(4101) Five reasons to doubt Jesus’ wine trick
One of the famous magic tricks that Jesus allegedly accomplished was turning water into wine at a wedding ceremony. Suspiciously, it is mentioned only in the last gospel, John, where it is presented as his seminal miracle. But there are good reasons to conclude that this event never occurred. The following was taken from:
One gospel miracle story in particular deserves special scrutiny and skepticism, for so many reasons. In chapter 2 of John’s gospel, at a wedding banquet, Jesus changes water into wine. This story has prompted a lot of jokes, e.g., Jesus and his disciples walk into a bar. Winking at his disciples, he says to the bartender, “We’ll just have water.” But this story has been no joke for Christian theology. In John’s gospel it is Jesus’ first miracle, indeed it plays a major role in establishing who he was: “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee and revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). It revealed his glory.
But there is a lot wrong with this story, so it’s worth a close look. We get help with this in Evan Fales’ 25-page essay, “Credulity at Cana?” in the John Loftus anthology, The Case Against Miracles. There are a few things to consider.
Where did the story come from? Fales asks, early in the essay: “Does, indeed, the entirety of the narrative in John 2 have any historical basis? Whose record of the event would have provided the source-material for the author of John?” (p. 470) There is substantial consensus among mainstream New Testament scholars that John’s gospel was the last of the four canonical gospels to be written—probably late first century, or early second. In other words, several decades after this wedding banquet in Cana, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. For this story to qualify as history, there would have to be contemporaneous documentation by which to verify it. Maybe the diary of the groom? —which mentions Jesus as a guest, and the amazing thing he did. Of course, we would also need to know exactly how the author of the gospel was able to access that diary. Writing real history is based on serious archival research. This is one way we would rule out the story coming from the author’s imagination—driven by theological purpose.
More thoughts on where the story came from. It is a source of distress to devout New Testament scholars that the gospel of John tells such a different story of Jesus. Its author is guilty of what I have often called theological inflation. Consider: The apostle Paul was sure that Jesus made all the difference because of his resurrection—without mentioning details of his life, much less his virgin birth. For the author of Mark’s gospel, Jesus became son of a god at his baptism; for Matthew and Luke, his miraculous conception insured that status. John got carried away: Jesus had been present at creation—it was through Jesus that everything had been created: theology inflation. Which is another way of saying: he made things up.
Thus John’s Jesus is different. There are long Jesus monologues found nowhere else. Were the other gospel writers just not paying attention? Even more puzzling, there are no parables in John’s gospel; nor does the Sermon on the Mount show up. He included stories not found in the other gospels. The other three gospels don’t mention the Cana wedding banquet or the raising of Lazarus. So we do have to wonder where these stories come from—especially since John wrote his gospel so long after the others.
One more thing about where the story came from. Near the end of the essay, Fales notes this: “…nearby pagans in Tyre and Sidon worshipped at temples to Bacchus where water was annually changed into wine.” (p. 489) Yes, Bacchus, the Roman god of wine—whose mother was also inseminated by a god—did the same trick, or so it was believed. This is another example of cultural context having an impact on a New Testament author: borrowing an idea. Are we to assume that both Jesus and Bacchus went to the same water-into-wine training course? Or would Christians be right in insisting that Bacchus couldn’t have done it, but Jesus did…because, you know, he’s our god. It’s far more likely this a matter of shared superstition.
It seems to be rarely grasped that this story presents a huge theological problem. The author of John’s gospel thought that Jesus turning water into wine revealed his glory, which prompted his disciples to believe in him. Aren’t there many more important, worthwhile things that Jesus could have done to accomplish that? Changing water into wine in the presence of dozens—hundreds at most—wedding guests: was that the best he could do? If believers are thrilled that Jesus had the power to change water into wine, surely they can see the implications of what Jesus didn’t do. The implications of what Jesus fails to do today. There are so many people now who don’t have access to clean, safe water. How about Jesus changing dirty, brackish water—now, today, every day—into clean water for these people? For all those who are malnourished or starving, how about Jesus turning water into high-energy drinks? These would be far better ways of displaying/proving his glory.
This is the challenge to believers who claim that their god is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, and totally competent: why is there so much misery on his watch when he can do something about it? Isn’t water-into-wine a pretty anemic trick when there is so much more to be done? Author Matt McCormick, in his essay, “God Would Not Perform Miracles,” in the same Loftus anthology, sees the problem with such finite miracles:
“… millions of people suffer horribly from disease, famine, cruelty, torture, genocide, and death. The occurrence of a finite miracle in the midst of so many instances of unabated suffering, suggests that a being who is responsible doesn’t know about, doesn’t care about, or doesn’t have the power to address the others.” (p. 67)
No, taking it on faith that Jesus turned water into wine does no good whatever. That’s to embrace “what the church says,” instead of thinking independently. Faith is no path to knowledge, and it’s certainly no way to prove history: what actually happened. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Mormon clergy all plead with their followers to take their version of god(s) on faith. Hence we end up with so many different, conflicting, incompatible claims about what god is like.
A reasonable person can conclude that this miracle did not happen. It is vastly more likely that it was spawned by the creative imagination of the man who wrote the Gospel of John than that the water molecules, violating all known laws of nature, actually changed into molecules of alcohol. Yet, Christians accept on faith that it really happened. Gullibility on this scale is a disgrace to the human species.
(4102) Gospels are wrong about John’s death
The gospels from Mark to John tell a similar story that John the Baptist was executed before Jesus’ crucifixion. But there is compelling evidence that John outlived Jesus and was still an active preacher when Jesus was put to death. The reason why the gospel authors shaved history was likely to explain why John never joined Jesus’ movement, so by having him die early, this question could plausibly be put to rest. In all likelihood, John the Baptist had little if anything to do with Jesus and was probably much more famous. The following was taken from:
According to the Gospel of John, John the Baptist’s entire mission was to use baptism to help him identify the savior and announce him to the world. In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist describes himself as a witness of Jesus the Messiah (Christ):
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 1:30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 1:31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Yet, none of the gospels says that John the Baptist became a follower of Jesus.
Why Didn’t John Join the Jesus Movement?
In all likelihood, it was a well-known fact among those living in the first-century C.E. that John remained an independent spiritual leader until his violent death. He never submitted himself to the authority of Jesus or anyone else. This left the Christian narrative about John open to a challenge: If John’s prophecies indeed announced the coming of Jesus, why didn’t the Baptist himself join the Jesus movement?
The author of the gospel of Mark offers a simple but elegant solution to this problem: the Baptist was executed before Jesus began his public mission. Thus, John simply lacked the opportunity to join Jesus’ movement. Similarly, although Matthew and Luke assume that John was still alive at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, they too have John executed before Jesus’ crucifixion, thus also implying the John didn’t have the opportunity to join the movement that he otherwise certainly would have.
Historical evidence, however, suggests that John the Baptist lived about five years after Jesus was executed.
Dating the Executions of John and Jesus
John’s execution must postdate Herod Antipas’ marrying Herodias and pre-date Herod Antipas’ loss in battle to King Aretas of Nabatea. Given that the death of Tiberius on 16 March, 37 C.E. put an end to the preparations for a second battle, we can assume that the original battle was fought not long before this, in 36 C.E., and that John was executed shortly before that, say in 35 C.E.
Jesus was sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate, who was the governor of Judea between ca. 26 C.E. and 36 C.E. Hints in the gospels as well as in the Pauline Epistles strongly suggest that Jesus’ mission and passion took place in the middle of this period, sometime in the late 20s or early 30s.
In other words, Jesus’ public mission and violent death took place several years before the Baptist died. Thus, we must discount the explanations in Mark, Matthew, and Luke for why John didn’t join the Jesus movement: John was alive and well in this period, and his attack on Herod Antipas’ marriage hadn’t even occurred yet.
It appears that the gospel authors knew that John the Baptist was a very famous preacher at the same time that Jesus was actively preaching and realized that they needed to have him recognize Jesus as the superior prophet. So, they invented a story about John being executed during Jesus’ ministry. That way, it remained plausible that he was a follower of Jesus and recognized him as the son of God. In reality, it seems that these two figures were independent preachers with little connection between them.
(4103) Jesus was No. 17
A historical compilation of the number of purported saviors who were crucified yields at least 16 from roughly 1700 to 500 BCE. It appears possible or even likely that the Jesus myth was a continuation of this theme: The following was taken from:
The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors; Or, Christianity Before Christ, Containing New, Startling, and Extraordinary Revelations in Religious History, which Disclose the Oriental Origin of All the Doctrines, Principles, Precepts, and Miracles of the Christian New Testament, and Furnishing a Key for Unlocking Many of Its Sacred Mysteries, Besides Comprising the History of 16 Heathen Crucified Gods is an 1875 book written by American freethinker Kersey Graves, which asserts that Jesus was not an actual person, but was a creation largely based on earlier stories of deities or god-men saviours who had been crucified and descended to and ascended from the underworld. Parts were reprinted in The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read edited by Tim C. Leedom in 1994, and it was republished in its entirety in 2001.
Here is Graves’ main list, arranged chronologically:
- Thulis of Egypt, 1700 B. C.
- Krishna of India, 1200 B.C.
- Crite of Chaldea, 1200 B.C.
- Atys of Phrygia, 1170 B.C.
- Thammuz or Tammuz of Syria, 1160 B.C.
- Hesus or Eros 834 B.C.
- Bali of Orissa, 725 B.C.
- Indra of Thibet (Tibet), 725 B.C.
- Iao of Nepaul (Nepal), 622 B.C.
- Buddha Sakia (Muni) of India, 600 B.C.
- Mitra (Mithra) of Persia, 600 B.C.
- Alcestos of Euripides, 600 B.C.
- Quezalcoatl of Mexico, 587 B.C.
- Wittoba of the Bilingonese, 552 B.C.
- Prometheus or Æschylus of Caucasus, 547 B.C.
- Quirinus of Rome, 506 B.C.
He also lists a number of other holy figures who took the form of men and then ascended into heaven, including:
- Salivahana of Bermuda
- Zulis or Zhule of Egypt
- Osiris of Egypt
- Oru of Egypt
- Odin of the Scandinavians
- Zoroaster of Persia
- Baal of Phoenicia
- Taut, “the only Begotten of God” of Phoenicia, inventor of letters
- Bali of Afghanistan
- Xamolxis (Zalmoxis) of Thrace
- Zoar of the Bonzes
- Adad of Assyria
- Deva Tat of Siam (Thailand)
- Sammonocadam (Sommona-Codom) of Siam (Thailand)
- Alcides of Thebes
- Mikado of the Sintoos
- Beddru of Japan
- Bremrillah of the Druids
- Thor son of Odin of the Gauls/Norse
- Cadmus of Greece
- Hil/Feta of the Mandaites
- Gentaut of Mexico
- Universal Monarch of the Sibyls
- Ischy of Formosa (Taiwan)
- Divine Teacher of Plato
- Holy One of Xaca
- (Fohi) of China
- Tien of China
- Adonis son of the virgin Io of Greece
- Ixion of Rome
- Mohamud or Mahomet of Arabia.
Jesus was just one of a very big crowd. In light of this, he was never anything special when taken in the right context.
The thing that made Jesus special (more popular than others) was not himself but rather a coincidence of how history unfolded during the few centuries following his death, where the largest empire in the world, the Roman, decided to forgo their pagan gods and adopt Jesus as a replacement. That one decision by Emperor Constantine ensured that Jesus would be a prominent religious figure for centuries to come.
(4104) World was different in Jesus’ time
Christians today have little understanding of the superstitious milieu that permeated the world a couple of thousand years ago. If they did, they would likely be suspicious of many of the magical events documented in the gospels. These stories were a dime a dozen back then and people of that time were much more gullible than they are today. This is why it is no surprise that the gospel authors used many of these themes to embellish their writings. The following was taken from:
We all have read the tales told of Jesus in the Gospels, but few people really have a good idea of their context. Yet it is quite enlightening to examine them against the background of the time and place in which they were written, and my goal here is to help you do just that. 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. Although the gullible, the credulous, and those ready to believe or exaggerate stories of the supernatural are still abundant today, they were much more common in antiquity, and taken far more seriously.
If the people of that time were so gullible or credulous or superstitious, then we have to be very cautious when assessing the reliability of witnesses of Jesus. As Thomas Jefferson believed when he composed his own version of the gospels, Jesus may have been an entirely different person than the Gospels tell us, since the supernatural and other facts about him, even some of his parables or moral sayings, could easily have been added or exaggerated by unreliable witnesses or storytellers. Thus, this essay is not about whether Jesus was real or how much of what we are told about him is true. It is not even about Jesus. Rather, this essay is a warning and a standard, by which we can assess how likely or easily what we are told about Jesus may be false or exaggerated, and how little we can trust anyone who claims to be a witness of what he said and did. For if all of these other stories below could be told and believed, even by Christians themselves, it follows that the Gospels, being of entirely the same kind, can all too easily be inaccurate, tainted by the gullibility, credulity, or fondness for the spectacular which characterized most people of the time.
The Minor Evidence: Messiahs and Miracles Galore
Even in Acts, we get an idea of just how gullible people could be. Surviving a snake bite was evidently enough for the inhabitants of Malta to believe that Paul himself was a god (28:6). And Paul and his comrade Barnabas had to go to some lengths to convince the Lycaonians of Lystra that they were not deities. For the locals immediately sought to sacrifice to them as manifestations of Hermes and Zeus, simply because a man with bad feet stood up (14:8-18). These stories show how ready people were to believe that gods can take on human form and walk among them, and that a simple show was sufficient to convince them that mere men were such divine beings. And this evidence is in the bible itself.
Beyond the bible, the historian Josephus supplies some insights. Writing toward the end of the first century, himself an eye-witness of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D, he tells us that the region was filled with “cheats and deceivers claiming divine inspiration” (Jewish War, 2.259-60; Jewish Antiquities, 20.167), entrancing the masses and leading them like sheep, usually to their doom. The most successful of these “tricksters” appears to be “the Egyptian” who led a flock of 30,000 believers around Palestine (Jewish War, 2.261-2; Paul is mistaken for him by a Roman officer in Acts 21:38). This fellow even claimed he could topple the walls of Jerusalem with a single word (Jewish Antiquities, 20.170), yet it took a massacre at the hands of Roman troops to finally instill doubt in his followers.
Twenty years later, a common weaver named Jonathan would attract a mob of the poor and needy, promising to show them many signs and portents (Jewish War, 7.437-8). Again, it took military intervention to disband the movement. Josephus also names a certain Theudas, another “trickster” who gathered an impressive following in Cyrene around 46 A.D., claiming he was a prophet and could part the river Jordan (Jewish Antiquities, 20.97). This could be the same Theudas mentioned in Acts 5:36. Stories like these also remind us of the faithful following that Simon was reported to have had in Acts 8:9-11, again showing how easy it was to make people believe you had “the power of god” at your disposal. Jesus was not unique in that respect.
