(4351) Christianity without heaven or hell
It is a revealing thought experiment to conjecture what Christianity would look like like if it had followed more or less the theology of its Jewish roots and did not invent the concept of heaven and hell. In other words, if it was presented as a guide/help strictly for this one life (the only one that we have).
In this scenario, the major incentive for becoming a Christian would be to gain advantages by praying to the Christian god, who is said to answer prayers given even a small amount of faith. A secondary benefit would be to employ some of the philosophical teachings of Jesus. Without heaven or hell, it would be about this life only.
Would Christianity had survived under this plot line? The best estimate is that ‘no’ it would not have lasted to the present day. The main reasons for this are that prayers are consistently ineffective and the philosophical lessons attributed to Jesus have been superseded by better ones developed over the past twenty centuries. Thus, this would leave little incentive to remain a Christian.
Now suppose Christianity promised a heaven but didn’t threaten a hell. So it’s either heaven or oblivion. Under that assumption there would be more of an incentive, though not as strong as with a hell in tandem.
Now consider no heaven, but a hell for non-believers- that would also provide additional incentive, and perhaps even more than the above, for the fear of punishment is generally greater than the hope for reward.
So we can order the recruitment potential from most likely to retain followers to the least likely as follows:
(1) Heaven and hell
(2) Hell only
(3) Heaven only
(4) Neither heaven nor hell
We can eliminate Scenarios (1) and (2) as being abusive, as any threat to punish a person for failing to follow your ‘club’ can be dismissed as being not only ungodly, but un-human as well. Scenario (3) would be OK, even though it presents a false promise. Scenario (4) would be best, but as mentioned, it would not have allowed the faith to survive.
In conclusion, the only way that Christianity could be both respectable and have survived to the present day would be under Scenario 3, just with fewer followers. Instead it defaulted to this model:
(4352) Nazi parable
Suppose a religious preacher devised a parable during the time that Hitler’s Germany was imprisoning and gassing Jewish people, that went like this:
There was a guard at a prison camp who was ushering twenty women into the gas chamber. He told them to remove all of their clothing, but one women stated that she would not do it. The guard reminded her that he was in charge of this proceeding and that she had no right to protest. The woman was taken out of line and beaten and tortured for three days before being killed, while the remaining 19 women were quickly made dead in the chamber. The lesson to be learned from this is that your Heavenly Father has given authority to those who have earned it and that it is better to obey that authority than to resist against it.
Obviously, whoever wrote this parable would be castigated, not so much because of his theory of obeying authority, but because he treated the gassing of Jews as if there was nothing wrong with it.
Similarly, Jesus told several parables about slavery (for example, Luke 17:7-10), making a philosophical point but treating slavery itself in a neutral manner. So Jesus, his righteousness and reputation, just like the hypothetical Nazi counterpart, is unacceptable by today’s moral standards.
(4353) Christianity is a credulity religion
A credulity religion is best described as one that places belief or faith above the need for evidence. It is easy to see how an omnipotent being would have no need for such, while is also easy to see how a false religion would depend on this model. The following was taken from:
A religion claiming God will reward you for your belief is a sign of a human invented religion that is trying to hitch a ride in your mind. It is the simplest litmus test there is concerning a religion’s veracity. The implied assertion is that belief is good and vitreous. This basic assertion rarely gets questioned as it is so fundamental and basic and most of us were indoctrinated at an early age.
Why would the Omni God of the Universe be pleased with your belief? Asking this question is where the adherents of a belief religion will start waving their hands and go into a circuitous discourse using the slippery term “faith” in order to camouflage the real essential request… your belief and or more precisely credulity. These religions, most various forms of Christianity, should be known by the term credulity religions.
These credulity religions will implicitly attempt to frame life as a credulity contest and their particular credulity is the key to avoid some dire threat and gain a seductive reward. The framework is exactly like that of a viral chain letter. A religious system lacking good evidence, out of necessity, will pivot to “belief” as the most important thing you can do and without it you can’t please the proposed god.
These credulity religions will also, out of necessity and lack of good evidence, attempt to cast doubt as evil or even sinful and one should stand steadfast and overcome doubt for… credulity. Totally expected as a matter of their nature.
