altar every Sunday! This amounts to picking and choosing what you like, depending on your own religious sensibilities. That is, you are judging the Holy Bible, you are deciding which parts are holy. Bear this in mind, however: even those early Christians who downplayed the law looked to the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the messiah. They hunted for texts they were sure applied to Jesus, even though there is no mention whatever of a Jesus of Nazareth who would one day be the messiah. Nevertheless, so many stories of Jesus in the gospels are based on Old Testament models. The apostle Paul especially scoured the ancient texts for proof of his version of the Christ.
As I’ve said many times, the Bible—especially the gospels—is a minefield. Every step you take, the ground under your feet may explode. Which is why I say to Christians, “How about we go for a walk?”
When questions such as these are considered, along with the fact that Christians have no answers other than impotent ones, it leads one to believe that faith in this religion depends on a deliberate effort to shield oneself from their own thoughts, lest they encounter faith-killing doubts. So, in effect, Christians must fool themselves to remain a believer.
(3933) The beginning of Luke
There is considerable evidence that the Gospel of Luke did not originally contain the material in Chapters 1 and 2, which tell the birth narrative and information about the early childhood of Jesus. This appears to have been an interpolation added years later by a different author. The following was taken from:
The question of how an original version of Luke began hinges on lots of little pieces of scholarship of that sort (scholarship that I will *not* be providing here on the blog! So don’t worry!). It includes a careful analysis of the language of Luke 1-2, which shows that the writing style seems to differ from the rest of the Gospel; an assessment of the relationship of that portion of Luke to the Septuagint (the Greek OT) in comparison with the rest of the Gospel of Luke (these two chapters appear much more Septuagintal in character); and especially an assessment of a range of literary features of chs. 1-2 in relationship to ch. 3. Here there are several important points that scholars have made:
- The beginning of ch. 3 reads like the *beginning* of a narrative, not the continuation of a narrative.
- The beginning of ch. 3 is the same, in substance, as the beginning of the source of Luke’s Gospel, Mark (they both begin with Jesus being baptized).
- Some of the central themes of chs. 1-2 are never referred to elsewhere in either the rest of the Gospel or the book of Acts (e.g., Jesus having come from Bethlehem; his mother being a virgin), even though lots of other themes from early chapters (e..g, the baptism by John) *are* referred to later.
- The voice at the baptism (“today I have begotten you” as “my son”) does not seem to make sense given the narrative of chs. 1-2 (where, according to 1:35, Jesus is the son of God because God made his mother pregnant)
- The genealogy that is given in ch. 3 doesn’t make sense if the Gospel already had chs. 1-2. The genealogy is given *after* the baptism. But the natural place for a genealogy is at the point in which a person is *born* (since the genealogy traces the bloodline up to the time of birth), not at the point of baptism (as a 30 year old!). Without chs. 1-2, however, the genealogy makes sense at the baptism, since it is at the baptism that Jesus is made the son of God according to the voice from heaven, and so immediately afterward the genealogy is given, in which Jesus’ family line is traced not only to Adam (so that he is the son of Adam) but from Adam to God (so that he is the son of God).
All of these factors contribute to a scholarly view (I don’t know if it’s a majority view; I somewhat doubt it. But I think it *should* be, since the evidence strikes me as being so significantly in favor of it) that there was a first edition of Luke that began with what is now chapter 3. If that is right, then what is now 1:1-4 would still have begun the Gospel, but the narrative would then have moved directly from 1:4 to what is now 3:1.
That would make sense of one other historical datum: one of our earliest witnesses to the Gospel of Luke is the “arch-heretic” Marcion, who notoriously “edited” his Gospel of Luke so that it did not have chs. 1-2 (since Marcion did not think that Jesus was born of a virgin, or born at all, but that he appeared as an adult at the beginning of his ministry). But what if Marcion didn’t “edit” the two chapters by getting rid of them? What if he knew a version of Luke that simply did not yet have them? That would change how we evaluate Marcion’s “editorial” approach to the Gospel.
There are some Christians who will say that interpolations do not matter because God could have equally inspired those who added or changed the original text. But more skeptical people would ask why God didn’t get it right the first time?
(3934) Jews have good reasons to reject Christian gods
The attempt by Christians to marry their faith to Jewish tradition is an exercise in futility. The Tanakh does not provide any space for a triune god. The following was taken from:
The Christian gods are not the same as the God of the Tanakh and Jewish tradition. Therefore, Jews are right to reject Christianity.
Christians worship a Trinity, one member of which is a man. This doctrine about God’s nature is not found in the Torah or larger Tanakh, and in many cases is explicitly denied by the scriptures. Deuteronomy 13 details what the Israelites/Jews are to do when a false prophet calls them to worship other gods.
If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For Yhvh your God is testing you, to know whether you love Yhvh your God with all your heart and with all your soul… that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against Yhvh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery
The Tanakh makes many statements about the identity of the God who is to be worshipped by the Israelites. As the first of the Ten Words (aka Ten Commandments) says, “I am Yhvh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.” The Christian god Jesus is not Yhvh, and he did not lead them from Egypt thousands of years before his own birth.
The Tanakh also states in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Yhvh is our God, Yhvh is one.” The Christian doctrine claims that God is one substance with three co-eternal, coexistent personalities. Of course, the Tanakh does not say that God is three in one; it says God is one and never mentions anything resembling the Trinity. The Tanakh further states that Yhvh is alone and that no others exist beside him (Isaiah 45: 5-7). The Trinity has three distinct personalities existing side by side. Anyone not enthralled by Christian theological sophistry rightly sees this as thinly veiled polytheism, which is precluded by these verses. “God is one” does not mean “God is three.”
The Tanakh is also clear that Yhvh is not a man (Numbers 23:19, Hosea 11:9). The Christians worship a man (Jesus) as God.
Possible Christian objections:
- The Trinity is not polytheism, and the Christian Trinity is the same as the God of the Tanakh.
The idea of God as one substance and three personalities is nothing more than sophistry. Due to the number of heresies related to this doctrine, it is irrational and self-contradictory (all attempts at rationalization end up as heresies). When confronted with its irrationality, Christians resort to claiming that it is a mystery of faith. A tacit admission that it is irrational.
Of course, the Tanakh does not teach the Trinity, and in many cases flatly contradicts Christian dogma about the Trinity and Incarnation, a closely related dogma about the nature of God. We can therefore disregard the claim that the Christian gods are the same as the God of the Tanakh.
2. Numbers 23 and Hosea 11 are not intended as statements against God’s incarnation as a man, but rather about God’s personality, i.e. they are saying he is not a liar and does not act in anger. In fact, Genesis 18 shows God incarnating as a man, possibly 3 men.
Numbers and Hosea are saying both things: that God is not a man, and therefore, God does not act like men do, i.e. as a liar or in anger. The man Jesus of course, did act out of anger in at least one scene of the Bible (the Temple). He also was intentionally deceptive, which is why he said that he taught in parables. So that people would hear and not understand what he actually meant.