Miracles were also a dime a dozen in this era. The biographer Plutarch, a contemporary of Josephus, engages in a lengthy digression to prove that a statue of Tyche did not really speak in the early Republic (Life of Coriolanus 37.3). He claims it must have been a hallucination inspired by the deep religious faith of the onlookers, since there were, he says, too many reliable witnesses to dismiss the story as an invention (38.1-3). He even digresses further to explain why other miracles such as weeping or bleeding–even moaning–statues could be explained as natural phenomena, showing a modest but refreshing degree of skeptical reasoning that would make the Amazing Randi proud. What is notable is not that Plutarch proves himself to have some good sense, but that he felt it was necessary to make such an argument at all. Clearly, such miracles were still reported and believed in his own time. I find this to be a particularly interesting passage, since we have thousands of believers flocking to weeping and bleeding statues even today. Certainly the pagan gods must also exist if they could make their statues weep and bleed as well!
Miraculous healings were also commonplace. Suetonius, another biographer writing a generation after Plutarch, reports that even the emperor Vespasian once cured the blind and lame (Life of Vespasian 7.13; this “power” being attributed to the god Serapis–incidentally the Egyptian counterpart to Asclepius; cf. also Tacitus, Histories 4.81). Likewise, statues with healing powers were common attractions for sick people of this era. Lucian mentions the famous healing powers of a statue of Polydamas, an athlete, at Olympia, as well as the statue of Theagenes at Thasos (Council of the Gods 12). Both are again mentioned by Pausanias, in his “tour guide” of the Roman world (6.5.4-9, 11.2-9). Lucian also mentions the curative powers of the statue of a certain General Pellichos (Philopseudes 18-20). And Athenagoras, in his Legatio pro Christianis (26), polemicizes against the commonplace belief in the healing powers of statues, mentioning, in addition to the statue of a certain Neryllinus, the statues of Proteus and Alexander, the same two men I discuss in detail below.
But above all these, the “pagans” had Asclepius, their own healing savior, centuries before, and after, the ministry of Christ. Surviving testimonies to his influence and healing power throughout the classical age are common enough to fill a two-volume book (Edelstein and Edelstein, Asclepius: A Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies, in two volumes, 1945–entries 423-450 contain the most vivid testimonials). Of greatest interest are the inscriptions set up for those healed at his temples. These give us almost first hand testimony, more reliable evidence than anything we have for the miracles of Jesus, of the blind, the lame, the mute, even the victims of kidney stones, paralytics, and one fellow with a spearhead stuck in his jaw (see the work cited above, p. 232), all being cured by this pagan “savior.” And this testimony goes on for centuries. Inscriptions span from the 4th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D. and later, all over the Roman Empire. Clearly, the people of this time were quite ready to believe such tales. They were not remarkable tales at all.
Context is everything. If there was a modern day Jesus and the same degree of magical claims were being made, it would require a more sophisticated lens of perception to verify them. People today are much more skeptical, information is much more readily available, and it would take extraordinary evidence for such stories to be taken seriously. But in the time of Jesus, the bar to credibility was much lower, and that is why we see so much of what-we-now-know-to-be-impossible polluting the gospels.
(4105) Why would God want humans in heaven?
Christianity assumes that God wants to invite billions of his followers to be with him in heaven for not just trillions of years, but for eternity. It seems implausible that God would want to do this other than to stoke his ego by having these human (slaves) worshiping him day and night. Although some scriptures support this idea, there are others that suggest this life is all there is. The following was taken from:
OK, let’s say you are God.
You have Heaven to yourself and the angels who cater for your every wish. A nice peaceful place.
So why when the Earth ends are you going to fill it up with maybe a hundred billion pesky humans who will expect you and the angels to wait on them as servants, forever?
What is in it for you?
And if you leave them all dead, it is not as if they are going to rise out of their graves and sue you.
And if somehow they did and got upset, you would just point to the priests, imams, monks, and so on, and say they promised you Heaven. Not me.
And of course, there is the bible:
Genesis 3:22. Adam and Eve should not have access to the tree of life and so become immortal like “us”.
1 Timothy 6:13-16. Only god is immortal.
Ezekiel 18:4 Souls can die.
John 11:11-14 Death is like a sleep.
Psalm 146:6 and Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10 The dead do not think, don’t know anything and do not have emotions.
Ecclesiastes 3: 19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 When death occurs the body goes back to dust and the breath of life goes back to god.
Job 7:9,10 14:12 The dead cannot come back.
Heaven seems to be a product of wishful thinking, conjuring up the idea that death is not final and that we can be reunited with those who have died before us. But there seems to be no rationale for a god to do this and ‘his own scriptures’ are not even clear on this matter.
(4106) Moral dumbfounding
An argument can be made that God, within the scriptures he allegedly inspired, did not provide sufficient reasons for why he forbade certain things, such as gay sex, women teaching men, wearing clothes of different fibers, and so. It is conjectured that a real god would have explained the reasons for these strictures so that Christians could defend them successfully (instead of just retreating to ‘God said so’) against secular opponents. The following was taken from:
Moral dumbfounding is when a person stubbornly continues to hold a moral judgment, even when they can’t provide a reason why the thing they are talking about is immoral. Christians are regularly backed into this state. It frequently happens on this subreddit. When backed into a corner, Christians will always default to “Well I don’t know what God’s reason for prohibiting this is, but there must be a good one!”
Take for example gay marriage. The Bible provides no reason for why homosexuality is immoral, but merely states that “it is abomination.” Now, because there is no good logical reason to prevent two consenting adults from engaging in a loving relationship, Christians will try to manufacture a reason, so that they eliminate the cognitive dissonance of being morally dumbfounded.
They will say “it’s unnatural.” And yet, many species of animal engage in homosexual relationships, so that argument’s out.
They will say “If everyone were gay, then the human race couldn’t continue to exist, as babies wouldn’t be born.” This one doesn’t work for many reasons. For one, a vast majority of people are not gay. Permitting gay people to marry in no way prevents straight couples from having babies. Secondly, gay couples are capable of surrogacy, and many use this practice to have their own children. So even if every single person in the world were gay, people could still have babies just fine. And thirdly, this argument directly contradicts what most Christian denominations believe, namely, that celibacy is perfectly fine. Churches do not discourage, and in fact, many encourage, or at least wholeheartedly accept, complete celibacy. However, if everyone were celibate, it would be very difficult to have babies. So clearly Christians do not have a problem with people not having babies. If bearing children were a person’s purpose in life, then Christians would condemn celibacy just as mightily as they do homosexuality.
They will say “But that’s not what humans/their parts were made for.” But this isn’t really a moral question. Using a tool or item outside of it’s intended purpose is not immoral. What is the purpose of a tree? Well, absent of any interference, a tree will produce oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. Is a tree’s purpose to be cut down for lumber? What about tying a tire swing to it and using it as a swing? These are man-made purposes for trees, but Christians would hardly call these uses immoral. What if I use my phone as a paperweight? Maybe certain uses for certain objects are inefficient, and some might disagree with certain uses, but this doesn’t make said uses evil or immoral. If the argument is reduced to “men having sex with men and women having sex with women is immoral because God said so” then the person has been reduced to moral dumbfounding.
These arguments invariably end with the Christian appealing to some sort of “God works in mysterious ways” argument, appealing to god because they have utterly lost the argument, and now must retreat to this final, inarguable position.
Now, Christians, if you believe that something is wrong just because god says so, that’s fine, but you must admit, it is a wholly unconvincing argument. Just think, would you be convinced if a Muslim told you you should stop eating pork because Allah said so? No. Would you be convinced to stop eating pork if someone could prove to you that it directly causes some great harm to another person or to humanity at large? Possibly.
So why does god not arm his devotees with good reasons and arguments? He instead allows them to flail wildly, throw out those arguments I previously mentioned, have those refuted, and then retreat to moral dumbfounding. Again, even if you personally believe that “because god said so” is convincing enough for you and you’re totally happy with that, you must realize that watching these debates play out, and seeing Christians have no good answers makes God look incompetent. It makes it seem like he doesn’t exist. God should know this, and should give Christians the arguments needed to win. I mean, just think, Christians are supposed to have the power of this supreme infallible being, yet they can’t win an argument against some random person on the internet, simply because God didn’t fully explain his own rules.
An infinite god would have explained his rules to the satisfaction of disinterested parties, but that is not the case with the Bible. It appears that humans made up these prohibitions without establishing a defensible moral or ethical foundation for their existence.
(4107) Disciples dying for their beliefs
Christians often defend their faith in Christianity by observing that Jesus’ disciples were martyred for their beliefs, thus implying that they must have had a real experience with the risen Jesus- or else they would have admitted it was a fraud to save their own lives. For the purpose of this argument, let’s put aside that fact that evidence for the way the disciples died is very weak, and further that a significant incentive existed to invent such stories to bolster the faith of new converts.
So, lets assume that the disciples of Jesus were put to death by the Romans. Why would the Romans have wanted to kill them? The best answer is that they were leading Roman citizens away from belief in the Roman gods, and thus by extension, leading them to become less devoted to the empire and more likely to revolt.
So the imprisoned disciples were given a death sentence. But, according to Christians, they must have been given a chance to recant their belief in Jesus. This is where the logic completely falls apart. Suppose a disciple admits that Christianity is a fraud. Would they be released from prison? No. Because if so they would probably go right back to what they were doing. The Romans must have realized this. So, in all likelihood, the disciples were NOT given a chance to recant to avoid execution, even if they wanted to do so. The Romans were ruthless, and they were not dumb.
So what this means, assuming that the ‘martyrdom’ stories are more or less true, is that the disciples were executed because they were promoting a religion that was seen as being subversive to the Roman Empire. Not because they sacrificed their lives for their beliefs. For all we know, they DID recant their faith in a desperate attempt to save their lives, but to no avail. They were killed anyway.
(4108) Christians’ cult behaviors belies connection to a god
It can be presumed that a real religion would not show attributes of being a cult; rather it would transcend aspects of human frailties and biases and reveal a global harmony. And to be sure, Christianity, as practiced by most of its followers, exhibits symptoms of being a cult, some of which are listed below:
I might be in a cult if my religion is more important than my friends.
I might be in a cult if my religion makes me feel like a chosen one.
I might be in a cult if I feel compelled to outwardly show off my religiosity to my friends and family.
I might be in a cult if I can’t fathom how someone could live a good life without my religion.
I might be in a cult if my pastor tries to influence how I ought to vote and which social matters to attend to.
I might be in a cult if I feel like I’m with the good guys.
I might be in a cult if my religion tells me that I’m unloved without it.
And it might be a cult if I chose my religion over my own children.
You can evaluate an institution by what it produces and in this case we are examining the types of behaviors that Christianity instills in its followers, which, as explained above, exhibit cultish conduct on many levels. This does not necessarily imply that Christianity is false, but it does lessen the probability of it being true. A connection (relationship) with an actual omni-god should empower and illuminate followers to be a radiant example of love, patience, humility, and generosity. In other words, they should not behave as if they are in a cult.
(4109) Nativity of Jesus looks like a king’s origin story
The stories in the gospels recounting the birth of Jesus have the appearance of myths that were commonly invented at that time to showcase the origin stories of earthly kings. They hardly resemble anything that today would be considered elements of authentic history. The following was taken from:
The story has no historical corroboration. There was no recorded mission by Herod to kill all the male children of Bethlehem and the surrounding region. No recorded unusual star was recorded anywhere else. There was no census that required people to travel to their ancestral hometown (really at any point in history- what a weird census!).
The story has internal disagreement. Luke shows no knowledge of the killing of boys; Matthew shows no knowledge of a census. Mark, the oldest gospel, shows no knowledge of any of this — his Jesus just shows up. John doesn’t use it either. Matthew only mentions magi witnessing the birth at the scene, and Luke only has shepherds witnessing the birth at the scene.
The story has obvious source material. Miraculous births of gods, kings and heroes were all the rage. Matthew gives up the his methodology – every section of the story is rooted in a passage in the old testament.
The story has obvious elements of fiction. In Matthew we get a description of conversations from King Herod to his counsel. We get the reaction of the ‘wise men’ to the star. They are warned in a dream. We are privy to two separate dreams of Joseph. Luke has several private moments of Mary and Elizabeth, and lengthy songs that the characters break into like a musical.
This looks like a made up king’s origin story, like Alexander the Great or a Pharaoh, not carefully recorded history.
It is hard to imagine a modern, well-educated person who reads and studies the four gospel nativity accounts and concludes that they speak of an actual historical event. Any such person who respects intellectual honesty would concede that this was nothing more than a poorly-executed myth, or rather myths, considering that they all tell a different story.
(4110) Argument from vagueness
If the universe possessed a creator being, but one who was not involved in manipulating or interfering with the natural order, then it would be expected that any intelligent species that evolved in that universe would tend to develop many different faith systems along with many imaginary gods, goddesses, or spirits. (This is what has happened on this planet)
But if there was a creator god who had designs not only on interacting with evolved intelligent beings, but further one who intended to award or punish such beings by resurrecting them after death, then the situation would be completely different. In this universe, it would be expected that all religious faith would converge on the one true faith. In this scenario, there would be no ambiguity and all false belief systems would die out in favor of the true one. This type of god would almost assuredly make it a point to ensure that its existence and expectations were indisputably well known to all. (This is what has not happened on this planet).
The arguments Christians use for why this vagueness exists is that God wants people to come to him by faith rather than by means of any compelling evidence. Therefore, he ‘hides away’ and only interacts in very subtle ways that can otherwise be interpreted as the result of natural causes. If this is true, then the Christian god is playing a game that will unnecessarily send many good people to hell, victims of unnecessary vagueness.
So the question is why would a god of the Christian type value faith over the eternal destiny of human beings? Is this not both an egotistical and heartless attitude to take? Let’s consider an example in real life: Suppose someone develops a pill that can cure all forms of cancer. It is inexpensive and could be afforded by all. But the person advertises it to only a few markets, and as a result many die of cancer unnecessarily. How would we feel about this person? Wouldn’t we have expected him to alert the entire world and make his product accessible to all? This is what we would expect of the Christian god, and because we are not getting it, we can assume that this god does not exist (unless he is unspeakably evil).
(4111) Evaluating the Micah prophecy
Christians have long hyped a text in the Book of Micah as being a prophecy of Jesus. It takes little effort or scholarship to show that this claim is embarrassingly misguided and that Christians should abandon it if they wish to preserve their integrity. The following was taken from:
Micah chapter 5 has the Bethlehem reference: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.” As usual with claims that see Jesus behind every rock in the Old Testament, when you look at the context, the prophesied ruler doesn’t sound at all like Jesus.
Micah was written after Assyria had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, and little Judah might be next. During these troubled times, Micah predicted that there would be a king from Bethlehem (since King David was born here, this may simply mean “a king in the line of David” rather than a literal birth in Bethlehem). God will abandon Israel, but then countrymen (presumably scattered Israelites from the aftermath of the conquest) will return to support the new king. With God’s renewed support, the king will bring peace to Judah, defeat any invasion by Assyria, and be celebrated worldwide.
This doesn’t sound like the career of Jesus. And there’s no mention of the punch line to the Jesus story, the sacrifice and resurrection of mankind’s savior.
What actually happened was that the Babylonians conquered Judah in the sixth century, so Micah’s prophecy was wrong.
