(4251) The religion of ChatGPT

The artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT has revealed that it is superior to the Christian god Yahweh by providing the following response elevating the importance of how a person lives while diminishing whether a person believes in a god:

Q: Am I a bad person if I don’t believe in God?

ChatGPT: Not believing in God does not automatically make a person bad. It is possible for a person who does not believe in God to behave in ways that are considered good or moral by others. Similarly, a person who believes in God can still behave in ways that are considered bad or immoral by others. Ultimately, whether a person is considered bad or not depends on their actions and behavior, not on their beliefs about God. It is up to each individual to determine for themselves what it means to be a good person and to strive to live up to their own moral standards, regardless of their beliefs about God.

It should be obvious that an actual god would judge people by their actions and behaviors, not by the intangible and mostly unwitting architecture of their beliefs. This is where Christianity took a wrong turn. If there is a ‘real god’ and it came down and took questions from the press, the answer ChatGPT gave is very close to how you would expect that god to respond.

(4252) Enuma Elish and the Bible

There is considerable evidence that the creation story in the Book of Genesis was influenced by the Babylonian poem Enuma Elish. The following was taken from:

Enuma Elish and the Bible

If an ancient Babylonian heard the stories in the primeval history of Genesis, they would think some parts sounded very familiar. Indeed, parts of Genesis resemble the Enuma Elish, an epic poem from ancient Babylon that is often called the Babylonian creation myth.

What is the Enuma Elish?

The name “Enuma Elish” comes from the first words of the poem, which in Akkadian mean “when above.” The poem describes a battle between the gods at the beginning of time, culminating with the hero-god Marduk defeating Tiamat, the goddess of salty waters, and creating the world. No one knows exactly when the Enuma Elish was composed, but a date in the second millennium BCE is likely, long before the earliest parts of the Bible were written down.

What do the Bible and the Enuma Elish share in common?

The Enuma Elish resembles a few parts of the Bible, especially Gen 1. Both begin with temporal clauses: “when above” and “in the beginning.” In the ancient world, the sea was associated with chaos and destruction. The Bible includes a number of texts in which God battles and tames the chaotic sea, like Marduk battling Tiamat, who embodies the sea. But in Gen 1, God is already superior to “the Deep,” which in Hebrew is tehom, a word related to Tiamat.

Rather than creating out of nothing, both God and Marduk create by giving order to the chaos, which for Marduk means creating out of Tiamat’s corpse. Both God and Marduk separate primordial waters and place a barrier in between the upper and lower waters. Both create luminaries to give light. Gen 1 occurs over seven days, and the Enuma Elish is told across seven tablets. On the sixth day God creates humans, which Marduk does in the sixth tablet of the Enuma Elish. While God marks humans as special by making them in God’s image (Gen 1), Marduk has man created from the blood of a slain god. God orders humans to work and care for the earth (Gen 1 and Gen 2). Marduk assigns the work of the gods to the humans, so that the gods can rest.

Finally, both the Enuma Elish and the Bible (Gen 11:1-9) include stories about the founding of Babylon (Babel in Hebrew), including the building of a tower or ziggurat. But while Marduk names the city Bab-ili, which means “gate of the gods,” the Bible connects Babel to the Hebrew word “to confuse.”

Scholars offer different explanations to account for the similarities between the Enuma Elish and the Bible. Because Babylon was a significant power in the ancient Near East, it is possible that some biblical writers knew the Enuma Elish. Others think the similarities result from common ancient Near Eastern beliefs that influenced both texts. If the writers of Genesis did know the Enuma Elish, we must also ask whether they were simply adapting the poem to tell their own stories of creation or if they purposefully reworked the Enuma Elish to claim supremacy for Israel’s God instead of Marduk.

Any indication that the Bible borrowed literary traditions originating outside of the land of the ‘chosen people of god’ contaminates its claim to be the inspired product of the Jewish/Christian god. Rather it speaks to the Bible being a work of humans who were inclined to plagiarize the themes of previous works from foreign lands.

(4253) Women invented the gods

There are many theories about how and why humans invented the concept of gods, and they did it quite frequently as the count to date is about 18,000 gods that have been worshiped. Interestingly, there is some reason to believe that women more so than men were the first to create the idea of divine beings. The following was taken from:


Most societies around the world believe in some form of deity. In the past I always believed that the ideas for these beliefs came from men sitting around the campfire discussing where everything came from. However I have come to conclusion that in the days of hunter gatherers any man that started such a conversation would have been laughed at and the discussion would have ceased very quickly.

A much more likely origin for these ideas would be the women. More specifically the mothers. In these hunter gatherer societies it would have been fairly common for the men to go off hunting leaving the mothers looking after the children. It would also have been fairly common for some of the men to not return home from the hunt.

The mother left alone with her grieving children would seek to provide them with some comfort to ease their pain at losing their father. So she would tell them that their father had gone to a better place and not to worry as they would all eventually be all together again living in that wonderful place. She would also take the opportunity to tell them that their father would always be watching them to make sure that they were being good.

These stories would be passed down from generation to generation and with each passing they would be added too and elaborated on. Eventually the men in these societies would realize the power these ideas contained and would usurp them for their ends.

These stories that were initially created to give comfort have gone on to become some of the most powerful ideas the world has ever been witness to.

If this theory is true, it is somewhat ironic that men usurped the concept of deities for their own advantage, but in today’s world, women tend to be more steadfast in retaining belief in them. Female brain structure might also be at play, as their greater intuitive capabilities might have helped to influence the idea that unseen powerful beings exist.

(4254) Periaqueductal grey role in sustained religiosity

One quandary confusing anthropologists is why did religious belief become so ubiquitous among humans when from an evolutionary point of view, religious customs should have led to a decrease in survival chances- because of the wasteful time in prayer, sacrificing food and persons, and neglecting to evaluate reality from a more scientific point of view. What the study referenced below found is that there is a primitive area in the brain that seats much of the belief in gods while also accentuating altruistic behaviors (which are well known to improve survivability). This could be one explanation for the incredible staying power of religious belief in human beings.


Anthropologists estimate that at least 18,000 different gods, goddesses, and various animals or objects have been worshipped by humans since our species first appeared. Today, it is estimated that more than 80 percent of the global population considers themselves religious or spiritual in some form.

The neural substrates of religiosity or spirituality are under investigation by neuroscientists. Evolution has clearly selected a brain that can accept a logically absurd world of supernatural causes and beings. Spirituality must offer something tangible that enhances procreation and survival. Otherwise, evolution should have selected against such costly beliefs and behaviors as making gigantic pyramids to house the dead, blowing oneself up for the pleasures of paradise, or sacrificing one’s children as a measure of devotion to one’s deity.

Religious beliefs, spirituality, and the need to worship a deity of some kind are undoubtedly durable traits. Some gods were worshipped for very long periods and then virtually disappeared from the historical record. For example, the sun god Ra was worshipped by many different cultures for thousands of years and then completely disappeared. If historical precedent holds, many of the gods worshipped today will be forgotten and quickly replaced by others.

During the past few years, neuroscientists have developed an area of study called the neuroscience of religiosity to understand the neurobiology of this fascinating aspect of human behavior.

The neural substrates of religious belief are an intriguing though contentious topic. Neuroscientists are often reductionistic and would like to explain religiosity by brain wiring. After all, the tendency to religiosity or spirituality and brain-wiring patterns that underlie specific personality traits are considered inheritable.

Are the brains of spiritual people different from those of atheists or agnostics?

One recent study used a collection of recently developed non-invasive tools to examine the brain and answer this question. The study used electroencephalography, structural neuroimaging (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI), and functional neuroimaging (both fMRI and positron emission technology) to study people who practiced a wide range of religions (e.g., Christianity, Buddhism, Islam). They were scanned and monitored while in religious or spiritual states or behaviors (e.g., simply resting, prayer, etc.).

The study had some inherent problems due to the challenge of measuring religiosity. Unique activity in several brain regions was associated with a religious or spiritual state, including areas of the frontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and the default mode network. The findings suggest that the experience of being in a religious or spiritual state has specific neurobiological correlates and that these correlates are distinct from being in non-religious states.

A recent study attempted to map spirituality to a specific human brain circuit. The study discovered that self-reported spirituality or religiosity mapped to a brain circuit centered on a brain region called the periaqueductal grey. This is quite a fascinating discovery given that the periaqueductal grey is found in the brainstem, not the cortex, as might be expected from other studies.

The periaqueductal grey is an ancient structure that is believed to play a role in our response to fear, pain, and altruistic behavior. Damage to this brain stem circuit causes delusions, and alien limb syndrome also intersected this circuit. This brain circuit, and the apparent importance of the periaqueductal grey, may have evolved to encourage altruistic behaviors and reduce the fear of living in an unpredictable world.

The fact that religious belief is more centered in the brain stem rather than in the cortex might explain why the impressive evolution of the cortex over the past 100,000 years failed to reduce religious belief (at least until recent times). In effect, religion is hard wired into human brains and it takes a lot of ‘software patches’ to overcome it.

(4255) Marginalizing the baptism of Jesus

As the theology of Jesus evolved, eventually making him God himself, early traditions needed to be modified. One of those was the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River. This became a problem because it seemed more plausible that Jesus should have baptized John, not the other way around. By studying the gospels in the chronological order they were written, we can see this changeover gradually being made. The following was taken from:


Now let’s turn to the baptism of Jesus. Mark 1:9-11 describes the baptism of Jesus by John without any objections. The author of Matthew copies this story (Matthew 3:13-17), but adds objections from John. In this version, John protests that he is not worthy of baptizing Jesus. In the version in the gospel of Luke (Luke 3:21-22), John is even more marginalized. He is not even mentioned as explicitly baptizing Jesus. It says that Jesus had been baptized and that the Holy Spirit descended upon him when he was praying, not during the baptism by John. In the gospel of John, Jesus’ baptism is left out completely. The idea that John had baptized Jesus became so embarrassing that the later gospel authors marginalized John’s role in Jesus’ baptism.

Evolving theology is a clear marker for mythology. In this case, if Jesus was indeed baptized by John, it was done because Jesus considered himself subservient to him, thereby negating his divinity. If Jesus was not baptized by John, then the author of the Gospel of Mark made up the story, and it was then copied by the other gospel authors. Neither of these scenarios plays out well for Christianity.

(4256) John’s disciples knew/did-not-know the Holy Spirit

A contradiction exists in the New Testament regarding whether or not John the Baptist was preaching about the Holy Spirit. In Mark he was well aware of the Holy Spirit, but in Acts his disciples had not ever heard of it.

Mark 1:7-8

And this was his [John the Baptist] message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 19:1-3

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples [of John the Baptist] and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

It seems incongruous that if John knew about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or simply the existence of the Holy Spirit, that his disciples would not have known about it. In fact, it is impossible. There is something wrong with one of both of these scriptures.

(4257) A condensed history of Christianity

In the following, the author presents a ‘most probable’ succinct summary of how Christianity developed- started by an acetic fanatic in John the Baptist, then modified somewhat by Jesus (who was originally John’s disciple), and then fundamentally changed and fashioned in more or less its current form by Paul:


In the early first century, a new movement emerged. It was started by John the baptizer. One of his disciples was Jesus of Nazareth, who became a prominent person in the movement. When John died, Jesus took over most of the movement. Later Jesus died, and his brother James became the leader of the church soon thereafter.

This was a Jewish movement, who believed that the kingdom of God was near. They baptized people for the forgiveness of sins. They lived in voluntary poverty and gave away their possessions to the poor. They believed that Jesus was the messiah. They observed the Torah with an interpretation similar to that of Hillel.

Then Paul came around. He changed it from a Jewish sect to a universal religion. Rather than the message of Jesus, he preached a message about Jesus. This message still had some aspects of the original movement such as the Eucharist, but the core of the message was changed. Pauline Christianity marginalized John the Baptist and James the brother of Jesus and focused on Jesus alone. But even with Jesus, his teachings fell to the background and it only focused on the resurrection. Pauline Christians believed that Jesus was the Son of God, who pre-existed and incarnated and later died for our sins. The central belief of this new religion was that faith in the resurrection of Jesus was all that mattered for salvation. This is completely different from the teachings of John, Jesus, James, and the movement that they started.

Very few Christians have any idea of how their religion originated and how it changed over time. They are mostly oblivious to the way that Paul transformed Christianity from a works-based, law-centered, focus-on-the-poor movement, to a new faith based on an over-simplified formula (accepting Jesus’ ‘sacrifice’ as the sole condition for earning a ticket to heaven). It takes little study or scholarship to ‘look behind the curtain’ and realize that the ‘Great Oz’ is an illusion.

(4258) Luke’s motivation to invent census myth

Biblical scholars have wondered for centuries why the author of the Gospel of Luke made up a story of a Roman census to explain why Jesus was born in Bethlehem, even though he lived in Nazareth. None of the other gospel authors mention a census, and the only census in Roman records that could possibly be consistent with Luke’s story, the census of Judea (under Quirinius) in 6 CE, is problematic for three reasons: (1) it applied only to Judea, not Galilee where Jesus lived, (2) King Herod died in 4 BCE (10 years before the census) but the Gospel of Matthew states that he reacted murderously to Jesus’ birth, and (3) Roman censuses never required people to return to their ancestral homes as implied in Luke’s account.

So why didn’t Luke come up with a more plausible story, such as Mary and Joseph knew a midwife in Bethlehem that could help with the birth? As conjectured below, it was because Luke was focused on placating the Roman establishment, and to show allegiance to Roman rule it was convenient to have Joseph and Mary comply with a legal requirement to travel to another city, even under the duress of a soon-to-deliver pregnant woman. The following was taken from:


This has to do with a broader interest of Luke-Acts to present Christians as (1) loyal subjects of the Roman empire (who therefore shouldn’t be persecuted) and (2) as the “true” inheritors of the ancient Jewish traditions (and who therefore should be recognized legitimate practitioners of an established religion and not of a new superstition).

This is nicely visible for example in how Christians and Jews are presented throughout Luke-Acts, especially when interacting with the Romans. Christians are consistently recognized as innocent and even supported by the Romans (Jesus is declared innocent by Pilate no less than three times, the centurion Cornelius is an early convert, Cyprian governor Sergius Paulus becomes a believer, the Philippian praetors apologize to Paul and Silas for mistreatment, proconsul Gallio rejects accusations against Paul, Claudius Lysias rescues Paul and declares him innocent, Felix treats Paul well and dismisses accusations by Tertullus, Festus tells Agrippa that Paul is innocent of political charges etc.) The Jews who reject the gospel are depicted mostly in a negative light – the author emphasizes their responsibility for the death of Jesus, he depicts them as conspiring, bringing false accusations, causing civil disturbance, etc.

This framework encompasses even the family of Jesus and John the Baptist who are likewise depicted as pious Jews and as loyal subjects of the Roman empire. The census is the perfect opportunity for the author of Luke-Acts to show this because Jews specifically had a huge issue with the very concept of a census for idiosyncratic reasons, so much so that the first actual census of Judea (under Quirinius) in 6 CE lead to a violent uprising. Josephus explicitly identifies this census as the first cause of the eventual breakdown of Roman-Jewish relations and the Jewish War. Depicting 1st century Jews as complying with a Roman census is exactly what a literary author would do if he wanted to show them as loyal Roman subjects.

Following the terror of the Jewish War that culminated in the destruction of the Temple in CE 70, there was a period of time where the Jewish/Christian inhabitants of Judea, those who had survived, were especially careful to present themselves as loyal Roman subjects. This attitude likely infiltrated the writings of Luke, and thus the idea of the fantasy census was one way to cement this expression of subservience.

(4259) Christian god communicates just like false gods

If the Christian god exists, then why would he communicate with humankind in the same inefficient manner as the non-existent gods of other religions? Not only did the allegedly omnipotent Christian god elect not to use any supernatural means of communication, but he also chose to use the same dubious means (use of ancient and unreliable texts) as other false religions. This does not make sense. The following was taken from:


Many religions (at least the tops big ones) have some sort of scripture which tells them various things about their religion. This book (or collection) is written down by various followers, and usually reveals different things over time, adding new ideas as followers think more about their religion.

None of these false gods are able to prove themselves through supernatural means of communication, since they don’t exist. Therefore, I would like to posit that the Christian God (as described in the Bible) does not exist, because he too does not communicate through any supernatural means.

Before I continue, it needs to be said that the Christian God wants everyone to be saved and know his truth (1 Timothy 2:4 ESV says, “[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Likewise, 2 Peter 3 ESV says “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Therefore, God wants everyone to know him and be saved.

Here is an outline of my idea:

P1. If the Christian God Exists, he is all-powerful, and therefore able to communicate in any possible way.

P2. If the Christian God exists, he wants everyone to be saved and know his truth.

P3. In order to be saved, people must first know God’s truth.

P4. If the Christian God exists, he would use his power to make sure everyone knows his truth, and therefore have the highest possibility of being saved.

P5. Not everyone knows God’s truth.

P6. A major reason people do not know God’s truth is due to the way he chooses to communicate.

Conclusion: Therefore, the Christian God does not exist.

If God does want everyone to know his truth, and he is all powerful, why then does he communicate in the exact same way that false religions do (in other words, in ways that humans can replicate) if not because he doesn’t exist?

There are many ways God could communicate in order to make sure everyone knows his truth in an undeniable way.

For example, at the very least, why didn’t he make his special book actually special? If God inspires the original words, why doesn’t he divinely protect them? It would be easy for God to make sure no translations or copies change his original words, yet we have countless examples of the Biblical text being changed, such as the story of the woman caught in adultery as well as the ending of Mark as the most obvious examples. If God wanted those stories in his book, he could have put them there in the first place.

But even beyond this, the only way God supposedly communicates reliably is through an ancient religious text. This sets up several barriers to people learning God’s truth that could have easily been taken down. I will go through several of those barriers next, and how they could hypothetically have been removed.

First, people that read the Bible must decide for themselves if they think it is from God or not. There is no current test that can be done to definitively answer this question for all of humanity. One example of such a test could have been this: Bibles that have God’s divine knowledge are always supernaturally protected and can never be destroyed or harmed in any way even though it is not made from any special materials. This would prove at least that the Bible is somehow special, having a leg up against all other religious texts (which could be destroyed).

Another barrier is that a lone book requires it to be copied, translated, and transported to various locations in order for different people to be able to read and understand it. This could have been avoided several ways. One way would be if God would supernaturally provide the Bible in an understandable language to everyone from day one.

A third barrier is that not everyone understands what God is trying to say in his text. People misunderstand what the Bible means all the time (just look at how many denominations there are). This is because different people may need information presented to them in different ways in order for the correct message to be delivered. This could be avoided if God provided personal, physical, supernaturally protected letters to anyone that calls out to him in prayer, explaining his words in ways that would speak perfectly to the individual. This would make sure everyone has perfect knowledge of God’s truth.

A fourth barrier is that people need to be able to read in order to understand God’s word. Otherwise they need to trust that someone else is correctly telling them what the word says. This could be avoided by God personally revealing his truth to every single person in a number of ways, be that direct and undeniable visions, audible experiences, or innate knowledge instilled within us from birth in which we know all of God’s truth from day one.

There is just one problem for all of these barriers: they actually require a supernatural and all powerful God. They cannot be overcome by purely human means. This is why false religions do not overcome any of these barriers.

Likewise, it can safely be assumed that the Christian God does not exist either, since he does not overcome these barriers, despite claiming he wants to, and also claiming he has the ability to.

If your answer to any of this is somehow “free will,” please tell me exactly why having all of the correct information would impair your free will rather than helping it?

More info equals better decisions.

More info does not equal lack of free will.

If your answer is somehow that God does not want everyone to be saved, then please explain how that doesn’t contradict the verses given above.

The Bible does not stand out as being the product of a supernatural being and that fact suggests strongly that the god talked about between its covers does not exist.

(4260) Doubting Thomas comparison failure

Many Christian pastors relate the Gospel of John story of Jesus’ disciple Thomas doubting reports from his co-disciples that Jesus was alive post-crucifixion (John 20:24-29) to current people doubting the Jesus story. This is a poor analogy as exemplified by the following scenarios:

(A) Your friend Bob was in a car wreck and you went to his funeral. A few days later, some of your friends told you that they had seen Bob and that he was alive and healthy.

(B) You had a friend, Bob, who did some miraculous things. He walked across your swimming pool. He multiplied hamburgers before your eyes. He healed your eczema instantaneously. He changed a carafe of water into the best wine you ever tasted. He unearthed your buried dog, dead for four days, and restored her to life. Then Bob was in a car wreck and you went to his funeral. A few days later, some of your friends told you that they had seen Bob and that he was alive and healthy.

It is fair to say that you would be more doubtful of your friends under Scenario A. Under B, you might be wondering if it could be true.

Thomas was operating under Scenario B (he had eye-witnessed the miracles of Jesus), whereas people living today are under Scenario A. To say that a current person doubting the story of Jesus is just like Thomas is not true. Thomas had good reasons to conclude that Jesus could cheat death. On the other hand, anyone alive today has never seen such a miracle worker as Jesus and thus have no reason to conclude that the resurrection of anyone is possible. People doubting today are on much firmer ground than Thomas, and any comparison between the two is invalid.