There are no good reasons why a God would ever reward your belief… but a meme? Oh yeah! A meme survives by taking hold of your mind and encouraging you to spread the belief to others. Your belief and the belief of others are absolutely essential to the continued existence of the religion and hence the supreme importance is placed upon belief/faith.
Christianity is a false religion, and so it requires the credulousness of human minds to fuel its growth and survival. Fortunately for it, most human minds are compliant to this strategy. Credulity religions have insufficient evidence of their truth, and therefore evidence-free belief is promoted as the highest ideal. For these same credulous theists, in every other aspect of their lives, belief and faith are pushed to the side in deference to evidence and demonstration.
(4354) Manipulating the first two verses
Bible translators have worked diligently over the ages to re-fashion the scriptures into a form that is consistent with an ever-evolving theology. Thus, for example, ‘slaves’ became ‘servants.’ In the future they will probably become ‘employees.’
In this same way, long ago, the first two verses of Genesis were remodeled to make it look like God had created the universe out of nothing:
Loftus offers a careful analysis of the first two verses of Genesis 1, which are commonly translated something like this:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the surface of the abyss, and the Spirit of God was moving over the waters.”
He points out that this is a more accurate rendering:
“Elohim made the skies and dry land, beginning with land that was without form and void, with darkness covering the surface of the chaos, and the wind of Elohim hovering over the waters,”
While noting that “the original grammar is a bit difficult to translate. If nothing else, consider this a slightly interpretive translation using corrected wording.”
Loftus notes seven elements of this text that are commonly misunderstood, e.g., there is nothing here about the beginning of time, or creation out of nothing.
Nor is the claim by contemporary theologians that an all-powerful cosmic god did the deed. Believers want to assume this was the case, and translators cooperate in promoting this deception, i.e., “In the beginning, God…” But the text says that Elohim was the initiator of this drama.
Many previously translated verses have become inconvenient for contemporary theology, so the way to ‘fix’ this is to change what the scriptures say. But this is not a problem because most Christians are clueless and rarely probe underneath the surface of their religious beliefs.
(4355) His Dark Materials
The HBO series His Dark Materials trots out a concerted anti-religious theme. It is best summarized by this monologue from Season 1:
“They have been trying to convince us for centuries that we are born guilty, and that we have to spend a lifetime atoning for the crime of eating an apple. Is there any proof for this heinous stain, this shame, this guilt? No, not at all. We are to take it on faith, and on the word of the Authority. It has given them what they need… a means by which to control, to oppress, to frighten, and to keep us where they want us… on our knees.”
This, in fact, is the nucleus of what religion is all about- imprisoning the minds of its victims for the gain of the few, offering a false promise for a price, both monetary and work/time-wise. Freeing oneself from religion is the greatest thing that anyone can experience as it allows the ‘escapee’ to see the wonderful world outside of the ‘prison.’ And vanishingly few escapees ever return to that prison.
(4356) Christianity’s exclusivity problem
Christians have long struggled to explain why good non-Christians deserve to suffer an eternity of punishment for simply failing to believe the right thing. Especially because they also claim their god to be all-loving and a beacon of forgiveness. Instead of judging people by how they behave, they are basically saying it doesn’t really matter unless you are in the right ‘club.’ This makes no sense for a god who governs the entire universe with its (most likely) myriad life forms. The following was taken from:
In my Christian years, I was always told that god loves everyone. Somewhat contradictorily, I was also told that whilst all humans were created by god, only some “belonged” to him. Conveniently, these were Christians and Jews (I shall discuss the latter group in another section). In essence, saved people were the children of god whom he loved, cherished and held a covenant, Jews were his favorites regardless and everyone else belonged to Satan. Though this view may make some Christians feel special and privileged, it is also patently unfair, particularly if one marries it to the Pauline doctrine which states that god chooses some people from eternity for salvation, leaving the rest to sin and hell (predestination – a doctrine magnified by the horrifically dour and morbid Christian sect of Calvinism).
What kind of an all-loving being would favor only a fractious percentage of humanity and damn all others? Why would a god who “desired that none should perish” (Peter 3:9) have a special elite club that excluded most of humanity?
To my mind, this has always been an incredibly self-serving doctrine that does more harm than good. It encourages believers to have an elevated sense of self, positing themselves above the rest of humanity as “god’s chosen people”. This accounts in a large way for the sheer smugness and self righteousness of much of the Christian community. We only have to look at the rest of the world to see how a mentality of entitlement and privilege makes people arrogant and selfish, and Christians, for all their claims and pretensions towards piety are absolutely no different in this regard.