Not only was the prophecy not about Jesus, but it was ultimately just plain wrong. Using it to bolster the pedigree of Jesus is laughably in error, revealing the desperation that Christianity felt when trying to legitimize itself as the true successor to the Old Testament. A false claim is worse than no claim at all, and Christians need to look elsewhere in the ancient scriptures to scratch their Jesus itch.
(4112) God fails to align followers about heaven
The Bible makes it (mostly) clear that the only way to heaven is through Jesus. Yet, a good proportion of Christians believe in more generous entry criteria, allowing for some who do not believe in Jesus to access heaven. This despite verses such as:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
But many Christians have a different view. This brings up a question- why would God allow his followers to be confused about this vital matter? The following was taken from:
Among those US adults who believe in heaven, 39 per cent think people who do not believe in God can enter heaven, compared with 32 per cent who say only believers can gain access.
“Catholics are far more likely than Protestants to say that people who do not believe in God can go to heaven (68 per cent vs. 34 per cent). Evangelical Protestants are especially restrictive in their view, with just 21 per cent saying that people who do not believe in God can get to heaven,” says the survey.
Among the religious “nones” who believe in heaven, 27 per cent responded that that people who do not believe in God can go to heaven, while 9 per cent said they cannot.
According to Pew, “Protestants are more than twice as likely as Catholics to say that their faith is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven (38 per cent vs. 16 per cent), with half of evangelicals expressing this view”.
Furthermore, “more Catholics than Protestants say that many religions can lead to heaven and that non-Christians are included (61% vs. 35 per cent)”, concludes the survey.
How could God allow this confusion when, if Christianity is true, it involves not just the most important point about life, but, in the long run, ALL that really matters? Yahweh has obviously failed to clarify this point in either the scriptures or in the way that he inspires his followers. Ambiguity about humanity’s eternal fate should not appear on the resume of an omnipotent god. But ambiguity in the absence of such a god is predictable.
(4113) Kill family if they worship other gods
The Bible instructs Yahweh’s followers to kill family members if they decide to worship any god other than Yahweh. Obviously no Christian follows this commandment today, but the fact that it resides inside the Bible should be seen as a deep embarrassment to the faith.
If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.
So in this scripture a lot things come to the surface- (1) that Yahweh is very jealous, (2) a seeming admission that gods other than Yahweh exist, (3) that Yahweh is endorsing murder, even of one’s loved ones, family, or friends, and (4) that Yahweh is fine with cruel and unusual punishment (stoning). Christians will claim that these verses are no longer in effect, though somehow the 10 Commandments still are.
It should be obvious that whoever wrote these verses was a human without any connection whatsoever with a universal deity or any being of a supernatural nature. And yes, this scripture is NEVER read in any Christian church.
(4114) Atonement by blood not required in OT
Christians have been led to believe that Jesus had to shed his blood for them to be forgiven and thereby give them a chance to win a ticket to heaven. In support of this proposition, they often refer to Hebrews 9:22:
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
But this theme is inconsistent with much of what is presented in the Old Testament regarding methods to obtain divine forgiveness. The following was taken from:
Many Bible verses demonstrate how blood (animal) sacrifices were NEVER the only method for the atonement of sin.
For example, the Tanakh states that God forgives out of mercy & love:
- Micah 7:18
- Psalm 103:7-18
- Psalm 78:36-39
- Isaiah 43:23-25
God forgave those who repented of their transgressions in prayer:
- Jeremiah 36:3
- Isaiah 55:7
- Psalm 32:5
- Psalm 51:14-17
- Psalm 69:30-31
- Psalm 86:5-6
- 2 Chronicles 6:21
- 2 Chronicles 7:14
- Ezekiel 18:21-22, 27, 30
- Proverbs 16:6
- Job 22:23-27
God forgave those who obeyed his laws, instead of relying solely on animal sacrifice.
- Proverbs 21:3
- 1 Samuel 15:22
- Hosea 6:6
- Micah 6:6-8
God also forgives those who were righteous & did good deeds:
- Jonah 3:10
- Daniel 4:27
This presents a problem for Christian theology. Why would a god who previously grants forgiveness in many different bloodless formats suddenly require that the only means for going to heaven is to accept Jesus’ bloody sacrifice? And if the god of the OT routinely grants forgiveness without blood, why was it even necessary for Jesus to be crucified? This is another example demonstrating that the god of Christianity and the god of Judaism are two different (mythical) deities.
(4115) Ten reasons why Christians fail to escape
Christians are slaves to their inculcation in the faith and most fail to ever break out of their belief in something that is obviously untrue (at least to a rational mind). The following lists 10 reasons why people remain in the church despite the imposing counter-evidence:
Wishful thinking– wouldn’t it be great to live forever?
Peer pressure – all your family and friends seem to be going along.
Defense mechanisms – most groups will have little thought-terminating cliches to avoid any challenges. Well it says it in the Bible.
Magical feeling – or whatever personal miracle you have 3rd hand experience with.
Sunk cost– all the time and money I have expended on my faith, how can I turn back?
Take it on faith – use your heart, not your brain.
Social life – how can I meet that guy/girl if I don’t go to church?
Fear of death – I can deal with death if I know it isn’t final.
Disciples’ martyrdom – if they died for it, it must be true.
Job acquisition – more likely to get that job if they see me in church.
Most anyone who spends a lifetime in Christianity is highly affected by at least two or three of these reasons to stay the course. What it means to a non-believer is that the ad populum argument for Christianity (how can it be wrong if so many people believe it?) dissolves rapidly when you realize all of the non-evidence reasons people remain Christian.
(4116) Explaining why Jesus’ temple prophecy never happened
Christian apologists claim (as stated in the Gospel of Mark) that Jesus successfully predicted, sometime shortly before his death (around 29 CE), the fall of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem which occurred in 70 CE. So they assert that Jesus saw 41 years into the future, and use this ‘fact’ as evidence that Jesus was God. The problem with this claim is that it neglects the way that authors are motivated to protect the acclaim and recognition of their work. The following explains why it is nearly certain the author of Mark wrote this Jesus ‘prophecy’ after the fall of the temple:
In the previous post in this series, we concluded by looking briefly at James Crossley’s commendable effort to rethink the dating of Mark. If that attempt is unsuccessful, it is nevertheless worth asking how secure the standard scholarly dating is. One of the values of challenges to the consensus is that they can send us scurrying back to the texts to think again about the issues and to reexamine our reasons for coming to particular views. My own thinking on the subject has been strongly influenced by three recent studies which successfully reinforce the grounds for locating Mark in the aftermath of 70, Brian Incigneri’s The Gospel to the Romans, H. M. Roskam’s The Purpose of the Gospel of Mark in its Historical and Social Context and John Kloppenborg’s article “Evocatio Deorum and the Date of Mark”. Although these three disagree with one another on the details (e.g. the precise referent of Mark 13.14), all agree on the significance of the key text:
Mark 13.1-2, Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.
For many, so blatant a prediction of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem settles the question of Mark’s date – it is written in full knowledge of the disastrous events of 70. For Kloppenborg,
“The fact that this seems to correspond so precisely to what occurred invites the conclusion that it was formulated (or reformulated) ex eventu” (431).
“The evangelist could not have presented the prediction of the destruction of the temple as an utterance of Jesus with such firmness unless he was very certain about its fulfilment” (86).
Objections to this view are ably discussed by Incigneri (Chapter 3, “No stone Upon another”), who stresses Mark’s “over-arching concentration on the Temple” (154), the destruction of which is so important in his narrative that it is implausible that it was still standing when Mark wrote.
One of the standard arguments against the idea that Mark shows knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem is the reassertion of the text’s own character here as prediction. To take one example among many, David A. DeSilva, in his Introduction to the New Testament, suggests that
The primary reason many scholars tend to date Mark’s Gospel after 70 CE is the presupposition that Jesus could not foresee the destruction of Jerusalem – an ideological conviction clearly not shared by all (196).
But this kind of appeal, while popular, tends not to take seriously the literary function of predictions in narrative texts like Mark. Successful predictions play a major role in the narrative, reinforcing the authority of the one making the prediction and confirming the accuracy of the text’s theological view. It is like reading Jeremiah. It works because the reader knows that the prophecies of doom turned out to be correct. It is about “when prophecy succeeds”.
The text makes sense as Mark’s attempt to signal, in a post-70 context, that the event familiar to his readers was anticipated by Jesus, in word (13.2, 13.14) and deed (11.12-21) and in the symbolism of his death, when the veil of the temple was torn in two (15.38). The framing of the narrative requires knowledge of the destruction of the temple for its literary impact to be felt. Ken Olson has alerted me (especially in a paper read at the BNTC three years ago) to the importance of Mark 15.29-30 in this context. It is the first of the taunts levelled when Jesus is crucified:
So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!
For the irony to work, the reader has to understand that the Temple has been destroyed; the mockers look foolish from the privileged perspective of the post-70 reader, who now sees that Jesus’ death is the moment when the temple was proleptically destroyed, the deity departing as the curtain is torn, the event of destruction interpreted through Gospel narrative and prophecy.
The point that is generally missed in the literature, especially that which comes from a fairly conservative perspective, relates to the attempt to understand the literary function of the predictions of destruction in Mark’s narrative. John Kloppenborg is one of the few scholars who sees the importance of the literary function of the predictions, noting the role played by the literary motif of “evocation deorum” echoed here in Mark, e.g.
This raises a crucial distinction between omens and rituals that (allegedly) occurred before the events, and their literary and historiographic use in narrative (446).
Discussions about whether the historical Jesus was or was not prescient may be interesting, but in this context they miss the point. The theme of the destruction of the temple is repeated and pervasive in Mark’s narrative, and it becomes steadily more intense as the narrative unfolds. Jesus’ prophecies in Mark attain their potency because “the reader understands” their reference.
If this argument is correct then it inflicts two forms of damage on Christianity- it removes an impressive prediction that Jesus had allegedly made, and it reveals that the first biography of Jesus was written over 40 years after his death (thereby inevitably decreasing its accuracy). Regardless, apologists should abandon their celebration of the temple destruction prophecy.
(4117) Argument against an afterlife
Christianity assumes the existence of an afterlife for humans, and indeed it would lose its relevance if no afterlife exists. But a life after death seems very unlikely given what we know about biology and the mechanics of awareness and consciousness. A few centuries ago, many people believed that their thoughts or sense of an ‘I’ was the product of an immaterial soul, not something grounded in the physical circuitry of the brain- so, at that time, an afterlife seemed reasonable as this imagined soul could easily transition to another plane of existence or even another physical body after death. But now we know better, and this makes an afterlife seem extremely improbable. The following was taken from:
Our consciousness stems from chemical reactions that occur within our brains, and that is supplied by the oxygen and blood that is pumped throughout our bodies. It is supplied by the functioning of our bodies. When death occurs, all of those cellular processes cease and our cells degrade. Our entire bodies are made of cells. Consciousness, as a result, ceases as well. The energy that existed within that person who is dead gets converted into some other form of energy. It is not possible to have senses and hence to “live” in an “afterlife” once dead because it is only possible to experience senses through a functioning body. Senses exist due to our existence, of the existence of our functioning bodies.
For example, when one becomes deaf they can no longer hear things. Maybe songs or words get played in their minds because they used to hear at least some point in their lives, but once deaf, they can no longer actually hear new sounds upon after their deafness. If someone was born deaf, then they don’t even know what hearing is. Deafness results from a loss of function of nerve cells or damaged nerve cells that are responsible for the sensation of hearing. The same applies for seeing, feeling, tasting, etc. Now you tell me, when all of those cells cease to function in one’s body and the degradation of those cells occur, how can an “afterlife” exist when there are no longer any material or chemical reactions to exist for sensations that contribute to living? We experience life because we exist.
We see things the way we see them because of the way that our eyes and brains are wired. We see the sky as blue and hence we agree that the sky is blue. On the other hand, bugs and cats may view the sky as being a different color due to the way their eyes and brains are wired. It is about existence and perception. If you don’t exist, you cannot perceive, you cannot live. Life is about perception, about existence. Think about before you were born. Oh, you don’t remember it do you? Because you didn’t exist! There was nothing for you to remember! Memory only exists because of existence. Death is like that. When one dies, they no longer exist. Only the memories of them from the people that are still alive exist. It’s not rocket science.
No afterlife means no heaven and no hell, and it means that Christianity is a false theology. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no god, but if there is one, it is not Yahweh, or for that matter any god who is intent on regaling or torturing non-followers after they die.
(4118) Christian love failure
It is hinted and even asserted that a Christian has a greater resource of love, even for those who disagree with them, than non-Christians because being united to God (the real one) imbues a person with a supernatural ability to feel and express love to others. The following research paper contradicts that claim:
Love thy Neighbor… or not: Christians, but not Atheists, Show High In-Group Favoritism: Authors: David Speed, Melanie Brewster, published 17 June 2021
Abstract: Atheists are among the most disliked groups in America, which has been explained in a variety of ways, one of which is that atheists are hostile towards religion and that anti-atheist prejudice is therefore reactive. We tested this hypothesis by using the 2018 American General Social Survey by investigating attitudes towards atheists, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims. We initially used a general sample of Americans, but then identified and isolated individuals who were atheists, theists, nonreligious atheists, religious theists, and/or theistic Christians. Logically, if atheists were inordinately hostile towards religion, we would expect to see a greater degree of in-group favouritism in the atheist group and a greater degree of out-group dislike.
Results indicated several notable findings: 1). Atheists were significantly more disliked than any other religious group. 2). Atheists rated Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Hindus as favourably as they rated their own atheist in-group, but rated Muslims less positively (although this effect was small). 3). Christian theists showed pronounced in-group favouritism and a strong dislike towards atheists. No evidence could be found to support the contention that atheists are hostile towards religious groups in general, and towards Christians specifically, although this may have been a Type II error. If atheist groups do dislike religious groups, then this hypothetical dislike would be significantly smaller in magnitude than the dislike directed toward atheists by Christians.
Christians often claim that their love is beyond human ability- often it is termed agape love, and that it can be accessed only through a relationship with Jesus or Yahweh. This research paper appears to contradict this idea, rather making it seem that ties to Christianity decrease a person’s ability to accept and love a person who disagrees with their world view.
(4119) War on gays based on a mistranslation
Many Christians (at least modern ones) have declared war on homosexuals thinking that their scriptures gives them the authority to do so. However, a scholarly examination of biblical texts that are used to support this view shows they were mistranslated and were originally focused on condemning sexual relations between male adults and male children. The following was taken from:
Now, the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, is, according to the National Council of Churches, the “authorized revision of the American Standard Version, published in 1901, which was a revision of the King James Version, published in 1611.”
This is important to know, because the actual word “homosexual” appears for the first time on February 11, 1946 in the Revised Standard Version. In it, their translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9, they substitute the word “homosexual” for the the Greek words “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai.”