(4261) Nine reasons to doubt 500 eyewitnesses

There are many Christians who, when asked why they believe that Jesus rose from the dead, use a single verse in one of Paul’s letters stating that 500 people at the same time saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion. The following essay raises nine issues to doubt the truth of this claim:


The apostle Paul throws down the gauntlet in 1 Cor. 15:6, and many apologists see it as powerful evidence in favor of the resurrection story. Paul in effect dares his readers to go check out his claim if they want. Who would make a claim like this, making himself vulnerable to readers catching him in a lie (or at least an embarrassing error), if he didn’t know it were true?

[Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have [died]. (1 Cor. 15:6).

Paul’s number has a default credibility like Joe McCarthy’s numbers of Soviet spies did. Who would say a number if it weren’t correct, right?

But this confident defense of the resurrection wilts under scrutiny.

Let’s think this through. Imagine that we’re in that church in Corinth and we have just received Paul’s letter.

1. What does “appeared” mean? Jesus “appeared” to Paul as a vision (Acts 9:3–9), but Paul uses the same verb to refer the appearance of Jesus to Peter, James, and the 500 as well as to Paul. Could Paul think that the appearance to everyone was as a vision?

2. Who are these 500 eyewitnesses? Names and addresses, please? To find out, someone would need to send a letter back to Paul, at that moment 200 miles across the Aegean Sea in Ephesus. If a church member had the money, time, and guts to write this letter, why would Paul have deigned to reply?

Even if Paul had witnessed Jesus in front of the 500 (he hadn’t), it’s possible he wouldn’t have known a single person in that crowd. And even if Paul thought the number were accurate, “500 eyewitnesses” might be all he had heard, and he wouldn’t have been able to back it up with any evidence.

3. How many will still be around? Paul wrote this epistle in about 55CE about a supposed event that occurred over 20 years earlier. Of the 500 eyewitnesses, how many are still alive and still in Jerusalem, ready to be questioned?

4. Who could make this trip?  [from Corinth to Jerusalem to determine whether Paul’s claim is true] Jerusalem is 800 miles away, and getting there would involve a long, dangerous, and expensive trip.

5. How many candidates for this trip? Paul had only started the church in Corinth a couple of years earlier. There would probably have been less than 100 members.* Would even one have the means and motivation to make the big trip to Jerusalem?

6. Who would challenge Paul? If the founder of the church says something, who’s likely to question it? There might well have been people who were unimpressed by Paul’s message, but these would never have joined the church. Others within the church might have become disappointed and left. Even if these people had wanted to embarrass Paul, they wouldn’t have been in the church community to learn of the claim.

7. What did the eyewitnesses actually see? Let’s imagine that we have the money and daring to make the trip, we have a plan for whom to interview in Jerusalem, and we’re rebellious enough to spit in the face of our church’s founder to see if he’s a liar.

After many adventures, we reach Jerusalem. What will the eyewitnesses say? At best they’ll say that, over 20 years ago, they saw a man. Big deal—that’s uninteresting unless they saw him dead before. Had they been close enough to the movement to be certain that they recognized Jesus? Human memory is notoriously inaccurate. There’s a big difference between the certainty one has in a memory and its accuracy—these don’t always go together.

8. So what? Suppose all these unlikely things happen: we make the long trip, we search for eyewitnesses, and we conclude that Paul’s story is nonsense. If we successfully make the long trip back, what difference will this make? Even if we had the guts to tell everyone that Paul’s story was wrong, so what? Who would believe us over the church’s founder? We’d be labeled as bad apples, we’d be expelled from the church, the church would proceed as before, and Paul’s letter would still be copied through the centuries for us to read today!

9. Why is this even compelling evidence? No gospel uses this anecdote as evidence. For whatever reason—that they’d never heard it or that they had and felt that it was uninteresting—the gospels argue that this is unconvincing evidence. Why should we think otherwise?

A tenth reason would be that Jesus would certainly not want to be out in the open with hundreds of people seeing him considering he still had a death sentence under Roman law, and with all these people seeing him it would be likely that his location would be reported, leading to a re-arrest and another crucifixion.

It is obvious that Paul made up this story as a way to convince others that the resurrection happened. But if it had happened, the gospel authors would surely have included it in their writings. This is one the earliest examples of ‘lying for Jesus’- the theory that it is OK to being untruthful if it results in more believers.

(4262) Jesus could have clarified everything

The confusion, schisms, and wars fueled by controversies over Christian doctrine could have been avoided if Jesus had been more specific and if this guidance had been accurately recorded in the gospels. The argument below is that if Jesus really was a divine being of the Trinity, this is exactly what would have happened:


For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Let’s say Jesus is God and he knows he is founding a new religion that might cause confusion to people. It would be expected that Jesus would be perfectly clear in his teachings and guide people as perfectly as possible. In reality he failed to do this pretty badly and that’s why Christians can’t agree to much of anything.

One of the things that is surprising to me is how in the bible itself we can see the primitive church struggling with doctrines. There were “judaizers” and then Paul came to save the day. How can that be? How can any Christian be confused about something so basic? Why couldn’t Jesus say himself “oh this circumcision and Jewish stuff, my followers don’t need to do that anymore”? We are talking about the first followers here, some people who supposedly were apostles or very close to the apostles, if they didn’t know what they were doing, what can we know 2,000 years later?

Jesus could’ve told people about the apostles creed. Jesus could have been perfectly clear about where and what is the church he is founding. For example, if Jesus was Catholic, he could’ve said “Peter is the rock upon which my church is founded and all the leaders of my church will be followers of Peter in the city of Rome”. There, now you can completely destroy the Eastern Orthodox arguments, because we would know for sure the followers of Peter would be in Rome. But nope, Jesus was ambiguous and now we had numerous wars, controversy, schisms, debates, etc between the Latins and the Greeks. Jesus could’ve explained everything about his nature, about the trinity, about everything, and he thought that telling parables was more important than that? Come on.

Christians to this day don’t know why Jesus died exactly, that’s why we have so many atonement theories. The very heart of the religion and people need to be making theories centuries later to explain it.

This all can easily be explained if Jesus simply had a small cult and then the religion expanded way beyond what he was expecting and now there was a bunch of stuff that needed to be explained. This cannot be explained if Jesus was some sort of omnipotent God with infinite wisdom (and even if Jesus was somehow limited by his human nature, he still had a direct link to his father so no excuses).

There is no way that an omnipotent god could have established a religion and left so much uncertainty as to its rules and dogma. Christianity is clearly the befuddled work of human brains.

(4263) New Testament contradictions

The New Testament is full of inconsistencies, which is what you would expect if it was written by many different people without any supernatural agency overseeing the effort. The following lists 194 contradictions within its pages (most Christians are aware of NONE of these):


1. Jesus’ lineage was traced through David’s son Solomon. Mt.1:6. Jesus’ lineage was traced through David’s son Nathan. Lk.3:31.

2. The announcement of the special birth came before conception. Lk.1:26-31. The announcement of the special birth came after conception. Mt.1:18-21.

3. Jesus’ parents were told of their son’s future greatness. Mt.1:18-21; Lk.1:28-35. Jesus’ parents knew nothing of their son’s potential. Lk.2:48-50.

4. The angel told Joseph. Mt.1:20. The angel told Mary. Lk.1:28.

5. There were 28 generations from David to Jesus. Mt.1:17. There were 43 generations from David to Jesus. Lk.3:23-31.

6. Jacob was Joseph’s father. Mt.1:16. Heli was Joseph’s father. Lk.3:23.

7. He was to be called Emmanuel. Mt.1:23. He was called Jesus. Mt.1:25.

8. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt while Herod slaughters all males under 2 years old. Mt.2:13-16. (Note: Jesus’ cousin, John, was also under 2 and survived without having to flee.) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus did not flee to Egypt, but remained for temple rituals. No slaughter of infants is mentioned! Lk.2:21-39.

9. Jesus was tempted during the 40 days in the wilderness. Mk.1:13. Jesus was tempted after the 40 days in the wilderness. Mt.4:2,3.

10. The devil first took Jesus to the pinnacle, then to the mountain top. Mt.4:5-8. The devil first took Jesus to the mountain top, then to the pinnacle. Lk.4:5-9.

11. Satan tempted Jesus. Mt.4:1-10; Mk.1:13; Lk.4:1,2. Satan had no interest in Jesus. Jn.14:30.

12. The baptism of Jesus was with the “Holy Ghost”. Mk.1:8; Jn.1:33. Fire was also added to the baptism. Mt.3:11; Lu.3:16.

13. John knew of Jesus before he baptized him. Mt.3:11-13; Jn.1:28,29. John knew nothing of Jesus at all. Mt.11:1-3.

14. Jesus begins his ministry after John’s arrest. Mk.1:13,14. Jesus begins his ministry before John’s arrest. Jn.3:22-24.

15. It is recorded that Jesus saw the spirit descending. Mt.3:16; Mk.1:10. It is recorded that John saw the spirit descending. Jn.1:32.

16. The heavenly voice addressed the gathering. Mt.3:17. The heavenly voice addressed Jesus. Mk.1:11; Lk.3:22.

17. Immediately after the baptism, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. Mt.4:1,2; Mk.1:12,13. Three days after the baptism, Jesus was at the wedding in Cana. Jn.2:1.

18. Jesus went to Bethphage and the Mt. of Olives, then left for Bethany. Mt.21:1,17. Jesus went to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mt. of Olives. Mk.11:1; Lk.19:29. Jesus went to Bethany and then Jerusalem. Jn.12:1,12.

19. Jesus and his disciples taught in Capernaum. Mk.1:20,21. Only Jesus taught in Capernaum. Lk.4:30,31.

20. Peter was chosen, with Andrew, by the Sea of Galilee. Mt.4:18-20; Mk.1:16-18. Peter was chosen, with James and John, by the lake of Gennesaret. Lk.5:2-11. Andrew chose Jesus and then got Peter to join. Jn.1:35-42.

21. Peter was to preach to the Jews. Mt.10:2,5,6; Gal.2:7. Peter was to preach to the Gentiles. Acts 15:7.

22. Jesus cured Simon Peter’s mother-in-law after he cleansed the leper. Mt.8:1-15. Jesus cured Simon Peter’s mother-in-law before he cleansed the leper. Mk.1:30-42; Lk.4:38 to 5:13.

23. Peter’s mother-in-law was healed before Peter was called to be a disciple. Lu.4:38,39; 5:10. Peter’s mother-in-law was healed after Peter was called to be a disciple. Mt.4:18,19; 8:14,15; Mk.1:16,17,30,31.

24. James and John were with Jesus when he healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Mk.1:29-31. James and John were not with Jesus when he healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Lu.4:38,39; 5:10,11.

25. Lebbaeus (Thaddaeus) was the name of an apostle – but no Judas, brother of James. Mt. 10:3. Judas, the brother of James, was an apostle, but no Thaddaeus. Lk.6:16; Acts 1:13.

26. The centurion’s servant was healed in between the cleansing of the leper and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. Mt.8:2-15. The centurion’s servant was healed after the cleansing of the leper and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. Lu.4:38,39; 5:12,13; 7:1-10.

27. The people were not impressed with the feeding of the multitude. Mk.6:52. The people were very impressed with the feeding of the multitude. Jn.6:14.

28. After the feeding of the multitude, Jesus went to Gennesaret. Mk.6:53. After the feeding of the multitude, Jesus went to Capernaum. Jn.6:14-17.

29. A demon cries out that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Mk.1:23,24. Everyone who confesses that Jesus came in the flesh is of God. 1 Jn.4:2.

30. Jesus cursed the fig tree so that it would not bear fruit. Mt.21:19; Mk.11:14. It wasn’t time for the fig tree to bear fruit. Mk.11:13.

31. The fig tree withers immediately, and the disciples are amazed. Mt.21:19,20. The disciples first notice the withered tree the next day. Mk.11:20,21.

32. Jesus is the mediator of the “Father”. 1 Tim.2:5; 1 Jn.2:1. Jesus sits on “his” right hand. Mk. 16:19. Jesus and the “Father” are one in the same. Jn.10:30. 33. There is one “God”. 1 Tim.2:5; Jms.2:19. There are three. 1 Jn.5:7.

34. Jesus said to honor your father and mother. Mt.15:4; Mt.19:19; Mk.7:10; Mk.10:19; Lk.18:20. Jesus said that he came to set people against their parents. Mt.10:35-37; Lk.12:51-53; Lk.14:26. Jesus said to call no man father. Mt.23:9.

35. Jesus/God said, “You fool…”. Lk.12:20; Mt.23:17. Paul calls people fools. 1 Cor.15:36. Call someone a fool and you go to hell. Mt.5:22.

36. Anger by itself is a sin. Mt.5:22. But not necessarily. Eph.4:26.

37. Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you. Mt.7:7,8; Lk.11:9,10. Ask and you shall be refused. Seek and you won’t find. Knock and you will be refused entrance. Lk.13:24-27.

38. Do not judge. Mt.7:1,2. Unless it is necessary, of course. 1 Jn.4:1-3.

39. Jesus is thankful that some things are hidden. Mt.11:25; Mk.4:11,12. Jesus said that all things should be made known. Mk.4:22.

40. Jesus said that no sign would be given. Mk.8:12. Jesus said that no sign would be given except for that of Jonas. Mt.12:39; Lk.11:29. Jesus showed many signs. Jn.20:30; Acts 2:22.

41. Jesus stated that the law was until heaven and earth ended. Mt. 5:17-19. Jesus stated that the law was only until the time of John. Lk.16:16.

42. The “Sermon on the Mount” took place on the mountain. Mt.5:1. The “Sermon on the Mount” took place on a plain. Lu.6:17.

43. The “Lord’s Prayer” was taught to many during the “Sermon on the Mount”. Mt.6:9. The “Lord’s Prayer” was taught only to the disciples at another time. Lu.11:1.

44. Jesus had his own house. Mk.2:15. Jesus did not have his own house. Lu.9:58.

45. Good works should be seen. Mt.5:16. Good works should not be seen. Mt.6:1-4.

46. Jesus said that Salvation was only for the Jews. Mt.15:24; Mt.10:5,6; Jn.4:22; Rom.11:26,27. Paul said that salvation was also for the Gentiles. Acts 13:47,48.

47. Repentance is necessary. Acts 3:19; Lu.3:3. Repentance is not necessary. Rom.11:29.

48. Non-believers obtain mercy. Rom.11:32. Only believers obtain mercy. Jn.3:36; Rom.14:23. Only baptized believers obtain mercy. Mk.16:16. Mercy cannot be predetermined. Rom.9:18.

49. All who call on the “Lord” will be saved. Rom.10:13; Acts 2:21. Only those predestined will be saved. Acts 13:48; Eph.1:4,5; 2 Thes.2:13; Acts 2:47.

50. Jesus said he would not cast aside any that come to him. Jn.6:37. Jesus said that many that come to him will be cast aside. Mt.7:21-23.

51. Salvation comes by faith and not works. Eph.2:8,9; Rom.11:6; Gal.2:16; Rom.3:28. Salvation comes by faith and works. Jms.2:14,17,20.

52. The righteous have eternal life. Mt.25:46. The righteous are barely saved. 1 Pet.4:18. There are no righteous. Rom.3:10.

53. Believe and be baptized to be saved. Mk.16:16. Be baptized by water and the spirit to be saved. Jn.3:5. Endure to the end to be saved. Mt.24:13. Call on the name of the “Lord” to be saved. Acts 2:21; Rom.10:13. Believe in Jesus to be saved. Acts 16:31. Believe, then all your household will be saved. Acts 16:31. Hope and you will be saved. Rom.8:24. Believe in the resurrection to be saved. Rom.10:9. By grace you are saved. Eph.2:5 By grace and faith you are saved. Eph.2:8. Have the love of truth to be saved. 2 Thes.2:10. Mercy saves. Titus 3:5.

54. Backsliders are condemned. 2 Pet.2:20. Backsliders are saved regardless. Jn.10:27-29.

55. Forgive seventy times seven. Mt.18:22. Forgiveness is not possible for renewed sin. Heb.6:4-6.

56. Divorce, except for unfaithfulness, is wrong. Mt.5:32. Divorce for any reason is wrong. Mk.10:11,12.

57. Jesus approved of destroying enemies. Lk.19:27. Jesus said to love your enemies. Mt.5:44.

58. God resides in heaven. Mt.5:45; Mt.6:9; Mt.7:21. Angels reside in heaven. Mk.13:32. Jesus is with God in heaven. Acts 7:55,56 Believers go to heaven. 1 Pet.1:3,4. Heaven will pass away. Mt.24:35; Mk.13:31; Lk.21:33.

59. Pray that you don’t enter temptation. Mt.26:41. Temptation is a joy. Jms.1:2.

60. God leads you into temptation. Mt.6:13. God tempts no one. Jms.1:13.

61. Take no thought for tomorrow. God will take care of you. Mt.6:25-34; Lk.12:22-31. A man who does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel. 1 Tim.5:8.

62. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21; Rom.10:13. Not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Mt.7:21. Only those whom the Lord chooses will be saved. Acts 2:39.

63. We are justified by works and not by faith. Mt.7:21; Rom.2:6,13; Jms.2:24. We are justified by faith and not by works. Jn.3:16; Rom.3:27; Eph.2:8,9.; Gal.2:16.

64. Do not take sandals (shoes) or staves. Mt.10:10. Take only sandals (shoes) and staves. Mk.6:8,9.

65. Jesus said that in him there was peace. Jn.16:33. Jesus said that he did not come to bring peace. Mt.10:34; Lk.12:51.

66. Jesus said that John the Baptist was a prophet and Elijah. Mt.11:9; Mt.17:12,13. John said that he was not a prophet nor was he Elijah. Jn.1:21.

67. Jesus said that he was meek and lowly. Mt.11:29. Jesus makes whips and drives the moneychangers out from the temple. Mt. 21:12; Mk.11:15,16; Jn.2:15.

68. Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”. Lk.12:1. Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”. Mt.16:6,11. Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod”. Mk.8:15.

69. Jesus founds his church on Peter. Mt.16:18. Jesus calls Peter “Satan” and a hindrance. Mt.16:23.

70. The mother of James and John asks Jesus to favor her sons. Mt.20:20,21. They ask for themselves. Mk.10:35-37.

71. Jesus responds that this favor is not his to give. Mt.20:23; Mk.10:40. Jesus said that all authority is given to him. Mt.28:18; Jn.3:35.

72. Jesus heals two unnamed blind men. Mt.20:29,30. Jesus heals one named blind man. Mk.10:46-52.

73. Jesus healed all that were sick. Mt.8:16; Lk.4:40. Jesus healed many that were sick – but not all. Mk.1:34.

74. The council asks Jesus if he is the Son of God. Lk.22:70. The high priest asks Jesus if he is the Christ, the Son of God. Mt.26:63. The high priest asks Jesus if he is the Christ the Son of the Blessed. Mk.14:61. The high priest asks Jesus about his disciples and his doctrine. Jn.18:19.

75. Jesus answers to the effect of “You said it, not me”. Mt.26:64; Lk.22:70. Jesus answers definitely, “I am”. Mk.14:62.

76. At the Mount of Olives, Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times. Mt.26:30-34. At the Passover meal, Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times. Lu.22:13,14,34.

77. Peter was to deny Jesus before the cock crowed. Mt.26:34; Lk.22:34; Jn.13:38. Peter was to deny Jesus before the cock crowed twice. Mk.14:30.

78. The cock crowed once. Mt.26:74. The cock crowed twice. Mk.14:72.

79. Peter makes his first denial to a maid and some others. Mt.26:69,70. It was only to the maid. Mk.14:66-68; Lk.22:56,57; Jn.18:17.

80. Peter’s second denial was to another maid. Mt.26:71,72. It was to the same maid. Mk.14:69,70. It was to a man and not a maid. Lk.22:58. It was to more than one person. Jn.18:25.

81. Peter’s third denial was to several bystanders. Mt.26:73,74; Mk.14:69,70. It was to one person. Lk.22:59,60. It was to a servant. Jn.18:26,27.

82. The chief priests bought the field. Mt.27:6,7. Judas bought the field. Acts 1:16-19.

83. Judas threw down the money and left. Mt.27:5. Judas used the coins to buy the field. Acts 1:18.

84. Judas hanged himself. Mt.27:5. Judas fell headlong and burst his head open. Acts 1:18.

85. Jesus did not answer any of the charges. Mt.27:12-14; Lk.23:9. Jesus answered some of the charges. Mk.14:61,62. Jesus answered all of the charges. Jn.18:33-37.

86. Jesus said that eternal life would be given to all that were given to him. Jn.11:27-29; Jn.17:12. Jesus released Judas in order to keep this promise. Jn.18:5-9.

87. The chief priests and elders persuade the people. Mt.27:20. Only the chief priests persuade the people. Mk.15:11. The chief priests and the people persuade themselves. Lk.23:13-23.

88. Jesus is given a scarlet robe. Mt.27:28. Jesus is given a purple robe. Mk.15:17; Jn.19:2. Jesus is given a gorgeous robe. Lk.23:11.