Genesis 18 never states that God became a man. It states that Abraham encounters 3 men who prophesy about Sarah’s upcoming pregnancy. When Abraham doesn’t believe them, Yhvh speaks to him, either directly or through the mouth of the man acting as a prophet (the text is unclear). The idea that these men are incarnations is an attempt to insert anachronistic Christian ideas into the text. There is no more reason to assume that this man is an incarnation than there is to assume that the burning bush or the pillar of cloud/fire was an incarnation of God. He is an instrument through which God is speaking in the text, nothing more.
The Christian Trinity is not supported by or found in the Tanakh. The Tanakh commands the worship of Yhvh alone, and states unequivocally that Yhvh is not a man. Christians worship three gods, one of whom is a man. Deuteronomy commands that Jews reject any prophet who calls for the worship of other gods, even if they perform miracles. Therefore, Jews are correct to reject the gods of Christianity and to reject Jesus as a false prophet.
Christianity is a separate religion from Judaism and cannot legitimately claim to be its successor. Jesus might have been a true follower of the Jewish faith, but the religion built around his name is rooted in a different tradition.
(3935) Seven qualities of a death cult
Christianity qualifies as a death cult, though most Christians would disagree. But as can be seen in the following list, there are good reasons to apply this label.
1) Most Christians worry more about what happens after DEATH than in this life – eternal life is their focus
2) The biggest event in Christianity is Jesus’ DYING on the cross. I mean, the cross is the symbol of Christianity.
3) Christians don’t care what happens to the earth because God is going to DESTROY it anyway. And they look forward to that day!
4) God and Jesús are going to send most of the world’s population to hell, and then the lake of fire (ETERNAL DEATH), simply for not believing in them.
5) The Israelites commuted mass GENOCIDE on the instructions of God
6) It’s blood that atones for sin. BLOOD. Whether Jesus’ or an animal’s. God wants to see something DIE before forgiveness can happen.
7) Communion is a symbol (and in Catholicism not just a symbol but the actual thing) of Jesus’ FLESH and BLOOD
Need I go on? In reality, every single religion started off as a cult that worshipped one guy. If you compare cults today like scientology and heavens gate to any world religion, you’ll see some harsh similarities. Christianity uses The Rapture and Hell to scare people into submission, just like Peoples Temple. Jesus in the bible is depicted as the nicest, wisest man in existence and the sun of god. Just like Marshall Applewhite. In reality he was probably a manipulative extremist who convinced his early followers using charm and wit, like modern cults today.
The reason Christianity got so big in the first place is that it was created in the right time and place. Today we see cults as crazy radicals but people in the cult see it as the only right way. Once a cult gets enough people spanning dozens of countries and enough time has passed (after the leader has passed away) Then the cult starts gaining power and becomes a religion.
(3936) The case for early and diverse Christianities
Christian apologists would like to make you believe that there was an original, pristine Christianity, inspired by Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that has remained intact to the present day, and that other manifestations of the faith were just the result of fallible human misinterpretations. But the evidence doesn’t support this view. Instead, it appears that there were multiple Christianities almost immediately after Jesus’ crucifixion. This weighs against the concept of a divinely-inspired faith that should have remained consistently uniform under that guidance of the Holy Spirit. The following was taken from:
Well, Paul’s letters, written between 45 and 64 (more or less) CE, only 10-30 years after Jesus’s death (depending on when you date that), gives us pretty darn good evidence that there were a bunch of different types of Christians by then. Not only does Paul express discontent with Cephas about an important theological point (Galatians 2), but Paul also appears to know about a different group of Christians who want to follow the law (the so-called “Judaizers”, see Galatians and Romans especially). Paul also knows about other apostles who seem to be teaching their own versions of things (2 Corinthians 11).
So what we can know with a pretty high degree of historical certainty is that in our very earliest texts that even mention Jesus (Paul’s letters), there are competing teachers and different factions, and that this was the case as early as 10 years after Jesus’s death. So sure, we might say there was one version of the Jesus movement in the literal days after Jesus’s death, but it seems like as soon as a message about Jesus was spread, it was immediately taken in different ways. This is evident not only in Paul, but in the gospels and Revelation (the latter of which has an author who likely still thought of himself as a Jew).
It’s about analytical usefulness too. All the evidence seems to point in the direction of multiplicity and diversity. Historically, it’s been an apologetic move to claim some kind of pristine, original Christianity off which variant (heretical) branches spread (a la Adolf Harnack). But if we stop trying to make the case for some kind of “original” Christianity (and certainly try to avoid some kind of value hierarchy), then we have less risk of falling into unconscious privileging of one tradition (that of Irenaeus, for example) over another (say, Marcion or Valentinus).
It would be expected that a god-inspired religion would resist any adulteration of its doctrine by human efforts, but rather would guide any wayward people back to the doctrinal center. What happened with early Christianity appears more in tune with a purely human-inspired religious movement.
(3937) The Devil plot hole
The people who wrote the Bible overlooked a major problem with their theology. They made out Satan to be clever and powerful, but they overlooked the fact that he could access scripture and figure out that his original plan would not work out well. In other words, they made the Devil to be smart but too dumb not to fall into the trap that was predicted and documented for his demise. The following was taken from:
Ever see a movie SO BAD that you just kept thinking of new things that are wrong with it long after you saw it? Well, as a former Christian, Christianity is like that for me. I rejected it years ago and yet I still think of new problems with it to this day. This is one such problem that just hit me as I was walking down the street to get an eggplant parmesan sandwich: We know the Devil knows Scriptures. He proves that in Matthew 4:6. And he is always understood to have so much intelligence that he uses for evil. And that evil will end when Jesus returns and he is cast into a lake of fire, as the Bible teaches us in Revelation…
But hold on: if the Devil knows the Bible, then doesn’t he know how his whole plan to send Junior (the antichrist) to Earth and call himself head honcho of humanity will not end well for him? Wouldn’t he read the book and say “wow, so stamping 666 to people’s foreheads and bringing plague and war and the rest isn’t gonna work out. I should adjust my plans accordingly.
I mean, according to Christian theology, the Devil has the brains, the free-will and the drive to win. Wouldn’t he therefore go a completely different route then what is depicted in Revelation, considering he read the spoiler about 2,000 years ago?
And I know I have to say this: yes, I know the Bible is BS for a bunch of other reasons. It has some moral truths, beautiful poetry and mythology and great cultural resonance, yes. But it’s mostly BS. But even though we know a movie is fiction, we can still debate its merits and flaws. And this plot hole is an even bigger one than Doctor Strange not cutting Thanos’s hand off with a little portal when he had the chance in “Infinity War.”
Having a devil as an actual personage in your theology is an obvious sign that you are mired in mythology, but to assign him with contradictory qualities- both clever and overwhelmingly stupid, is a whole other level of ignorance.
(3938) Lightning rods thwarting the will of God
There was a time when religious people thought that the use of lightning rods, used to protect tall structures, was sacrilege, because it was thwarting the ‘artillery of the heavens,’ considered to be God’s method of punishing humans. It was thought that taking measures to control lightning was contravening the will of God. The following was taken from:
But in the midst of these efforts by Catholics like Father Vincent and by Protestants like John Wesley to save the old sacred theory, it received its death-blow. In 1752 Franklin made his experiments with the kite on the banks of the Schuylkill; and, at the moment when he drew the electric spark from the cloud, the whole tremendous fabric of theological meteorology reared by the fathers, the popes, the medieval doctors, and the long line of great theologians, Catholic and Protestant, collapsed; the “Prince of the Power of the Air” tumbled from his seat; the great doctrine which had so long afflicted the earth was prostrated forever.