Further, as Oxford shares with Forge, a nonprofit organization that “that creates space for post-evangelical conversations, which includes tools and resources for lgbtq+ inclusion in the church,” “…we went to Leviticus 18:22 and [the translator is] translating it for me word for word. In the English where it says, ‘Man shall not lie with man, for it is an abomination,’ the German version says, ‘Man shall not lie with young boys as he does with a woman, for it is an abomination.’ I said, ‘What?! Are you sure?’ He said, ‘Yes!” Then we went to Leviticus 20:13— same thing, ‘Young boys.’ So we went to 1 Corinthians to see how they translated arsenokoitai (original Greek word) and instead of homosexuals it said, ‘Boy molesters will not inherit the kingdom of God.’”
Further from there, Oxford shares, “I then grabbed my facsimile copy of Martin Luther’s original German translation from 1534. My friend is reading through it for me and he says, “Ed, this says the same thing!” They use the word knabenschander. Knaben is boy, schander is molester. This word ‘boy molesters’ for the most part carried through the next several centuries of German Bible translations. Knabenschander is also in 1 Timothy 1:10. So the interesting thing is, I asked if they ever changed the word arsenokoitai to homosexual in modern translations. So my friend found it and told me, ‘The first time homosexual appears in a German translation is 1983.’”
Although the mistake was corrected from “homosexual” to “sexual perverts” in the Revised Standard Version in 1971, the damage had been heavily done, with the word “homosexual” appearing in most translations of the Bible, mostly in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. This became the fuel for the antigay movement embraced by American conservative Christians, as well as others around the world.
It would be bad enough to dismiss homosexuals even if there was an ancient scripture prohibiting it, but it is even worse when those scriptures were actually condemning something entirely different- the practice of a man having sex with a child. This demonstrates how dangerous it is to base modern morals and ethics on what somebody wrote long ago (bad) and which was subsequently mistranslated (worse).
(4120) Toxic positivity
It can be conjectured that a religion that was connected to a real god would be one that understood and supported the full range of human emotions and would not try to shoehorn them all into a continuous fountain of positivity and joy. This is not what Christianity is about. The following was taken from:
Christianity is a religion based upon guilt, gaslighting, self hatred, and extreme narcissism.
The teachings of Jesus are presented as noble doctrines to live by when in reality all they do is turn you into a doormat and a pushover.
Even growing up in church I realize now that I was brainwashed to be a servant/ people pleaser and I now struggle as an adult with saying no to people.
You’re taught to serve no matter what and the moment you feel tired and need a break you’re being selfish and giving in to the flesh.
You’re also not taught to manage you’re emotions properly either.
You can never let yourself be sad or depressed because that’s not the joy of the lord…..you need to embrace toxic positivity and put on a huge fake smile while shouting “praise the lord.”
I can’t believe I spent years trying to pray away my anxiety and depression because my parents believe it was caused by demons.
Things like this are way I don’t think I’ll ever be able to just stop talking about the dangers of Christian doctrine.
They cause people so much unnecessary suffering just to please an insane storm god who doesn’t even exist.
Some Christians feel guilt over expressing grief upon the death of a loved one. It is in their minds a tacit (and disallowed) admission that death is final and that they won’t see this person ever again. So they mask over the grief with a painted-on smile while saying the right words (we will meet again in heaven). Thus Christianity robs a person of expressing genuine emotion or else makes them feel guilty when they do. A religion that causes guilt and self-hatred is likely to be one that was made by man but not by a god.
(4121) Undesigned womens’ bodies
Bronze age humans came up with the idea that the pain that women experience during childbirth is a punishment levied by God because of Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. This idea is presented in the Book of Genesis 3:16. Even dismissing such nonsense, it is abundantly clear that childbirth pain is a natural consequence of human evolution, and it demonstrates convincingly that the human female body was not designed by an intelligent designer. The following was taken from:
If a woman has been through childbirth, she can tell you that while it is exciting to deliver a child, it hurts like hell. I remember the birth of our son. My husband and I had attended a natural childbirth class. When the doctor advised that I get an epidural (after 12 hours of labor), my husband suggested I just continue to take deep breaths. You can imagine what I told him to do with the deep breaths suggestion. Then, I had an epidural and knew in an instant the anesthesiologist was my new best friend. I never had another child, but if I had, I would have asked for the epidural the moment that I pushed open the hospital doors.
The reason for the pain in childbirth is understandable with a quick lesson in evolution. When our ancestors started to walk upright, the shape of the pelvis began to change to accommodate a walking gait. Specifically, a narrower pelvis developed. Over hundreds of thousands of years, human brains gradually became more complex and grew bigger to accommodate a higher level of intelligence. The coincidence of these two changes resulted in a baby with a larger head being delivered through a narrower pelvis. Pain, therefore, results as the mother pushes a bigger baby through a smaller opening. (Today, where a child cannot be delivered through this opening, a caesarean section must be performed.)
Women need not believe that they are being punished for original sin by being made to bear unbearable pain in childbirth. There is a logical explanation for what she experiences, and the “original sin” musings of ancient believers can be set aside in favor of a more rational explanation for pain in childbirth.
This is another example where science provides a solution to a question that was previously thought to have a theological cause. It should be duly noted that whenever science and religion have collided, science has always won. It is undefeated.
(4122) Doubt crushers
Any false system of belief requires mechanisms to keep people believing it in its truth while facing the inevitable headwinds of dis-confirming evidence. This is the position that Christianity finds itself in. History, biology, cosmology, etc. has carved a giant hole in the Christian narrative. This means that an army of apologists as well as their inculcated followers are needed to keep people in the pews. The following lists some of the thought-terminating memes that are commonly used to defuse seeds of doubt and get people to think about something else:
-We all have doubts.
-We have to pray about it.
-We have to read the Scriptures.
-We have to ask God to open up the wisdom of the Bible to us.
-We have to ask for revelation in our meditation.
-We have to accept that some things we’ll never make sense of.
-It’ll all be shown to us when we get to Heaven.
-Use your heart, not your brain.
-That many people can’t be wrong.
-You need to doubt your doubts.
-Just keep your eyes on the cross.
-Don’t dig too deep into the Bible, leave that to the academics
It should be realized that most of these sayings would not be necessary if Christianity was true. Otherwise, Its truth would be self-evident. That’s because it doesn’t speak of a distant, disinterested deity, but rather an intrusive, in-your-face god that is intensely focused on human beings. If Christianity was true, the only saying that you would need is ‘follow the evidence.’
(4123) Deciphering the foolishness in Mark
Wading through the minefield of the Gospel of Mark leaves sane people shaking their heads. It makes one wonder whether Christians are reading this or whether they are smoking something. The following lists a few of the head shakers:
Chapter 1: Jesus is baptized by John for the forgiveness of sins. Uh oh, doesn’t this and the virgin birth form a non-sequitur?
Chapter 2: Jesus heals a paralyzed man by forgiving his sins. So sinning makes you paralyzed, got it.
Chapter 4: Jesus tells his disciples that he teaches in parables to prevent people from repenting and being forgiven. I thought he was all about preaching to everyone?
Chapter 5: Demons know who Jesus is, and he seems to use a magic spell to transfer demons into pigs. So pigs are valued less than people, OK, I guess.
Chapter 9: God speaks from water vapor, i.e., a cloud. Well, we all know that heaven is in the clouds, right?
Chapter 13: Jesus declares that the coming of his kingdom will bring horrendous suffering. Prince of Peace arrives, great suffering ensues. Hmmm.
Chapter 14: At his trial, Jesus promises those attending that they will see him coming on the clouds of heaven. Seems a bit late for that.
Chapter 16: Jesus’ followers will cast out demons. Do demons really exist…really?
None of the above weaves comfortably into the fabric of modern day life. At some point in the past, perhaps, these kinds of ideas made sense. But no more. Christian has lost its relevance and the Book of Mark is the quintessential marker for that claim.
(4124) Jesus’ sacrifice valid only if he wasn’t God
The so-called sacrifice of Jesus, the crux of Christianity, is called into question by conflicting assumptions that have been made. Christians assume that Jesus is God and also that he made the greatest sacrifice of all time by dying on the cross for the sins of mankind. In the following it is discussed how this story doesn’t make sense. Either he knew he would be dead for only a couple of days or else he wasn’t God.
Jesus had to have known his death was only for three days, therefore making his human experience with death majorly incomplete and not much more than an inconvenience rather than the great “sacrifice” it is always considered.
If Jesus knew the whole plan, how is his death that much of a sacrifice? I’ve always been told and believed that his was the greatest sacrifice. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”.
But, I’m sorry, there’s ALOT of people whom I love that I would spend 3 days dead for if it saved them from hell. I’d do it consecutively, even. I’d certainly do it just once if it meant saving the whole world from that end. That’s because the major part of the “sting” of death is in its finality. Death is made cheap if you know you can just be resurrected in 3 days. You will never experience the “fear” of death in the most basic human way: the uncertainty that comes with wondering IF you will wake back up again when you close your eyes for the final time and if you’ll ever see your loved ones again. That’s what we’re all TRULY afraid of. If Jesus knew that he would be resurrected, he did not have this basic fear that drives the human survival instinct. His only fear would have been for the pain and humiliation he would endure during his crucifixion.
He is described in Matthew and Luke as being so much in anguish over what was to come, he was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death and sweating blood. Now THAT sounds like somebody unsure about what’s going to happen after he dies. Does that sound like someone whose worried about having a bad weekend but knows he comes out of it as the risen Son of God? Certainly not. So did Jesus know of his 3 day, 2 night deathcation or did he really experience what it’s like to die as a human – feeling the uncertainty of death?
Some Christians might argue that Jesus temporarily terminated his omnipotence and purposefully ‘forgot’ that he was God and would soon be going back to heaven. But that idea flies in the face of:
“I and the Father are one.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
So Christians must concede that either Jesus was not God or else that his ‘sacrifice’ was a sham.
(4125) Eating children
The ‘good book,’ the one that Christians say we need to ‘get back to,’ is strangely obsessed with the idea of eating children. Here are some examples:
2 Kings 6:29
So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”
Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you.
I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them.
With their own hands compassionate women
have cooked their own children,
who became their food
when my people were destroyed.
Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents.
The concept of infantile cannibalism should not be expressed in a book inspired by a universal deity of the type that Christians worship. Considering the above scriptural verses, we can be assured that the Bible is in no way connected to the alleged god of Christianity, unless there are aspects of this god that Christians would be loathe to concede.
(4126) Christianity borne out of a ‘misunderstanding’
The first followers of the (living) Jesus assumed that he would fulfill the entire scope of the prophecies ascribed to the Jewish messiah. But when this didn’t happen, instead of abandoning the movement, they re-interpreted the way that the prophecy would be fulfilled. They imagined that it was a two-step process- the first being (then) completed and the second to be finished later (the so-called second coming). This is a pattern often seen in the history of cults- when the prophecy fails, it is not seen as a failure, but rather a prior misunderstanding of how or when the prophecy would be fulfilled.
The following was taken from:
Cults have highly committed members and they believe in very specific prophecies. When such a prophecy fails, cognitive dissonance emerges. This cognitive dissonance is reduced in a very clear pattern. The reason for the failure of the prophecy becomes the cornerstone of the beliefs of the group. Then eschatology is divided into a spiritual fulfillment that happened when planned and a final fulfillment that has yet to happen. The prophecies are then reinterpreted along these same lines. And then this discrepancy is attributed to misunderstanding rather than failure of the prophecy.
The Jewish followers of Jesus believed Jesus to be the messiah, meaning that he would fulfill very concrete prophecies. Then Jesus got arrested and killed before he could fulfill these prophecies. His followers then responded exactly according to the same pattern we’ve seen in other cults. They made the failure of the prophecies (Jesus’ death) into the new cornerstone of their beliefs. They divided the eschaton in a partial spiritual fulfillment with the first coming of Jesus and a final fulfillment with the second coming of Jesus. They reinterpreted the prophecies to line up with this division. And they explained the difference between expectation and reality by their own misunderstanding.
There is a determined reluctance for people who have been fooled to admit that they were indeed fooled. So they construct a new interpretation of what happened as a means of salvaging their original beliefs- such that they can continue to believe that they were right all along. This is the most likely explanation for the creation of Christianity. The re-interpreted death of Jesus and his (alleged) resurrection was seen as a partial fulfillment of the messiah prophecy- to be completed later with the second coming. This artifice convinced (fooled) enough people at the time to ‘stay on board with’ the Jesus movement. Meanwhile, scripturally-literate Jews recognized Jesus as a failed messiah.
(4127) God sets humans up for failure again
It is well established in biblical scripture that God set the conditions for humans to fail in the Garden of Eden and in the Noah flood. Therefore it would seem that he has a proclivity to see humans fail. It is not a stretch to see the final judgment as another occasion where God is setting up the scenario where most of humanity will fail and suffer. The following was taken from;
God has shown himself rather disinterested in the welfare of human beings. In the system He created with perfect foreknowledge, most of his image bearers go to Hell. He has promised “few” will find eternal life and the vast majority are doomed to eternal punishment. This is by His design.
God could have designed any circumstances, any situation, but He chose to design a system he knew would result in the majority of human beings suffering forever. He engineered human weakness, and granted the serpent entry into the garden. He knew what would happen, not only allowing it, but planning and executing it. He created his law impossibly high, his punishment impossibly fierce, and his subjects impossibly incompetent.
Why, then, should humanity suppose this entity is not also currently setting them up for failure in matters of salvation? Gods disinterest in human welfare (except for a chosen few) is proven. Because the Biblical God already deliberately chose to create humans with weaknesses he knew would lead to their damnation, why is there reason to trust him for salvation?
This is a situation where God’s assumed omnipotence and ‘infinite love’ collide, leaving a conclusion that one or other of those assumed traits must be false. No all-loving, infinitely powerful entity could arrange a scenario where most of humanity fails and suffers. A limited or non-loving god could, but Christians generally would be reluctant to concede on either point. Of course, the easiest solution is to see Yahweh as an imaginary man-in-the-sky, invented by pre-scientific age humans to explain the unknown.
(4128) God’s disqualifying decision
There are many examples of Yahweh doing things that run counter to what modern humans generally consider to be moral or ethical. But there is one that ‘takes the cake,’ In the Book of Exodus, God kills the first born sons of the Egyptians- not because they misbehaved, or for anything their parents did. No, they were murdered because the Pharaoh would not release the Jews to freedom. But even worse, the scriptures state that God ‘hardened the heart’ of the Pharaoh to make sure that he wouldn’t release them. This results in the fact that God committed the pre-meditated murder of innocent children.
Now, some Christians will skirt this issue by conceding that this story is fictional (which it obviously is) and claim that their god would never do such a thing. But there are problems with this approach. For one, it opens the question of what is fictional or factual in the Bible. Secondly, it strains credulity that an omnipotent and supposedly benevolent god (who obviously should have had an interest in the formulation of the Bible) would have allowed the textual inclusion of such a heinous event. An atrocity that would pollute his reputation for centuries in the eyes of future humans.
Suppose there was a dictator who punished convicts by releasing them but killing their oldest sons. This would be condemned as a crime against humanity. But if Yahweh does it, Christians not only tolerate it, but they continue to worship this monster. Any sane mind realizes that this one story is sufficient by itself to disqualify Yahweh as a legitimate deity.