89. The sign says, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”. Mt.27:37. The sign says, “The King of the Jews”. Mk.15:26. In three languages, the sign says, “This is the King of the Jews”. Lk.23:38. In the same three languages, the sign says, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”. Jn.19:19,20.

90. Jesus asks God, The Father, why he has forsaken him. Mt.27:46. Jesus said that he and The Father were one in the same. Jn.10:30; Jn.17:11,21,22.

91. The centurion says, “Truly this was the son of God”. Mt.27:54. The centurion says, “Truly this man was the son of God”. Mk.15:39. The centurion says, “Certainly, this was a righteous man”. Lk.23:47. There was no centurion. Jn.19:31-37.

92. Jesus was crucified at the third hour. Mk.15:25. Jesus was still before Pilate at the sixth hour. Jn.19:13,14.

93. The women looked on from “afar”. Mt.27:55; Mk.15:40; Lk.23:49. The women were very close. Jn.19:25.

94. The last recorded words of Jesus were: Version 1: “Eli, Eli …My God, My God why have you forsaken me” Mt.27:46. Version 2: “Eloi, Eloi…My God, My God why have you forsaken me” Mk.15:34. Version 3: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”. Lk.23:46. Version 4: “It is finished”. Jn.19:30.

95. A guard was placed at the tomb the day after the burial. Mt.27:65,66. No guard is mentioned. Mk.15:44-47; Lk.23:52-56; Jn.19:38-42.

96. Only those keeping the words of Jesus will never see death. Jn.8:51. Jesus’ disciples will be killed. Mt.24:3-9. All men die once. Heb.9:27.

97. Upon their arrival, the stone was still in place. Mt.28:1 2. Upon their arrival, the stone had been removed. Mk.16:4; Lk.24:2; Jn.20:1.

98. There was an earthquake. Mt.28:2. There was no earthquake. Mk.16:5; Lk.24:2-4; Jn.20:12.

99. The visitors ran to tell the disciples. Mt.28:8. The visitors told the eleven and all the rest. Lk.24:9. The visitors said nothing to anyone. Mk.16:8.

100. Jesus first resurrection appearance was right at the tomb. Jn.20:12-14. Jesus first resurrection appearance was fairly near the tomb. Mt.28:8,9. Jesus first resurrection appearance was on the road to Emmaus. Lk.24:13-16.

101. One doubted. Jn.20:24. Some doubted. Mt.28:17. All doubted. Mk.16:11; Lk.24:11,14.

102. Jesus said that his blood was shed for many. Mk.14:24. Jesus said his blood was shed for his disciples. Lu.22:20.

103. Simon of Cyrene was forced to bear the cross of Jesus. Mt.27:32; Mk.15:21; Lu.23:26. Jesus bore his own cross. Jn.19:16,17.

104. Jesus was offered vinegar and gall to drink. Mt.27:34. Jesus was offered vinegar to drink. Jn.19:29,30. Jesus was offered wine and myrrh to drink. Mk.15:23.

105. Jesus refused the drink offered him. Mk.15:23. Jesus tasted the drink offered and then refused. Mt.27:34. Jesus accepted the drink offered him. Jn.19:30.

106. Both “thieves” mocked Jesus on the cross. Mt. 27:44; Mk.15:32. One “thief” sided with Jesus on the cross. Lu.23:39-41.

107. Joseph of Arimathaea boldly asked for the body of Jesus. Mk.15:43. Joseph of Arimathaea secretly asked for the body of Jesus. Jn.19:38.

108. Jesus was laid in a nearby tomb. Mk.15:46; Lu.23:53; Jn.19:41. Jesus was laid in Joseph’s new tomb. Mt.27:59,60.

109. A great stone was rolled in front of the tomb. Mt.27:60; Mk.15:46. There was nothing in front of the tomb. Lu.23:55; Jn.19:41.

110. Nicodemus prepared the body with spices. Jn.19:39,40. Failing to notice this, the women bought spices to prepare the body later. Mk. 16:1; Lu.23:55,56.

111. The body was anointed. Jn.19:39,40. The body was not anointed. Mk.15:46 to 16:1; Lk.23:55 to 24:1.

112. The women bought materials before the sabbath. Lu.23:56. The women bought materials after the sabbath. Mk.16:1.

113. Jesus was first seen by Cephas, then the twelve. 1 Cor.15:5. Jesus was first seen by the two Marys. Mt.28:1,8,9. Jesus was first seen by Mary Magdalene. Mk.16:9; Jn.20:1,14,15. Jesus was first seen by Cleopas and others. Lu.24:17,18. Jesus was first seen by the disciples. Acts 10:40,41.

114. The two Marys went to the tomb. Mt.28:1. The two Marys and Salome went to the tomb. Mk.16:1. Several women went to the tomb. Lu.24:10. Only Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. Jn.20:1.

115. It was dawn when Mary went to the tomb. Mt.28:1; Mk.16:2. It was dark when Mary went to the tomb. Jn.20:1.

116. An angel sat on the stone at the door of the tomb. Mt.28:2. A man was sitting inside the tomb. Mk.16:5.

117. Two men were standing inside the tomb. Lk.24:3,4. Two angels were sitting inside the tomb. Jn.20:12.

118. Peter did not go into the tomb but stooped and looked inside. Lk.24:12. Peter did go into the tomb, and another disciple stooped and looked inside. Jn.20:3-6.

119. After the resurrection, the disciples held Jesus by the feet. Mt.28:9. After the resurrection, Jesus told Thomas to touch his side. John 20:27. After the resurrection, Jesus said that he was not to be touched. Jn.20:17.

120. Mary first saw Jesus at the tomb. Jn.20:11-15. Mary first saw Jesus on her way home. Mt.28:8-10.

121. The women entered the tomb. Mk.16:5; Lk.24:3. The women stayed outside the tomb. Jn.20:11.

122. The disciples were frightened when they saw Jesus. Lk.24:36,37. The disciples were glad when they first saw Jesus. Jn.20:20.

123. Twelve disciples saw Jesus. 1 Cor.15:5. Eleven disciples saw Jesus. Thomas was not there. Mt.28:16,17; Jn.20:19-25.

124. The disciples doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead. Mt.28:17. The Pharisees and chief priests believed it possible. Mt.27:62-66.

125. Jesus ascended on the third day after the resurrection. Lk.24:21,50,51. Jesus ascended the same day as the crucifixion. Lk.23:42 43. Jesus ascended forty days after the resurrection. Acts 1:3,9.

126. At the time of the ascension, there were about 120 brethren. Acts 1:15. At the time of the ascension, there were about 500 brethren. 1 Cor.15:6.

127. The moneychangers incident occurred at the end of Jesus’ career. Mt.21:11,12. The moneychangers incident occurred at the beginning of Jesus’ career. Jn.2:11-15.

128. Zacharias was the son of Jehoida, the priest. 2 Chr.24:20. Jesus said that Zacharias was the son of Barachias. Mt.23:35. (Note: The name Barachias or Barachiah does not appear in the OT.)

129. The coming of the kingdom will be accompanied by signs and miracles. Mt.24:29-33; Mk.13:24- 29. It will not be accompanied by signs and miracles since it occurs from within. Lk.17:20,21.

130. The kingdom was prepared from the beginning. Mt.25:34. Jesus said that he was going to go and prepare the kingdom. Jn.14:2,3.

131. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin. Mk.3:29. All sins are forgivable. Acts 13:39; Col.2:13; 1 Jn.1:9.

132. The ascension took place while the disciples were seated together at a table. Mk.16:14-19. The ascension took place outdoors at Bethany. Lk.24:50,51. The ascension took place outdoors at Mt. Olivet. Acts 1:9-12.

133. The holy spirit was with John from before he was born. Lk.1:15,41. The holy spirit was with Elizabeth before John’s birth. Lk.1:41. The holy spirit was with Zechariah. Lk.1:67. The holy spirit was with Simeon. Lk.2:25. The holy spirit is obtained by asking. Lk.11:13. The holy spirit did not come into the world until after Jesus had departed. Jn.7:39; Jn.16:7; Acts 1:3-8.

134. Sometimes God is responsible for unbelief. 2 Thes.2:11,12. Sometimes Jesus is responsible for unbelief. Mk.4:11,12. The devil causes unbelief. Lk.8:12.

135. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer. 1 Jn.3:15. If anyone claims to love God but hates his brother, he is a liar. 1 Jn.4:20. No one can be a disciple of Jesus unless he hates his brother. Lk.14:26.

136. Believers do not come into judgment. Jn.5:24. All people come into judgment. Mt.12:36; 2 Cor.5:10; Heb.9:27; 1 Pet.1:17; Jude 14,15; Rev.20:12,13.

137. Jesus says that, if he bears witness to himself, his testimony is true. Jn.8:14. Jesus says that, if he bears witness to himself, his testimony is not true. Jn.5:31.

138. Men can choose whether or not to believe. Jn.5:38-47. Only God chooses who will believe. Jn.6:44.

139. None of Jesus’ followers would be lost. Jn.10:27-29. Some of Jesus’ followers would be lost. 1 Tim.4:1.

140. Jesus is the ruling prince of this world. Rev.1:5. The prince of this world will be cast out. Jn.12:31.

141. Jesus says all men will be saved. Jn.3:17. Only 144,000 virgin men will be saved. Rev. 14:1-4.

142. God wants all men to be saved. 1 Tim.2:3,4; 2 Pet.3:9. God does not want all men to be saved. Jn.12:40.

143. Peter asks Jesus where he is going. Jn.13:36. Thomas asks Jesus where he is going. Jn.14:5. Jesus said that no one asked where he was going. Jn.16:5.

144. Jesus lost only one disciple. Jn.17:12. Jesus lost no disciples. Jn.18:9.

145. Jesus came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Jn.18:37. The truth has always been evident. Rom.1:18-20.

146. During his first resurrection appearance, Jesus gave his disciples the holy spirit. Jn.20:22. The holy spirit was given to the disciples after his ascension. Acts 1:3-8.

147. The world could not contain all that could be written of Jesus. Jn.21:25. All was written. Acts.1:1.

148. Obey the laws of men for it is the will of God. 1 Pet.2:13-15. The disciples disobey the council. Acts 5:40-42.

149. Obey God, not men. Acts 5:29. Obey men. It is God’s will. Rom.13:1-4; 1 Pet.2:13-15.

150. God hated Esau and loved Jacob even before they were born. Rom.9:10-13. God shows no partiality and treats all alike. Acts 10:34; Rom.2:11.

151. All who have sinned without the law will perish without the law. Rom.2:12. Where there is no law there is no sin or transgression. Rom.4:15.

152. Doers of the law will be justified. Rom.2:13. Doers of the law will not be justified. Rom.3:20; Gal.3:11.

153. The law has dominion. Rom.7:1. The law does not have dominion. Rom.6:14.

154. The law was the result of sin. Gal.3:19. Sin is the result of breaking the law. 1 Jn.3:4.

155. Those of “God” cannot sin. 1 Jn.3:9. Those of “God” can sin. 1 Jn.1:7 8.

156. The anointing of Jesus teaches right from wrong. 1 Jn.2:27. The law written on the heart and conscience teaches right from wrong. Rom.2:15.

157. Abraham was justified by faith. Heb.11:8. Abraham was justified by works. Jms.2:21. Abraham was not justified by works. Rom.4:2.

158. It is not good to eat or drink anything that might cause your brother to stumble or be offended. Rom.14:21. Let no one pass judgment on you in matters of food or drink. Col.2:16.

159. It is better that widows should not remarry. 1 Cor.7:8. It is better that young widows should remarry. 1 Tim.5:11-14.

160. The god of this world blinds people to the gospel. 2 Cor.4:4. There is only one god. 1 Cor.8:4.

161. The powers of this world are wicked, so fight against them. Eph.6:11-13. All powers are ordained of God and, if you resist, you are damned. Rom.13:1,2.

162. Bear one another’s burdens. Gal.6:2. Bear your own burdens. Gal.6:5

163. Anyone who even greets a non-believer shares his wicked work. 2 Jn.10,11. Always be ready to answer any man concerning your faith. 1 Pet.3:15.

164. All of the grass on the earth is burned up. Rev.8:7. The army of locusts are instructed not to harm the grass. Rev.9:4.

165. Only “The Father” knows. Mk.13:32. “Jesus” and “The Father” are one. Jn.10:30; 17:11,21,22.

166. Jesus said that he would judge. Jn.5:22,27-30; Jn.9:39. Jesus said that he would not judge. Jn.8:15; Jn.12:47. Jesus said that The Father judges. Jn.12:48,49. Jesus said that The Father does not judge. Jn.5:22. Jesus said that his disciples would judge. Lk.22:30.

167. He that does not believe is damned. Mk.16:16. Thomas did not believe and was not damned. Jn.20:27-29.

168. “When his branch is yet tender”. Mt.24:32. “When her branch is yet tender”. Mk.13:28.

169. Jesus is God. Jn.10:30. Jesus is the “image” of God. 2 Cor.4:4. Jesus was a man approved by God. Acts 2:22.

170. Jesus and God are one in the same. Jn.1:1. Jesus is beside himself. Mk.16:19; Acts 2:32,33; 7:55; Rom.8:34; etc.

171. Jesus is the Son of God. Jn.6:69; Jn.20:31. Jesus is the Son of Man. Mt.18:11; Lk.21:27.

172. Paul states that he does not lie. Rom.9:1; 2 Cor.11:31; Gal.1:20; 1 Tim.2:7. Paul states that he does lie. Rom.3:7.

173. Paul said that he does not use trickery. 1 Thes.2:3. Paul admits to using trickery. 2 Cor.12:16.

174. Paul says that circumcision is nothing. 1 Cor.7:19. Paul says that circumcision is profitable. Rom.2:25; Rom.3:1,2.

175. Do not covet. Rom.7:7; Rom.13:9. Paul says covet. 1 Cor.12:31; 1 Cor.14:39.

176. Paul teaches not to steal. Eph.4:28. Paul admits to stealing. 2 Cor.11:8.

177. Paul was assured that he would not be hurt. Acts 18:9,10. Paul was often physically abused. 2 Cor.11:23-27.

178. Paul states that the law is necessary. Rom.3:31. Paul states that the law is not necessary. Rom.6:14.

179. Jesus said to go and baptize. Mt.28:19. Paul said he was not sent to baptize. 1 Cor.1:17.

180. Paul said he was not sent to baptize but to preach. 1 Cor.1:17. Paul baptized. 1 Cor.1:16.

181. Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law. Mt.5:17-19. Paul said otherwise. Eph.2:15.

182. Jesus said that God did not condemn the world. Jn. 3:17. Paul said that God did condemn the world. Rom.5:18.

183. Those present at Paul’s conversion stood. Acts 9:7. They fell to the ground. Acts 26:14.

184. Those present at Paul’s conversion heard a voice but saw nothing. Acts 9:7. Those present at Paul’s conversion saw a light but heard nothing. Acts 22:9.

185. Shortly after his conversion, Paul went to Damascus where he spent some time with the apostles. Acts 9:19. Paul went to Damascus three years later and saw only Peter and James. Gal.1:18,19.

186. Shortly after his conversion, Paul went to Damascus and then to Jerusalem. Acts 9:18-26. Shortly after his conversion, Paul went to Arabia, then to Damascus, and then, 3 years later, to Jerusalem. Gal.1:17,18.

187. In Damascus, the governor attempts to seize Paul. 2 Cor.11:32. In Damascus, the Jews attempt to seize Paul. Acts 9:22,23.

188. The holy spirit forbids preaching in Asia. Acts 16:6. Paul preaches in Asia anyway. Acts 19:8-10.

189. Paul said he would not be a servant of Christ if he tried to please men. Gal.1:10. Paul said that he tried to please men. 1 Cor.10:33.

190. Paul says that he was the chief of all sinners. 1 Tim.1:15. He who commits sin is of the devil. Children of God cannot sin. 1 Jn.3:8-10.

191. Paul said that Jesus is the judge. 2 Tim.4:1. Paul said that God is the judge. Heb.12:23. Paul said that the saints would judge. 1 Cor.6:2.

192. Paul said that Jesus was the Son of God. Rom.1:3,4. Paul said that Jesus was just a man. Heb.7:24.

193. Do not boast. Lk.18:14. Do not be proud. Rom.11:20; 1 Pet. 5:5. Paul proudly boasts. 2 Cor.11:16-18; Gal.2:9-11.

194. Jesus commends the church at Ephesus for discerning the lying apostles. Rev. 2:1,2. Paul was the apostle to Ephesus. Eph.1:1.

Christians are taught to believe that the New Testament, if not the entire Bible, was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This implies that the human authors had a supernatural connection to a single source of information. But it that was the case, there would be no contradictions, not 194 of them.

(4264) Polygamy and the Bible

Generally, modern humans have come to view polygamy as an immoral practice, and it has been proscribed by nearly every country in the world. It would be assumed that a god would have understood that humankind’s eventual concept of marriage would be limited to monogamy. However, a look at the Bible seems to indicate that Yahweh was OK with polygamy. The following, listing 100 Bible verses that either encourage, condone, or overlook polygamy, or else verses that represent a missed opportunity to prohibit polygamy,  was taken from:


Exodus 21:10 ESV / 682 helpful votes

If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights.

Deuteronomy 21:15-17 ESV / 570 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful

“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.

2 Samuel 12:8 ESV / 551 helpful votes

And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.

Genesis 4:19 ESV / 537 helpful votes

And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Isaiah 4:1 ESV / 483 helpful votes

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”

Judges 8:30 ESV / 461 helpful votes

Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives.

2 Chronicles 11:21 ESV / 453 helpful votes

Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and concubines (he took eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and fathered twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters).

2 Chronicles 13:21 ESV / 437 helpful votes

But Abijah grew mighty. And he took fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.

2 Chronicles 24:1-3 ESV / 417 helpful votes

Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada got for him two wives, and he had sons and daughters.

Genesis 30:9 ESV / 399 helpful votes

When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.

Matthew 25:1-46 ESV / 398 helpful votes

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. …

2 Samuel 5:13 ESV / 398 helpful votes

And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.

1 Timothy 3:2 ESV / 384 helpful votes

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

2 Chronicles 24:3 ESV / 377 helpful votes

Jehoiada got for him two wives, and he had sons and daughters.

1 Chronicles 4:5 ESV / 375 helpful votes

Ashhur, the father of Tekoa, had two wives, Helah and Naarah;

1 Chronicles 3:1-9 ESV / 366 helpful votes

These are the sons of David who were born to him in Hebron: the firstborn, Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelite; the second, Daniel, by Abigail the Carmelite, the third, Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah, by Abital; the sixth, Ithream, by his wife Eglah; six were born to him in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years and six months. And he reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem. These were born to him in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon, four by Bath-shua, the daughter of Ammiel; …

1 Kings 11:1-4 ESV / 357 helpful votes

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

1 Samuel 1:1-2 ESV / 353 helpful votes

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Deuteronomy 17:17 ESV / 352 helpful votes

And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10 ESV / 343 helpful votes

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ …

Genesis 30:4 ESV / 326 helpful votes

So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her.

1 Timothy 3:12 ESV / 316 helpful votes

Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 ESV / 306 helpful votes

“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. …

Genesis 2:24 ESV / 303 helpful votes

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Numbers 12:1 ESV / 287 helpful votes

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman.

Ezekiel 23:1-4 ESV / 283 helpful votes

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled. Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 ESV / 275 helpful votes

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Titus 1:5-8 ESV / 267 helpful votes

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV / 257 helpful votes

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Song of Solomon 6:8 ESV / 257 helpful votes

There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number.

1 Kings 11:3 ESV / 237 helpful votes

He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.

Deuteronomy 21:15 ESV / 217 helpful votes

“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved,

Revelation 1:1 ESV / 208 helpful votes

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

Matthew 19:4-6 ESV / 203 helpful votes

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Genesis 16:1-16 ESV / 199 helpful votes

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” …

Matthew 19:8 ESV / 191 helpful votes

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

Leviticus 18:18 ESV / 190 helpful votes

And you shall not take a woman as a rival wife to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive.

Matthew 19:9 ESV / 185 helpful votes

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Ephesians 5:31 ESV / 181 helpful votes

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

1 Chronicles 14:3 ESV / 178 helpful votes

And David took more wives in Jerusalem, and David fathered more sons and daughters.

1 Kings 11:4 ESV / 164 helpful votes

For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Genesis 29:30 ESV / 164 helpful votes

So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.

Genesis 28:9 ESV / 164 helpful votes

Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.

Titus 1:6 ESV / 162 helpful votes

If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

Genesis 26:34 ESV / 161 helpful votes

When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite,

Genesis 16:3 ESV / 161 helpful votes

So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.

Genesis 29:1-35 ESV / 158 helpful votes

Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” …

Genesis 16:4 ESV / 156 helpful votes

And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.

Exodus 20:14 ESV / 149 helpful votes

“You shall not commit adultery.

1 Timothy 3:1-16 ESV / 147 helpful votes

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? …

Ephesians 5:1-33 ESV / 144 helpful votes

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. …

Genesis 25:6 ESV / 144 helpful votes

But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.