The experiment of Franklin was repeated in various parts of Europe, but, at first, the Church seemed careful to take no notice of it. The old church formulas against the Prince of the Power of the Air were still used, but the theological theory, especially in the Protestant Church, began to grow milder. Four years after Franklin’s discovery Pastor Karl Koken, member of the Consistory and official preacher to the City Council of Hildesheim, was moved by a great hailstorm to preach and publish a sermon on The Revelation of God in Weather. Of “the Prince of the Power of the Air” he says nothing; the theory of diabolical agency he throws overboard altogether; his whole attempt is to save the older and more harmless theory, that the storm is the voice of God. He insists that, since Christ told Nicodemus that men “know not whence the wind cometh,” it can not be of mere natural origin, but is sent directly by God himself, as David intimates in the Psalm, “out of His secret places.” As to the hailstorm, he lays great stress upon the plague of hail sent by the Almighty upon Egypt, and clinches all by insisting that God showed at Mount Sinai his purpose to startle the body before impressing the conscience.
While the theory of diabolical agency in storms was thus drooping and dying, very shrewd efforts were made at compromise. The first of these attempts we have already noted, in the effort to explain the efficacy of bells in storms by their simple use in stirring the faithful to prayer, and in the concession made by sundry theologians, and even by the great Lord Bacon himself, that church bells might, under the sanction of Providence, disperse storms by agitating the air. This gained ground somewhat, though it was resisted by one eminent Church authority, who answered shrewdly that, in that case, cannon would be even more pious instruments. Still another argument used in trying to save this part of the theological theory was that the bells were consecrated instruments for this purpose, “like the horns at whose blowing the walls of Jericho fell.”
But these compromises were of little avail. In 1766 Father Sterzinger attacked the very groundwork of the whole diabolic theory. He was, of course, bitterly assailed, insulted, and hated; but the Church thought it best not to condemn him. More and more the “Prince of the Power of the Air” retreated before the lightning-rod of Franklin. The older Church, while clinging to the old theory, was finally obliged to confess the supremacy of Franklin’s theory practically; for his lightning-rod did what exorcisms, and holy water, and processions, and the Agnus Dei, and the ringing of church bells, and the rack, and the burning of witches, had failed to do.
This was clearly seen, even by the poorest peasants in eastern France, when they observed that the grand spire of Strasburg Cathedral, which neither the sacredness of the place, nor the bells within it, nor the holy water and relics beneath it, could protect from frequent injuries by lightning, was once and for all protected by Franklin’s rod. Then came into the minds of multitudes the answer to the question which had so long exercised the leading theologians of Europe and America, namely, “Why should the Almighty strike his own consecrated temples, or suffer Satan to strike them?”
Yet even this practical solution of the question was not received without opposition.
In America the earthquake of 1755 was widely ascribed, especially in Massachusetts, to Franklin’s rod. The Rev. Thomas Prince, pastor of the Old South Church, published a sermon on the subject, and in the appendix expressed the opinion that the frequency of earthquakes may be due to the erection of “iron points invented by the sagacious Mr. Franklin.” He goes on to argue that “in Boston are more erected than anywhere else in New England, and Boston seems to be more dreadfully shaken. Oh! there is no getting out of the mighty hand of God.”
Three years later, John Adams, speaking of a conversation with Arbuthnot, a Boston physician, says: “He began to prate upon the presumption of philosophy in erecting iron rods to draw the lightning from the clouds. He railed and foamed against the points and the presumption that erected them. He talked of presuming upon God, as Peter attempted to walk upon the water, and of attempting to control the artillery of heaven.”
As late as 1770 religious scruples regarding lightning-rods were still felt, the theory being that, as thunder and lightning were tokens of the Divine displeasure, it was impiety to prevent their doing their full work. Fortunately, Prof. John Winthrop, of Harvard, showed himself wise in this, as in so many other things: in a lecture on earthquakes he opposed the dominant theology; and as to arguments against Franklin’s rods, he declared, “It is as much our duty to secure ourselves against the effects of lightning as against those of rain, snow, and wind by the means God has put into our hands.”
Still, for some years theological sentiment had to be regarded carefully. In Philadelphia, a popular lecturer on science for some time after Franklin’s discovery thought it best in advertising his lectures to explain that “the erection of lightning-rods is not chargeable with presumption nor inconsistent with any of the principles either of natural or revealed religion.”
If God was actually having a relationship with and inspiring his followers during these times, it is incomprehensible why he wouldn’t have caused them to celebrate rather than denounce an advancement in science that allowed, among other structures, his mighty churches to be protected. It seems that God was absent, so it took human efforts to finally approach lightning from a scientific rather than a religious perspective.
(3939) Educational attainment by religious affiliation
When the education achievements of atheists are compared to those of religiously-oriented people, it can be seen that, in general, religious belief is inversely proportional to scholarship. There are many reasons for this fact, and some apologists might say that godless people place more emphasis on this world and therefore focus on greater depths of worldly knowledge, but beyond this argument, the data also indicates that when one does achieve higher levels of education, such as earning a post-graduate degree, it appears that this effort is not leading them back into religion. The following graphic was taken from:
As can be seen, the only religion that competes educationally with atheism is the Jewish faith, long known to have high levels of secularism. The ‘other’ category includes mostly agnostics or deists. It should be noted that learning more about the world should tend to make one more likely to believe in Christianity… if it was true.
(3940) Bodily damage in the afterlife
The author of the Gospel of Mark wrote himself into a conundrum considering the macabre way he described how one can avoid sin through amputation. It implied that damage to one’s body in this life is carried over into the next. The following was taken from:
Does the author of Mark think bodily damage carries over into the “Kingdom of God”?
Mark 9:43-48 says:
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched.
This surprises me, because elsewhere the author seems to indicate he believes that when people are resurrected at the end of time, they have a similar form to angels (Mark 12:25, see this paper regarding this verse).
Also the idea of bodily damage carrying over into the afterlife seems kind of weird. So by Mark’s logic, does he think that if someone had both eyes gouged out they would be blind in the Kingdom of God? That’s not much of a “paradise”.
(3941) All religions appear human created
The fact that all religions rely on books written by humans, all of which derive from certain geographic areas and cultures with predictably contrasting doctrines gives weight to the theory that all of them are simply products of the human imagination. There seems to be no signs of anything supernatural. The following was taken from:
Most religions and theological claims are based on books and literacy written by humans. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that all religions are human-made. Note that this is not a proof, but rather an argument from inductive reasoning. In other words, it is a reasonable position based on specific observations. Inductive reasoning leads us to what is most probable based on whatever case studies and examples that are available.
Using science, history, and social studies, we can estimate when religious books were written, the place they were written, how they were written, and sometimes, who wrote them. Therefore, it is more logical to believe that religions are human-made, because they were all written by humans in human societies. As a result, it is likely that each belief had a function in each society, or was a product of various factors affecting the people involved.