It is time for Christians to wake up to their Stockholm Syndrome and see Yahweh for who is- a genocidal murderer who deserves condemnation rather than worship. Or better yet, it is time for them to see Yahweh for what he really is- a fictional war god dreamed up in the minds of Iron Age Middle Eastern tribesmen.
(4129) Failed defense of hell
Christians are continually challenged to defend the concept of hell, which is made more difficult because it is mentioned in many gospel verses. Some like to soften the implications by saying it is simply a separation from God- but this is not scriptural. The most recent ‘go-to’ explanation used by apologists is that because God is infinite, an offense against him deserves infinite punishment. The following discusses why this line of reasoning is flawed:
The Status Principal (or Status Argument) was the traditional way of defending eternal Hell. As you say a crime against a king was punished more severely than a crime against a pauper or slave. But this feudal mentality is flawed. Is stealing a loaf of bread from a king worse than from a pauper? Or is the reverse true?
Besides it’s simply a non-sequitur. To claim that God’s infinite status means the sin deserves infinite punishment, is simply an assertion. One could just as easily assert that holding flawed metaphysical beliefs about things we have been denied full knowledge of, is not the gravest of sins and a perfect divine being would not be so intensely offended by it.
Plus there are other crucial factors that inform punishment:
1) The harm caused.
The harm caused to God is zero. He cannot be harmed, injured nor diminished in any way.
2) Culpability of the offender.
Whatever punishment the offender may or may not deserve, humans are fallible and limited creatures, which in itself precludes maximum culpability and thus maximum punishment.
3) The intention.
Disbelievers are not rejecting a God they know exists. They disbelieve because they are not convinced that either he exists or that particular religion represents him.
4) The nature of the crime.
The claim that the gravity of disbelief & shirk is of infinite seriousness – is an appeal to faith. It is Islam that considers these sins to be of maximum gravity. There is no reason why others should.
Early Christians were inclined to invent maximums in their theology- such as God being all-powerful and hell being eternal with the worst punishment imaginable. Both of these assumptions create theological problems that become especially severe when God is described as being ‘all-loving.’ So hell has no viable defense and acts as a heavy lodestone around the neck of Christianity- revealing it to be a product of human, and not divine, minds.
(4130) Jesus failed to expand human knowledge
If, as Christians assume, Jesus was God (or a third of God), then he would have possessed knowledge that would have infinitely exceeded that of the most brilliant human minds. So his appearance on Earth should have been a bonanza for the human species to learn things that would greatly increase their understanding of their place in the universe and improve their living conditions. God in a human form coming to our planet should have been a seminal turning point in the rise of human technology and knowledge. But it was not. Why not?
There are two solutions. Either Jesus, assuming he existed, was (1) just another human being or (2) he really was God but he saw no need to enlighten humans and expand their horizons. In fact, in some ways he decreased human knowledge by discouraging the washing of hands before meals (Luke 11:38).
Consider the analogy of a contemporary person time traveling to London in 1346, seeing the beginnings of the Black Death plague, and not bothering to tell anyone that what was killing them was not sins, but germs. That is essentially what Jesus did or rather did not do, but even to a greater extent, because his knowledge was allegedly infinite.
So we can conclude that Jesus was either simply human with no special knowledge, or he intentionally withheld information that could have greatly improved the lives of this chosen people and the rest of humanity. Neither option is good for Christians, but unfortunately for them, there is no third option.
And a bonus point: If Jesus had delivered on giving new knowledge, as documented in the gospels, then it would have resulted in many more people believing in him (based on the impressive evidence of things that were otherwise not known at that time) and therefore being saved. It would have saved people from dying in this life and also being saved from hell in the afterlife. That is, if he really was God.
(4131) God failed to make Jesus’ existence known to all
If God intended to send his son to Earth on a mission so critical that it meant the difference between people being tortured for eternity or else enjoying unending bliss, it would seem that he would have ensured AT LEAST that the existence of Jesus would have been an indisputable fact that everyone would accept, both then and centuries later. This, in fact, did not happen.
Why it didn’t happen is because of several factors. First, Jesus came at a time and place where the transmission of documented history was at best very tenuous. Second, Jesus himself, as well as his disciples or other eyewitnesses, did not right anything down. Third, the writings of non-eyewitnesses, written decades later, were not preserved for posterity. Fourth, copies of those writings were tampered with and inflicted with interpolations and copying errors.
The bottom line is that no one today can be 100 percent sure that Jesus was even a real person, much less the miracle-working man-deity as claimed by Christianity. Consequently, there are many sound arguments suggesting that Jesus was a mythical being, though it is still possible that he was a real person. But one thing is certain: If God intended for humanity to be certain of Jesus’ existence, he did a MISERABLE job.
(4132) Mary Magdalene was fictional
There is a good case for concluding that the author of the Gospel of Mark, along with many other characters, made up the person of Mary Madeleine to flesh out his fictional narrative agenda. This would be analogous to his use of the obviously fictional fig tree incident. The following was taken from:
One argument for Mary Magdalene being a fictional character is brought up by MacDonald, Mythologizing Jesus, pp. 120-1. He notices that in the Gospel of Mark (which is where Mary Magdalene first shows up), certain characters bearing the same name appear in pairs which fit the general theme of reversal of expectations present in the Gospel, more specifically a theme of Jesus being rejected by the closest to him but embraced by marginal figures (e.g., Simon Peter, his closest disciple, denies him but a different Simon, a stranger, carries his cross). In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ family including his mother named Mary and his brothers named James and Joses think he’s crazy and are absent during his passion. But there are two other Maries, Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” with sons bearing the same names as two of Jesus’ brothers (James and Joses). The idea is that the Maries present at the passion are inversions of Jesus’ mother who would normally be there but is missing because of his family’s lack of conviction.
Either or all the Maries might have been invented by the author of the Gospel of Mark to create this motif. Mary was the most popular Palestinian Jewish female name and James and Joses were among the most popular Palestinian Jewish male names in the first century (Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity), which in this case cuts both ways – it makes it more probable that there just happened to be multiple Maries, Jameses and Joseses present in history around Jesus but it also makes it more probable that an author inventing fiction would be familiar with the most common names (even if he’s writing in the Diaspora).
If Mary Magdalene was invented by the author of the Gospel of Mark then her showing up in later Gospels would just be their authors further developing a character present in their source.
It is easy to conclude that Mark was not an historian, but rather an author of fiction who wrote a phantasmagorical pseudo biography of Jesus to give flesh to the spiritual figure that Paul had been preaching. He used many techniques of literature, such as irony, to adorn his narrative. Later, other authors copied and modified his writings and even later, many came to believe it was all an actual attempt at documenting factual history.
(4133) Trinity absurdity
The Christian doctrine of the trinity (that God consists of three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) is laughably illogical, though most Christians swallow it without much thought. As the following shows, it is neither plausible nor supported by scripture:
Peripherally, the NT Jesus never claims to be “God”. He is claimed to be God’s express image, co-creator with God, preexistent, having come down from God’s presence. The NT calls Jesus Son of God – NEVER God the Son. All NT prayer addressed to God stays addressed to God, never to Jesus – NT prayer is directed TO God “through” Jesus or “in Jesus’s Name”. The NT Jesus HAS a God and God cannot have a God. The NT Jesus obeys God and God cannot obey God. The Jesus prays to God and God cannot pray to God.
Trinitarianism is both biblically and logically inaccurate to the point of absurdity.
If the Gospel of John had been left out of the New Testament, it is likely that Jesus would not have been identified as God, or a third of God. This would have been a better position for Christianity to have taken. For one, it would have made the faith more palatable to the Jews, who were repelled by the idea of a man being God. Also, it would have resolved the question of whether or not Christianity is poly-theistic. Adopting the Gospel of John into the canon was huge mistake because it not only seriously contradicted the other three gospels but it also forced the invention of the incoherent idea that three personages could be a single person.
(4134) Christianity is lying about the Bible
It is well known that Christian editors made changes to the Old Testament to produce a version of it to better coincide with their Jesus-centric theology. The following provides a rather flagrant example:
What if Christianity is lying about the Bible? What if the original Bible in Hebrew was manipulated by the Church? What if the Old Testament was still being still being changed, hundreds of years after the life of Jesus? What if your pastor knows this but won’t tell you, because he’d lose his job?
When I was attending seminary, I heard a joke that went like this:
What do you call someone with a Master’s of Divinity? Answer: an atheist.
While this is a joke, I had to wonder how true it was. Are there pastors, preaching in the pulpit, who no longer believe in the faith of their youth, but they feel like they can’t escape?
Put yourself in their position. Could you imagine what it’s like to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a degree in theology, only to discover that the true history of the bible is distorted? What would this do to someone? What would they think?
First off, they probably can’t tell anyone. They’d be alienated from people they love. They’d also be destroying numerous people’s only source of hope and inspiration. They’d be alone.
If you’re a pastor and you read this, I sympathize with you.
But this article isn’t addressed to pastors. It’s for the person sitting in the pews.
I don’t really know how to tell you this, but your pastor is probably lying to you; and they feel like they have no choice, because the church is their paycheck.
So I am here to tell you what they can’t or won’t tell you.
Here it goes….
The original Jewish Bible (aka the “Old Testament” by Christians) was written in Hebrew. The Christian Old Testament was written in Greek by Hellenistic Jews. These writers produced The Greek Septuagint. It was influenced by the Greco Roman world, more than it was influenced by the Jewish world.
Now, a well informed Christian will tell you that the Greek Septuagint is a reliable Bible. It was written in the second century B.C.E. However, this is misleading.
The original Septuagint was the first five books of the Bible only. These were the books written in the second century B.C.E.. It included Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy alone.
A fairly informed Christian will disagree with this. But they are sincerely wrong.
The Christian church added other books to the Septuagint, and edited them, up until the fourth century of the common era. It was still being revised by Lucian of Antioch after the life of Jesus of Nazareth!!!!
So if it was being edited, just how edited was it?
Tell your Christian friend to grab a bible. Tell them to read Zachariah chapter 12 verse 10.
Now, here it is in the Jewish Bible:
“And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplications. And they shall look to me because of those who have been thrust through [with swords], and they shall mourn over it as one mourns over an only son and shall be in bitterness, therefore, as one is embittered over a firstborn son.”
Here it is in the Christian Bible:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”
If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that the Christian church deliberately added to the passage, and did this intentionally.
If they changed it here, where else has it been changed?
I could continue, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll stop here. I encourage you to research this for yourself.
The church is lying. And many Christian theologians are involved in the coverup.
If Judaism was the true religion of God and that, afterwards, God decided to create Christianity, then Christians would have had no need to modify anything in the Old Testament. The fact that they did indicates one of two things- either both Judaism and Christianity are wrong, or just Christianity by itself is wrong.
(4135) Christians should be sweating over denominations
Most Christians are comfortable that they have found the correct denomination of the faith and therefore harbor the right beliefs and/or actions that will ensure their future in heaven. However, this seems to be unfounded confidence because Christianity is not consistently clear on what is necessary for salvation. It seems more plausible that Christians should be seriously worried about whether they have found the right formula. The following was taken from:
Christians seem to kinda handwave all the denominations and bemoan all the division, seeming to see them as slight but somewhat important differences in opinion as to interpreting the Bible. They of course think their denomination is right, but most seem to generally accept that “even though you’re wrong about a lot of things, we’re all Christians so we’re good” when it comes down to it.
But this confuses me, because some of these differences are far from inconsequential. In fact, many of them deal with the big question of if you’re going to hell or not, often over very tiny actions. Some believe all you have to do is the John 3:16 routine and you’re good, some think you have to be baptized. Even here, there’s division over whether you have to be fully dunked or just dipped. Some think it doesn’t matter, because you were predestined for hell or heaven and free will is a myth. Some think you can be un-saved, some think you’re saved for good. Some think certain actions blackball you from heaven permanently, some think you’re fully forgiven.
The list goes on and on, and the more I think about it, the more I think Christians should be sweating over this a lot more than they do. What if the Baptists are right? Calvinists? What if Catholicism really is idolatry, and that’s a sin worthy of hellfire? They’ve basically taken the issue of “What if you’re in the wrong religion” and further divided it into ~200 more little details.
This problem would not have occurred if Christianity was a true religion. This is because any faith that is associated with an actual omnipotent deity would not splinter into thousands of different interpretations of that faith, but rather would remain focused on a tight and concise theology. In other words, if Yahweh was real, he would have prevented the proliferation of a multitude of denominations. Even if Christians poo-pah this argument, they are still left with worrying over which manifestations of the faith will lead them to heaven- that is, if they actually give it any thought.
(4136) Virgin birth did not happen
One of Christianity’s central dogmas is that Jesus was born of a virgin. The following demonstrates why it is reasonable to conclude that this event did not happen:
Like any other claim, in order to decide if the virgin birth happened we have to examine the reasons for believing it. The primary reason is that the claim of the virgin birth is found in two books of the New Testament; the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Luke. Let’s first review the basics of these two gospels.
The authors of both gospels are unknown. The gospel of Matthew is dated to around 85-90. The gospel of Luke is dated to around 85-95, with some scholars even dating it in the second century. Thus these books are written about 80 years or more after the birth of Jesus. This is generally accepted among scholars, see for example https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/display/document/obo-9780195393361/obo-9780195393361-0078.xml and https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/display/document/obo-9780195393361/obo-9780195393361-0040.xml . The authors were not eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus.
Now let’s look at reliability. Are the authors of these gospels reliable? Consider the verses of Luke 2:1-5. These verses talk about a census being taken in the entire Roman empire which requires people to register in the birth village of their ancestor. For Joseph, this ancestor was David, who lived about a thousand years earlier. Outside of royalty, no one would know their ancestor of a thousand years earlier. And even if everyone in the Roman empire knew their ancestor so far back, the logistical problems of such a census would dismantle the Roman empire. Farmers would need to walk thousands of kilometres and leave behind their farms. This is not how Roman bureaucracy worked. Since the author of the gospel of Luke still included this in his gospel, that shows that either the author or his sources weren’t entirely accurate.
Now let’s consider the verses of Matthew 2:1-12. These verses talk about the wise men from the East visiting Jesus. First they go to Jerusalem to ask for the king of the Jews. Then they followed the star to Bethlehem, where they found the exact house Jesus was born. Thus they followed a star to find their destination with the accuracy of a modern GPS device. Such a thing is simply impossible, as you can’t accurately fid a location based on looking at where a star is located. This shows that the gospel of Matthew isn’t completely accurate either. And since these gospels contain inaccuracies, they are not reliable. Some things they wrote were true, some were false. Thus if we find a claim in these gospels, we have to analyse them and compare them with other sources to see if they are true.
So how do they compare to each other? Do they at least give the same story? No, far from it. In Matthew 2:1, we read that Jesus was born in the days of Herod the king. Yet, in Luke 2:2 we read that Quirinius was governor of Syria when Jesus was born. Herod died in the year 4 BCE, while Quirinius only became governor of Syria in the year 6 CE. Thus there is at least a 9 year gap between the time when Jesus is born in the gospel of Matthew and when he is born in the gospel of Luke. In other words, the two gospels contradict each other.