What’s more, if god deems righteous only those who subscribe to a particular religion and values this over the behavioral attitudes of his creation at large, this is neither just nor loving. It is favoritism of the highest order, completely contradicting the biblical claim that god is no “respecter of persons.”
Exclusivity is a human creation, while inclusivity would be expected of any deity worth its name. The very fact that Christianity teaches that only Christians will be rewarded in heaven is a sure sign that it was invented by humans who failed to understand that no real god would be so narrow-minded.
(4357) Bible teaches how to manufacture slaves
The Bible provides a formula for how Yahweh’s followers can produce slaves. The following was taken from:
The bible provides a way to manufacture slaves.
This is important because it removes the apologetic so many use re: banning stealing a man.
Exodus 21:4 provides the formula. Give the slave a wife, and any children born are slaves for the master. No need to steal anyone.
If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.
Oh, and that wife? Wondering if she can go free? Exodus 21:7 tells us that females slaves don’t go out (at the jubilee) like male do – so you have a slave production machine as long as she can bear children.
And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
And to top it off, in Lev 25:44 it tells us to buy slaves from the nations around us. No stealing necessary.
Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.
Before you say “ha! It’s translated as bondman and not slave” remember that if the word עֶבֶד doesn’t mean slave, then the Hebrews were not slaves in Egypt.
It’s the same word. As in Exodus 20:2
אָֽנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִֽים
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
The word here – עֲבָדִֽים – is the plural for of עֶבֶד
So we can clearly see that the bible provides a method to manufacture and purchase human beings as slaves.
There really is no defense for this. The Bible has become so outdated as to be embarrassing. You will not hear any Christian preachers explaining to the congregation how they can produce slaves for their use. And so, they will NEVER read these verses in church.
(4358) God and the rabies vaccine
Rabies is a deadly viral disease that causes encephalitis in humans and other mammals, usually as a result of being bitten by a rabid animal. Vaccines are now available to counteract this virus, but before they became available this disease was almost always fatal. In the following, it is demonstrated that prayers are completely useless for a rabies victim:
There are many bible passages that speak about the healing power of prayer such as James 5:14-16, Psalm 30:2 and Psalm 107:19-20. However in the case of rabies infection, it does seem that prayer has no noticeable healing effect. Consider the following: If a Christian gets rabies and prays to god for healing, and if god so desires, he may do one of the following:
- Cure them supernaturally without a vaccine
Virtually all people who have gotten rabies, but who have not had access to the post-exposure vaccine, have died. So history shows us this rarely, if ever, happens. So god hardly ever heals in this way.
2. Work though the vaccine to cure them
This would imply prayer is redundant since a Christian with rabies who is treated with the post-exposure vaccine has an almost 100% survival rate regardless of whether he prays or not.
3. God provides access to a vaccine
This would imply that:
- Before 1885 (the year that the rabies vaccine was invented), god didn’t answer the prayers of rabies victims.
- If there are insufficient people or resources to provide rabies vaccines, then either god’s ability or willingness to answer the prayers of rabies victims is severely restricted. The former would imply god is not omnipotent while the latter implies god cares far more about Christian’s who live in rich countries than he does about those that live in poor countries (which seems implausible if god is omnibenevolent)
This is one of those real-life scenarios that dramatically refutes the biblical promise of God’s curative powers through prayer. Again and again, the way that events transpire shows that Christian theology ALWAYS withers under the microscope.
(4359) Future list of extinct religions
The following is a post received from October 18, 2153:
There have been many religions that no longer exist. Five of the most popular religions that have become virtually extinct are:
- Mithraism was a mystery religion that originated in Persia and spread to the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD. It was based on the worship of Mithras, a god of light and justice. Mithraism was popular among Roman soldiers and became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD. However, it declined in popularity after the fall of the Roman Empire and disappeared by the 6th century AD.
- Gnosticism was a diverse group of religious movements that emerged in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Gnostics believed that the material world was evil and that salvation could only be achieved through knowledge (gnosis). Gnosticism was popular among some early Christians, but it was eventually condemned by the Church as heresy.