In addition, not all ethical questions are addressed in the world’s religious texts. If you study theology, you realize that each unique religion and God-claim has different features. they all have slight ethical and theological differences. Some branches of philosophy have dealt with specific ethical questions as well. So one can deduce that all the world’s religious texts have limits, if not flaws. One can deduce that they are likely are limited because humans in general don’t know everything, and that the philosophies and ideas were constructed by specific humans at specific times.
Not only is it reasonable to assume that religious ideologies are human-made, but also that all religious organizations are human-made. It is possible that everyone that has made a theological claim in the past has been either exaggerating, misinformed, mistaken, based in social or cultural power, or outright lying. It’s hard to tell exactly what motivated each and every religious text in the world, but every single detail doesn’t need to be proven indoor to conclude, through inductive reasoning, that the interests driving the construction of these texts were human interests, and not divine interests.
Each religion developed in a certain geographical area. If people claim that their religion is the one true “revelation”, I would argue that they simply are trying to spread their religion to others, as opposed to tolerating different points of view. Regardless, religious differences ultimately boil down to a “he said, she said” scenario. It doesn’t follow that one religion is necessarily better than another religion that developed in a different geographical area. Even though people often assert that their own religious views apply to everyone, inductive reasoning leads to the conclusion that no religion is perfect or universally applies to everyone.
There are other implications that stem from the fact that each unique religion and God-claim has unique features. There is no consistent message that a “God” is sending to humans. a global “God” who created everything, would not only send his message to a certain geographical place or a certain geographical people. If God is so absent or disorganized to entrust humans with his “message”, then one can deduce that god does not involved in human activity at all, and therefore, it is more reasonable just to assume (for all intents and purposes) that God doesn’t practically exist.
In summary, most religions and theological claims are based on books written by humans. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that all religions are human-made. It is a probable conclusion that god doesn’t exist and that religions are just humans communicating to other humans.
If a god was actually communicating with humans it seems obvious that there would be more evidence for this than just the existence of a book that was written by humans. The theory that all religions are human-created is well supported by the available evidence.
(3942) All healings would be equally easy for God
Christians ask God only for healings where it would not appear to be miraculous. That is, they only beg for healings that do not involve an obvious violation of the physical laws of nature. For an all-powerful god, anything should be equally simple, so, in effect, Christians are admitting that their God is not omnipotent. The following was taken from:
This post is not anything new or exciting really. It’s a rehashing of the old “why doesn’t God heal amputees” challenge that has been made against the efficacy of healing prayer.
But I think it’s generally a good challenge so I want to expand on it a little bit. A few key points I want to make are:
- God is omnipotent, so no form of healing is any “harder” for him than another. That is, it’s not any more difficult for God to heal your stubbed toe than it is for him to totally cure your stage 4 cancer that has spread through your entire body.
- There is nothing more selfish about asking for “impossible” healing than asking for “possible” healing. For example, in the same way it’s reasonable for a Christian to ask that God protect them and allow them not to lose their leg if it is infected, it seems perfectly reasonable that a Christian ask God to grow their leg back if it did have to be removed. Wanting to keep your leg, or get it back, and asking an all powerful and loving being you worship to help you with this, isn’t really you being a spoiled brat or anything.
With that said, it becomes really hard to find an explanation for why certain prayers just aren’t prayed in Christianity. Consider a few of the following examples and, if you’re a Christian, try to imagine what your honest reaction would be to someone requesting this sort of prayer in your church.
1.) “My son was born with Down’s Syndrome. Please pray for us that God will heal him and he will no longer have Down’s.”
2.) “I am a small person (pc for midget) and it’s caused me a lot of distress and sadness. Please pray for me that God will make me normal height.”
3.) “I recently donated a kidney and have been having major problems as a result. Please pray that God would make a healthy kidney regrow in me.”
I believe none of these prayers are any more selfish than any other common prayer requests. However, I think requesting such a prayer in church would immediately make everyone uncomfortable. I maintain that this is because, even if only subconsciously, the vast majority of Christians think “but that’s impossible” and don’t think God is actually answering prayers.
So, the effect is that prayers are always asked for things that don’t require genuine miraculous intervention. It’s like a way of protecting your own belief. If you ask someone to pray that you keep your leg, no one will judge you. If you ask them to pray that a new one grows back, the same people will look at you like you’ve gone insane. But growing a leg back is no more work for God than preventing someone from losing it in the first place. These people simply don’t think a real miracle is happening.
When you proclaim that your god is all-powerful, but you never actually test that power, you are being a hypocrite. Either admit that your god is not omnipotent or argue that he doesn’t want to show his power and so he deliberately refuses to do anything that cannot be explained by normal science.
(3943) God set us up to fail
Failure in God’s mind deserves eternal torture, and he has engineering the sectarian landscape so that most will indeed fail and endure his wrath. This is a set-up. It is not fair play. The following was taken from:
God set us up to fail and then deems us deserving of punishment when we do.
This is because of the following:
1) No human who has died is innocent of sin (except children or possibly severely brain damaged people). Roman 23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
2) Humans sin because they have a sinful nature. We are born with a sinful nature, and we inherited it from Adam. “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people” (Romans 5:12). Every one of us was affected by Adam’s sin; there are no exceptions. “One trespass resulted in condemnation for all people” (verse 18). We are all sinners, and we all share the same condemnation, because we are all children of Adam.
3) God gave humans a sinful nature. God provided Adam and Eve with the means to sin. He created them with the potential to sin and placed them in an environment where they could sin. He then placed temptation in their environment, knowing that they would be unable to resist sinning. And he also decided the consequences for the original sin (humanity acquiring a sinful nature). This is analogous to me telling a criminal of a vault that contains a large amount of cash, driving him to that vault and telling him what the combination is. Any court would hold me as an accessory to that crime. At the very least God is partly responsible for humans having a sinful nature, although I would argue he is fully responsible for our nature because of his omniscience
4) Sin is ultimately against God. God is an eternal and infinite Being (Psalm 90:2). As a result, all sin requires an eternal punishment. God’s holy, perfect, and infinite character has been offended by our sin. Although to our finite minds our sin is limited in time, to God—who is outside of time—the sin He hates goes on and on. Our sin is eternally before Him and must be eternally punished in order to satisfy His holy justice.
There seems to be no way to absolve God in the wake of any person’s failure to meet his standards. God has set the stage and has run the production, humans are but puppets in his theater. There is no way that this can be seen as a fair test.
(3944) Religion is a coping mechanism
It is instructive to understand why religion exists in the face of a world absolutely devoid of miracles or any other signs that beings more intelligent or more powerful than humans exist. In the final analysis, it is a construct to help humans cope with the fears and uncertainties of living in a cold, dispassionate world.
Religion is nothing but a coping mechanism built on delusions.
– we fear death. The only thing we have ever known is existence. Our brains cannot fathom the idea of eternal unconsciousness. The notion of the afterlife makes death and grief easier. Your inevitable death and your loved ones…Under the promise it’s only temporary.
– our existence is objectively meaningless. it is up to us to derive and assign some subjective meaning and worth to our lives. It’s much easier to just bathe in vanity and convince yourself this entire massive universe was created solely for you and that you’re the focus of a grand being that’s fixated on your every detail.