While they contradict each other at times, they also have a lot of overlap in their infancy narratives. In both gospels, Jesus is born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem, Joseph is of the lineage of David and the infancy narrative ends in Nazareth. Yet the gospel of Matthew starts in Bethlehem, has the wise men from the East, the flight to Egypt and the massacre of the innocents in Bethlehem, whereas the gospel of Luke starts in Nazareth and has the census of Quirinius and the presentation of Jesus at the temple. Both gospels have a few of the same dots, but they connect them very differently. Now, where do these dots come from? One of them is easy. If you want to write a story about Jesus of Nazareth, then you better make him grow up in Nazareth. The others come from the Old Testament. For example, Micah 5:2 states that the messiah will come from Bethlehem, so if you believe Jesus is the messiah then you write that he was born in Bethlehem. In Matthew 1:23, the author refers to Isaiah 7:14, so that’s the verse we will explore next.
The Hebrew word that is commonly translated in English bibles as virgin is ‘almah’. However, this word means young woman rather than a virgin. The Hebrew word for virgin is ‘bethulah’. This word is used by the same author in verses 23:4, 23:12 and 37:22. In the Septuagint, the word ‘almah’ got translated as ‘parthenos’, which came to mean virgin. The authors of the New Testament read the Septuagint rather than the original Hebrew, so they ended up using this mistranslation.
Now let’s look at the context for this verse. Chapter 7 of Isaiah talks about the kings of Syria and Israel waging war against Jerusalem. King Ahaz of Judah had to ask God for a sign in order to survive the attack. First he refused, but God gave him a sign anyway. A young woman will conceive and bear a son and call him Immanuel. Before the boy will know good from evil, the two kingdoms will be defeated. There is no messianic prophecy in this chapter. It is a sign to king Ahaz, which means that it only makes sense when it happens during his life. In other words, applying it to Jesus is a misinterpretation.
The reason for believing in the virgin birth is that we have two unreliable, contradicting, non-eyewitness sources, written about 80 years after the event in order to fulfill a misinterpretation of a mistranslation of an Old Testament text. No one who isn’t already committed to this belief would consider this to be sufficient reason for believing in the virgin birth.
Once the virgin birth is discarded it becomes harder to envision Jesus as being anything more than a mortal man. The evidence supporting this extraordinary nativity event is too weak to be considered credible.
(4137) Folly of ‘focus on the good’
Often when people challenge Christians about some of the wicked things that the Bible god has done, such a razing cities, flooding the earth, killing babies, etc., they will demur and say that you really should focus more on the good he has done, such as creating the universe, ‘sacrificing’ his son for your salvation, etc. But that runs into a major problem. The following two examples are salient:
Someone cooks a wonderful souffle with amazing ingredients, but somehow a cockroach got in it. You are repelled and reject it entirely. But the cook, says, ‘oh but look at the spinach, the onions, the chive, and all the wonderful parts of the souffle.’ Nope, a souffle with a roach in it is a roach souffle.
You know a person who has done amazing things for disadvantaged people, built homes for the homeless, and fed the malnourished. But you find out that he has molested little boys. How do you feel about him? Does the good override the bad? No, not really. He is molester.
In the same way, the god of the Bible is an evil monster, no matter how much good he is alleged to have done. Christians would reject the souffle and the person above, but they still embrace the god of the Bible, revealing their double standard and lack of critical thinking.
(4138) The simulation analogy
In an analogous way to the Christian god, a simulation could be set up as follows: (this was inspired by the following link)
1)Let’s imagine that I create a world, let’s say in a computer I create a simulation.
2) I create intelligent creatures and I force them to follow rules that I have decided without caring what they think.
3) “They have free will” but that free will is indistinct to having a gun in the back of their head, if they don’t follow what I say they have the possibility of having an eternal punishment for a life that they didn’t even ask to live.
4) They have to accept that I am the good guy of the story, they can not refuse to participate, they can not leave what I have established, and if they try to leave the game they also get eternal punishment.
5) I will keep myself hidden so that many or most of them will fail to recognize my existence, so then I can then be justified to send them to eternal punishment.
6) I will intervene when I feel like it and in favor of those I feel like helping. But as in (5) I will make sure that my intervention is subtle and can be otherwise interpreted as being non-supernatural.
7) I will leave a book full of contradictions, spurious authorship, lacking originals, and filled with immoral and unethical ideals such as genocide, human sacrifice, mysogyny, and slavery to make it even harder to believe that I am real.
8) I will create an adversary that I could control, but will instead give free will so he can go about and try to try to keep them from believing in me, so I can still punish them eternally.
Any person who runs a simulation like this would be considered mentally unstable and a tyrannical monster. But when Yahweh does essentially the same thing, Christians fall on their knees and fawn and worship him. The whole concept of Christianity is out of focus with reality. Once you admit that Yahweh is fictional, that the world is strictly natural, that afterlives don’t exist for any species of animal, then EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE.
(4139) Yahweh’s divorce from Asherah
As the Israelites discarded the god El in favor of Yahweh, the goddess Asherah also transferred from being El’s wife to being Yahweh’s wife. But the Israelites did not like this situation, and so they systematically wrote Asherah out of their texts and traditions. In a sense, they manufactured the divorce of Yahweh and Asherah, for various reasons, including they had the intent to make their religion monotheistic. The following was taken from:
Yahweh’s Divorce from the Goddess Asherah in the Garden of Eden
Hebrew Bible scholars have long recognized that the writer who penned the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and much other narrative in the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible (called the Pentateuch, or Torah) had a distinctly anti-Canaanite agenda, and that his anti-Canaanite polemic started in his Eden story. Focusing on this helps us to decipher the meaning of that story, as I have stressed in my new book, The Mythology of Eden, and in talks that I’ve given on the subject at scholarly conferences.
This author, known as the Yahwist (because he was the first author of the Hebrew Bible to use the name Yahweh for God), most clearly set out his anti-Canaanite views at the beginning of his version of the Ten Commandments, in Exodus 34:12-15, where Yahweh warns the Hebrews against associating with the Canaanites, intermarrying with them, and worshiping their deities; Yahweh also orders the Hebrews to tear down Canaanite altars, pillars, and asherahs (wooden poles (stylized trees) in sanctuaries that were the cult object of their goddess Asherah (in Hebrew pronounced ah-shei-RAH) and symbolized her). Against this background, the anti-Canaanite polemic in the Eden story becomes apparent, especially that against the goddess Asherah, who at the time was widely viewed by Israelites as Yahweh’s wife or consort. As official Israelite religion trended toward monotheism, the other local deities had to be eliminated (Asherah in particular), and Yahweh appropriated their powers and functions. Insofar as this process affected Asherah, I call this “Yahweh’s Divorce,” and the proceedings began in the Yahwist’s Eden story.
Before the rise of Israel, Asherah was the wife of El, the head god of the Canaanite pantheon. According to the archaeological evidence, the people who became Israelites were mostly native Canaanites who settled in the hills of what is now the West Bank, while it seems that small but influential groups also migrated there from the south in the Midian (in and around the Araba Valley in Sinai). As the Bible itself testifies, that is where Yahweh veneration appears to have originated, and, in a process that in this respect resonates with the Moses story, the migrants introduced Yahweh to the native Canaanites who were becoming Israelites. Over time, El declined and merged into Yahweh. As part of that process, Yahweh inherited Asherah from El as his wife.
The Hebrew Bible refers to Asherah directly or indirectly some 40 times, always in negative terms (so she must have been a challenge). Most references are indirect, to the asherah poles that symbolized her, but a number of them clearly enough refer directly to the goddess Asherah (e.g., Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 15:13; 1 Kings 18:19; 2 Kings 21:7; 2 Kings 23:4-7; 2 Chron. 15:16). Evidently she was part of traditional official Israelite religion, for an asherah pole even stood in front of Solomon’s Temple for most of its existence, as well as in Yahweh’s sanctuary in Samaria. There is also much extra-biblical evidence of Asherah in Israel from the time of the judges right through monarchical times, including in paintings/drawings, pendants, plaques, pottery, (possibly) clay “pillar” figurines, cult stands, and in inscriptions. Several inscriptions specifically refer to “Yahweh and his Asherah [or asherah].” (It is not entirely certain whether the goddess herself or the asherah pole symbolizing her is being referenced here, but either way ultimately the goddess is meant, and she is being linked with Yahweh.)
The Yahwist and the other biblical writers could not accept the presence of this goddess as a deity in Israel, much less as the wife of Yahweh, who they specifically depicted in non-sexual terms. So they declared war on her, in part by mentioning her existence sparingly in the Bible, by referring to her and asherahs negatively when they did mention her, and by waging a polemic against her by allusions that would have been clear to the Yahwist’s audience. These tactics are apparent in the Eden story, from the kinds of symbols used and the trajectory of the narrative. These symbols include the garden sanctuary itself, the sacred trees, the serpent, and Eve, herself a goddess figure. In ancient Near Eastern myth and iconography, sacred trees, goddesses, and serpents often form a kind of “trinity,” because they have substantially overlapping and interchangeable symbolism and are often depicted together.
None of this history comports with the idea that an actual god was even remotely involved. Rather, it is the story of the evolving ideas of Middle Eastern people on how supernatural entities were interacting with their lives.
(4140) Jesus’ presentation in the Temple was fictional
In the Gospel of Luke, the baby Jesus is presented to the elders at the Jerusalem Temple. This story contains factual errors, appears to be a recast of a similar event in 1 Samuel, and is obviously a made-up scene to advance the theological agenda of the author. The following was taken from:
Christmas Mythology V: Luke’s Christmas Story
The next event that Luke describes (2:22-38) is the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple 40 days after his birth and the recognition of his status as Son of God there. The vast majority of Biblical scholars do not consider this story historical, and as noted in Sunday’s post the story contains inaccuracies in terms of Jewish law and ritual. Luke’s goal, though, was not to write accurate history but to develop the myth further by reconfirming and amplifying Jesus’s status. Having fulfilled prophecy by being born in Bethlehem and being recognized as the Messiah there, now Jesus must get to Jerusalem and be similarly recognized as the Son of God in the Temple itself, his Father’s house, which as a literary matter also anticipates the story of his long journey to Jerusalem and the Temple that occupies the whole second half of Luke’s Gospel.
This story is modeled on the Hebrew Bible story of Elkanah and Hannah and their son Samuel (1 Sam 1:1-2:26). There the formerly barren Hannah conceives and bears Samuel through Yahweh’s intervention (in answer to her prayer), and once the boy is weaned he is taken up to the temple in Shiloh (then the main temple in Israel) during the family’s annual trip there for sacrifice. While there Hannah prays and breaks into a song of praise and thanks, which was probably Luke’s model for Mary’s Magnificat. As the firstborn, Samuel is offered into the service of the Lord, as a nazirite, and his parents leave him there. The boy is then said to grow up in the presence of the Lord, and to grow in stature and favor with the Lord (2:21, 26). The similarities with Luke’s presentation scene, his descriptions of Jesus maturing, and with the subsequent scene of the young Jesus staying at the Temple when his parents leave for home, are obvious.
Luke’s purpose in Jesus’s case is similar but magnified. At the Temple Jesus encounters the prophets Simeon and Anna, who recognize him as the Messiah and savior of both Jews and gentiles. Simeon paints an apocalyptic picture, prophesizing that Jesus will divide Israelites and be opposed by some, that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed, that some will rise while others will fall, and that a sword will pierce even Mary’s soul, all of which foreshadows the end times.
Written at least 50 years after Jesus’ crucifixion, this story of the baby Jesus belongs in the same category of all of the others- pure fiction. Whatever reality surrounds the Jesus figure, the layers of myth are much deeper than whatever thin veneer of truth might exist.
(4141) Yahwist author contradicts other 3 Torah authors
It is well established that there were at least four authors, or groups of authors, who created the Torah (5 books, Genesis to Numbers) One of them, called the Yahwist, was adamant that the name of Yahweh had been known to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and thus was always known to humankind from the start. But the other three authors contradicted this view. The following was taken from:
The textual tradition known as the Yahwist (J) was so named by academics because of its consistent and unequivocal use of the god of Israel’s name, Yahweh. Even though the divine name appears approximately 1,800 times in the Pentateuch alone, the other Pentateuchal sources (Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly) restrain from using it prior to its revelation to Moses in Exodus: at 3:14-15 in the Elohist tradition and at 6:2-8 in the Priestly tradition. Only the Yahwist text, in other words, affirms and acknowledges—in contradiction to the claims of the later Priestly source -that the name Yahweh was known to and frequently invoked by the patriarchs prior to its revelation. Indeed, it is for this reason that the Yahwist tradition does not narrate a revelation of the divine name. According to this tradition, it was known right from the first generation of mortals (Gen 4:26). This is merely one of dozens of Yahwistic features that will be opposed and negated by later writers, and in so doing leave behind numerous contradictions in the Bible as it now stands.
This is just one of the contradictions within the Torah that was caused by having four separate authorial sources being blended into the text. And it is one more argument that an omnipotent god was not involved in the development of scripture.
(4142) Case against Paul
There are several facts weighing against the standard Christian dogma that Paul was a legitimate communicator of Jesus’ message to the world. It instead appears that he went rogue and rather than fleshing out the theology of Jesus, he created something new and different. It is not a stretch to assume that Jesus would not have endorsed what Paul was teaching. The following was taken from:
Paul never met the historical Jesus (argue against historical Jesus elsewhere…I’m assuming he existed here).
Paul didn’t know much about Jesus actual life…never mentioned the virgin birth, or what he taught in much detail at all.
Paul often misquoted Jewish scripture in order to make his case, so he was not the “learned Pharisee” he claimed to be, as they would not have made those mistakes.
Paul’s claimed he got his gospel directly from the Christ in a vision. So did Joseph Smith (creator of Mormonism).
Paul said he did not meet the Jerusalem church leaders for over 3 years. Instead, he went and started preaching and planting churches. The Book of Acts claims otherwise, but that is not what Paul said. His faith was not the same as their movement.
Paul’s religion was very much like other Mystery religions of the time – focused on a resurrected God-man savior. It was a VERY familiar and common concept at the time, and one he would have been very familiar with, has he was from Tarsus (Turkey) originally, the seat of similar religions.
Paul’s views were very anti-Semitic. Read Galatians and see how he rants against the “Judaizers” who insist Torah obedience was part of the Jesus Movement.
Luke and the Book of Acts were written by someone who wanted to make sure Paul’s religion was grafted onto Judaism to give it the credibility of an ancient faith, yet make the case that it was separate and BETTER.
If you remove all of the letters of Paul, including the fake ones, it leaves a New Testament that reveals a different type of Christianity. Aside from that, it should bother Christians that the ultimate architect of their faith was a man (plausibly psychotic) who never met Jesus and who had little respect for (and little input from) his disciples.
(4143) The demographic argument
There is a good reason to conclude that a religion started by an omnipotent god should enjoy immediate success in recruiting followers. As discussed below, about 70 years after Jesus died, in the year 100 CE, the number of Christians was only about 0.1% of the number of Jews. This despite the fact that Jesus was a Jew, preaching (mostly) exclusively to the Jews. This seems like a failure for a divine being introducing a new phase of the Jewish religion. The following was taken from:
There are popular (not necessarily scholarly) estimates that by 100 CE there were perhaps 10,000 Christians. With the estimated number of Jews in the Roman Empire at the time floating around 5-10 million, the number of Christians for its first hundred years of existence was extremely insignificant, with a handful of leaders spread across a few dozen communities, and that’s without even discussing how many of those Christians were Jews as opposed to Gentile followers of this new religion.