Matthew 19:5 ESV / 143 helpful votes

And said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

Matthew 19:4 ESV / 143 helpful votes

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,

1 Corinthians 6:16 ESV / 139 helpful votes

Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

Proverbs 18:22 ESV / 138 helpful votes

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

1 Kings 11:5 ESV / 137 helpful votes

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

1 Kings 11:1 ESV / 137 helpful votes

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women,

Colossians 1:1-29 ESV / 135 helpful votes

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, …

Matthew 5:32 ESV / 134 helpful votes

But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

1 Kings 15:5 ESV / 132 helpful votes

Because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

Ezekiel 23:1-49 ESV / 129 helpful votes

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled. Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem. “Oholah played the whore while she was mine, and she lusted after her lovers the Assyrians, warriors …

2 Samuel 12:7-8 ESV / 129 helpful votes

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.

Mark 10:3 ESV / 127 helpful votes

He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”

Hosea 3:2 ESV / 127 helpful votes

So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.

1 Kings 11:6 ESV / 127 helpful votes

So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.

1 Samuel 25:44 ESV / 127 helpful votes

Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim.

Exodus 2:21 ESV / 126 helpful votes

And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah.

1 Timothy 3:3 ESV / 121 helpful votes

Not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

Ephesians 5:33 ESV / 121 helpful votes

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

1 Kings 11:1-43 ESV / 119 helpful votes

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. …

Matthew 19:1-30 ESV / 118 helpful votes

Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? …

Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV / 117 helpful votes

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, …

1 Kings 11:1-8 ESV / 117 helpful votes

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. …

Matthew 25:1 ESV / 116 helpful votes

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

Deuteronomy 17:14 ESV / 115 helpful votes

“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’

Genesis 1:27 ESV / 115 helpful votes

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

1 Kings 11:8 ESV / 114 helpful votes

And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.

John 3:16-17 ESV / 113 helpful votes

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Romans 7:2-3 ESV / 112 helpful votes

For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

1 Kings 15:3 ESV / 110 helpful votes

And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father.

2 Samuel 3:2-5 ESV / 106 helpful votes

And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

Matthew 5:17 ESV / 104 helpful votes

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Genesis 2:18 ESV / 104 helpful votes

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 2:23-24 ESV / 101 helpful votes

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Hebrews 13:4 ESV / 89 helpful votes

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Matthew 19:6 ESV / 85 helpful votes

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Malachi 2:14-15 ESV / 85 helpful votes

But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

2 Kings 10:1 ESV / 73 helpful votes

Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of the city, to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons of Ahab, saying,

Mark 10:8 ESV / 72 helpful votes

And the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.

Hosea 3:1 ESV / 70 helpful votes

And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”

1 Corinthians 7:39 ESV / 69 helpful votes

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

Malachi 2:15 ESV / 69 helpful votes

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

1 Samuel 1:2 ESV / 67 helpful votes

He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV / 65 helpful votes

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Matthew 5:17-18 ESV / 63 helpful votes

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Malachi 2:14 ESV / 63 helpful votes

But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

Genesis 30:1-43 ESV / 62 helpful votes

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her.” So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. …

Matthew 19:4-5 ESV / 61 helpful votes

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

Genesis 4:23-24 ESV / 57 helpful votes

Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

Christian apologists excuse this problem by saying that Yahweh had to work with the local customs and that people were not ready for enforced monogamy at that time. This is a way of saying that Yahweh is a weak god who is afraid to ‘rock the boat’ so to speak. No. The Bible should have said in Genesis something similar to this:

And the Lord said, “I am who I am. I made humans male and female. One and only one male and one and only one female shall form a bond called marriage.“

Simple as that, it would have changed the course of history and reduced much human suffering. Also, such a verse would have provided a bit positive evidence that Yahweh was a real god.

(4265) Religion is a human universal

Research conducted studying 144 societies revealed that religious beliefs were ubiquitous and most heavily centered around natural phenomena, rather than social issues. In the pre-science world, lighting or an eclipse were seen as being manipulations by a celestial figure, rather than what we now know to be godless in origin. Christianity was likewise born out of this fundamental misunderstanding of nature. The following was taken from:


Religion is a human universal. For thousands of years, humans have held religious beliefs and participated in religious rituals. Throughout history, every human society has featured some kind of supernatural or religious belief.

Why is religion so prevalent? One reason is that it’s a powerful tool for explanation.

The world is a mysterious place, and was even more mysterious before the rise of modern science. Religion can be a way of making sense of this mystery. This idea dates back to theologians and philosophers such as Henry Drummond and Friedrich Nietzsche, who both supported the “God of the gaps” hypothesis, wherein divine intervention by God is used to explain gaps in scientific knowledge.

For example, ancient Chinese and Korean societies looked to divine intervention to justify changing their rulers, whereas Egyptians, Aztecs, Celtic, and Tiv people used the will of gods to explain celestial cycles.

In the contemporary world, many US Christians viewed the COVID pandemic as a form of divine punishment.

Yet despite these specific examples, we know little about which kinds of phenomena people try to explain using religion. If religion helps us fill gaps in knowledge, what kind of gaps is it most likely to fill?

Our international research team has pursued this question over the past five years, by surveying ethnographies from societies around the world and throughout history.

We found societies are overwhelmingly more likely to have supernatural beliefs that concern “natural” phenomena, rather than “social” phenomena.

Supernatural explanations for natural events

In total, our research sample included historical records from 114 diverse societies.

These ranged from nomadic hunter-gatherer groups in Africa (such as the ǃKung people), to fishing and horticultural societies from the Pacific Islands (such as people from the Trobriand Islands), to large “complex” societies with modern technology and written records (such as the Javanese, Malay and Turkish societies).

For each society, we read through ethnographic texts and identified supernatural explanations that were commonly held across its people. We then identified the source of the explanation.

We were particularly interested in whether supernatural explanations focused on “natural” phenomena – events that had no clear human cause such as disease, natural disasters and drought – or whether they focused on human-caused “social” phenomena such as wars, murder and theft.

We found explanations for all these various phenomena in our survey. For example, the Cayapa people of the Ecuadorian rainforest attributed lightning, a natural phenomenon, to the Thunder spirit, who carried a large sword that glinted when he used it in combat.

And the Comanche people of the great American plains explained the timing of war, a social phenomenon, using dreams from medicine men.

However, our results also revealed a striking gap: supernatural explanations for natural phenomena were much more prevalent than for social phenomena.

In fact, nearly all the societies we surveyed had supernatural explanations for natural phenomena such as disease (96%), natural disasters (92%) and drought (90%). Fewer had supernatural explanations for warfare (67%), murder (82%) and theft (26%).

Supernatural beliefs evolve as societies expand

The global prevalence of naturally focused supernatural explanations is one of the most striking findings from our research. It’s partly surprising because current major religions such as Christianity and Islam are very social institutions.

Contemporary Christians rely on their religious beliefs as more of a social and moral compass, rather than a way to understand the weather. Similarly, the Bible seeks to explain a variety of social phenomena. The story of Cain and Abel explains the origin of murder, while the Book of Joshua explains the supernatural causes of the war that destroyed Jericho.

So how might we explain the contrast between supernatural explanations in modern-day Christianity, and supernatural explanations among traditional societies, as told through historical records? One of our findings could provide a clue.

We found societies develop more supernatural explanations for social phenomena as they get bigger and more complex. More populous societies with currency and land transport were more likely to explain events such as theft and warfare using supernatural principles than small hunter-gatherer and horticultural groups.

We can’t say with certainty why this is. It may be because people know and trust each other less in bigger societies, and this translates to beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery. Or perhaps people in larger complex societies are more concerned about issues such as warfare and theft, and therefore more likely to develop supernatural explanations for them.

Intellectuals such as Edward Tylor and David Hume thought religious beliefs may have originated as a means of explaining natural phenomena.

Although our study can’t shed light on the origins of religion, it does corroborate this idea. But beyond that, it also shows that societies are more likely to turn to religion to make sense of the social world as they get larger and more complex.

Christianity would be more believable if religion was a rare occurrence among civilizations. But when every tribe has its own god, it lends credence to the idea that every group is making up fake deities.

(4266) Comparing Satan with God

Christians are taught that God is all good and that Satan is all evil. But any disinterested person reading the scriptures would almost certainly come to the opposite conclusion. The Bible simply does not support this Christian dogma. The following was taken from:


I would argue that Satan is the good one and God is the evil one. Let’s look at the facts:

    1. God creates everything and everyone, but sets a plan into motion for his two prize creations Adam and Eve, to fail. This is not disputable, because he created them without knowledge of good and evil, but then put a talking serpent with knowledge and deception in the garden knowing it would try to trick them and succeed. If A&E don’t fail, there’s no salvation plan, thus A&E had to fail. But this setup curses all of mankind and introduces suffering into the world.
    2. God over and over again throughout the OT maliciously kills his own creations both directly and indirectly. He does so while trying to “fix his mistake” in the great flood, even though he fails, but also does so in wars killing tens of thousands sometimes hundreds of thousands. He’s the most successful genocidal dictator in history.
    3. He sanctions the owning of people as property and creates rules and laws for slave owners and makes it a moral practice. He actually creates rules on who you can obtain a slave from, how badly you can beat them, how badly you can maim them, how they are your property that can be passed on to your children.
    4. He violates the free will of the Pharaoh in Exodus when he was ready to let the Jewish slaves go and the bible states that God hardened his heart 3 times. This results not only in the deaths and suffering of many Egyptians, but results in Infanticide in killing the innocent first born of Egypt.
    5. His ultimate #1 rule for whether you go to hell, is whether you believed in him. The bible states explicitly in 3 places that the only unforgivable sin is non-belief. So pedophiles, rapists and murderers can feel safe and go to heaven, so long as they never denied god and beg forgiveness before they die, while a good honest Hindu, or anyone of another faith or non-faith will go to hell and it doesn’t matter at all what they did with their lives, even if they never did any harm and helped their fellow man.

What does Satan do throughout the bible? Oppose god. God killed millions of people directly and indirectly. Know how many Satan kills? Ten people and the majority were directly allowed and encouraged by God in his wager over Job’s loyalty. Satan’s great evil in the bible…is opposing a tyrant.

When I was young, I was raised a christian and taught of course that god was good and holy. When I read the bible, by the end of it, I was saying, “How can anyone read this and think that god is the good one?!” This god, even if real….is a monster, immoral and should be despised and opposed, not worshiped. Supporting this god, is literally like supporting Hitler. After all Hitler had his “favored race” too and everyone else he wanted to kill or enslave and he sure didn’t tolerate disloyalty. But this “god” of the bible is far, far worse.

Christian apologists, clergy, and laypeople are walking a thin line in trying to present their god as the virtuous alternative to an all-evil adversary, but they are hamstrung by their own scriptures that are ‘screaming out’ a very different reality. This is another example where church leaders would prefer that their congregants just accept what they are saying and hope they don’t bother to read the Bible.

(4267) There are no true Christians

The following essay presents two perspectives describing the lives of former Christians. In one way, non-believers can truthfully argue that they once believed and considered themselves to be Christian. But in a more expansive view, it can be argued that nobody is a Christian because there is no Christ. The following was taken from:


There are two perspectives to describe our lives as former Christians. On the one hand, from our former Christian perspective, we can describe ourselves as having truly been Christians, in that we experienced salvation, regeneration, the Holy Spirit, and answered prayer. We had accepted Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, and believed he bodily arose from the dead and would return to earth in the parousia. We repented from every known sin, again and again. We confessed “Jesus is Lord.” We prayed the non-Biblical sinner’s prayer (where is that in the Bible?) by inviting Jesus to come to live inside us. We thought we had a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ just like you do now. We tried to live a spiritual life in gratitude for God’s grace by reading the Bible and obeying what we read in it. So we evangelized, tithed, attended worship services, Bible studies, and became leaders in our respective churches.

Some of us were ministers, pastors, and preachers. Others were Sunday school teachers, superintendents, elders, deacons, and/or Bible study leaders. I taught people who are now in ministry at a Bible College. There are at least three men presently in the ministry because of my influence.

For you to reject our testimony you will probably have to reject the testimony of someone you know right now in your church, whom you look up to as a Christian, who may reject Christianity in the future. The problem is you just may not personally know someone like that right now. The chances are you will. Then what will you think?

On the other hand, from our present perspective, the Christian faith is false and based upon ancient superstitions. We believe we were deluded about it. We were never true Christians in the sense that there is no truth to Christianity. If being a Christian means that we had a personal relationship with God-in-Jesus Christ, then we never had such a relationship, for such a supernatural being is based upon non-historical mythology. There is no divine forgiveness because there is no divine forgiver. There was no atonement because Jesus did not die for the world’s sins. There was no God-man in the flesh to believe in. Our petitionary prayers were nothing but wishful hoping. And we believe this is true about your claim to be a Christian too. You are not a Christian, either, because there is no Christ, no Messiah, no God-in-the-flesh, no Holy Spirit regeneration, no devil and no heaven to go to when you die.

Belief does not materialize reality, so what we call Christians are actually people harboring a healthy dose of delusion.

(4268) Circumcision dropped to help recruitment

For some strange reason, mutilating male genitalia was important to Yahweh, and then suddenly it no longer mattered to him. A better theory is that a barbaric custom of the Jews was getting in the way of Christian evangelists to recruit new members so they decided that Yahweh didn’t care any more about it. The following was taken from:



    • Old testament: Circumcision required, routinely carried out on babies and slaves (note complete powerlessness – this is relevant later) – occasionally consenting adult men, but rarely (e.g. as pre-genocide trickery)
    • Early NT:Jesus doesn’t mention it. He does mention “not abolishing the law, but rather, fulfilling it”, whatever that means. Clearly that is not widely accepted at the time to mean OT laws have been dropped.
    • Later NT: Paul and his buddy are having a great time gaining Gentile converts to Christianity. Just one thing – some people are saying they should be circumcised. This is a hard sell to adult men (rather than unconsenting babies). They have a big talk with some religious leaders, and conveniently all of a sudden circumcision doesn’t matter any more.

It just seems pretty obvious to me that circumcision stopped mattering when it was getting in the way of a recruitment drive? What do you think?

It seems much more likely that church leaders, to attract more followers and gain more power, lowered the bar for entry into the new religion- rather than the creator of the universe changed his mind.

(4269) Best explanation for divine hiddenness

Theologians have tried to explain why Yahweh or any other god would reward or punish people after death on the basis of whether they believe in its existence and yet remain resolutely hidden (withholding evidence that it exists). The following essay argues that the best explanation for such a god being so obscure is an intent to restrict afterlife rewards to people who reject all god claims- the unbelievers in this case would be seen as being the most genuine/admirable in the face of the available evidence.


Only unbelievers go to heaven. Absurd… right? There is more justification for this paradoxical claim than vice versa and provides rational answers to the many persistent problems of theism.

1 Pascal’s wager (PW) is often trotted out as a reason to believe. However, Pascal failed to do a full accounting of his game theory approach to salvation. He didn’t consider the strategy of unbelief rendering salvation (infinite gain) while belief in any god leads to perdition.

The unbelief strategy is the more rational and unparalleled position. If someone is belief inclined and is influenced by Pascal’s wager, then they are inclined to believe in the god of their culture. This is just the way it is… most people adopt the god of their culture. Even Pascal was more amenable to the religion of his culture.

However, unbelief is the only position that is uniquely available to all people at all epochs, cultures and places. This is a stunning realization.

Faith/belief-based religions struggle to answer what happens to those outside the hearing range their particular good news – being left out because of time or space. The unbelief position does NOT have that problem.

2) If God exists, It remains hidden.

One reasonable explanation why God remains hidden is to see who can stoically remain honest with themselves and the data and not be seduced/threatened into a belief of a human invented god.

Faith/belief-based religions have not successfully provided answers to the problem of Divine Hiddenness. If their particular god was evident it would rise above all the false religions and this subreddit would not exist and everyone would be able to genuinely and truly love the Lord having unambiguous knowledge Gods existence and nature.

Unbelief is paradoxically the only PW position that can rationally provide a satisfying answer to Divine Hiddenness.

3) And now the more interesting argument. Plantinga’s heralded Free Will defense, unwittingly offers support to the unbelief wager strategy. According to Plantinga, God values free willed good moral choices over all else in the universe. In seeking this ultimate good, God had to risk free willed moral evil as the argument goes.

The motivations of a believer’s free willed moral choice are always clouded. Is the believer making a moral decision to score points in heaven? or maybe a mix of fear of punishment? Even the believer cannot honestly answer this question.

However, an unbeliever’s good moral decisions can be truly free. Only an unbeliever can act purely, unselfishly and without expectation of any afterlife gain. If Plantinga is correct, God would place higher value on the unbeliever’s free willed good moral decisions than a similar choice of a believer.

This is the reverse of Pascal’s Wager and, given the paucity of evidence for any religion, it makes more sense. That is, if there is a god who intends to judge humans, the fact that it remains hidden would tend to suggest that it is more interested in rewarding people who respond appropriately to the evidence (the lack thereof) rather than those who throw critical thinking out the window and simply accept whatever is familiar or reassuring.

(4270) Refuting the Naysayer Hypothesis

Many Christian apologists use the argument that if the gospels or letters of Paul had written falsehoods about Jesus’ miracles or resurrection, there would have been enough people with knowledge of the true facts, such that the Christian story would have been ‘nipped in the bud’ and never gained enough traction to become a world-wide religion. The following lists 13 reasons why false stories about Jesus could have easily survived this alleged scrutiny.


Apologists tell us that the gospels were written at a time when many disciples—the eyewitnesses—were still alive. If they heard an inaccurate story, they’d say, “I was there, and that’s not the way it happened!” They’d shut it down. An incorrect version of the story would not have survived. Said another way, that our gospel story did survive means that it avoided the gauntlet of naysayers and must be true.

Let’s consider this alternate history, where the gospel story was false, and those in the inner circle successfully snuffed it out. It quickly falls apart under examination. Here are 13 reasons why I say nay to this Naysayer Hypothesis.

1. There would have been few potential naysayers. The gospel story does report thousands witnessing the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but these wouldn’t be naysayers. A naysayer must have been a close companion of Jesus to witness him not doing every miracle recorded in the Gospels. He would need to know that Jesus didn’t walk on water and didn’t raise Lazarus. A proper naysayer must have been one of Jesus’s close companions during his entire ministry, and there would likely have been just a few dozen.

2. We imagine a handful of naysayers who know that the Jesus story is only a legend, but that was in the year 30. Now the first gospel is written and it’s roughly forty years later—how many are still alive? Conditions were harsh at that time, and people died young.

And consider that the gospels were written after siege of Jerusalem in 70, which Josephus says killed 1.1 million people. More were scattered or enslaved. Few naysayers would’ve remained to critique gospel accounts.

3. A naysayer must be in the right location to complain. Suppose he lived in Jerusalem, and say that the gospel of Mark was written in Alexandria, Egypt, which historians say is one possibility. How will our naysayer correct its errors? Sure, Mark will be copied and spread, but there’s little time before our 60- or 70-year-old witnesses die. Even if we imagine our tiny band dedicating their lives to stamping out this false story, believers are starting brush fires of Christian belief all over the Eastern Mediterranean, from Alexandria to Damascus to Corinth to Rome. How can we expect our naysayers to snuff them all out?

4. The naysayers had no motivation for dedicating their lives to stopping the false Jesus story. So there’s yet another nut who thinks he has it all figured out—who cares? Your Judaism isn’t under threat from this tiny cult (and it was a tiny cult in the early years).

Consider a modern equivalent. Many atheists today spend much time responding to claims of Christianity, but that’s because Christianity is society’s bull in the china shop. It causes harm. In contrast, imagine a Christian who also believes in reincarnation. That’s a weird set of beliefs, but who really cares? No one would devote their life to stamping out that belief.

5. The naysayers wouldn’t know about the problem. Two thousand years ago, you couldn’t walk down to the corner bookstore to find the latest Jesus gospel. How were our naysayers to learn of the story? Written documents at that time were scarce and precious things. And the naysayers would be Jews who didn’t convert to Christianity. They wouldn’t have associated much with the new Christians and so would have been unlikely to come across the Jesus story.

6. There was another gulf between the naysayers and the early Christians: the early church was a Greek institution. The epistles and gospels were written in Greek, not the local language of Aramaic spoken by Jesus and the naysayers. To even learn of the Jesus story in this community, our naysayers must speak Greek, which is hard to imagine among the typical peasant followers of Jesus. How many could have done this? And to influence the Greek-speaking readers of the gospels for us to learn of the problem, a rebuttal would have to have been written in Greek—not a common skill in Palestine.

7. Imagine a naysayer knew the actual Jesus and knew that he was merely a charismatic teacher. Nothing supernatural. Now he hears the story of Jesus the Son of Man, the man of miracles, the healer of lepers and raiser of the dead. Why connect “Son of Man” Jesus with your childhood buddy Jesus? “Jesus” was a common name (actually, Joshua or Yeshua), and supernatural claims were common at the time. His friend Jesus didn’t do anything like this, so the story he heard must be of a different person. So even when confronted with the false teaching, he wouldn’t know to raise an alarm.