- Manicheanism was a religion founded by Mani in the 3rd century AD. Manicheans believed in a dualistic universe, with two opposing forces: good and evil, light and darkness. Manicheanism was popular in the Roman Empire and spread to Central Asia and China. However, it declined in popularity after the 7th century AD and disappeared by the 11th century AD.
- Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion that originated in Persia in the 6th century BC. Zoroastrians believe in a single God, Ahura Mazda, who is the creator of the universe. They also believe in the end of the world, when Ahura Mazda will defeat evil and establish a kingdom of peace and justice. Zoroastrianism was once the official religion of the Persian Empire, but it declined in popularity after the Arab conquest of Persia in the 7th century AD. Today, there are only a few thousand Zoroastrians left in the world, most of whom live in India.
- Christianity is an ancient religion that originated in the Middle East in the 1st century AD. Christians believed that a man named Jesus was born miraculously from a human woman who was impregnated by God. They believed that Jesus was part of a triune god, together with the ‘Father’ (Yahweh) and the Holy Spirit. They taught that Jesus was crucified for the sins of mankind, but that only those who believed in Jesus would be rewarded after death in heaven, while all others would suffer for eternity in hell. Christianity began to decline in the latter parts of the 20th Century AD, and then died out rapidly throughout the 21st and early 22nd Centuries. Today, there are only about 50,000 Christians, most of whom live in Africa, South and Central America, and the American South.
(4360) Satan born out of a mis-translation
The theology of Satan is completely messed up. An omnipotent god fights against a non-omnipotent evil being, and seems to lose until he finally says ‘game over.’ What’s more is that this Satan character was originally just a regular human who was acting as an ‘accuser.’ The following was taken from:
According to Christianity, Satan is the enemy of god, the fallen angel, the Rebel that caused man to sin and messed up god’s creation. The belief is that Satan, in the form of a talking snake tricked Eve in the Garden of Eden having been cast out of heaven for insubordination (even though this is not actually what the Genesis account says).
So, instead of simply destroying the usurper that the omnipotent god already knew in advance would screw everything up, he simply “cast him down to earth” and left him hanging around so he could mess up the perfect world that he created. What’s more, having tricked Adam and Eve, god doesn’t punish Satan directly at all, instead, he curses his “beloved creation” and then curses all snakes which, according to the bible, used to have legs and now eat dust. However, the fundamental issue remains: why did god let his arch rival off the hook? Twice?
If Satan is the root of all the world ills, and god is omnipotent, then that makes the god of the bible entirely responsible for the consequences as he is the only being that could’ve completely stopped him in his tracks. If a serial killer was rampaging your town, and the police knew who he was, where he lived and how to capture him but instead chose to do nothing, then not only would the police be grossly negligent, they’d inadvertently be responsible for any further killings. It could even be argued that they were somehow colluding with the killer. The same applies to biblegod with regard to Satan.
Beyond that, it has been shown that the word ‘Satan’ actually means ‘accuser’ and was used in the original Hebrew texts to refer to anybody who opposed another, making the personification of Satan as a being something that came about via a mistranslation (but try telling that to your average fundamentalist!). Nonetheless, Satan is just as important as god within Christianity; a necessary evil, if you will. Without Satan and without hell, the Christian has nothing to fear and no reason to believe the unbelievable. He is the archetypal Shadow on which all the undesirable aspects of the god construct (and for that matter, humanity itself) can be placed. He is needed in order for the religion to work, and for its followers to be controlled.
Christianity took a bad turn when it embraced the idea of an evil supernatural being. It no longer makes any sense in a scientific world where we understand the origin of, for example, storms and disease. Satan is so obviously fictional that it leads to an embarrassing problem for Christianity, especially when this evil being was the product of a mistranslation.
(4361) Apologists fail to rescue Jesus’ promise
In the synoptic gospels Jesus promises his disciples that some of them and others as well will still be alive when he will return to judge the living and the dead, an event (Second Coming) that will initiate the End Times. Clearly, this did not happen. So, in defense, some apologists have suggested that Jesus was not actually referring to the End Times, but rather to his transfiguration, which occurred about a week later. The following demonstrates why this apologetic ‘Hail Mary’ doesn’t work:
Kent Brower (JSNT, 1980) wrote that “few scholars, if any, consider the connection between the logion of 9:1 and the pericope of 9:2-10 to be the original context”. If there is a literary connection with the Transfiguration, it is redactional and it probably isn’t one that posits the Transfiguration as the fulfillment of Matthew 16:28//Mark 9:1. Rather the event reveals Jesus in the glory that he would have as the Lord who judges the living and the dead. It gives a glimpse into the majesty of the coming Son of Man, just as Moses glimpsed God’s power at the burning bush prior to the revelation at Sinai. It is a foretaste of the power in the future parousia, not the fulfillment of the prophecy itself.