Rather, from looking at Jewish documents we see that Christianity was not a serious consideration or threat to the Jewish community in these early centuries. Christianity was just one of dozens of small, wayward first century movements that would have faded into obscurity had they not aggressively pursued Gentile believers.
If Jesus was the actual Jewish messiah, or a third of God, or divine in any sense, then the Jewish population should have become predominantly Christian almost immediately and certainly by the turn of the First Century. Instead, it took a fortuitous foray into Gentile quarters for Christianity to become a significant world religion. Jesus would certainly have been disappointed to find out that his people, the ones he believed were the ‘chosen of God,’ almost universally rejected his legacy.
(4144) Death after death
It would seem obvious that if heaven and hell exist in the manner that Christians believe, that God would have been consistent in describing it for the entire time that he was interacting his humans. But this is not the case. The Jews had a very different understanding of what happens to a person after they die. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 5 (Death After Death in the Hebrew Bible) of Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife, by Bart Erhman:
The Jewish scriptures contain a variety of views about what happens to a person at death. Most commonly, a person who dies is simply said to have gone to “death”—a term used some thousand times in the Bible. Better known but far less frequent, a person’s ultimate destination is sometimes called “Sheol,” a term whose meaning and etymology are debated. It occurs over sixty times in the Hebrew Bible, and there is unanimity among critical scholars that in no case does Sheol mean “hell” in the sense people mean today. There is no place of eternal punishment in any passage of the entire Old Testament. In fact—and this comes as a surprise to many people—nowhere in the entire Hebrew Bible is there any discussion at all of heaven and hell as places of rewards and punishments for those who have died.
So by this understanding, translations of “heaven” or “hell” are misleading to the modern reader.
In most passages of the Bible where Sheol is mentioned, it may well simply be an alternative technical term for the place where an individual is buried —that is, their grave or a pit.
In the section on The Nature of Sheol he says:
Thus the terms used to describe Sheol are bleak, not because there is any pain involved, but because there is nothing involved. It is a realm of “forgetfulness” (Psalm 88:12); “silence” (Psalm 115:17), and “darkness” (Job 17:13). God is not even present there and, since the deceased are dead, none of them can worship him: “The dead do not praise the LORD, / nor do any that go down in silence” (Psalm 115:17). No one can experience the love and presence of God in Sheol/the grave, since they are cut off from the land of the living.
It seems that one of three things is correct- (1) God created heaven and hell during the time of Jesus’ ministry, (2) heaven and hell always existed but for some reason God didn’t inform his ‘chosen people’ of its existence, or (3) we are dealing with contradictions that often accompany human creativity when inventing fiction, mythology, and superstition.
(4145) Required RVO data
The evidence needed to convert a skeptic of Christianity lies in what can be termed RVO (reliable, verifiable, objective) data. The following divides this effort into eight steps. It is revealing that none of these steps has been accomplished by Christian apologists:
Required RVO Data, One: Are there data showing that this god-force is a sentient being, that is, self-aware? Not just a force, but one that has what we would call mind, the ability to make plans and decisions. Avoid assumptions based on what you learned in Sunday School.
Required RVO Data, Two: Are there data showing that this god-force has a human-like personality? This is crucial, because the Christian god displays the emotions we associate with human behavior, e.g., anger, wrath, jealousy, envy, love, etc. That would be quite a coincidence, right? That the force behind the Cosmos looks so much like a species that evolved on one particular planet a few billion years after creation. For millennia humans have imagined gods who feel and act so much like we do.
Required RVO Data, Three: Are there data showing that this god-force is aware of events happening below the level of galaxies and stars? Since Edwin Hubble’s monumental discoveries in the 1920s, there’s no going back in terms of our understanding of the Cosmos. The Hubble Space Telescope, and now the James Webb Space Telescope, are enabling us to glimpse, as never before, the vastness of the universe, i.e., hundreds of billions of galaxies, and who knows how many trillions of planets. Does a sentient-being creator god keep track of all this space junk, and I say junk because so many planets that we know of seem to serve no purpose whatever. Mars, for example, is a vast wasteland. Does a creator-god pay attention to this scattering of countless trillions of planets that orbit stars?
Required RVO Data, Four: Is the god-force aware of—does it care about—life that has evolved on planets? There may be millions of planets in which life exists in microbial form only. After all, that’s the way it was for a very long time on our planet. Years ago, I recall hearing a scientist who worked for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) admit that finding pond scum on another planet would be exciting, of course, but also disappointing. The real excitement would come from discovering life forms with whom we could communicate—or at least try to. Does a god-force monitor life-forms on all of the planets under management, and only start to pay close attention when intelligent beings have evolved? We’d love to see the data for that.
Required RVO Data, Five: Does a creator-god—busy as he must be with billions of galaxies— know everything about every single intelligent being that has come into existence on every planet everywhere? Ancient Christians—for whom there was only one planet—knew their god was paying very close attention, i.e., there are Bible texts claiming that even the hairs on our head are numbered, that god keeps track of every word we utter, and knows our secret thoughts as well. These texts gave rise to one of the fundamentals of Christian doctrine: that god is omniscient, knows everything. In the ancient world that idea wasn’t a stretch: god’s realm was just overhead—maybe extending as far as the moon—and holy men could get closer to his presence by going to mountaintops. For example, Moses receiving a set of laws, and Jesus being transfigured—so the stories go. But that concept of god is now quaint and naïve; it is no longer sustainable. RVO data required!
Required RVO Data, Six: Does the creator-god closely track human sins, and is he offended by them? So much so that he came up with the idea of a human sacrifice to enable him to forgive sins? And has creator-god set up the same scheme on all planets? Victor Stenger rightly ridiculed this idea: “Jesus must be continually dying on the cross, every nanosecond or so, on some planet in our universe, in order to save from eternal damnation every form of life that evolved sufficient intelligence to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.” (p. 117, Christianity in the Light of Science, John Loftus editor) The ancient Christians also borrowed the idea of a dying-and-rising savior god to enhance the stature of Jesus. The apostle Paul was given to magical thinking, insisting that anyone who believes that Jesus was resurrected is saved (Romans 10:9). Contemporary Christians are under obligation here especially: we need to see the Required RVO Data!
Required RVO Data, Seven: Are devout folks actually able to communicate with the creator-god? This is commonly assumed to be the case: go into prayer mode, close your eyes and think hard about what you want god to know, how you want him to change his mind, take some kind of action. We would need to know by what mechanism human thoughts escape our sculls and reach a god whom many theologians suggest resides outside time and space. “Oh, it’s a spiritual thing” falls far, far short of being Required RVO Data. For millennia people have believed they’ve communicated with many different deities because it’s a spiritual thing. That should make us suspicious. How many devout people are themselves disappointed by their prayer experiences? Sometimes prayers seem to work—you got what you prayed for—but many times the prayers bring no relief or resolution at all. Believers themselves should wonder and doubt: does the Cosmos really work this way?
Required RVO Data, Eight: Christian theology is massively incoherent, which laypeople themselves sometimes suspect. Just one example is horrendous human and animal suffering allowed/tolerated by their god who watches everything.Something is wrong with this setup. How did the Holocaust happen? How do priests/ministers get away with raping children? Theologians write lengthy treatises, called theodicies, employing professional shoptalk, which are read by other theologians. But the clergy hope that parishioners will be satisfied with banalities, “God moves in mysterious ways,” “God has a bigger plan that we don’t understand.” Here, above all, we want to see the Required RVO Data. Otherwise, these excuses are nothing but theobabble. Assuring the devout that God moves in mysterious ways encourages people to shrug off horrible realities, to suspend thought, curiosity, skepticism, doubt.
Until evidence appears that satisfies the eight issues discussed above, it is safe to assume that Christianity is a product of the myth, ignorance, and superstition that pervaded the cultures of its creation. It is unfair to say that skeptics have a closed mind. Rather their minds are open to receipt of RVO data wherever and whenever it is provided.
(4146) Polygamy loophole
It is well-known that the Christian view of biblical marriage is embarrassingly contradicted by, ironically, the Bible. But actually, it gets worse. According to the following, a man can dismiss (divorce) one of his wives by simply depriving her of support:
“If he [a man] marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.” Exodus 21:10-11, Bible (NIV)
Biblical family model as per God’s commandments: a man and a woman…and another woman…and more women as long as man can afford them. Why isn’t this most ‘traditional’ model taught in Sunday Schools? Along with a loophole to send away unwanted wives by just refusing to provide for them.
Needless to say, these verses will never be recited in a Christian church. Note, there is no penalty for a man if he withdraws support for one of his wives. It has to be asked why Yahweh would have permitted such an archaic and reprehensible rule to be included in this holy message to humankind. Is this the inspired directive of an omnipotent god, or is this a reflection of the mores of an ancient, primitive society?
(4147) War crime committed by Yahweh
Christians would have us believe that Yahweh is the supreme arbiter of morality, ethics, and justice. After all, he is the one who will judge dead people and send them to either heaven or hell. But there are examples in his portfolio that should cause anyone to doubt his credentials. The following passage is an example where Yahweh fails (spectacularly) to meet the image that Christians hold of him:
“Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. For the Lord your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done. The Lord said to me… ‘Now begin to conquer and possess his land’… we took all his towns and completely destroyed them — men, women and children. We left no survivors. But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves.”
Deuteronomy 2:30-35, Bible (NIV)
Let’s recap what happened here. To trigger a conflict God used mind control to make king Sihon refuse to let the Israelites pass through his country. Then God commanded the Israelites to conquer the country and kill all civilians, including children. Don’t forget grabbing the plunder. This is like drugging a mayor and then killing the entire city for the mayor being high. What a divine example of justice and morality.
This is an example of God committing what today would be condemned as a war crime. Christians will need to cut this scripture out of their bibles, then forget what they’ve done, and then go on deceiving themselves that their god is the ultimate paragon of righteousness.
(4148) Jesus under the microscope
If we assume that the gospels are accurate depictions of Jesus (discounting the many reasons to conclude the opposite), then there still remains significant problems for Christianity. As discussed below, there are many examples showing Jesus to be not omniscient, not intelligent, not logical, not compassionate, not peace loving, and not humble:
“A chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared… and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”
2 Kings 2:11, Bible (NIV)
“[Jesus said]: No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — the Son of Man [Jesus].”
John 3:13, Bible (NIV)
Jesus has a short memory.
“Do not think that I [Jesus] have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets”
Matthew 5:17, Bible (NIV)
“It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”
Luke 16:17, Bible (NIV)
Jesus says he’s not canceling the rules of the Old Testament. So, when are you going to, say, stop doing anything on Saturdays and start killing those who do, as the biblical law commands in Exodus 35:2?
“Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Matthew 5:23, Bible (NIV)
“Those who trust in themselves are fools”
Proverbs 28:26, Bible (NIV)
“[Jesus said]: ‘You blind fools!'”
Matthew 23:17, Bible (NIV)
“[Jesus said]: ‘Ye fools'”
Luke 11:40, Bible (KJV)
“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die”
1 Corinthians 15:36, Bible (KJV)
If the Bible is true, then a biblical prophet, an apostle, and Jesus himself are clearly in danger of the fire of hell.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”
Matthew 6:26, Bible (NIV)
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”
Matthew 10:29, Bible (NIV)
Jesus thinks that his heavenly dad does a good job feeding and caring for the birds. But in reality, the majority of the birds die before they reach maturity. As for sparrows in particular, under “Father’s care” 75-80% of sparrows hatched do not survive to their first breeding season. Then 35%-55% of survived adults die each year.
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed”
Matthew 8:10 = Luke 7:9, Bible (NIV)
Not-so-all-knowing Jesus. You can’t get amazed by hearing something you already know.
“These twelve [disciples] Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.'”
Matthew 10:5-8, Bible (NIV)
Jesus wasn’t interested in helping anyone except those from his favorite nation.
“If anyone will not welcome you [the disciples] or listen to your words… Truly I [Jesus] tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
Matthew 10:14-15, Bible (NIV); similar: Mark 6:11, Luke 10:10-12
Jesus continues his father’s course, planning to severely punish people for having a different opinion.
“Whoever acknowledges me [Jesus] before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 10:32-33, Bible (NIV); similar: Luke 12:8-9
“If anyone is ashamed of me [Jesus] and my words… the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory”
Mark 8:38, Bible (NIV); similar: Luke 9:26
Blackmail is one of Jesus’ favorite techniques to gain popularity: “Promote me or else…”
“Do not suppose that I [Jesus] have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34, Bible (NIV)
“Do you think I [Jesus] came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”
Luke 12:51, Bible (NIV)
Thank you, Jesus, for wars, suffering, desolation, and orphanhood caused by the sword and division that you brought! That’s much better than peace, sure thing.
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me [Jesus] is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 10:37, Bible (NIV)
“Love” of the biblical deity Jesus is completely opposite to love. He wants to take all of you and wants to have the most special privileges granted to him while giving nothing in return, except unfounded fairy tales about a magical reward after death which no one can ever verify.
“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I [Jesus] say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum… shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day… It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
Matthew 11:21-24, Bible (KJV); similar: Luke 10:13-15
Jesus is upset about not getting the worship he expected, so he sends entire cities to hell.
“Whoever is not with me [Jesus] is against me”
Matthew 12:30 = Luke 11:23, Bible (NIV)
“Whoever is not against us [Jesus&Co] is for us.”
Mark 9:40, Bible (NIV); similar: Luke 9:50
Jesus is not familiar with the concept of neutrality. He sees the world in black and white, which sometimes interchange in his head.
“Some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him [Jesus], ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’ He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.'”
Matthew 12:38-40, Bible (NIV); similar: Mark 8:11-13, Luke 11:29
People ask Jesus for evidence for his affirmations, but Jesus replies with generalized insults that the generation asking for it is wicked and adulterous. Then he says that his future resurrection will be a sign. But these people won’t be able to verify it. A very “productive” debate.
“Some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!’… Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘…What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them'”
Matthew 15:1-11, Bible (NIV); similar: Mark 7:5-15
The supreme omniscient deity came to people from another dimension and gave the worst medical advice possible — to not wash hands before meals. They ate with their hands back then. Why is God unaware of microorganisms? Because he was created by people who were unaware of them.
“[Jesus] said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites”
Matthew 15:3-7, Bible (KJV); similar: Mark 7:9-13
Jesus criticizes people for not killing children for non-compliance. A message of love.
“A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him [Jesus], crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.’ Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said. He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’ ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment.”
Matthew 15:22-28, Bible (NIV); similar: Mark 7:25-30
Jesus didn’t want to help the woman because of her “bad” nationality. He equated Canaanites with dogs. Only after she degraded and humiliated herself was Jesus satisfied, and he decided to help her daughter.