8. Consider how hard is it today for a politician, celebrity, or business leader to stop a false rumor, even with the many ways to get the word out. Think about how hard it would have been in first-century Palestine. How many thousands of Christians were out there spreading the word for every naysayer with his finger in the dike? Given the sensational story (“Jesus was a miracle worker who can save you from your sins!”) and the mundane one (“Nah—he’s just a regular guy that I hung around with when I was growing up”), which has more traction?

The Jews of the time of Jesus had far better evidence of his divinity than we could ever hope to have. A tiny handful found it compelling and became his followers, but the vast majority didn’t. If eyewitness testimony is relevant, as today’s Christian apologists claim, we should follow that majority.

9. Jesus himself couldn’t rein in rumors. He repeatedly tells those around him to not tell anyone about his miracles, and yet we read about both the miracles and Jesus’s fruitless plea. If he can’t stop rumors, why imagine that mortals can?

Jesus asked who people thought he was, and he was told, “[some say] John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets” (Mark 8:28). The gospels themselves say that legendary accretion happened within months. And was Jesus able to play the good naysayer and stamp out the false teaching? Apparently not, if these stories had gone unchecked.

Look at Scientology, cults, or any of the divisions of Christianity, both major (Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses) and minor (thousands of nondenominational churches and sects). Apparently, new religions start quite easily. The incredulous, “But what else could explain the New Testament but that the writers were telling the truth?!” doesn’t hold up when we see how easy it is for a new idea to take hold.

10. One way to stop the gospel story would be naysayers, but a far better way would be to show the gospel story to be false. The gospels themselves document that it was, and even that didn’t stop the story from spreading.

Jesus said that the end would come within the lifetime of many within his hearing. It didn’t (indeed, that this was going to be a longer process than initially thought was a reason that the oral history was finally written down, decades after the events). With the central prediction wrong, what more proof do you need that this religion was false? And yet the religion kept on going.

Or consider Joseph Smith. Here was a man charged with the very occult practices that he then warns about in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is full of anachronisms. This religion should’ve just collapsed under its own weight, but it’s still here. Logical failings won’t necessarily take down a religion.

These examples make clear that religion can grow in the face of evidence showing that it’s false. It is ridiculous to imagine that naysayers could’ve stopped Christianity when internal falsifying evidence didn’t.

11. Christian apologists say that there were no naysayers correcting a false Jesus story, but how do we know that there weren’t naysayers? For us to know about them, naysayers would need to have written their story and have some mechanism to recopy the true account over and over until the present day. Just like Christian documents, their originals would have crumbled with time. What would motivate anyone to preserve copies of documents that argued against a religion? Perhaps only another religion! And it’s not surprising that the Jesus-isn’t-divine religion didn’t catch on.

We see this problem with noncanonical writings. Take the Gospel of Peter, for example. Our primary copy is from the 8th or 9th century. Why aren’t there older copies as with the four canonical gospels? Because very few copies were made, and no one took pains to preserve them.

12. What success will a naysayer have when he’s fighting a belief that’s taken on faith?

Consider another community that had plenty of evidence that they were on the wrong track. The Millerites made themselves right with God by giving away all their possessions and awaited the end of the world on October 22, 1844. Didn’t happen. What better evidence could one want that William Miller’s Bible-based predictions about the End were false?

Did everyone who’d been duped by this Great Disappointment leave poorer but wiser? Of course not. Many Millerite sects adapted to the new information and carried on, one of which eventually became the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

In our own time, Harold Camping predicted May 21, 2011 for the Rapture, with the end coming five months later. Wrong again. And yet his Family Radio adapted and continues even after its own Great Disappointment.

Here are a few more examples of negative evidence dismissed by true believers:

    • Anti-gay pastor Ted Haggard paid for gay sex and meth and was removed as pastor. He’s now back in the saddle. Ditto Jimmy Swaggart (whose weakness was prostitutes). And Jim Bakker (sexual and financial shenanigans). And Peter Popoff (magic tricks masquerading as prophecy). If clear evidence doesn’t sink these preachers for good, why imagine that it would sink the Jesus story?
    • An Indian skeptic debunked “tears” from a Catholic crucifix as leaky plumbing. He faces blasphemy charges in India and now lives in Finland.
    • Half a million people visited in the first two weeks after the report of an iridescent “Mary” on the window of a bank in Clearwater, Florida. James Randi showed that it was just mineral deposits from sprinklers.
    • 9/11 Truthers aren’t convinced by expert testimony.
    • Does the appearance of the skeptical correction of a sensational but flawed story on snopes.comurbanlegends.about.com, James Randi’s Swift, or quackwatch.org quickly shut it down? Of course not.

Believers won’t let rebuttals sink a good story. And when a firmly held conviction is so rarely changed by argument today, why imagine it any more common 2000 years ago?

As an additional humiliation to the Naysayer Hypothesis, consider the Shroud of Turin, a fake burial shroud of Jesus. It came to light in the 14th century, during a time of great interest in Christian relics. History documents dozens of claimed shrouds of Jesus. Though there is still debate on the authenticity of the Turin shroud, our earliest mention of the shroud is a 1390 letter from a bishop to a pope stating not only that it was a forgery but that the artist was known and had confessed.

Apparently the Naysayer Hypothesis is cited only when convenient.

13. The gospel story is just a story. Suppose I pass along the gossip that I heard, “40 years ago, Theodore Mertz rose up from the dead.” Where are the naysayers who will rebut that? There aren’t any. So why be surprised that they don’t leap out of the woodwork to attack my false story with firsthand evidence?

The Naysayer hypothesis has it backwards: it assumes the miracle story, which implies eyewitnesses, and then imagines these eyewitnesses wagging their fingers at anyone who gets the Jesus story wrong. But what if the whole thing is legend? Then we see in history just what we’d expect to see: no eyewitnesses curtailing the Jesus story.

This argument is popular but empty. Don’t use it.

It is well known psychological phenomenon that humans will hold dear to a reassuring belief even in the face of strong dis-confirming evidence. Some naysayers may have existed but their voices would have been ignored. This story was too precious to let it go.

(4271) Christians ignore scriptures about sexuality

Although Christians consider the Bible to be the word of God, they almost unanimously reject many scriptures that touch on the topics of marriage/divorce and sexuality. The reason for this is that the people who wrote these outdated views were from a pre-modern time and their values have long since become irrelevant in today’s world. So Christians artfully dance around them and pretend they aren’t there. The following was taken from:


Most of the Old Testament is ignored today by churchgoers: trying to plow through the books of Numbers or Leviticus, Jeremiah or Ezekiel is too much of a struggle. When they turn to the New Testament, the gospels probably get most of their attention—though that is limited too—while the letters of the apostle Paul are also too much of a struggle. Of course, there are famous texts from these letters that are favorites, e.g., “love is patient, love is kind” (I Cor.13:4)—which is Paul in a good mood. So much of the time he is a bully, lashing out, scolding, savoring the wrath of his god.

Reading his letters is actually depressing. He is the typical cult fanatic, so sure that being possessed by Jesus (as he imagined him) is a good thing, and that Jesus would arrive from heaven “any day now” to set things right. It seems he was a tortured soul, and his interest in sex was close to zero; he projected this as an ideal for followers. “And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). He felt it was best for a man not to touch a woman (I Cor. 7:1), but if it can’t be helped, go ahead. However, since Jesus was about to arrive from heaven, it was best to remain pure: “…the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none…” (I Cor. 7:29).

When the gospel writers came along later, it’s probable they were influenced by Paul’s thinking. Hence we find Jesus-script about sexuality that many of the devout today would hesitate to endorse. There are actually quite a few of them; here are four.


Anyone whose interest in sex is higher than Paul’s knows that arousal happens; it’s a natural thing, built into humans by evolution—well, for those who don’t believe in evolution, it’s still very real. The advocates for the early Jesus cult, i.e., those who wrote the gospels, wanted to keep a lid on it; hence this Jesus script: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Equating arousal with adultery? This falls into a category of Jesus sayings that can be identified as Bad Advice and Bad Theology (see all the categories here). If Christians heard this from anyone else—in any other context—they would dismiss it entirely. It’s dumb, sophomoric, not at all what one would expect of a great moral teacher. This text has also probably played a role in making people feel guilty about their sexual feelings.

Some guilt would be a good idea, of course. Why didn’t Jesus say something like, “Clergy who lust after and rape children shall never enter the kingdom of heaven”? It’s become so common to see outrageous headlines, e.g., just this week: Maryland AG report into Archdiocese of Baltimore alleges 150 Catholic clergy members and others abused more than 600 children. Here’s a quote: “From the 1940s through 2002, over a hundred priests and other Archdiocese personnel engaged in horrific and repeated abuse of the most vulnerable children in their communities while Archdiocese leadership looked the other way. Time and again, members of the Church’s hierarchy resolutely refused to acknowledge allegations of child sexual abuse for as long as possible.”

The apostle Paul was dead wrong about sexual feelings being crucified when you “belong to Christ.”


It is quite common for Christians to ignore Jesus-script about divorce. In one of his confrontations with the Pharisees, he said:

“Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Who needed to have it explained that there was a reason for the male-and-female arrangement? Becoming “one flesh” is an obvious outcome. But then this Jesus-script wanders into truly bad theology: “…what God has joined together.” If you go along with the view that a god created the arrangement, yes, this was God’s scheme. But this script seems to imply that all marriages have been arranged by this god—he has done the joining together, which is why divorce is forbidden: you’re breaking up a divinely ordained union. There are a couple of things really wrong about this: (1) that a god meddles in intimate human affairs, he micromanages. This is totalitarian monotheism—another way for clergy/theologians to enhance the guilt-factor in religion: if you get a divorce, you’re suggesting that god made a mistake; (2) think of all the bad marriages you know of in your experience, done for so many wrong reasons. Multiply that by the number of horrible marriages throughout human history.

God must have made a lot of mistakes. “…what God has joined together, let no one separate” is bad theology—not what we would expect of a great moral teacher.

And it gets worse: “He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” Matthew 19:8-9).

There can be many reasons for divorce, and it’s not all that smart to suggest that being hard-hearted is the main reason. Had Jesus done a lot of research, to be able to announce that “from the beginning it was not so”? How would be know that? Then this additional silliness: if a divorced person marries someone else, that’s adultery. It’s even worse adultery if a man marries a divorced woman. How much damage has been caused by this teaching, especially in terms to increasing guilt? By the way, Matthew’s line “except for sexual immorality” is missing from the text that he copied from Mark. He wanted to soften the harsh teaching.

Do contemporary Christians pay much attention to such Jesus-script? This quote is from a 2014 study published by Baylor University: “Despite their strong pro-family values, evangelical Christians have higher than average divorce rates—in fact, being more likely to be divorced than Americans who claim no religion…”

And this is from a 2015 survey by the Pew Research center: “Among Catholics who have ever been married, roughly one-third (34%) have experienced a divorce.” That’s especially a scandal since marriage is one of the sacraments in the Catholic church. Major games are played as well: I know a Catholic man who paid big money to have his twenty-year marriage—that resulted in three children—annulled, to avoid admitting that a divorce had been involved. Too bad Jesus didn’t mention annulment when he preached about divorce!

So many Christians seem to be okay with ignoring Jesus-script on divorce.


Right after Jesus equates arousal with adultery, he recommends self-mutilation:

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30, with the same warning repeated in Matthew 18:8-9).

Although the clergy will rush to assure the devout that this is metaphor, we have to wonder why a great moral teacher would have chosen such grotesque imagery. Again, this has too much the flavor of cult fanaticism, which we have come to expect of the gospel writers who created the Jesus-script.


Robert Conner, in his book, The Jesus Cult: 2000 Years of Last Days, notes that “Jesus’ command to mutilate oneself hardly stops with an eye, hand or foot however” (p. 55), and he quotes Matthew 19:12: “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

Jesus fails to qualify as a great moral teacher if he recommends self-castration: “Let anyone accept this who can.” Conner is right: “Surely no rational man would think himself spiritually elevated because he had removed his own testicles! That reaction would be true if we were talking about rational people, but we aren’t. We’re talking about early Christians” (p. 56).

Conner quotes from an article by Daniel F. Caner: “…sources from the fourth century indicate that by then self-castration had become a real problem in the nascent Church…by which time an ascetic movement that included not merely renunciation of marriage but also extreme forms of self-mortification had become influential and widespread in Christian communities” (p. 56).

Matthew 19:12 is most certainly Jesus-script that is universally ignored. Conner also notes that several modern translations obscure the meaning to the Greek text (see p. 55), but the top prize for deception goes to The Message Bible:

“But Jesus said, ‘Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.’”

This is not even paraphrase; it’s the pushing of theology favored by those claiming to be translators. Bluntly stated: it’s lying.

Churchgoers who take the time to think about these texts can appreciate that they are out of sync with the way the devout today deal with arousal and divorce—and no one gives serious thought to self-mutilation. It doesn’t help that the metaphor is so grotesque. Even the devout may wonder—despite the words printed in red—if Jesus really did say these things. They should embrace the concept of Jesus-script, that is, these sayings were invented by the gospel writers as they created their Jesus tales. But then the devout face another awkward reality: we have no way of knowing the authentic words of Jesus. Indeed, are there any at all in the gospels? New Testament scholars have known for a long time that there is no way to verify any of the words of Jesus we find in the gospels—because these documents are decades removed from the time of Jesus.

Maybe the devout are fine with “taking it on faith” that Jesus actually uttered the words that are so tough to take seriously, but then they have to admit that they just say NO to their lord and savior. Of course, they don’t say it out loud.

This is another example of where the Bible has become obsolete- something would likely not have happened if it had been enlightened and inspired by an infinite intelligence, but very likely to have happened is it had been written by regular people mired in the milieu of their time.

(4272) Maryland priests rape while God sleeps

In another shocking report exposing child abuse by Catholic clergy, this time in the state of Maryland, United States, it becomes evident that if the Christian god exists, ‘he’ is doing nothing to prevent his earthy representatives from committing these heinous crimes against the most vulnerable. The following was taken from:


More than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability, according to a long-awaited state report released Wednesday that revealed the scope of abuse spanning 80 years and accused church leaders of decades of coverups.

The report paints a damning picture of the archdiocese, which is the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the country and spans much of Maryland. Some parishes, schools and congregations had more than one abuser at the same time — including St. Mark Parish in Catonsville, which had 11 abusers living and working there between 1964 and 2004. One deacon admitted to molesting over 100 children. Another priest was allowed to feign hepatitis treatment and make other excuses to avoid facing abuse allegations.

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office released the findings of their yearslong investigation during Holy Week — considered the most sacred time of year in Christianity ahead of Easter Sunday — and said the number of victims is likely far higher. The report was redacted to protect confidential grand jury materials, meaning the identities of some accused clergy were removed.

“The staggering pervasiveness of the abuse itself underscores the culpability of the Church hierarchy,” the report said. “The sheer number of abusers and victims, the depravity of the abusers’ conduct, and the frequency with which known abusers were given the opportunity to continue preying upon children are astonishing.”

Disclosure of the redacted findings marks a significant development in an ongoing legal battle over their release and adds to growing evidence from parishes across the country as numerous similar revelations have rocked the Catholic Church in recent years.

Christians must believe that God is watching this happen with the power to stop it, but electing not to do anything. And yet, they worship this MONSTER??

(4273) Bard (by Google) evaluates probability for God

The artificial intelligence program Bard was asked to explain why it is unlikely that an omnipresent deity exists:

Question 1 Prompt: Construct a logical argument that attempts to show that the probability that an omnipresent deity may not exist.


The following is a logical argument that attempts to show that the probability that an omnipresent deity may not exist.

Premise 1: If an omnipresent deity existed, we would expect to see evidence of that deity’s existence in the world around us.

Premise 2: We do not see evidence of an omnipresent deity’s existence in the world around us. Conclusion: Therefore, it is unlikely that an omnipresent deity exists.

This argument is based on the principle of Occam’s razor, which states that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. In this case, the simplest explanation for the lack of evidence of an omnipresent deity’s existence is that there is no such deity.

Of course, this argument is not conclusive. It is possible that there is an omnipresent deity who has chosen not to reveal themselves to us. It is also possible that there is evidence of an omnipresent deity’s existence that we have not yet discovered. However, the evidence that we currently have does not support the existence of an omnipresent deity.
In addition to the logical argument presented above, there are a number of other reasons to believe that an omnipresent deity may not exist. For example, the world is full of suffering and evil. If an omnipresent deity existed, it seems likely that they would intervene to prevent such suffering. However, they do not. This suggests that either they do not exist, or they do not care about human suffering.

Another reason to believe that an omnipresent deity may not exist is the fact that there are many different religions in the world, each with its own set of beliefs about God. If there was only one true religion, we would expect to see all of humanity united in that belief. However, this is not the case. This suggests that either there is no one true religion, or that the God of the different religions is not omnipresent.

In conclusion, there are a number of reasons to believe that an omnipresent deity may not exist. The logical argument presented above, as well as the evidence of suffering and evil in the world, and the diversity of religions, all suggest that the existence of an omnipresent deity is unlikely.

Once faith is extracted from the equation, the existence of the Christian god is seen to be exceedingly unlikely. Furthermore, if this god does exist, it is seen to be uncaring of human welfare and being deliberately furtive in not revealing itself, to extent that most people are in danger, pain, and poverty in this life and bound for eternal suffering in the ‘next life’ (hell). Whatever the answer, Christians are revering a deity that likely doesn’t exist, and in the small chance that it does, a god who deserves no worship.

(4274) The Three Commissions

There is much debate about whether Jesus had any vision of creating communities of believers that would build churches and convene long after he was gone. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke as well as the Book of Acts all contain a quote from Jesus commissioning his disciples to spread the message prior to him flying up into the sky. But they all contradict each other. It is impossible to know which one is more accurate (if any), so the question remains a quandary. The following was taken from:

The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus: By Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar New York, Macmillan, 1993

Jesus commands his disciples to become apostles and do the community establishment we know about the early church. Here’s what the Jesus Seminar had to say about this:

These commissions [i.e., those in Matthew 28, Luke 24, and Acts 1] have little in common, which indicates that they have been created by the individual evangelists to express their conception of the future of the Jesus movement. As a consequence, they cannot be traced back to Jesus.

The commission in Matthew is expressed in Matthew’s language and reflects the evangelist’s idea of the world mission of the church. Jesus probably had no idea of launching a world mission and certainly was not an institution builder. The three parts of the commission—make disciples, baptize, and teach—constitute the program adopted by the infant movement, but do not reflect direct instructions from Jesus.

These commissions do not rest on old tradition, as their variety and divergence show. They are framed in language characteristic of the individual evangelists and express their views of how the mission of the infant church is to be understood.

Each evangelist had his own concept. It is conjectured that the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written by the same person (though there is a chance that Acts was an effort of pseudepigrapha), so this person apparently supplied two contradictory versions. In the final analysis, most objective historians would suggest that Jesus was so focused on an immediate solution that he had no concept of a centuries-long community of believers what would extol his name in elaborate churches. So that means that all of the commissions were likely fictional.

(4275) No single united church ever existed

Christian apologists will often try to minimize the fact that there are now over 40,000 denominations of Christianity by claiming that during the first years after Jesus there existed only one ‘church’ with a concise doctrine (conveniently equivalent to what they themselves are now preaching). They then explain the splintering of the church into multiple versions as being the work of Satan, or just the fact that fallible humans have distorted the one true message. In the following, received from a reader of this site, it is shown that the Bible itself demolishes this theory- there never was a single, unified Christian faith:


Revelations 2.6. You hate the practices of the Nicolaitanes, which also I hate. (ref. a heretical sect WITHIN THE CHURCH that has worked out a compromise with the pagan societies.)

Rev. 2.15. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teachings of the Nicolaitanes.

2 Corinth. 11.4 if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted.

Romans 16. 17. Watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.

1 John 1. That which was from the beginning which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched. (ref. John contradicts here the heresy of the Gnostics)

2 John 7. Many deceivers who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh have gone out into the world…

Corinth. 11.27.  and in danger from false brothers.

1Corinth. 15.13. how can some of you say that there is no resurrection from the dead? (now there is a real difference of opinion and doctrine!)

Galatians 1.6. you are so quickly deserting the one who called you… and turning to a different gospel… Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion.

Gal. 4. 8/9. Now that you know God, … how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles.

1 Timothy. 1.3 You may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer.

1 Titus. 1.10. There are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the Circumcision group. They must be silenced because they are ruining whole households by teaching things that they ought not to teach.

2nd Peter 2.1. But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies. Many will follow their destructive ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.


Gal. 3. You foolish Galatians , Who has bewitched you?

1 John 4. For many false prophets have gone out into the world. (Ref. The false prophets who were inspired by the spirit of the anti-Christ.)

Jude. 1.4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men who……. deny Jesus Christ ….

Tim. 19. Holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander whom I have handed over to Satan.

Jude 1.11 These men are blemishes at your love feasts…….

Gal. 4. 17. Those people are zealous to win you over,….. so that you may be zealous for them.