– suffering is random and chaotic. The existence of god assigns rhyme and reason to an otherwise unfair and cruel reality in an indifferent universe. A child could randomly get cancer and die missing out on decades of life for no fault of their own, while a criminal can live a long happy life. The world is objectively unjust.. and the notion of unjust suffering being a part of a divine being’s plan makes it more tolerable.
– we are insignificant with limited control. Most things in life boil down to pure chance. Your genetics determine your physical and mental health, your appearance, your intelligence. You don’t choose your place of birth, your family, your inherited wealth. You can’t choose evading illness or disability, poverty, discrimination, loneliness. There are things you can do that would influence your future, but ultimately you are a being of limited control, and your actions are only as significant as the circumstances that govern them. Saying a prayer or two helps you feel in control. Yet isn’t your unfortune a part of god’s great plan? Would prayer just make him change his plans for you?
– deriving your own truth and making your own decisions is often exhausting. the lack of objectivity is overwhelming. Instead of having to ponder different options and views you can simply turn to a clergyman or sheikh and ask for divine guidance. Having to think about morality or philosophy suddenly becomes unnecessary when readily available packaged answers already exist.
I always come across the rhetoric that atheists stubbornly choose to disbelieve in pursuit of worldly materialistic sinful satisfactions. I argue the opposite.. atheism is difficult. Religion makes almost everything infinitely easier. It gives you a warm blanket of delusions and false promises that protect you from having to deal with the harsh reality of the world you’re living in. And we are hated as atheists because our very existence, no matter how peaceful and harmless.. pokes a hole in the soothing bubble of delusions.
We don’t necessarily need to challenge their beliefs to become a threat, merely existing is enough. Because if the existence of god is so painfully obvious, if his scripture is so objectively true, how is it possible that some are unconvinced and are capable of living without it? The very existence of such people arouses doubt and uncertainty, and threatens their delusions of objectivity. And they would do anything to just cling to that comfortable and warm blanket. Delusions are comfortable, but still delusions. Happiness != Truth.
We are the most peaceful group on the planet, yet the most hated for this very reason.
It is certainly true that the existence of atheists presents an existential threat to theists. It is a constant reminder that the evidence for their beliefs is on very shaky ground. It should be well expected that a world inhabited by the god of Christianity would have zero atheists inhabiting it- the existence of such a powerful and intrusive being would be beyond obvious.
(3945) Cult psychology explains all religions
Humans are vulnerable to being cult followers, and cults can sometimes evolve into popular religions, most likely after the cult leader dies. This is how Christianity started. The following explains why humans are so vulnerable to this phenomenon:
Experts who study cults suggest the human need for comfort prompts people to seek out others or things to soothe their fears and anxieties. Research suggests that those element and others have led hundreds of thousands of people to commit to thousands of cults operating around the world.
“[They] provide meaning, purpose and belonging,” says Josh Hart, a professor of psychology at Union College who studies personality and social psychology, world views and belief systems. “They offer a clear, confident vision [and] assert the superiority of the group.”
As to the leaders themselves, they typically present themselves as infallible, confident and grandiose. Their charisma draws people in, Hart says. And followers who are craving peace, belonging and security might gain a sense of those things as well as confidence through participation in the group.
The content or ideology at the core of a cult can be religious, or vary beyond that. In a TED-Ed video about cults, Janja Lalich, an expert in cultic studies and Professor Emerita of sociology at California State University, Chico, says some cults are political, others are therapy-based and some focus on self-improvement.
Generally, she sees a couple key elements defining a cult. “A cult is a group or movement with a shared commitment to a usually extreme ideology that is usually embodied in a charismatic leader,” Lalich says in her TED-Ed video.
Three Well-Known U.S. Cults
You may recognize the names of the three following well-known U.S. cults, or their leaders, in recent history.
The Peoples Temple was founded by Jim Jones in Indiana in 1955. The group started as what appeared to be a progressive organization that advocated for civil rights. Jones wanted to create an egalitarian utopian community. In the mid-70s, Jones moved the cult to Guyana. By 1978, the population of “Jonestown” had grown to nearly 1,000 people. That year, Jones ordered his followers to drink a cyanide-laced drink. 909 died, including children.
Someone named David Koresh, who believed he was the Messiah, founded The Branch Davidians (1955 – 1993). Koresh believed that all women, including girls, were his “spiritual wives.” Collectively, the group believed the apocalypse was imminent and, fearing its arrival, locked themselves into a sprawling compound in Waco, Texas. In 1993, on a tip that Koresh was stockpiling weapons, the Department of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco raided the compound. A standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidians ended 51 days later and left more than 80 dead.
Children of God – Family International started in 1968 and still exists today. The cult operates in 80 countries. Actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rose McGowan were born into the cult, but escaped and have spoken out against it.
Recruiting and Retaining
The indoctrination process can be key to a cult’s success, and leave a powerful impression on its victims. While each cult may be different, experts say that the methods to pull members in and keep them there resemble a similar playbook of psychological principles.
One element is cognitive dissonance. The theory introduced in the late 1950s suggests that when people are confronted with facts that contradict their beliefs, values and ideas, they will feel psychological discomfort, likely followed by the need to resolve that contradiction and reduce their uneasiness. In a cult setting, the cognitive dissonance often “keeps you trapped as each compromise makes it more painful to admit you’ve been deceived,” Lalich explains in her TED-Ed video. “It uses both formal and informal systems of influence and control to keep members obedient with little tolerance for internal disagreement or external scrutiny.”
This obedience factor is another key element. It plays off of a human’s natural inclination to follow orders and do what others around them are doing. In cult settings, critical thinking is often frowned upon, while absolute faith is rewarded. Guilt, shame and fear are also constantly wielded to slowly strip away an individual’s identity.
Free thinking, free will and free speech are limited in an environment where full obedience to leaders is required. Experts say cult leaders, in turn, have narcissistic and authoritarian streaks and are motivated by money, sex or power (perhaps all three).
While many religions began as cults, Lalich explains that some integrated into the fabric of the larger society as they grew. In addition, while religions may offer guidelines and support for members to live better lives, a cult separates its members from others and seeks to directly control financial assets and living arrangements.
Recruitment can take months and resemble a pyramid scheme. Meaning, a cult’s expansion relies on existing members to recruit new members. This might involve extending friendship and connection to an individual who is new to an area, lonely, suffering from a personal or professional loss or looking for meaning in life.
While some of the most famous cults have collapsed in mass suicides events, such as the deaths of 919 members of Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple, because cults are protected under laws governing religious freedom, it can be tricky to legally prosecute cults and their leaders. However, when laws are broken, the government can intervene — such as the case of the Sarah Lawrence Cult Trial.
Jesus, assuming he was a real person, was essentially a cult leader who was spreading a variation of the Jewish religion, one that he believed was restoring it to its purer form. In his mind, this was necessary to incentivize God to wipe out the Roman occupation and restore the Holy Land to God’s ‘chosen people.’ After Jesus died, a religion formed, but only because it was taken to the Gentiles. The Jews recognized Jesus as a false messiah.