Jesus gives the promise in a very solemn form (“Amen amen I say unto you”) which is inappropriate by this reading, as it is hardly surprising that the disciples would be alive six days later (as discussed by Dennis Nineham in his commentary). The reference to tasting death does not imply immediacy but the passage of time. C. K. Barrett wrote that “if Jesus solemnly affirmed that some at least of his hearers would survive his prediction by one week he was uttering ridiculous bathos” (Jesus and the Gospel Tradition; SPCK, 1969).
The Matthean form also adds to the saying the statement that the Son of Man “shall reward every man according to his works” when he comes. This has universal scope and cannot pertain to the Transfiguration but rather Judgment Day (Matthew 10:15, 11:22-24, 12:36) which brings with it punishment and rewards (ch. 25). This cannot pertain to the Transfiguration but rather a future event at the “close of the age” (24:3), when the Son of Man comes in glory (24:30). The Markan form, which refers to the Son of Man as being ashamed of those ashamed of him, also has in view judgment.
The references to the Son of Man coming with the angels in Mark 8:28-9:1 anticipate the similar reference in the Olivet discourse in Mark 13:26-27 and the declaration to the high priest at Jesus’ trial in Mark 14:62, statements that suggest a fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14 which refer to the establishment of the kingdom on earth (cf. Mark 9:1’s statement of the kingdom coming in power) and the destruction of the then-prevailing world empire. The Olivet discourse and the Sanhedrin trial occur later than the Transfiguration in the narrative of Mark, so Mark 8:28-9:1 looks beyond this event. Mark 13:29 similarly predicts that the disciples will have not all passed away when the Son of Man comes.
In any ordinary situation, Christianity would have died when all of the people alive when Jesus made this promise had died. This would have been around 100 CE. Instead, excuses were made, the promise overlooked, and, conveniently for the clergy, most Christians today are not even aware of this problem. A failed prophet is a failed prophet. Christianity is false.
(4362) A real god wouldn’t override natural human morality
Humans have a natural morality that evolved long before any formal religions were formed. It can be conjectured that a universal god, should he decide to interact with humans, would not command anyone to violate their innate feelings of morality. For a father to kill a son, even as a sacrifice to god, would be to do just that. Consequently, the story of God ordering Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22) disqualifies Yahweh as being a real god. The following was taken from:
Abraham…The grand patriarch…The father of three faiths…The man, the myth, the legend…A man set in motion by the activation of a unique set of traits; those that would find their way through the crippled helix of moral depravity and colonize the molecular fabric of his third great grandson, Moses. Both would be equally encoded with an attuned ear for hearing voices (especially those of the divine), and a readiness to execute their wishes on command. Today we call this schizophrenia. Additionally, those who wish to burn their children are imprisoned. Nevertheless, we are much obliged for the many clinical mental disorders that plagued this family lineage of fictional characters; those of which inspired countless stories such as this within our passage. Stories that give us invaluable insight into the true moral nature of the god of the Bible.
Building up to this massively iconic story, there’s a key feature in Abraham’s meteoric rise to superstardom that conveniently remains unmentioned among those who uphold and teach the sacrality of this ‘test of Abraham’s faith’ found in Genesis 22. Beginning with Genesis 12 and through chapter 17, we find a staggering 18 instances where god himself promises Abraham fame, glory, land, and descendants like that of the stars. God’s fatiguing redundancy overemphasizes the fact that the deal is sealed. Heck, Abraham even whacked the top wing of his wanger to secure the agreement at the command of god.
We arrive at chapter 22 and the voices in Abraham’s head return with an additional stipulation: “Hey man, it’s me again, god. You’re doin good bud, but, um, yaa….There’s just one more thing I need from ya to seal the deal. Soo…I’m gonna need you to go ahead and burn your son. You know—to me…as a sacrifice.” Abraham obeys, and this obedience, exegetically speaking, is one of the defining moments that has created a fathomless chasm in dividing the faithful from the infidel (or any thinking agent).