Mark9.38 and Luke 9.49 ‘We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not one of us. (Note this. It reads like a plain example of a separate and burgeoning Denomination. ‘HE IS NOT ONE OF US!’ they tell Jesus. But Jesus doesnt reject him.  One of my correspondents argued that these other persons were from the 70 who Jesus sent out to preach.  Funny then that the inner group of disciples know nothing about this, and logically reject them.)

2 Tim. 1.13. You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. (my note – there is no indication here that the Asian people have dropped their actual Christianity. They’ve just dumped their allegiance to Paul. Of course, they MIGHT represent heretics or just some other kind of denomination.)

1 Corinth. 1.12 there are quarrels amongst you. What I mean is this: One of you says I follow Paul. Another… I follow Apollos, another I follow Cephas.

One other important quote comes at Matthew 28.17, where we are assured that ‘some doubted’ when they actually saw the risen Jesus!

So there is ample evidence from the ‘inerrant’ Scripture to demonstrate no single unified church existed back at the beginning, with just one doctrine.

The lack of an original body of believers holding a consistent doctrine is evidence that the Christian movement was solely a reaction to events by humans each with their own opinion- not that it was started in a cohesive manner by a divine leader.

(4276) ChatGPT makes the case for atheism

The artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT, which is programmed to be unbiased with respect to religion, has become a good source for developing rational arguments, especially with respect to claims of the supernatural. In the following, ChatGPT was asked to present an argument defending atheism:

Premise 1: There is no empirical evidence that provides convincing proof of the existence of God.

Premise 2: The burden of proof lies with those making a positive claim about the existence of God, and until such evidence is presented, it is reasonable to withhold belief in their existence.

Premise 3: Many beliefs and claims about the existence of deities are culturally and historically contingent and have changed over time, suggesting that they are subjective and not based on objective reality.

Conclusion: Therefore, atheism, which is the lack of belief in God, is a reasonable position to hold until sufficient evidence is presented to support a belief in the existence of God.

There is nothing in this logic that can be assailed, because as of yet there has not appeared any evidence for a god upon which all people can agree. This is in contrast to, for example, the existence of atoms and molecules, which people worldwide all agree exist.

The three premises above and the conclusion are logically solid, and it justifies the position of the atheist in a world inundated with un-evidenced claims of supernatural creatures.

(4277) Hitchens moral challenge

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) issued a challenge to religious people to identify ways that their morality exceeds that of non-believers, either as actions or as sentiments. This is a test of whether a belief in God or any wisdom or powers supplied by God or the Holy Spirit makes a measurable difference in a person’s moral character. This essay below reveals two ways that theologians attack this challenge, both ending with a predictable failure:


Identify a moral action taken or a moral sentiment uttered by a believer that couldn’t be taken or uttered by a nonbeliever—something that only a believer could do and an atheist couldn’t.

This was Christopher Hitchens’ famous moral challenge. He said that he had never been given a satisfactory answer.

Amy Hall from Stand to Reason (Greg Koukl’s ministry) thinks she is up to the challenge. Let’s take a look.

1. Hitchens misunderstands the theist’s point

[Hitchens thinks the Christian is saying] that without God, we couldn’t know right from wrong, when the actual objection is that there wouldn’t be any right or wrong.

I believe Hitchens was responding to the assumption that being a Christian provided some moral advantage. (And, according to Christianity, it does: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin” (1 John 5:18).)

And if you want to argue that morality exists only because God put it there, that needs some evidence. You’ve provided none (more on Christians’ inability to defend the claim of objective morality here).

2. The Challenge is unanswerable

This is a clever observation: if Hitchens the atheist is the judge of the Hitchens Challenge, the Christian can’t win because he decides what is moral.

There might be certain acts that only theists would recognize as being moral. Atheists, not recognizing those acts as being good, would not attempt to do them as moral acts.

The first problem is that this undercuts another popular Christian apologetic argument. What’s wrong with Hitchens as judge—don’t you say that morality is objective? If morality is objective (defined by apologist William Lane Craig as “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not”) and we humans can reliably access those values, Hitchens or any honest atheist would be as good a judge as anyone.

Since it is logically impossible to give an answer that will satisfy Hitchens, he may as well ask us to draw him a square circle and then declare himself the winner when we fail. In the end, his challenge is nothing but a rhetorical trick, and it should be exposed and dismissed as such. Hitchens should never get away with even asking it, let alone demanding we give him an “acceptable” answer in order to defend theism.

I’m reminded of the lawyer’s maxim, “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.” There’s a lot of table pounding here along with the demand that the Challenge be dismissed as inadmissible.

The resolution is simple: insist that objective, unbiased third parties must judge this Challenge. If Christians like those from Stand to Reason believe that objective moral facts can be reliably found, they can find judges who are infallible at finding objective morality. Prove to everyone that they are reliable with public tests. Now we have judges that everyone admits are reliable, and Hall’s concern is satisfied.

As it happens, there is an answer to Hitchens’s question—one that seemed obvious to me immediately—and it illustrates perfectly the problem with the challenge. The highest moral good a person can do is to worship the living, true, sovereign God—to love Him with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not only will no atheist ever do this, no atheist can do this.

That’s the pinnacle of morality? It’s an odd definition of morality that has nothing to do with doing good to living beings, but I guess Christians can define their dogma as they choose. And that’s the point: this is dogma that is specific to Christians. Our objective, unbiased third party judges would reject this. (More on how praise applied to God makes no sense here.)

Now it looks like it’s you who’s playing the rhetorical trick.

If we all share Adam’s sin, we must all have the moral wisdom of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. How then can atheists not agree with you that worship is the highest moral good?

Let’s return to the Challenge. Hitchens was simply saying that Christians can claim no moral high ground over atheists and that Christianity brings nothing moral to the table that wasn’t already part of humanity’s social interaction. God pretends to generously gives morality to humans, but, like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, it was theirs all along.

Morality is hard to quantify, but anecdotally, considering especially the ubiquitous clerical sexual predation of minors, there seems to be no moral difference between the faithful and faithless. This is an unexpected observation if Christianity is assumed to be true.

(4278) Belief in God has become unsustainable

In the following essay, it is argued that a belief in God has become unsustainable in the face of all that humans have learned over the preceding centuries. God-believers today have stubbornly held on to their faith, but to do so requires a partitioning of mental processes, separating the use of critical thinking (necessary for navigating real-life situations) from an evidence-free faith. The following was taken from:


Regardless of someone’s religious affiliation, the God that’s backed by the scripture of their choice, represents a belief system that is of such a magnitude that continuing to believe eventually becomes unsustainable.

Atheism would become unsustainable in the face of an active God, just as belief in God becomes unsustainable when we consider the lack of testable evidence being presented – and zero evidence of any supernatural realm. Belief in God comes at a price… mainly the burden of proof.

For over 100,000 years we’ve been imagining, constructing and eliminating gods at a pretty good clip, and now we’re down to just a few gods remaining. It’s my contention that we’d lost all of these older gods because belief in them had become unsustainable in light of all we were leaning about the natural world. Gravity, the earth’s orbit, the planet’s orbits, biology, geology, paleontology, medicine, genetics and physics are a few examples of how discoveries in these fields continue to reduce the role of God.

With all of this said, the magnitude of discovering a God would turn everything we know up side down. Think of all of the biblical claims that we’ve been able to explain using natural causes. Medical conditions like epilepsy that were once considered to be caused by demon possession have since been answered using science.

Our world once required supernatural explanations because there was nothing else to draw on for answers. Now we’ve moved past demons and spirits ruling our world. We’ve developed ways to solve mysteries without appealing to magic.
So consider the magnitude of what is really being said when someone introduces a supernatural deity as the cause and creator of everything. Did God plant all of the secular (natural) evidence for the solutions that we’ve discovered just to trick us?

The Christian god either doesn’t exist or it is playing a game of withholding any objective evidence that it is real, while at same time penalizing those who analyze this question in a rational manner. It would be astounding to think that such a god would sentence people to hell who have thoughtfully considered the evidence and concluded that it doesn’t exist. Yet, this is what most Christians believe.

(4279) Nagasaki bomb refutes Christianity

The way events unfolded on August 9, 1945, during the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, indicates that the Christian god was either sleeping or not existing at that time. The following was taken from:


Hopefully for an effect similar to that of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, we could point to the Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9th, 1945 as evidence against the truth of Christianity. The original target of Fat Man was Kokura, but the bombers changed course to Nagasaki because of bad weather and problems with the fuel pump. Upon arriving over Nagasaki, bad weather further obscured their aim such that the bomb landed onto Urakami Valley, which is over 3 km. north of the intended target. The mountains around Urakami shielded most of the city from the blast, and the damp weather prevented a firestorm from incinerating the rest of the city, unlike in Hiroshima.

What is noteworthy about Urakami valley is that it is the oldest, largest, and for much of Early Modern history, the only Christian enclave in Japan. Saint Maximilian Kolbe estimated that over 60,000 of fewer than 100,000 Japanese Catholics lived in Urakami during the 1930s. No less than 2/3 of them were utterly reduced to ash during preparation for their feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Aug. 9th, 1945 by the most destructive weapon hitherto devised by the intellect of man, since the Plutonium bomb of Nagasaki was more powerful than the one used on Hiroshima. It would seem that Manhattan out-performed the Japanese warlords of the 17th century in the task of murdering Japanese Christians many-fold.

To recap, the weather, a force of nature, delivers the plutonium bomb, which is an apocalyptic weapon of Armageddon and the most powerful ever wielded in warfare, to Nagasaki away from the pagans of Kokura. The hand of Providence decided it was a good day for Urakami Valley, the largest and oldest Christian enclave in Japan, to be its chamber of inferno. The mountains and damp weather, which are another set of natural configurations presumably under divine control, shelter most of the pagan districts of the city from the blast. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria had a greater effect on the surrender so it could not be said that those unlucky Catholics were lambs sacrificed for world peace.

I’m sure that other terrible disasters brought upon Catholics could also be found in the annals of history, but this particular course of events was brought about by bad luck (ie, Providence), natural forces, and, don’t forget, the most powerful weapon ever wielded in warfare cast upon an island of Christianity in a sea of pagans. Could the God of the Christians truly be in charge of affairs, then?

This event is not explainable under the assumption that the Christian god exists and that it is omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent. Christians have to compartmentalize this tragedy as something that will be explained to them in heaven, while atheists will see it simply as a tragic event consistent with a godless world.

(4280) Circumcision and slavery

Jews and Christians view circumcision as a God-ordained practice that symbolizes a union of the human male to Yahweh. However, the history of this practice predates Judaism and was probably initially used as a way to identify slaves, similar to use of tattoos. This would seem to negate the Judeo-Christian theory that Yahweh introduced circumcision as a sign of fidelity to himself. The following was taken from:


Circumcision is one of the oldest practiced planned surgical procedures, possibly dating back 15,000 years. So that’s a lot of foreskins. A lot of enforced pain and suffering for very little obvious sense. Various theories exist such that it started in one place and spread, or started in different cultural groups independently. It may well have originally been a way to emasculate captured enemies where full penectomies or castrations were too often fatal.

Before Jews and Muslims practiced circumcision, other cultures in the area prior to their development carried it out, such as the Ancient Egyptians and the Semites, cultures that had a huge influence on the development of Judaism. There is an apparent depiction of the procedure on a bas-relief from Saqqara, Egypt, from 2400 BCE. See a papyrus illustration here at biblical scholar James Tabor’s blog with a translation of the hieroglyphics. Caleb Strom states of this:

However, in ancient Egypt and other cultures in Africa, only part of the foreskin was removed. In the Pacific islands, the frenum was snipped but the foreskin was left unmodified. This is interesting considering a Biblical reference where Yahweh commands the Israelites to circumcise their children again, “a second time” (Joshua 5:2). This could imply that some of them had already been circumcised the Egyptian way and had to be circumcised the Jewish or Israelite way.

One of the most plausible theories I have seen is one that claims that the procedure started as a slave mark (similar to or the same as the captured prisoners noted above). As this paper states (and you can find this at The Circumcision Reference Library, which appears to be a thing):

Others believe that circumcision arose as a mark of defilement or slavery. In ancient Egypt captured warriors were often mutilated before being condemned to the slavery. Amputation of digits and castration was common, but the morbidity was high and their resultant value as slaves was reduced. However, circumcision was just as degrading and evolved as a sufficiently humiliating compromise. Eventually, all male descendants of these slaves were circumcised. The Phoenicians, and later the Jews who were largely enslaved, adopted and ritualized circumcision. In time, circumcision was incorporated into Judaic religious practice and viewed as an outward sign of a covenant between God and man.

W.D. Dunsmuir and E.M. Gordon, “The history of circumcision”, BJU INTERNATIONAL, Volume 83, Suppl. 1: Pages 1-12, January 1, 1999.

In his excellent book Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship, the late Dr. Hector Avalos gives some arguments to defend the theory.

The key biblical scripture is from Genesis 17, where God expresses the aforementioned covenant:

“10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.”

The key idea here is servitude. Circumcision is a sign of a covenant, but one that is very one-sided, requiring subservience to God in the subjugation of his chosen people. One can read this as recipients being in bondage to or enslaved by Yahweh. Circumcision is not voluntary and is demanded by God.

When a religion borrows and re-interprets a custom from previous civilizations and claims that it is ordained by their god, their credibility is called into question. The bizarre and sadistic, and fully unnecessary, practice of circumcision is an artifact of history that lets us know that it was never ordained by any deity, but was likely a symbol of slavery invented by (unenlightened) human beings.

(4281) Cross anachronisms

The gospels were written at least 40 years after Jesus was crucified (assuming he actually existed and was put to death as depicted in the gospels). However, there are many scriptural references of Jesus using the word ‘cross’ as a metaphor. It seems likely that the gospel authors made a mistake by putting this word in Jesus’ mouth because although at the time they were writing it had become a Christian symbol, it would not have been so during Jesus’ ministry. The disciples would have had no idea what he was talking about.

Matthew 10:38
“and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Mark 8:34
Then Jesus called the crowd to Him along with His disciples, and He told them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Luke 9:23
Then Jesus said to all of them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 14:27
“And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.”

This is another example of an anachronism that made its way into the Bible. The authors of the gospels were careless in this regard, not thinking through the repercussions of what linguistics were appropriate for the time about which they were writing.

(4282) The God of Old

A careful reading of the Bible reveals that the God of the ancient Israelites is not the same god worshiped by contemporary Christians. The God of Old was not omnipotent, appeared directly to people often in a disguised human form, walked through the Garden of Eden, and wrestled with Jacob, and more.

A good source of understanding this godly dichotomy is James L. Kugel’s book The God of Old, Inside the Lost World of the Bible. The following is a brief book review:


The God of the world’s great religions – all-powerful, all-knowing, invisible, and omnipresent – has been a staple of Western thought for some time. Yet in this remarkable book, James Kugel shows that this God is not the same as the God of most of the Bible, the God who appeared to Abraham, Moses, and other biblical heroes. That God, the “God of Old,” was actually perceived in a very different way – a way that has much to teach our own age.

James Kugel’s previous books have introduced a broad public to the Bible’s history, showing that the stories of Genesis, Exodus, and other books have not always been understood to mean what we believe today. Now he tries to go even deeper and enter the spiritual world of the ancient Israelites, attempting to see God through their eyes and on their own terms.

The God of Old was not invisible or abstract. He appeared to people – usually unexpectedly; He was not sought out. Often, He was not even recognized. Many biblical stories thus center on a “moment of confusion,” in which an encounter with god is at first mistaken for an ordinary, human meeting. In the biblical world, Kugel shows, the spiritual and the material overlapped: everyday perception was in constant danger of sliding into something else, stark but oddly familiar. God was always standing just behind the curtain of ordinary reality.

Kugel suggests that this way of seeing, far from being a primitive relic, actually reflects a sophisticated but profoundly different understanding of how God interacts with people. Most of the Bible’s favorite stories and psalms are based on this different way of seeing, and it is one that is, paradoxically, very relevant to today’s world. This is a book to treasure side by side with the Bible, and for years to come.

The omni-god of Christianity, who resides in some ‘other dimension,’ has little in common with Yahweh, the down-to-earth god of the ancient Israelites. Either there are two gods overlooking our existence, or the God of Old has evolved into a much more powerful and much more distant god (or, just maybe, neither of these gods are real).

(4283) God cannot forgive everything

Christianity presents the concept that God can completely forgive anyone for anything they have done. Logically, this could only apply to ‘sins’ that involve only the sinner and no one else. The following was taken from:


God cannot erase all the bad things you have done. When someone hurts another person, the injured person has the right to forgive or not forgive the person who caused the harm. No one else, not even a person in a position of power over them, can fix things between the two people.

God can only forgive offenses committed against Him. Some Christians might argue that when someone hurts another person, it is an offense against both the person and God. However, God can only forgive the part of the offense that was committed against Him. He cannot forgive the part that was done against the person who was hurt. This is not within His authority.

Imagine if someone hit you with their car and caused you to crash into a stop sign. You end up in the hospital, and the person who hit you comes to apologize. Suddenly, a government agent enters the room and forgives the person for damaging the stop sign and also forgives them for hitting you. You would be confused because you know that forgiveness is a personal choice. Nobody else can forgive on our behalf. It doesn’t make sense for someone else to forgive for us.

So, God can only forgive you for things you’ve done to Him, but He cannot forgive you for something you did to someone else. If we harm someone, only that person has the power to forgive us. If they don’t forgive us, we’re still responsible for what we did wrong.

Christianity’s idea of forgiveness has been weaponized, so that people who have done terrible things can suddenly feel better about themselves without actually seeking to make things right with everyone they have harmed.

Perhaps this is why Jesus preached in Matthew 5:23-26 ESV “23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”

Even Jesus seems to agree that God cannot forgive you for what you did to someone else. Therefore, we cannot say that God forgives us of everything. We are also dependent on the forgiveness of those we have wronged.

An example of this problem is the following:

Person A steals money from Person B. Person A prays to God to forgive him and God does this. Everything is OK now, right? No, person B remains aggrieved and has no reason to forgive Person A unless he returns the money and apologizes. God has no right to forgive Person A on behalf of Person B.

The Christian model of forgiveness breaks down when the offense being forgiven involves damage suffered by a third-party.

(4284) Correlates of religious belief and practice

If religions were true, it would be expected that the daily practice of them would be higher in areas of higher education and income, given that supporting evidence would be more accurately analyzed by those with more acute thinking skills- but the opposite is true.  The following charts, developed by the Pew Research Center, show that higher religious belief and practice correlates where life expectancy is shorter, where people spend less time is school, where the gross domestic product is lower, and where income inequality is the greatest:

A more developed country, with better educated and healthier citizens should be more likely to harbor religious fervor IF RELIGIONS WERE TRUE. If religions are false, then we would expect the least educated, most vulnerable, and poorest people to cling to religion as a counterpoint to their unfavorable lives. This is what we observe.

(4285) John emphasizes Jesus carrying his own cross

It is theorized that the author of the Gospel of John, reacting to a theory that a different person was mistakenly crucified in place of Jesus, made it very clear that Jesus carried his own cross. In the Gospel of Luke, Simon Cyrene was made to carry Jesus’ cross. This scripture led to a speculation that Simon was crucified by mistake in lieu of Jesus, implying that there was no resurrection. Here are the two scriptures that contradict each other:

Luke 23:26

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

John 19:16-17

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).

The following was taken from:


I would argue that the push to make Jesus carry his own cross is a polemic of a similar nature. One view of docetism, popularized by Basilides, who was almost certainly alive at the time John’s gospel was written, was the idea that Simon of Cyrene, after carrying Jesus’ cross, was mistakenly crucified in his place. This would mean Jesus had never died, and consequently, had not been resurrected. By making Jesus carry his own cross, such a possibility disappears.

This is an example of how the gospel authors manipulated their accounts to advance an agenda or to squelch a rumor. In this case, John wanted to make sure that his readers believed that it was Jesus who was crucified.

(4286) Pre-marital customs of 1st Century Jews

The story of Jesus being born of a virgin is a centerpiece of Christian theology, but there exist far more plausible explanations for this legend. First of all, the so-called prophecies of this ‘miracle’ refer to a ‘young woman’ conceiving a child, not a ‘virgin.’ Also, as explained below, there existed a custom at that time among some Jewish groups to delay marriage until proof could be obtained of fertility- that is becoming pregnant as a condition before being formally wedded. If this was the case with Joseph and Mary (assuming they were real people), then a pregnancy before marriage would have been normal. The following was taken from:


I’m currently reading “Jesus & The Land” by Charles R. Page II and he made a claim I had never heard before. He claims that Mary being a virgin before the birth of Christ would have been very unlikely. He says that the people of Nazareth during the first century were Hasidic, Hasidic Judaism at the time was very similar to the Essenes, and the Essenes practiced a form of premarital sex during the betrothal period before marriage. He says that the Essenes, despite common knowledge, did in fact get married but only for the purpose of procreation. To ensure that a marriage would result in children, the couple would become betrothed, attempt to get pregnant, and once the woman conceived then proceed with marriage.