(3946) Interacting versus non-interacting god
There exist three possibilities (if we limit ourselves to monotheism)
1) God exists and interacts with our planet (Christian doctrine)
2) God exists and does not interact (Deist doctrine)
3) God does not exist.
In the following it is argued that #1 does not exist while #2 and #3 are effectively the same:
There are two types of gods presented by theists, interacting and non, so I shall address both.
A non-interacting deity is indistinguishable from a deity that does not exist. If two things are indistinguishable from each other they can be treated as the same, classed as the same and have their labels be used interchangeably. This is akin to having a bird with two different names but are biological the same thing. So a non-interacting god is the same thing as a god that does not exist as both have no verifiable impact on our planet, day to day lives or universe.
Anything and everything that interacts with the world has empirical evidence for it. If one is to claim a god interacts with the physical then that can and will have evidence of said interaction, as this has never been found, using Hitchen’s razor alongside an example.
What is claimed without evidence (interacting god/widespread election fraud) can be dismissed without evidence.
So we can logically conclude that an interacting deity does not exist based on this argument.
There is plenty of evidence that if there is a god, it is a non-interacting god. This is equivalent to there being no god. Therefore, atheism is the correct ‘standby’ position, pending the potential receipt of new information.
(3947) Revelation reality
The infatuation that Christians, especially evangelicals, have with the Book of Revelation is a pathetic situation, actually unbecoming the intelligence that is assumed for homo sapiens. These people are living in a fantasy world. The following was taken from:
The reason that Revelation doesn’t make any sense is because it’s written in metaphor. And not in the “everything that inconveniences modern Christians is metaphor” way, I mean it was a metaphor for what early Christians were going through when it was written. It’s basically veiled political commentary against the Roman Empire. “Things suck right now but we are awesome and eventually all the people we don’t like will get wrecked and we will ascend to power.”
It’s not really meant to be this far-reaching prophecy, it was contextual to the time and place it was written. Though you could say that about the entire Bible – it’s a collection of folklore from different times and places, that a mix of manipulative and stupid people want you to believe it is an objective universal divine text.
(3948) Holy Spirit silliness
If someone wants to prove to themselves that Christianity is a mythical and fictional religion, they need look no farther than the way these ancient people dreamed up an individual known as the Holy Ghost (Spirit). We now know that such a being does not exist, any more than ghosts or goblins. The following was taken from:
There have been a lot of foolish, even dangerous ideas passed along by people who claim to have heard from the spiritual realm, via dreams, visions, hallucinations. These are the currencies of religions. Commonly, a religious seer just has to describe his vision to an audience of his/her choosing, and voilà, people follow in awe of this “person of god.” Christians claim that a third of their god is indeed a holy spirit. (Holy ghost has gone out of fashion!) They insist that their spirit is the truly holy one, and that it is at the top of the hierarchy.
But the moment you accept the spiritual realm as a real thing, you’ve got competition.
The Catholic Church claims that there are thousands of dead saints active in the spiritual realm—not dead after all—hearing and answering prayers. It would seem they’ve been assigned to handle some of the Christian god’s workload. I’ve seen women in Cathedrals grasping the frames of saint paintings as they pray, probably assuming that more saintly power will flow into their own bodies. Some of the saints—especially Mary, the Queen of Heaven—occasionally show up on earth. If Catholic theology embraces this idea, how can it deny that séances are a real thing? There are mediums who claim they communicate with those who have passed to the spiritual realm—and coax them to show up for visits in darkened rooms. How does this differ from praying to saints? Indeed, Margaret Downey doesn’t see any difference:
“Religion, after all, is based on superstitious nonsense, and people sitting in church pews praying to a god are no different from people sitting in a circle conducting a séance.” (50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists, eds. Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk)
Likewise, there are those who believe that ouija boards work for the same reason: spirits are involved in the process, offering guidance and warnings.
We are asked to believe as well that, in opposition to all those Catholic saints, there are spiritual beings who are up to no good. In the first chapter of Mark’s gospel—the first one to be written—we read about this Jesus encounter:
“Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.” (vv. 23-26)
The unclean spirit knew who Jesus was because they both were from the spiritual realm. In Mark chapter 5 Jesus faces a mob of demons/unclean spirits who have been tormenting a deranged man wandering among tombs for years. They too recognize Jesus and plead to be transferred into nearby pigs. Jesus obliges—presumably using a magic spell of some kind—and the agitated pigs run off the cliff into the sea. The ultimate demon, of course, is Satan, and at the opening of the Jesus story, the latter—of course, the superior spiritual being—defeats the temptations offered by Satan.
We wonder how many Christians take such claims seriously, e.g., thousands of saints, hovering to answer prayers, unclean spirits ruining people’s lives—and a spiritual realm that can be accessed via séances. Since priests and preachers don’t encourage rigorous critical thinking about the religious ideas they push—the folks in the pews are not prodded to question everything—the percentage of those who go along is probably pretty high. Especially in those congregations that recite the traditional creeds every Sunday.
In an article published here last week by John W. Loftus, William Lane Craig Utterly Fails In Searching for Truth Given the Human Propensity to Fool Ourselves, he highlights the astoundingly deficient approach of Craig in defending the supreme spirit. The true scandal is that someone who should know better demonstrates such shallow thinking. Craig has maintained that unschooled laypeople—that is, “A believer who is too uninformed or unequipped to refute anti-Christian arguments” should still hold on to the faith because of “the witness of the Spirit in his heart.” Such a believer, “because of the work of the Holy Spirit,” is “within his epistemic rights—nay, under epistemic obligation—to believe in God.” Loftus posted another article recently, The Fatal Flaw In William Lane Craig’s Psychic Epistemology, elaborating on this delusion.
Is Craig simply daft? This claim is so common among many religions: the spirit of their god(s), “witnessed in the heart,” guarantees that they’re right. Maybe he’s not daft, just clueless. Loftus answers bluntly: “There are two major reasons to reject what Craig says. In the first place he’s deceiving himself, and secondarily he’s giving Christian believers permission to deceive themselves.” We know too much now about why the human brain embraces religion, as John C. Wathey has shown so thoroughly in his book, The Illusion of God’s Presence: The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing. This book is an important resource, with a hundred pages of footnotes and references. If you want to do serious study on the biological origins of belief in spirits, this book is basic homework.
But what can we say about the Holy Spirit’s job performance? Let’s consider a couple of issues.