It’s simply incomprehensible in finding these faithful adherents, many even being family and friends, deriving lessons out of this disastrous debris of delusion, concocted from a clinically twisted mind. I question every ounce of their very nature and especially their morality; the supposed morality that comes from god. Like little mentally debilitated minions, they rush to their safe haven at the end of the story where Abraham is relieved of this duty in an attempt to intellectualize their sad and obvious miniature stature of a human being. Of course what follows as the gotcha hammer-fall is the cliche parallel of “and seeeee, god went all the way in killing his son!” Though quite embarrassingly, in revering just this one story, their mental framework is overtly displayed as one that is stripped of the beauty of true love and empathy, and warped into believing an infinitely flawed logical fallacy: ‘It’s in the Bible, so it’s ok.’ (Or, ‘The Bible says so.’)
Simply put, the Bible, and any ‘holy book,’ especially those containing the purported words of god, should contain nothing that we as humans would be unwilling to do and should make no requests that would violate our moral nature. Yes, the very moral nature that naturally defies the moral nature of god.
If anyone was planning to read the entire Bible to see whether Christianity was true, they would not need to proceed beyond Genesis, Chapter 22. The story of God telling Abraham to kill Isaac is the end game. Full stop. Save your time and throw the Bible into the garbage.
(4363) Confirmation age adjustments belie God’s oversight
In the Catholic Church, it is traditional that a young person goes through a formal process of confirming their belief in the church. It is called the Sacrament of Confirmation. What the following essay argues is that the child’s age at which this sacrament is performed has changed over time because of increased knowledge of human cognitive development. However, if God was inspiring the Church, the age question would have been resolved at the beginning, because, allegedly, God is omniscient and would have inspired church leaders to get it right from the get-go. The following is taken from:
The age at which the Sacrament of Confirmation has historically been received within the Catholic Church proves a level of fallibility within Church Tradition.
From what I understand, Confirmation marks the full initiation into the Church. For children raised into the religion by their parents, confirmation marks the point in which they choose for themselves to continue as a Catholic, as opposed to simply following their parents’ rules or expectations. I got confirmed in my Catholic Church with the rest of my class in eighth grade. Before I began writing this, I actually believed that this was a standard of some kind that was widely outlined in Church Tradition. What is actually true, is that there is no definitive answer, and that confirmation can be found to be received at as early as 7 years old, although I don’t know how uncommon that is. Generally, the age has steadily risen over the years as we have learned more about childhood moral development.
Before children can truly process the whole world around them, they rely on their parents, teachers, and family (but mostly parents) for their moral code. They share in their parents’ moral, religious, and political beliefs without doubt, simply because of a lack of developed moral reasoning. In current developmental psychology, it’s believed that children gain the cognitive ability to genuinely challenge their raised beliefs in adolescence (around 12-18 yrs old). Personally, I know that I did not genuinely begin to consider alternatives to my raised beliefs until after I was confirmed. I know everyone doesn’t feel this way, but in a way, I felt unintentionally manipulated into my decision to get confirmed. I had not experienced enough of the world to truly make the oath to Catholicism for the rest of my life. From what I’ve found, as early as 40 years ago, children were getting confirmed in fifth or sixth grade, before the age where most would genuinely consider their beliefs for themselves. As I said, the age began to rise, as I assume the Church began to follow scientific findings. It seems that kids are often getting confirmed in high school these days.
This is not the only supposedly divinely inspired Church tradition that seems to need correction following scientific findings throughout the years. It is one of many, and I’d love to hear other examples below. But for now, we are discussing the age of Confirmation. Standards which are meant to be universal are consistently updated by new scientific findings. If these standards were inspired by an omniscient God, then he would not allow for an age which contradicts cognitive development and devalues the whole point of the sacrament to begin with. What I propose is that we have no reason to believe that decisions made by Church higher-ups are directly inspired by God. They are riddled with human error and shortsightedness. They in no way reflect the influence of an omniscient being.
Adjustments made to the confirmation age over time and in coordination with increased knowledge of childhood development indicates that this is human-controlled ritual, with no inspiration being obtained from a supernatural source. Like so much, Christianity is a ‘fix-it-as-we-go’ enterprise similar to every other human endeavor. No god is involved.