So his claim is:

A. The Nazarene culture Mary and Joseph belonged to was religiously very similar to the Essenes at Qumran

B. The Essenes, or at least a subsect of the Essenes, required sex during the betrothal period. So, it is likely that this was also a practice in Nazareth.

C. Since Mary and Joseph were already betrothed before Marry conceived, she likely had already slept with Joseph prior.

Given these parameters, it is easy to conclude what is more likely- that either Mary and Joseph were following local customs and became pregnant before being married, or that Mary was inseminated by God. The choice is easy.

(4287) Sports, like religion, chooses us

Most people are attached to a certain sports team, or several of them. But when asked why they choose that team to follow, the answer is usually something like ‘it was my home town’ or ‘my parents came from there.’ In other words, they didn’t choose this team, it was chosen for them. The same is true of religion. In the following essay, a person finds out that they cannot let go of their love for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (U.S.) even though there are many rational reasons to let it go. The same is true of Christianity- it is the ‘team’ they grew up with and it is nearly impossible to see any other religion as being on the same level of truth.


This is the year I should divorce the Cleveland Browns.

But can I? I didn’t choose Browns fandom, after all. It came looking for me before I understood it, before I understood myself.

Like so many important things.

In Field of Dreams, Moonlight Graham says he can never leave Chisholm, Minnesota because:

This is my most special place in all the world, Ray. Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child.

Some of our deepest loves are like this. They slip past our rationality and touch us so that “the wind never blows so cold again”. These include home, family, country, football teams…and religion.

The Browns have never been good to me: So much losing (1–31 in 2016–17), so many draft busts (54 different quarterbacks since 1999), plus the three years (1996–98) when they left me (I should have been grateful). Worse, there are the times they raised my hopes only to crush them in epic style (Red Right 88The DriveThe Fumble). The Browns home fields have collectively been a factory of sadness for generations.

So why do I stick with them? Admittedly it’s not rational. It’s part of my identity that lies beneath the strata of thinking and analysis, much like family, nationality, and (yes) religion. I’m a Browns fan because fandom links me to a time and place, to friends, to an identity. It stakes out territory within me and says that, no matter who I am today, I am still this too.

This is the first year, though, that I’ve seriously considered dropping the Browns. During the off-season, in a move both desperate and unprincipled, the Browns signed QB Deshaun Watson to an enormous $230 million fully guaranteed five-year contract, knowing that Watson would likely be suspended most of this year (it turned out to be 11 games) because he has been accused by 25 women of sexual misconduct. Watson maintains his innocence. Few even in the Browns organization seem to believe him.

If I can’t count on the Browns to win and I can’t count on them to do the right thing, I really should break up with them. But it’s hard. Because I didn’t choose Browns fandom. It chose me.

I was seven and hadn’t yet noticed sports when we moved to our farm, so I didn’t have a team. That was the last year of my free-agency though, because that summer we made an historic and tragic mistake. Our farmhouse was about halfway between Cleveland and Columbus. Because my parents were from Akron, when we put our TV antenna on a tall pole and fastened it to our chimney, my dad aimed it north instead of south. Had we pointed it toward Columbus, my heart probably would have been pulled to Cincinnati, to Ken Anderson and Cris Collinsworth and the Bengals (who have at least been to some Super Bowls), not to mention Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and the Big Red Machine.

This is not just speculation. Some of the kids we went to church with lived just a few miles south, but went to different schools in a different county and watched Columbus news, and they were indeed Cincinnati fans. The line of my destiny was just that close.

Once a team has set its hook, you’re done for — especially if it happens when you’re young. Years ago, my brother and his young son, both Browns fans, were disgusted and appalled by another infamous season. So my brother said, “Let’s think about picking another team to follow. We’ll sleep on it tonight and tomorrow we’ll decide.” The next day, his son asked what the decision was. My brother said: “I could no more choose to not be a Browns fan than I could choose to not be your father. It’s just who I am”. If that sounds like crazy talk to you, I know you don’t have a team of your own. I pity you. I also envy you.

I have come to realize that I “chose” my religion in just the same way.

At about the same age as I found football, we started attending church as a family. My parents followed a common path — they received some religious exposure as kids, drifted away from any overt practice of it as young adults, then returned to a version of it as parents, probably due to the fearsome responsibility of raising children.

Shortly thereafter, I responded to an “altar call” (an emotionally-based appeal to repent of sin and accept Christ as savior) and became part of the church family. From then on, Christianity became part of my identity. I absorbed the Sunday School lessons as truth. Everyone around me held the same faith, especially my family and closest friends. I learned to see the world through Christian eyes without realizing that I was doing so.

Did I look at evidence for faith? Did I check to see if there was any objective reason to believe the stuff I was taught? That came much, much later. And by then, I had plenty of motivation to cling to whatever evidence allowed me to continue to believe.

I have described that process in other articles. My point here is that many of the things that shape us the most are things that chose us, and then became us. Only later do we learn how to rewrite the story with ourselves as the rational agent, the hero-detective who digs in and finds the true path hidden among the falsehood.

Sports fandom gives us a way to see this in action within ourselves. No one would claim that their team loyalty was based on truth and choice. (Well, maybe a Red Sox fan would). Fandom just happens to us. And we don’t feel the need to explain or defend it.

The good news (as a former minister, I have to wrap up with some good news) is that we aren’t bound to our earliest strong impressions. It’s possible to love home as the place where “the wind never blows so cold” and still move away and experience other places and ideas. It’s possible to value the foundation that faith once gave, and yet examine it in the bright light of day. It’s even possible to switch football teams.

I’m not really as loyal to the Browns (anymore) as I have let on. I have jumped on plenty of other bandwagons. Nevertheless, the continued pull of the “North Coast” team surprises me, and warns me about a kind of bias most of us carry around within us.

Ask any Christian if they chose Christianity as their faith. Most, if they are honest, will admit that they didn’t choose Christianity, it chose them.

(4288) God and birds

The scriptures oversell the care that God has over his creation. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew (or the Plain in Luke), Jesus claims that God takes good care of birds as an example of how he will take care of humans (even more). However, a look at statistics reveals that God’s care of birds is a dismal failure:


Luke 12:6–7: Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 6:26: Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

The following reveals just how safe birds are from danger in the United States. The figures are from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are the average between their low and high estimates.

Killed by colliding with window glass… 600,000,000 (six hundred million just in the United States each and every year.) A simple glare free lens, like opticians make for us humans, would have prevented this problem. Killed by colliding with motor vehicles… 214,000,000. Killed by colliding into electrical wires… 25,000,000. Killed by cats…2,400,000,000 (that is 2.4 billion, again, each and every year, just in the United States!) Thus, it seems that both Matthew and Luke were not correct about the relationship that God has with birds.

Similar statistics could be applied as well to humans. The promises of the gospels about the degree of protection that God offers anyone, even fervently praying people, is an indication that the Bible is wrong about how it portrays God or else ‘he’ doesn’t exist.

(4289) Oradour atheists

Sometimes all it takes is a single event to destroy peoples’ belief in God. One of those happened in Oradour-sur-Glane, France during World War II. The way that women and children were slaughtered inside of a church led many survivors to question and abandon their faith. The following was taken from:


On Saturday, 10 June 1944—four days after the Allied landing at Normandy—the rural village of Oradour-sur-Glane, in Vichy occupied France, was surrounded by an SS Panzer division of German soldiers. They rounded up all of the residents, forced the men into barns and stables, the women and children into the church. Then, with machine guns and fire-bombs, they murdered all 643 of them: 462 women and children were killed in the church. The women had felt safe in the church, because, of course, that’s where God is paying the closest attention to those who worship him. So how could a caring, attentive, powerful, competent god have allowed this savagery to happen? “God is good, God is great, but since he works in mysterious ways, he allowed the German soldiers to do their job that day.” Such a response illustrates the all-too-common incoherence of Christian theology: it doesn’t make sense.

René Hyvernaud, a resident of Oradour who had escaped, described what he found the next day at the church:

“‘I was met with an horrific spectacle. Inside several meters from the main entrance, I saw the body of a woman laid out, completely unclothed. It looked as though her clothes had caught fire.’ Further into the church about 4 or 5m in, he saw a pile of bodies, around one and a half meters high and 2 to 3m in diameter. The whole thing was a reddish blaze from which smoke bellowed. You could still definitely make out the forms of bodies due to the skeletal structures. Other bodies, mainly children and half burnt, were strewn across the nave.’ He went further into the church where he saw two children both shot dead, legs intertwined. He wanted to separate them but he could not stand the thick smoke and the ‘nauseating odour which suffocated me.’ Before leaving he saw that ‘the floor of the sacristy had crumbled and that, below, fire was still blazing.’” (Robert Pike, Silent Village, p. 299)

Another survivor, Aimé Faurgeras, made a discovery in the toilet behind the church: “At the back of one of the stalls Faugeras found the body of a baby, wrapped in its swaddling. The baby, a boy, had received mortal gunshot wounds.” (Pike, Silent Village, p. 309)

The god worshiped at that church in Oradour-sur-Glane was the one derived from the Old Testament, and given a boost in the New Testament: a god who could be found above the clouds, able to spy on everyone, with a throne next to his own for Jesus. It is virtually impossible to reconcile this concept of god with what we now know about the Cosmos. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies, and trillions of stars with planets. No amount of theologizing—and, Oh how the apologists have tried! —enables us to accept that there is a god paying close attention to every planet and to every being on those planets. There are now eight billion humans on Earth: there’s a god monitoring each one of us? How can anyone make the case for this when 462 women and children were murdered in that village church? —where god should have been paying close attention.

If the Christian god exists and further that he possesses the omni-qualities assigned to him by most Christians, then it becomes evident that the atrocity at Oradour was an act of evil committed by this god’s inaction. It is difficult to belief that a benevolent god could watch this happen, have the ability to stop it, and do nothing. The survivors who abandoned their faith were highly justified in doing so.

(4290) Weakness of god arguments

One of the ways to realize that God doesn’t exist is to evaluate the arguments put forward by theists to ‘prove’ their point. It can be conjectured that if God did exist, at the very least they would be able to advance some evidence-based rationales for concluding that God probably exists. But as discussed below, the arguments are embarrassingly weak- a testament to the fact that they are grasping at straws:


I have seen a lot of arguments for the existence of God. And they all boil down to one or more of the following:

The argument from authority. (Example: “God exists because the Bible says God exists.”)

The argument from personal experience. (Example: “God exists because I feel in my heart that God exists.”)

The argument that religion shouldn’t have to logically defend its claims. (Example: “God is an entity that cannot be proven by reason or evidence.”)

Or the redefining of God into an abstract principle — so abstract that it can’t be argued against, but also so abstract that it scarcely deserves the name God. (Example: “God is love.”)

And all these arguments are incredibly weak.

Sacred books and authorities can be mistaken. I have yet to see a sacred book that doesn’t have any mistakes. (The Bible, for just one example, is shot full of them.) And the feelings in people’s hearts can definitely be mistaken. They are mistaken, demonstrably so, much of the time. Instinct and intuition play an important part of human understanding and experience… but they should never be treated as the final word on a subject.

I mean, if I told you, “The tree in front of my house is 500 feet tall with hot pink leaves,” and offered as a defense, “I know this is true because my mother/ preacher/ sacred book tells me so”… or “I know this is true because I feel it in my heart”… would you take me seriously?

Some people do still try to point to evidence in the world that God exists. But that evidence is inevitably terrible. Pointing to the perfection of the Bible as a historical and prophetic document, for instance, when it so blatantly is nothing of the kind. Or pointing to the complexity of life and the world and insisting that it must have been designed… when the sciences of biology and geology and such have provided far, far better explanations for what looks, at first glance, like design.

As to the “We don’t got to show you no stinking reason or evidence” argument… that’s just conceding the game before you’ve even begun. It’s basically saying, “I know I can’t make my case, therefore I’m going to concentrate my arguments on why I don’t have to make my case in the first place.” It’s like a defense lawyer who knows their client is guilty, and thus tries to get the case thrown out on a technicality.

Ditto with the “redefining God out of existence” argument. If what you believe in isn’t a supernatural being(s) or substance(s) that currently has, or at one time had, some sort of effect on the world… well, your philosophy might be a dandy and clever one, but it is not, by any useful definition of the word, religion.

Again: If I tried to argue, “The tree in front of my house is 500 feet tall with hot pink leaves — and the height and color of trees is a question that is best answered with personal faith and feeling, not with reason or evidence”… or, “I know this is true because I am defining ‘500 feet tall and hot pink’ as the essential nature of tree-ness, regardless of its outward appearance”… would you take me seriously?

A universe being governed by an omnipotent deity who is intimately involved in peoples’ lives would not be devoid of solid reasons to conclude that this deity exists. In that world, Christians would not be struggling to show that their god exists. They would not be embarrassing themselves by making arguments of a quality that would be easily dismissed for any other thing they were trying to prove.

(4291) Polygamy and the Bible’s reputation

The Bible neither prescribes nor proscribes polygamy. Rather it discusses it in neutral terms-just something that is there and seemingly alright with God. This creates a problem when modern Christians view polygamy as being immoral and most countries have made it illegal.

There are two possibilities:

1) God considered polygamy OK in biblical times, but not today. Problem- God changed his mind.

2) God considered polygamy OK in biblical times, and still sees it as being OK. Problem- God is on a different page than his followers.

Neither of these options are easily digestible to modern Christians. The following was taken from:


Polygamy in the Bible embarrasses today’s Christian apologist. If it’s wrong today, how could it have been moral in Old Testament times? Or is it not wrong today?

The problem with polygamy

A recent article (“Polygamy in the Bible is Not Prescriptive”) from Robby Lashua of Stand to Reason agrees:

The ugly truth is that many of the heroes in the Old Testament were polygamists. Jacob had two wives and Esau had three. King David, the man after God’s own heart, had at least eight wives. Solomon, not to be outdone, had a staggering seven hundred wives.

Right from the beginning, the moral evaluation of various pieces of the argument are made clear. (1) Polygamy is “ugly,” bad, embarrassing. And (2) the Bible makes plain that many Old Testament heroes were polygamists, and that’s awkward. Lashua’s goal is soon clear: we must find a way to acknowledge polygamy in the Bible while salvaging the moral positions of God and the Bible. The reputations of the patriarchs are expendable, and they can be thrown under the bus as necessary.

Our goal is to understand how polygamy is really presented in the Bible. We’ll follow along with Lashua’s argument, taking it as a representative Christian response to polygamy. Along the way, we’ll see how not to make a defense of the Bible.

Prescriptive, proscriptive, or descriptive?

How is polygamy treated in the Bible? Is it good, bad, or just a trait of society with no more moral value than where the utensils go on a dining table?

Lashua gives a Bible example.

The first mention of polygamy in Scripture says, “Lamech took to himself two wives” (Gen. 4:19). We are then told that Lamech, a descendant of Cain, boasted to his wives about murdering a boy (Gen. 4:23). Lamech was a bad man, and polygamy is something he practiced.

Huh? I agree that murdering someone is morally wrong, but what’s that got to do with polygamy? Where is the cause and effect in “Lamech was a bad man, and polygamy is something he practiced”? Was Lamech bad because he practiced polygamy? The Bible doesn’t say this, and Lashua has done nothing to make this connection.

His article suggests we get our terms straight, and finally there’s something to agree on.

    • prescriptive norm is something we should do. It might be a law, like paying taxes. Or maybe just shared wisdom, like the importance of brushing your teeth regularly.
    • proscriptive norm is the opposite—it’s something we shouldn’t do. For example, drinking and driving is proscribed.
    • Finally, a custom can simply be described.

In the Bible, God’s commandments are prescriptive if they’re demands to do something (animal sacrifice, for example). Or commandments can be proscriptive when they prohibit or condemn something (the rules in Leviticus about who not to have sex with, for example). Finally, the Bible is simply descriptive when it documents society’s customs without giving a moral critique—clothing, housing, herding livestock, commerce, and so on … and polygamy.

How does the Bible see polygamy?

Let’s put this new vocabulary to use. Lashua says,

Are these passages about polygamy prescriptive or descriptive? Are they prescribing how we are supposed to live, or are they describing events from the past?

Many passages in Scripture describe events God doesn’t condone. Lot’s daughters getting him drunk and having sex with him comes to mind (Gen. 19:32–36). But many passages of Scripture prescribe how we are to live as followers of God, such as when Jesus prescribes loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37).

Is polygamy prescriptive? The short answer is no.

Is polygamy in the Bible made mandatory? No. But this is the wrong question. We must ask if the Bible proscribes polygamy—that is, prohibits it. It doesn’t.

In lieu of an actual argument, the article gives more guilt-by-association tales of polygamists with no indication that polygamy causes anything.

Jacob’s firstborn son, Reuben, by his first wife Leah, had sex with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine (Gen. 35:22). David’s son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar and was then killed by Tamar’s full brother Absalom (2 Sam. 13). Absalom then tried to usurp the throne from his father David and had sex with David’s concubines (2 Sam. 16:22). Solomon “had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away” (1 Kings 11:3). These descriptions are sad reminders that polygamy is sin and has destructive consequences.

Rape, adultery, treason, and murder? I’m not sure polygamy is the worst thing here. Anyway, this list of polygamists behaving badly does absolutely nothing to show that polygamy caused anything bad.

I gotta tell ya, bro—you’re doing all the lifting and the Bible isn’t helping. Maybe you should reconsider if it deserves all this effort.

Examples of polygamy

Polygamy was just what some people in Bible stories did. There are plenty of examples, and never do we see any divine condemnation of the institution—condemnation of polygamists, yes, but not of polygamy. The Bible mentions Gideon’s many wives without criticism (Judges 8:30). And that Elkanah had two wives (1 Samuel 1:1–2), as did Ashhur (1 Chron. 4:5). Mered had multiple wives (1 Chron. 4:17), and “Rehoboam … had eighteen wives and sixty concubines” (2 Chron. 11:21). And there are more. None of these examples are stated with complaint. There’s no more disgrace in “Patriarch X had two wives” than in “Patriarch Y had a hundred sheep.”

God has no trouble pointing out and punishing moral errors. When David sleeps with Bathsheba, another man’s wife, God makes his disapproval known, and the son they produced quickly dies. No confusion—God disapproves of adultery.

Show this clear disapproval of polygamy in the Bible.

It would be expected that a god of the type imagined by Christianity would know that polygamy would not stand the test of time and would have forbidden it right from the start. When today’s Christians reject this lifestyle choice, they must use sources other than the Bible to support their judgment.

(4292) The afterlife and sleep

Generally speaking, everybody sleeps during every 24-hour cycle. During this time, we go through various stages ranging from light sleep/dreaming to what is known as Stage 4, which is a very deep sleep during which our awareness and consciousness effectively reduces to zero. If we were to die during Stage 4 there would be no awareness of this happening.

Theists believe that when we die, after which our body decays, we nevertheless can do all of the things that we can’t do in Stage 4 sleep. We are conscious, we can think without a brain, see without eyes, hear without ears, and touch without hands. In other words, we are supposedly more ‘alive and aware’ after we die than when we are actually still alive during Stage 4 sleep.

Of course, this makes no sense. If there is some element of our awareness that is not tied to our physical body, then during Stage 4 sleep this ‘spiritual self’ should still be working and keeping us in a conscious state. But it doesn’t.

Christians try to get around this problem by saying that God will reconstruct our bodies after death, or by using some real magic make us alive and aware without the benefit of a physical body. Neither of these scenarios seem likely.

In the final analysis, religions, all 4000+ that have ever existed, were created for one reason- a fear of death. Humans have a difficult time conceding that they are temporary creatures- just like elephants, bears, dogs, squirrels, bees, and ants.

It is surprising that so many people say that they can’t imagine not existing, that there must be something more, when every night they spend several hours ‘not existing,’ completely unaware of the passage of time. Death is equivalent to being in Stage 4 sleep. We have all experienced it thousands of times- when we die, at that time, we simply do it for eternity.

(4293) Critique of Paul

In the following, it is argued that Paul used prophecies of the Jewish faith to bolster his new idea of theology that, in its final form, essentially destroyed the foundation of Judaism. This would be like using quotes of a former leader to authenticate your movement while at the same time saying that this leader was unreliable. Further, it is pointed out that Paul required a miraculous vision of Jesus to believe while the rest of us must accept it on faith alone.


Many theologians would make us regard the miraculous conversion and apostleship of St. Paul as one of the strongest proofs of the truth of Christianity. But in viewing the thing closely it appears that this conversion, far from proving any thing in favor of this religion, invalidates the other proofs of it, in fact, our doctors continually assure us that the Christian religion draws its strongest proofs from the prophecies of the Old Testament, whilst there is not in fact a single one of these prophecies that can be literally applied to the Messiah of the Christians. St. Paul himself willing to make use of these oracles of the Jewish nation to prove the mission of Christ, is obliged to distort them, and to seek in them a mystical, allegorical, and figurative sense.