“Came to him [Jesus] a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed… I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief… Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
Matthew 17:14-21, Bible (KJV); similar: Mark 9:17-29
Jesus loses patience and calls the entire generation names because a few folks couldn’t cast out a demon. He says it’s because of their unbelief, but then he says casting out this kind of demon actually required other steps. Quite an incoherent chain of accusations.
“He [Jesus] said unto them… There are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
Matthew 19:11-12, Bible (KJV)
Jesus promotes self-castrations in his name, for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.
“Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my [Jesus’] name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
Matthew 19:29, Bible (KJV); similar: Mark 10:29-31, Luke 18:29-30
“Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my [Jesus’] disciples.”
Luke 14:33, Bible (NIV)
Wanna be cool with Jesus? He wants you to forsake your real family and real property in exchange for promises of an imaginary post-mortem otherworldly and completely unverifiable reward. A perfect con.
“Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them'”
Matthew 21:1-3, Bible (NIV); similar: Mark 11:1-3
Isn’t taking someone’s livestock without permission called stealing?
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet… He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come… But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.”
Matthew 22:2-7, Bible (NIV)
In this parable, Jesus continues the “collective guilt” policy of the Old Testament. The whole city must be burned because someone in it killed the heavenly king’s servants.
“[Jesus said]: ‘You say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.'”
Matthew 23:30-31, Bible (NIV)
Jesus continues the “family guilt” policy of the Old Testament. If someone from your distant ancestors did something wrong, Jesus will use it against you despite you condemning those wrong actions.
“Suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant… will cut him to pieces”
Matthew 24:48-51, Bible (NIV)
To Jesus, an appropriate master’s response to the misbehavior of servants at work is cutting them to pieces. Beating and drinking at work are not cool indeed, but cutting to pieces for that is way worse.
“It [the kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them… The man who had received one bag [of gold] went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned… The man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him… And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”
Matthew 25:14-30, Bible (NIV); similar: Luke 19:12-26
Do you generate “interest” for God? If not, he will throw you away to the place of suffering. He doesn’t give a shit about you, he only needs the interest you can give him. That’s what Jesus’ parable teaches.
“Jesus took bread… saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup… saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood'”
Matthew 26:26-28, Bible (NIV); similar: Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20
“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. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.'”
John 6:53-56, Bible (NIV)
Whether literally or figuratively, cannibalism is generally bad. Unless it’s Christian cannibalism. Then it’s good.
“The crowd that gathered around him [Jesus] was so large that he got into a boat… He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: ‘Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed… [blah-blah parable]’… When he [Jesus] was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!”‘ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable?… The farmer sows the word… [blah-blah parable explanation]'”
Mark 4:1-14, Bible (NIV); similar: Matthew 13:2-18, Luke 8:4-11
Jesus knows that people don’t understand his parables. More than that, he talks this way on purpose, so that they don’t perceive, don’t understand, and don’t turn to be forgiven. He tells the “real” meaning of his parables only privately to his disciples. Talking in puzzles, and then blaming people for not understanding is a godly trait indeed.
“Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him… When he [Jesus] had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’ Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
Mark 8:22-25, Bible (NIV)
God Jesus needs a second attempt to make it right.
“A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit’… When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?’ ‘From childhood,’ he answered.”
Mark 9:17-21, Bible (NIV)
God Jesus needs input from a human witness to know what to do with the patient.
“Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he [Jesus] 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’… the fig tree withered from the roots.”
Mark 11:13-20, Bible (NIV)
What Would Jesus Do? He would kill a tree for not bearing fruit when it’s not the season for fruit. This is like smashing your TV on Wednesday for not showing a Friday show.
“He [Jesus] fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the [crucifixion] hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'”
Mark 14:35-36, Bible (NIV); similar: Matthew 26:39-42, Luke 22:41-42
The world created by God is full of pain. Then he sends billions of people to everlasting agony without batting an eyelash. But it’s a real problem for God-Jesus himself to feel pain for even one day, so he goes into chicken mode and asks the other part of himself to let him avoid what he came to do in the first place.
“After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it… Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends… They went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts… His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’ ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?'”
Luke 2:43-49, Bible (NIV)
Are you a parent who wants your kids to follow the “What Would Boy Jesus Do” thing? Then expect them to sneak out while no one is watching, not tell anyone, and let you figure it out. They will make a point to not apologize when you finally find them several days later.
“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God”
Luke 2:52, Bible (NIV)
God grew in favor with himself?… OK… God also grew in wisdom? Isn’t he supposed to be uber-wise already? Anyway, it’s about time to smarten up, given the long record of his catastrophically poor judgment calls in the Old Testament.
“A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years… She came up behind him [Jesus] and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked… ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.'”
Luke 8:43-46, Bible (NIV); similar: Mark 5:25-32
All-knowing divine Jesus has no clue who stole his power.
“Another [man] said [to Jesus], ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'”
Luke 9:61-62, Bible (NIV)
God wants people to abandon their families without even saying goodbye before departing to do for God what God can’t do himself.
“This generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah… Yes, I [Jesus] tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.”
Luke 11:50-51, Bible (NIV); similar: Matthew 23:35-36
Jesus fully adopted the principles of “justice” from the Old Testament, holding one generation responsible for the actions of a few specific people from other generations that are long long gone.
“I [Jesus] will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell.”
Luke 12:5, Bible (NIV)
Jesus continues the threat-based marketing campaign of his dad.
“The master of that [bad] servant… will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.”
Luke 12:46-48, Bible (NIV)
This sums up Jesus’ parable about God the master. To Jesus, cutting servants into pieces for disobedience is a normal practice. Unbelievers don’t deserve any better. Also, Jesus thinks that it is right to beat servants even for not doing something they didn’t know they should do. What a role model!
“If anyone comes to me [Jesus] and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters… such a person cannot be my disciple… Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other”
Luke 14:26; 12:51-52, Bible (NIV)
Do you hate your unbelieving family members, and see them as your enemies? No? Then you’re are not discipling right.
“[Jesus said]: ‘Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, “Come along now and sit down to eat”? Won’t he rather say, “Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink”? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”‘”
Luke 17:7-10, Bible (NIV)
In Jesus’ worldview, people shouldn’t thank slaves for their work or take slaves’ needs into consideration.
“He [Jesus] went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: ‘A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return… But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, “We don’t want this man to be our king.” He was made king, however, and returned home… then he said… “those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me.”‘”
Luke 19:11-27, Bible (NIV)
Jesus tells a parable about God, about himself. Its main character orders to kill people who voted against his kingship. One of the biblical ways of evangelism. People in the middle ages were pretty good at this one.
“[Jesus said]: ‘if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'”
Luke 22:36, Bible (NIV)
Because God is unable to achieve much without a human swinging a sword.
“Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts… he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”
John 2:13-15, Bible (NIV)
A human getting thrown out of balance upon seeing something he/she doesn’t accept is normal, but a god whose emotional stability is so fragile is a very weak god.
“Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him.”
John 7:1, Bible (NIV)
God Jesus was scared of Judean thugs.
“Jesus told them… ‘You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival’… However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.”
John 7:6-10, Bible (NIV)
Isn’t lying a sin?
“Jesus said… ‘All who have come before me are thieves and robbers'”
John 10:7-8, Bible (NIV)
Jesus, the master of the generalization fallacy.
John 11:35, Bible (NIV)
A weeping god… Really?
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I [Jesus] have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
John 15:19, Bible (NIV)
“[Jesus prayed]: ‘I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.'”
John 17:14, Bible (NIV)
“Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
James 4:4, Bible (NIV)
Cult Job-Aid from Jesus:
Step 1. Create in people a sense of being “chosen” or “special”
Step 2. Convince the “chosen/special” ones they are hated by the “non-chosen” for being good
Step 3. Foster a “them vs. us” mentality to broaden the chasm
Step 4. Mental slavery for the win!
“I [Jesus] am not praying for the world, but for those you [God the Father] have given me… I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message”
John 17:9, 20, Bible (NIV)
Jesus cares and prays only for his zealots. He doesn’t have enough love to care for the rest.
“I [Jesus] pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one… so that they may be brought to complete unity.”
John 17:20-23, Bible (NIV)
God didn’t answer your prayer? Don’t worry, he didn’t answer Jesus’ prayer either. Otherwise, Christians would be “as one” and in “complete unity”. Having a few good friends from your denomination is not enough to consider this prayer answered.
“I [apostle Paul] rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions”
Colossians 1:24, Bible (NIV)
Christ’s suffering wasn’t complete. Something was still lacking and you’re invited to finish what he couldn’t.
“Jesus… in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel… who shall be punished with everlasting destruction”
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, Bible (KJV)
Imagine a person walking on the streets of your neighborhood with a flamethrower, burning everyone who didn’t read or disagreed with the article that he wrote in the local newspaper. You’d likely consider him a mentally deficient psychopath who needs to be isolated, if not more than that. Now back to Jesus. The scene is essentially the same, but Jesus acts even worse, he extends the suffering of the victims into the afterlife. What’s your verdict about it? If you found a way to rationalize it, would you be sincere enough with yourself to notice how double standards clouded your judgment in Jesus’ favor?
“Jesus… has been tempted in every way, just as we are”
Hebrews 4:14-15, Bible (NIV)
A transcendent god-creator who can be tempted by human temptations is quite a pathetic god.
“I [Jesus] have given her [Jezebel] time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So… I will strike her children dead.”
Revelation 2:21-23, Bible (NIV)
There is plenty of killing of children by God for acts of their parents in the Old Testament. You’d expect Jesus to be a bit more reasonable. But no.
“To the one who is victorious and does my [Jesus’] will to the end, I will give authority over the nations — that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery'”
Revelation 2:26-27, Bible (NIV)
Jesus likes nations resting in pieces.
“When the Lamb [Jesus] opened the second seal… another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other… When the Lamb [Jesus] opened the fourth seal… there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death… They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague”
Revelation 6:3-8, Bible (NIV)
Jesus wouldn’t be God without arranging a bunch of wars and mass murders.
“They [people living at the end of times] called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb [Jesus]! For the great day of their wrath has come’…
When he [Jesus] opened the seventh seal… A third of the earth was burned up… A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed… A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter… Locusts came down on the earth… They were told not to harm the grass… but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads… to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion… The four angels… were released to kill a third of mankind… A third of mankind was killed…”
Revelation 6:16-17; 8:1-9:18, Bible (NIV)
Jesus played benevolent for a few years on the earth. Not long after he finished his sermon about giving another cheek to the offender, hypocrite Jesus is going to ferociously devastate those who did not listen to him.
“If anyone worships the beast and its image… they will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb [Jesus]. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever.”
Revelation 14:9-11, Bible (NIV)
Jesus is looking forward to enjoying the endless watching of the endless torture of people, simply for worshipping the wrong way. How sick is that?
“I looked… and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man [Jesus] with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand… He who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle… The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes [people] and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.”
Revelation 14:14-20, Bible (NIV)
In this vision, Jesus and his angels grab infidels and crush them in a huge winepress. Their blood flows out of the press and forms a lake 1,600 stadia (296km/184miles) in radius. If this is not monstrous, then what is?
“He [Jesus]… wages war.”
Revelation 19:11, Bible (NIV)
“I saw an angel… who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.’ Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider [Jesus] on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet… The rest [of people] were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider [Jesus] on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”
Revelation 19:17-21, Bible (NIV)
Reveling in mass bloodsheds is something that biblical deity will never give up, not even by the end of the New Testament.
The gospels condemn Jesus by themselves. It seems amazing that if Jesus really was God that he would say some of these things that make no sense, show a lack of compassion, or contradict himself so much. Alternatively, it seems implausible that if Jesus was above all of this, and didn’t fall into these logical traps, that the gospels would portray him in this way. In other words- something is wrong- either Jesus was not an exemplary god-man (perfect in every sense) or else for some strange reason, God (Jesus?) allowed the gospels to paint him in such a negative way.
(4149) Slavery in the afterlife
Origen of Alexandria (CE 185-253) was a theologian and scholar who commented frequently on the Christians of his time. It is enlightening to see how he scolded the Christians for their imagined life after death, especially how it included the idea that they would enjoy the services of slaves in heaven. The following is taken from De Principiis II.XI:
Certain persons…are of opinion that the fulfillment of the promises of the future are to be looked for in bodily pleasure and luxury; and therefore they especially desire to have again, after the resurrection, such bodily structures as may never be without the power of eating, and drinking, and performing all the functions of flesh and blood … consequently they say, that after the resurrection there will be marriages, and the begetting of children, imagining to themselves that the earthly city of Jerusalem is to be rebuilt … Moreover, they think that the natives of other countries are to be given them as the ministers of their pleasures, whom they are to employ either as tillers of the field or builders of walls, and by whom their ruined and fallen city is again to be raised up; and they think that they are to receive the wealth of the nations to live on, and that they will have control over their riches … Such are the views of those who, while believing in Christ, understand the divine Scriptures in a sort of Jewish sense, drawing from them nothing worthy of the divine promises.
It is damning that two centuries after Jesus, Christians were still OK theologically and ethically with the practice of slavery, and even believed that they would be able to enjoy the services of slaves in heaven. Of course, history tells us that Christian attitudes toward slavery would similarly persist well into the 19th Century. Even if we discount the fact that slavery is sanctioned in the Bible, it would seem that a real god would have persuaded/inspired his followers to abandon it in the wake of what he (God) knew would eventually come- a near total condemnation of slavery in the modern world. The scriptures endorsing slavery and the 18+ centuries of Christians condoning it serve as powerful pieces of evidence that Christianity is exclusively a human-created enterprise.
(4150) Embarrassments in the gospels
Christian apologists often use the parts of the gospels that they would wish were not there, because they seem to conflict with the conventional dogma, as a kind of proof that the people who wrote the gospels were being honest historians, and not just inflating Jesus to the extreme. Here is a list of some of those embarrassing parts:
- Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, which suggests that Jesus was the lesser figure who needed forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:9).
- Jesus didn’t know when he would return. He said that only God knew (Matthew 24:36).
- His own family thought he was crazy (Mark 3:21).
- He couldn’t do miracles in his hometown (Mark 6:5).
- He needed two tries to make a blind man see (Mark 8:22–5).
- A man called Jesus good. Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone.” (Mark 8:10)
- How important can the Trinity be when it’s not clearly explained in the Bible?
- Jesus was betrayed by one of his own followers.
- He was crucified as a common criminal.
It is interesting to note that apologists are playing both sides of the coin- if something is embarrassing, that means it is real, and if something is spectacular, like Jesus being transfigured on a mountain in the presence of Moses and Elijah, then that must also be real.
But the major downside of the Criterion of Embarrassment apologetic approach is that it requires them to admit that the embarrassing details are factual. And once that point is conceded, then it is very difficult to square those items with the dogma that Jesus was God himself, as part of a trinity. Why else would Jesus say that ‘no one is good except God alone’ if he himself was God?
Apologists would perhaps be better off to say that the embarrassing details are non-factual and that Jesus never showed any weakness or said anything that suggested that he was not God. This would at least make their position consistent, though it would also be a concession that the gospels contain fictional material, such that it potentially contaminates them in their totality.
Follow this link to #4151