ONE: We’re assured by devout Christians that the holy spirit inspired the Bible. If that is true, why is this “good book” such a disappointment? Many of the laypeople who have managed to read the whole thing might agree with Hector Avalos’ suggestion that 95 percent of the Bible would not be missed—although they might keep this opinion to themselves. They have encountered precisely what Peter J. Brancazio has described in his analysis of a major portion of the Old Testament:
“The reader who has proceeded in order through the books of the prophets may feel a great sense of relief upon completing this trying task. The prophetic writings are often tedious, repetitious, and undistinguished. Memorable passages are few and far between…With a few exceptions—notably, the poetry of Isaiah, the personal torment of Jeremiah, the bizarre images of Ezekiel, the fanciful tale of Jonah—the prophetic books leave no lasting positive impression.” (p. 232, The Bible from Cover to Cover: How Modern-Day Scholars Read the Scriptures)
“…the Book of Job does not paint a very attractive picture of God; he has treated Job and his family rather shabbily. Indeed, the moral of the story seems to be that God is ultimately indifferent to the suffering of humans.” (p. 252, The Bible from Cover to Cover)
How can the Holy Spirit be given a passing grade for its depiction of the Bible god? For more detail, see Dan Barker’s God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, and Steve Wells, Drunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible. It won’t do for Christians to run to the New Testament; god doesn’t get much better there. For the apostle Paul, god’s default emotion is wrath, and in Jesus-script we find references to eternal fire as punishment for sin. Moreover, for all the supposedly feel-good texts about love in the New Testament, even Christians—although they flinch at this truth—flatly reject so many Jesus quotes, as I document in my book, Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught. Jesus himself endorsed the Holy Spirit crap—well, at least in Jesus-script found in Mark 3:28-29: “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin.”
Craig is sure that the witness of the holy spirit in the hearts of Christians amounts to an epistemic obligation to believe in the god. But here again the holy spirit has made a big mess of things, as Dan Barker has pointed out:
“Believers regularly take opposing positions on such matters as capital punishment, abortion, pacifism, birth control, physician-assisted suicide, animal rights, the environment, the separation of church and state, gay and women’s rights. It might be concluded that from this that there is either a multitude of gods handing out conflicting moral advice, or a single god who is hopelessly confused.” (Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist)
I published an article here almost five years ago about the huge, inexplicable division of opinion that would emerge if we asked a thousand devout prayer experts to go into their most intense meditation modes, to ask god a list of questions. The chances they all would agree on god’s answers are just about zero. There is no way this could happen if an infallible holy spirit is on duty communicating the will of an infallible god.
This is all the more obvious when we consider the splintering of Christianity into thousands of different denominations, divisions, sects, and cults. Christians cannot agree on what god is like, how it expects people to behave, and how it wants to be worshipped. How is this possible if Christians are “witnessing the spirit in their hearts”? Catholics, it would seem, are epistemically obligated to believe in a god whose supreme representative on earth is the pope, while legions of Protestants are epistemically obligated to deny this categorically. The failure of the holy spirit to set Christians straight is a scandal. When devout folks—from the pope on down—go into their intense prayer modes, they’re not communicating with a god, Jesus or a holy spirit. They’re talking to themselves. They may feel the “witness of the holy spirit in their hearts”—which is evidence for what they’re feeling, nothing more. For it to be anything more, we need reliable, verifiable, objective data to back up the claim.
Question everything must be the approach when we read Bible tales about the holy spirit at work, e.g., people getting instructions from god though dreams, wonders displayed by spirit visitations, and Jesus confronting demons. For example, the author of Matthew’s gospel reports that Joseph found out in a dream—in which he saw an angel—that Mary was pregnant by the holy spirit. Any truly curious reader must adopt the thinking of a historian: how did the gospel author, who wrote some eighty years after the birth of Jesus, find this out? Matthew copied so much from Mark’s gospel, but the latter says nothing about the birth of Jesus. It’s unremarkable that Joseph might have had dreams, but did Matthew’s author have access to Joseph’s diary, in which the latter recorded the content of his dream? Joseph was a Galilean peasant; did he even know how to write? Question everything. No, it won’t do to argue that the holy spirit inspired Matthew to report Joseph’s dream. That is a faith affirmation—explaining one fantasy element with another fantasy element—and has so place in the writing of history.
By the way, Matthew also reports that the Wise Men—who had come “from the East” to worship Jesus—were warned in a dream to go directly home, rather than report back to Herod that they’d found Jesus in Bethlehem. Same question: who interviewed the Wise men to find this out? Moreover, there’s a major plot flaw here: the holy spirit must have been AWOL, in failing to tell the Wise Men to go straight to Bethlehem in their quest to find Jesus—instead of going to Jerusalem and telling Herod they were looking for the new king of the Jews. That would have prevented Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18).
What do you do when you don’t have reliable, verifiable, objective data about the holy spirit? You put on a show—and ecclesiastical bureaucrats proved themselves masters of show business, i.e., worship services. You also create dramatic stories. Here’s one we find in the Book of Acts (2:1-4)
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
This certainly is dramatic, far from the inner witness of the Spirit: Sounds similar to violent wind filling the whole house, tongues of fire resting on each person, everyone speaking in tongues. Written decades after the supposed event, this is religious fantasy literature—unless letters, diaries, sworn affidavits taken at the time can be cited as evidence.
Question everything: the concept of spirits hovering about and touching our hearts, and stories designed to make the spirit realm seem real. We need far more than “I feel it in my heart” to be convinced.
Once you realize that the Holy Spirit doesn’t exist, along with Satan, the saints, angels, and demons, it really doesn’t take much more effort to see that Yahweh and Jesus are also fictional. This world is not like that. We see it every day. There is no magic, nothing supernatural. We are born, live, and die. And stay dead.
(3949) One or many gods?
Christians assert that there is only one god, but that it has three parts. But this claim is not well evidenced, in fact, the Bible itself is rather ambiguous when it comes to the population of gods in the universe. The following was taken from:
The believer insists that the universe requires a maker, a god. I would ask him, “How do you know there is only one god?” From what we can see and measure in this world, how can we be sure there are not many gods; perhaps 3 or 4, or 5 or 10, or 30 or 40? How could we know? Perhaps one god created the stars, another created the oceans, another the land, another the plants, another the animals, etc. How could we know? Can we be sure this is not the case?
Even the Bible suggests there is more than one god. In the Psalms, there are these passages:
“There is none like you among the gods, O Lord” (86:8);
“For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods” (96:4);
“Our Lord is above all gods” (135:5);
“He is exalted above all gods” (97:7);
“For Yahweh is a great god, and a great king above all gods” (95:3).
In Exodus Yahweh predicts that he will execute judgments
“on all the gods of Egypt” (12:12).
And the author of Numbers then declares that that is indeed what happened:
“Yahweh executed judgments against their gods” (33:4).
What method or methods could we use to prove definitively that there are not many gods? Any ideas?
Yet, while there is talk of many gods in the Bible, isn’t it curious that nowhere in the Bible is there a proof of the existence of any gods, not even one. Think about it.
The Bible begins, “In the beginning god created the heavens and the earth,” and it just goes on from there to the creation of everything else, and chapter after chapter of the “history” of god’s interactions with man, and instructions on what god abhors and what god demands from us. Nowhere in the Bible is there any attempt to prove that this god exists. Nowhere is there a sentence that begins, “We know there is a god because…” Nor is there a sentence that even resembles this… with one exception.
In Romans 1:20 (KJV) Paul writes:
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
But this is really nothing but an assertion. Paul speaks of “the creation,” but how do we know the universe was created? Maybe it has always existed. Or, maybe the universe came into existence as the natural product of the laws of physics. Maybe there was no creator. There really is no evidence on where the universe came from. There are just assertions, unfalsifiable claims.
Watch closely and you will see that the Bible’s authors merely ASSUME there is a god and they go from there. They merely make ASSERTIONS. They never offer a proof of the existence of a god. I find that telling.