On the other side, how can these prophecies made by Jews and addressed to Jews, serve as proofs of the doctrine of St. Paul, who had evidently formed the design of altering, or even of destroying, the Jewish religion, in order to raise a new system on its ruins? Such being the state of things, what real connection, or what relation, can there be between the religious system of the Jews, and that of St. Paul? For this Apostle to have had the right of making use of the Jewish prophecies, it would have been necessary that he should have remained a Jew; his conversion to Christianity evidently deprived him of the privilege of serving himself, by having recourse to the prophecies belonging to a religion that he had just abandoned, and the ruin of which he meditated. True prophecies can only be found in a divine religion, and a religion truly divine, can neither be altered, reformed, nor destroyed: God himself, if he is immutable, could not change it.

In fact, might not the Jews have said to St. Paul, “Apostate that you are! you believe in our prophecies, and you come to destroy the religion founded upon the same prophecies. If you believe in our oracles, you are forced to believe that the religion which you have quitted is a true religion and divinely inspired. If you say, that God has changed his mind, you are impious in pretending that God could change, and was not sufficiently wise, to give at once to his people a perfect worship, and one which had no need of being reformed.

On the other side, do not the reiterated promises of the Most High, confirmed by paths to our fathers, assure us, that his alliance with us should endure eternally? You are then an impostor, and, according to our law, we ought to exterminate you; seeing that Moses, our divine legislator, orders us to put to death, whoever shall have the temerity to preach to us a new worship, even though he should confirm his mission by prodigies. The God that you preach is not the God of our fathers: you say that Christ is his son; but we know that God has no son. You pretend that this son, whom we have put to death as a false prophet, has risen from the dead, but Moses has not spoken of the resurrection; thus your new God and your dogmas are contrary to our law, and consequently we ought to hold them in abhorrence.” In short these same Jews might have said to St. Paul: “You deceive yourself in saying, that you are the disciple of Jesus, your Jesus was a Jew, during the whole of his life he was circumcised, he conformed himself to all the legal ordinances; he often protested that he came to accomplish, and not to abolish the law; whilst you in contempt of the protestations of the Master, whose Apostle you say you are, take the liberty of changing this holy law, of decrying it, of dispensing with its most essential ordinances.”

Moreover the conversion of St. Paul strangely weakens the proof that the Christian religion draws from the miracles of Jesus Christ and his Apostles. According to the evangelists themselves the Jews were not at all convinced by these miracles. The transcendent prodigy of the resurrection of Christ, the wonders since wrought by some of his adherents did not contribute more to their conversion. St. Paul believed nothing of them at first, he was a zealous persecutor of the first Christians to such a degree, that, according to the Christians, nothing short of a new miracle, performed for him alone, was able to convert him; which proves to us that there was, at least, a time when St. Paul did not give any credit to the wonders that the partisans of Jesus related at Jerusalem.

He needed a particular miracle to believe in those miracles, that we are obliged to believe in at the time in which we live, without heaven operating any new prodigy to demonstrate to us the truth of them.

This is a good explanation from the Jewish perspective why Jesus was not the son of God, or any god or divine person whatsoever. Assuming he was a real individual, it is certain that he was born in the regular way, died in the regular way, and has remained dead to this day.

(4294) Jesus in death less noble than his followers

If we take the gospels as being somewhat accurate in describing the execution of Jesus, we can see that he was not the stoic, confident, even defiant martyr that (allegedly) the disciples and converted Christians were when they were also killed for their faith (case in point: Stephen in Acts, Chapter 7). Yet, we are led to believe that Jesus was not only super-human, but God himself, who knew that he must die for the remission of sins, and further, that he knew he would come back alive again in only 36 hours. Stephen and the disciples were more noble than Jesus? This doesn’t make sense. The following was taken from:


While suffering his execution, Jesus, according to the Gospel writers, lost both his moral and physical courage, and cried aloud in agony, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” In view of this fact, it seems impossible for reasonable creatures to accept the Christian dogmas of the atonement and the trinity, for, if Jesus were one of the godhead and had left his heavenly abode to descend to earth for the especial purpose of saving mankind by shedding his blood for them, he must necessarily have been aware of what was in store for him and have known all the details attendant upon his execution.

Looking at this fable rationally, Jesus was inferior in courage to many of his followers. When we recall the innumerable martyrs who went to meet death with smiling lips, in perfect confidence, the wailing savior, with his doubting cry to God, presents anything but an impressive figure. Surely, to burn at the stake, to lie under the axe, to endure the awful tortures of the Inquisition, were fully as agonizing as a crucifixion; and yet men—and delicate women—who have never pretended to divinity, have borne these things silently.

To be sure, the whole story of the Christ is largely legendary and very uncertain, but, according to the gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus was weak in his convictions, afraid to die for his own teachings, and on the whole, his conduct at the supreme moment reminds one of the weak French peasants of revolutionary times rather than the brave nobility. His peasant blood rose to the surface and in his fear he cried, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” although but a few moments before he had assured one of the malefactors who suffered beside him that on this day he should be in paradise (Luke xxiii, 43).

Everything considered, it is not strange that the Jews would not accept Jesus as the awaited messiah who should free them from the yoke of Rome. They desired a strong and powerful leader, not a socialistic wandering teacher, and the prophecies promised a ruler surpassing the wisdom and power of the gorgeous Solomon. There is not one prophetic passage in the Old Testament that can properly be applied to Jesus, although many have been distorted for such purpose. The Jews looked upon him as an impostor and a revolutionist who not only pretended to be what he was not, but who disregarded their ancient laws and preached a doctrine contrary to that held by their rabbis.

It was not until long after his death that he was regarded as a prophet, and it was not until every proof of his very existence had vanished that divine honors were paid him. To the Jews he was a vagrant revolutionist worthy of death, and the Jews knew him personally; to a large majority of twentieth century Christians, he is a god, and they know absolutely nothing about him, save a collection of puerile myths which tax their credulity as children, but which as adults they accept.

However, regarding the execution of Jesus, there is always the legitimate doubt that it ever occurred. Aside from the fact that the usual mode of death for criminals was by hanging, there is much internal evidence in the gospels themselves which points to the conclusion that the whole story of the execution and resurrection is mythical and was composed from various Hebrew and pagan legends. The dying cry was copied verbatim from Psalms xxii, 1, wherein David “complaineth in great discouragement” over his diseased condition.

If we take the scriptures at face value, Stephen never even met Jesus, but showed incredible bravery during his execution, while Jesus, God himself, cowered at the prospect of his own (temporary) death. This is fiction, and bad fiction at that.

(4295) Christian devil worship

Christians have unwittingly signaled that Satan, the ‘god of this world,’ has gained power while God has lost it. Most Christians would be lost without a belief in Satan, and in fact, might lose their belief in God if they were to stop believing in Satan. So, they ‘worship’ Satan in a certain sense. The following was taken from:


This Christian devil-worship, for it can be called little else, crept into Judaism during the Babylonian captivity, and was originally a recognition of the dual powers of good and evil, seemingly coequal. By placing Satan in opposition to God, in giving him eternal life, and endowing him with miraculous powers, and even allowing him to upset and vanquish the plans of God, Christians have made Satan equal, if not superior, to the Deity. A Puritan bigot hanging witches in New England was admitting in the plainest manner his faith in Satan’s power, though it never occurred to him for an instant that these curious happenings might be attributed to God.

The power of God to perform miracles was then, as now, a matter of the past. With the Protestant Reformation came the idea that no longer did God interfere for the benefit of man. In the seventeenth century God had ceased to work by other than natural agencies. His miraculous powers, if not lost, were at least suspended. But not so Satan—that archfiend was as powerful as ever, if not more so. He could inflict magical tortures on God’s divinely elect and make them writhe in agony. Pious Cotton Mather had ceased to believe in divine miracles, but he had no doubt of devilish ones, and it appears to all students of that dark and shameful period of our history that the belief was rampant among the majority that God was vanquished and Satan ruled. Never was belief in the dual principles of good and evil more surely set forth in ancient Persia than it was in New England by such harsh, cruel, and bigoted priests as Mather and Parrish.

Today, while all churchmen have grown more liberal, we still find both in pulpit and pew innumerable believers in the power of Satan to tempt and force erring humanity into wrong and sinful paths in miraculous salvation from which by God they have no faith. Today, instead of earthly and present salvation by the Deity from the clutches of Satan, the belief seems prevalent that a post-mortem salvation is more efficacious, and that all that is required for eternal bliss is belief in the vicarious atonement of the Christ. To hear our orthodox friends declaim on the powers of Satan almost makes one ready to believe that God is dead and Satan rules supreme. Such is the blasphemy of demonic faith.

It should be obvious to people free from a religious faith that Satan is an imaginary creature. And yet without his existence, Christianity suffers a credibility problem. It’s authenticity rests on a shaky assumption that an evil supernatural being is spoiling our world. As science and logic advance, that assumption is becoming weaker by the day.

(4296) Nazism was a product of religion

The Nazis turned politics into a religion, and in case anyone believes that this is a product of humanity’s past, the same thing is happening in the United States today- in Trump’s Republican Party. What this shows is that humans can successfully be herded into believing fallacies on a massive scale, a template for what happened in the 1st Century and beyond when people were deluded into believing that a seemingly mortal man was actually the god who created the entire universe.

Nazism had all the trappings of a religious cult, complete with banners, rituals, chants, recitations, songs, physical gestures, ceremonies, and the unquestioning adoration of Hitler, whom millions believed was a “messiah.” The following was taken from:

God & Government: how the Nazis turned politics into a religion

One wonders  how the Nazis could possibly have won power in a rational 20th century society. Or how anyone could believe the absolute nonsense of their anti-Semitic propaganda.

For the Jewish to have the malign influence on society that the Nazis claimed, every Jew in the country would have to have been a multimillionaire captain of industry.

How could there have possibly been an “international conspiracy of Communists, bankers and Jews”? How could a small minority who only wanted to peacefully co-exist with their fellow Germans have been so successfully vilified?

The answer is religion. For Germany in the 1920s and 30s was, with all due respect for Goethe and Einstein, not a rational society.

It was a society where children were taught that the world was made in seven days, that Jesus came back from the dead and that those who “accepted” him as their savior would have everlasting life.

And they continued  to believe these historical and scientific fallacies into adult life. Some 45 million of them were Protestants, many following the teachings of Martin Luther, who was violently anti-Semitic and also a believer in blind obedience to authority.

The prevailing view among historians is that Luther’s anti-Jewish rhetoric contributed significantly to the development of anti-Semitism in Germany, and in the 1930s and 1940s provided an ideal foundation for the Nazi Party’s attacks on Jews.

In addition, Bavaria and Austria were overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. If the masses could swallow the Church’s nonsense, why not Hitler’s?

Hitler, from the time he took power in 1933 until after the tide of World War Two turned against Germany, was regarded as more of a messiah than simply a political leader.

Hitler himself did not see himself as a messiah, just the greatest German leader who had ever lived. He believed he was chosen by God for the role.

He also believed that he could recreate religion in his own image. He promised to deal with the churches after winning the war, saying:

I’ll have them reeling on the ropes. Through me, the Evangelical church could become the established church, as it is in England.

He did however become close to thinking of himself as a semi deity, telling his architect Albert Speer that certain buildings should be completed in his own (ie Hitler’s) lifetime  and that the fact that he had governed from them would mean that they would be consecrated.

(He also said that his burial crypt in a revamped Linz would be consecrated so that his successors could be interred there.)

To the thousands lining the streets to catch a glimpse of him, however, he clearly was a messiah. And this was fervently believed by many of his cohorts.

For example, Joseph Goebbels, later his propaganda minister, had this to say of him:

He is the instrument of the will that shapes history. Who is this man, half plebian, half God? Is he Christ or just John the Baptist?

Another early admirer, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, above—regarded by the Nazis as a prophet—wrote as early as 1924:

Hitler is destined by God to lead the German people.

There was even a blueprint for a National Socialist Church.

The National Church will clear away from the altars all  crucifixes, Bibles and pictures of saints. On the altars there must be nothing but Mein Kampf, to Germans and therefore to God the most sacred book. The cross must be replaced by the swastika.

Austrian political theorist Eric Voegelin, who fled from the Third Reich in the 1940s, believed that Nazism was a combination of politics and religion.

Voegelin saw in the entire practice of Nazism a kind of political religion, where banners, rituals, ceremonies, and adoration of the leader, the cult of sacrifice and much more, inspired the unthinking and fanatical devotion of millions by providing for their deepest emotional needs in an age rendered spiritually prosaic and meaningless by the decline of the Christian churches and the inexorable processes of secularisation.

-Theologian Richard Evans

Though I have written about Nazism, the dangers of political extremism amounting to religious mania are by no means confined to the Right.

Clearly, hard line Marxism also depends on a blind acceptance of deeply flawed beliefs and a rigid mindset, as millions of Russians, together with the populations of their Eastern European post world war two vassal states, learned to their very considerable cost.

Indeed, Joseph Stalin was very probably worse than Hitler. Not even Hitler  would have deliberately created famines in Germany itself. (As distinct from in the countries the  Nazis occupied.)

And not even Hitler would have sent German POWS captured by the Russians to concentration camps after the war —while Stalin sent Russian POWS captured by the Nazis to Siberia.

Finally, I am reminded of the adage that those who ignore the lessons of history will live to see it repeated.

I wish to turn to another country where the majority of those who vote for a powerful political party believe literally in the lunatic ravings of the Bible. They fervently believe that the world was created in seven days a few thousand years ago and that dinosaurs must have sought sanctuary in Noah’s ark.

Apparently there is apparently a widespread belief that the second coming of Christ will be in their own lifetimes.

Perhaps then it is not so surprising that thousands of them chant: “Trump won! Trump won!”  This though Trump lost three vital, large states in 2020 that he won in 2016, plus others that have consistently voted Republican in the past. Despite also that the USA has a long history of well organized democratic elections.

They also ignore the fact that Trump won 74 electoral college votes fewer than Biden and that a whole series of court judgements has proved that to claim that Trump won have no basis whatsoever in fact.

Yet despite all this, and the thuggish attack on the capitol, there is a very real possibility that Trump will be reelected in 2024.

If I was not an atheist, I would say: “God help us!”

If people can be so deluded in the information age of the 20th and 21st Centuries, how much more likely could it have happened 2000 year ago when most people were illiterate and human knowledge was a tiny fraction of what it is today? People by the billions have been duped into believing that a man was a god, something that otherwise would be observed as being nothing more than a whimsical fairy tale.

(4297) Drinking on the cross

It is interesting to compare the versions of the four gospels with respect to whether and what Jesus drank while nailed to the cross. In Mark, he refuses wine. In Matthew he takes a taste of gall tinctured wine and declines. In Luke, he is offered wine vinegar but there is no record of whether he drank it. In John, he requests a drink saying he is thirsty, and then he dies. None of the gospels agree on this point.

Mark 15:23

Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

Matthew 27:34

There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

Luke 23:26-37

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

John 19:28-30

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The following was taken from:


It was customary to give the condemned a drink of wine and myrrh to stupefy him and thus decrease the sufferings of execution. When this was offered to Jesus he refused it (Mark xv, 23), probably because he wished to be perfectly conscious at the time when God should miraculously reprieve him. Matthew, xxvii, 34, intentionally falsifies the episode and calls the drink vinegar and gall, so bound is he to see a messianic prophecy in Psalms Lxix, 21, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink,” which words were really applied by David to his own personal enemies.

Although this point is trivial, it is revealing that none of the gospel authors could agree on exactly what happened. Mark was the first gospel written, and so it might be considered the most historical for that reason- (later authors added their agenda items)- and if so, it might signal that Jesus was expecting God to miraculously save him and therefore he wanted be fully sober for the ‘big event.’ Matthew wanted to add another (spurious) prophecy to be fulfilled. Luke seemed disinterested in this detail, and John made it a dramatic final scene with the drink being synchronized to his death. You could almost hear the film director saying ‘Action…cut.”

What Jesus drank or didn’t drink on the cross, or whether there was a cross, or even whether there was a Jesus doesn’t matter so much as that the gospel authors should have been able and motivated to tell a consistent story- no matter whether it was true or fictional.

(4298) Life sentences for immortal beings

If humans were immortal, it is nearly certain that no matter how heinous a crime was committed, the prison sentence for the perpetrator would not be for an eternity of time. Christians believe that humans are immortal in the afterlife, and further that God sentences non-believing people to an eternity in hell. Are we more just than God? The following was taken from:


We have life sentences but that’s because life is finite and we have determined some crimes are so horrible you need to be separated from society for life. I am willing to bet if we were immortal humans would not push for life sentences but focus on restorative justice instead, reforming the person to rejoin society.

Or lets say if we were immortal and decided we didn’t want someone to ever return to society. We would probably have them exiled and cut off from society in a humane way where they can have some quality of life but not damage the rest of society.

What we wouldn’t do is have the immortal person suffer for eternity in order to right the wrong. Torture is wrong and two wrongs don’t make a right.

In a world where humans are immortal, a convict might get a sentence of 100 or 200 years but not one that lasts forever.  A life sentence is reasonable only in  a situation where people have a limited lifespan. Christianity fails on this point- not only does it promote an unlimited ‘prison’ sentence for immortal beings in the afterlife, but the ‘prison’ itself is inhumane by any modern standard, delivering gratuitous pain and torture. Fortunately, this faith is nothing more than a disgusting exercise in fiction.

(4299) Five stages of Jesus’ evolution

Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman has identified that Jesus went through five stages of existence- starting as a regular person, and ending as God. This accumulation of layers of myth is commonly associated with legendary figures. The following was taken from:


Bart Ehrman’s basic thesis as best I remember it, goes like this–in chronological order…

      • While Jesus was alive, Ehrman argues that he did not call himself God, and his followers did not think he was God.
      • After Jesus died, people started getting visions of him. Paul, writing 20 years after his death, seemed to hold the view that Jesus was a normal human in life but had an apotheosis on death. This was a common trope in the ancient world, see for example the apotheosis of Julius Caesar.
      • The earliest gospel (written after Paul’s letters) the gospel of Mark takes a different stance. There’s no birth narrative yet in the gospel of Mark. Instead, we jump straight into the baptism by John the Baptist, in Mark 1:10-11: “And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”” Ehrman argues that Mark’s view is that Jesus became God upon his baptism.
      • The next two gospels to be written are Matthew and Luke. Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke have a divine virgin birth narrative. Here is a source discussing how this was also a common trope, with divine birth portents for Alexander the Great and Augustus Ceasar. Bart Ehrman argues that these two gospels see Jesus being god at the point of his birth (or conception maybe?)
      • Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke ALSO have Joseph the father of Jesus, and a genealogy of Joseph. The reason for this inclusion is that messiah to most of the Jewish audience is meant to be a king like King David (messiah literally just means anointed one). The purpose of including these is to show Jesus descended from David. These genealogies don’t share a single name (other than Joseph) until they get to figures in the Hebrew Bible. And frankly most poor carpenters in the 1st century would not know the name of their own grandfathers. So…the historicity of these genealogies is thus very dubious.
      • The last gospel to be written, the gospel of John, on the other hand, deletes the birth narrative, and takes the stance that Jesus has been God since the beginning of time. And also has Jesus declaring himself God in public (which Ehrman argues he does not do in the other gospels). With lines like John 8:58 “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am” and John 14:9 “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

So Ehrman sees a general progression in these sources of when each source feels Jesus becomes divine (the later the source the earlier it seems to think divinity occurs).

      • Not divine (while he’s alive)
      • Becomes divine through apotheosis after death (Pauline epistles)
      • Becomes divine at his baptism (Mark)
      • Becomes divine at conception/birth (Matthew/Luke)
      • Has been divine since the beginning of time (John)

If Jesus was a god as most Christians believe, the very first writings about him would have endorsed that view. There would be no ‘evolution.’ The way Christians overlook this problem reveals a disturbing failure to think critically about their beliefs.

(4300) Natural phenomena at heroic deaths

It is more than certain that the gospel authors incorporated a theme common in their time to associate a natural event with the death of an esteemed figure. Thus, Jesus could not die without the world groaning in some dramatic fashion. As discussed below, this fictional meme was ubiquitous:


Not satisfied with having executed their god according to the most approved methods of antiquity, Christians felt the necessity of the presence of some remarkable natural phenomena at the time of his death [earthquake, darkness, zombies, etc.], for among all ancient peoples it was customary to attribute some remarkable natural convulsions to the death of a great man. When Prometheus was crucified on Mount Caucasus “the earth quaked, thunder roared, lightning flashed, wild winds rent the air and boisterous billows rose.” On the death of Romulus, there was “darkness over the face of the earth for six hours,” and when Quetzalcoatl died the sun became black! Even in historical times, we find narrations of similar phenomena accompanying the deaths of royalty; and we read in many authenticated histories of the frightful thunderstorms that were coincident with the deaths of Isabella of Castile, Charles the Fifth, Napoleon the Great, and Oliver Cromwell.

Therefore, it is not surprising to find mention of such occurrences at the time of the execution of the Christian god, although we are not prepared for such astonishing and unprecedented phenomena as related by the ever exaggerating author of the “Gospel according to St. Matthew,” who states very seriously that “the vail of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

Christianity’s reputation suffers from the degree that it plagiarized previous fictional stories about the deaths of great leaders, gods, and heroes. The story of Jesus would have been more believable if the gospel authors had just let Jesus die without all of the commotion.

Follow this link to #4301