Of course, no one else in the several thousand years since the Bible was written has brought forth a compelling proof either. So, perhaps we could forgive the Bible’s authors for their sloppy work? No, I can’t, because they obviously and KNOWINGLY just made shit up! I mean, how the hell could anyone know what happened “in the beginning?”
(3950) Baptism as a magical rite
Christians invented the concept of baptism, but never really agreed on how it should be done, or whether it is truly necessary for a person’s salvation. Furthermore, it seems that many Christians view this sacrament as having magical dimensions that are precariously dependent on a precise application of very specific rules. The following was taken from:
In the sacrament of baptism, only water may be used (not wine, fruit juice, milk or human saliva), and the person being baptized must be either totally immersed in the water [submersion] or have their head immersed [immersion], or have water poured on their heads [affusion], or have water sprinkled on their skin in such a way that it actually flows [aspersion]. The right words must also be used: either “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” or “The Servant/(Handmaiden) of God is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (a passive voice formula used by the Eastern Orthodox and some Eastern Catholics). The conditions listed above are necessary but not sufficient for a valid baptism: the person who is baptizing (known as the celebrant) must also intend to do what the Church does, and the recipient must also have faith (if they are of sound mind and old enough to possess the use of reason).
Many of my Christian readers will bristle at my suggestion that their beliefs regarding baptism are magical. To illustrate why I think they are mistaken, I would invite them to consider the following hypothetical scenarios, and ask themselves how they would respond in each case.
You recently attended the baptism of your godchild. Later, you found out that the “water” used in the baptismal ceremony was not water, but a colorless, odorless liquid that had been surreptitiously substituted in its place by a mischievous prankster in the congregation. Would you want the ceremony for your godchild’s baptism to be held again, on the grounds that the baptism you attended was an invalid one?
You recently attended the baptism of a friend of yours, a convert to Christianity who was close to death at the time and could not be safely removed from her hospital bed. Baptism by immersion was out of the question, and the hospital staff discouraged the idea of pouring water on her head. The baptismal celebrant therefore decided to administer baptism by sprinkling water on her skin [aspersion]. However, during the ceremony, you noticed that none of the water sprinkled actually landed on your friend’s skin. Later, you found out why: the celebrant’s eyesight was very poor, as he was partially blind. Would you inform the celebrant of what happened and politely ask him to redo the baptism? (In connection with Case 2, I should point out that the Catholic Encyclopedia, in its article on baptism, emphasizes that in baptism by aspersion, the water must not only touch the skin of the recipient but also flow, and that if it does not, “such a baptism would be considered doubtful.” It adds: “If the water touches only the hair, the sacrament has probably been validly conferred, though in practice the safer course must be followed,” which means that such a person should be conditionally rebaptized by a Catholic priest. Furthermore, the article notes that “the Methodists and Presbyterians baptize by aspersion or sprinkling, and it may be reasonably doubted whether the water has touched the body and flowed upon it,” rendering their baptism also a doubtful one.)
Recently, your baby godchild was baptized. You were unable to attend the baptism in person, so you arranged for a proxy to stand in your place (a custom allowed by many Christian churches). Later, the proxy who attended in your place sent you a video of the baptismal ceremony. You were shocked to discover that the celebrant had not baptized your godchild in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier – a formula regarded as invalid by many Christian churches. Later, you spoke to the celebrant, and learned that despite the fact that a non-traditional formula had been used in the ceremony, the celebrant had in fact acted in good faith and intended to do what the Church normally does, in performing the baptism. As a godparent, would you then feel bound to alert the child’s parents to the fact that the traditional formula (“in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”) had not been used, and urge them to find another celebrant who would be prepared to perform the baptism properly, this time?
A zealously practicing Jewish couple, who are friends of yours, have a Catholic housemaid. Recently, she confessed to having secretly baptized the couple’s baby son when he was mortally ill (fortunately, he recovered). The couple were highly indignant when they found out what had happened, and sacked the housemaid on the spot – quite rightly, in your opinion, as she had contravened the couple’s stated wishes that their child be raised as a Jew. Would you nevertheless regard the baptism the housemaid performed as a valid one, even though it was unlawful, provided that she carried it out in the correct manner and with the intention of doing what the Church does? (Some readers may be aware that there was a case very like this one, in the nineteenth century: the infamous Mortara case. The Catholic Encyclopedia, in its article on baptism, summarizes what happened afterwards: “In the celebrated case of the Jewish child, Edgar Mortara, Pius IX indeed ordered that he should be brought up as a Catholic, even against the will of his parents, but baptism had already been administered to him some years before when in danger of death.” For a brief history of the case, see here. Incredibly, there are still a few Catholics who defend the actions of Pius IX. Sadly, though, while the majority of Catholics today would regard Pius’s behavior as shameful, I’ve yet to read of even one who regards the illicit baptism performed by the maidservant as invalid.)
If you answered “yes” in cases 1 to 3, then your understanding of the sacrament of baptism is clearly a magical one. You believe that the spiritual grace God bestows at baptism is conditional on the right material being used (water), the right action being performed (water flowing on the person’s skin), and the right words being uttered by the celebrant (invocation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) with the right intention (namely, to “do what the Church does”), so that if any of these conditions are not met, no grace is bestowed by God – or even if it is (by some special favor on God’s part), you have no assurance that it is. It is that lack of assurance that places many Christians in a state of crippling anxiety, causing them to worry obsessively about whether the rules were followed and say things like, “We’d better do it again, just to make sure.” At the root of of this anxiety is the belief in a God Who not only makes rules for us to follow when performing the sacraments, but Who applies them in an utterly inflexible fashion, so that even if every reasonable effort was made by those who were supposed to receive the sacrament (or in the case of infants, their parents) to follow the rules, any unforeseen event that causes their efforts to fail, thereby invalidates the sacrament. Therefore, if you want to be sure of receiving supernatural grace (in this case, the gift of sanctifying grace at baptism), it is not enough for you to make every reasonable effort to follow these rules (i.e. search for a celebrant who will use the right materials, perform the right actions, say the right words, and act with the right intentions); the rules must, in fact, have been followed. And it is this belief – that the supernatural is governed by ironclad rules – that characterizes magic.
If you answered “yes” in case 4, then you believe that if all the rules are followed and the right intention (in this case, the intention to do what the Church does) is present, then God’s grace is automatically bestowed – in other words, that God cannot withhold it, even if the celebrant is acting unlawfully. If the housemaid followed the rules to the letter and performed baptism in the right way, and with the requisite intention, then God has no choice but to bestow the gift of supernatural, sanctifying grace on the baby, irrespective of the parents’ declared wish to raise their child as a Jew, and irrespective of the fact that the housemaid acted unlawfully, in baptizing the child. The idea that God can be bound by human beings in this fashion is another defining characteristic of magic: once again, it reflects the underlying belief that the supernatural is governed by ironclad rules.
It is hard to believe that a god would send someone to hell because when they were baptized the priest misspoke. Could god be that anal-retentive? And why would a god judge anyone based on whether the application of water and words were done correctly, while dismissing all other aspects of that person’s life? It seems obvious that the ritual of baptism came from the minds of magical-thinking humans, and not from any god.
Follow this link to #3951