(4364) Mind control techniques
When you are selling a fraudulent product, it is essential to use techniques that manipulate the thought processes of your victims followers. This is needed to keep them from thinking too critically about what you are peddling. Christians have been using these techniques for centuries and continue to invent new ones. If this God/Jesus/Holy Spirit story was true, they would be able to point to definitive physical and circumstantial evidence of its truth and wouldn’t need to employ anywhere near this degree of mind control. The following was taken from:
1. Mandatory, regular attendance
Mind control techniques and hypnosis don’t last forever. Perpetual manipulation requires perpetual renewal. That’s why Coca~Cola won’t let you turn around without seeing a Coca~Cola billboard. Of course, no cult could send their followers to basic training every single week for a full re-indoctrination, but they don’t have to; all they need is one hour a week for refresher training.
2. Big, fancy, majestic buildings
A Catholic once told me that the reason Catholic churches are so majestic is because it helped illiterate peasants understand the majesty of the Lord. Even if that were the intention (which I’m sure it wasn’t), the reality is that churches are artistic masterpieces meticulously designed to overwhelm the senses and make the viewer feel euphoric and humbled. Just standing in an empty cathedral can put you in a trance state.
If you’re surrounded by images of people who made bigger sacrifices than you to the in-group and were justly rewarded then you’ll feel pressure to conform with their ideology without anyone having to say a word to you. Also, you’re instinctively going to transfer your awe and respect for the building to the building’s owner or spokesperson.
3. Hierarchical leadership
Every cult has a hierarchical leadership structure because the point of having a cult is to have followers who will revere the leaders and give them all their money. Cult leaders get people to follow them by claiming to be envoys of God. Every church does this.
Many churches won’t allow you to officially join until you undergo a ritual that symbolically changes you from a member of the lost, miserable outsiders into a saved, superior member of the in-crowd. But you’ll only be allowed to be a follower at the servile end of the pyramid shaped authority structure. The only way to become a leader is to either start your own cult or work your way up the ranks. This stacks the ranks with true believers who will defend the leader and give his social authority legitimacy.
4. Charismatic leaders
The biggest red flag you might be involved with a cult is if the organization revolves around a professional charismatic leader. When you go to church you’ll sit down and listen to a charismatic marketer give a 45 minute infomercial. Even if everyone from the preacher to the congregation have the best intentions the end result is the same. Poor people are swindled out of their money, and the charismatic leader gets to live like a demigod surrounded by obedient followers.
5. Trance stimulation
When you enter your ornate church on Sunday morning, one of the first things that’s going to happen is you’re going to sing hymns with the congregation. The majestic music, combined with the majestic building and the thrill of performing an action in unison with other members of the in-crowd will work you into a trance state that will make you susceptible to hypnosis. If you’re singing about being willfully obedient then you’re just hypnotizing yourself, and you’re hypnotizing the people standing around you listening to you sing about the virtue of willful obedience, servitude, sacrifice and faith. Even if that’s not the intent, that’s the outcome. Even if you don’t know it’s happening, it’s happening. Even if everyone was forewarned and knew it was happening it would still work on some of the participants.
6. Repetitive drills (and consequences for nonconformity)
In addition to singing, a good cult would require its victims to perform rote physical drills like marching, dancing, kneeling or clapping. The moment you participate in a drill you’re being obedient. You didn’t just kneel or march or clap. You followed an order without thinking about it, and the more you do that the more likely you are to do it again. Eventually the charismatic leader won’t be asking you to do calisthenics. He’ll be asking for money or a favor. What’s more interesting than that though. If you can get a group of people used to following your orders and acting in unison you can eventually give the whole group an order, and they’ll act in unison. That would give you the power to tell a group of people to go build a house or go burn a house down.
7. Separating the believers (the in crowd) from the non believers
It’s common practice for cults to tell their recruits that the world can be divided into two kinds of people: those who are inside the group and those who are outside the group. The people inside the group are always saved and admirable. The people outside the group are always lost, unworthy and detestable.
If you believe this, then you’ll base your identity on your affiliation with the group, and you won’t want to spend time with people whose clearer perception of reality could endanger your faith in the group.
8. The call to action is to entrench yourself in the group and base your life on its doctrine.
Church can be a lot of fun, and you can experience a lot of genuine moments of happiness with the people you love, but the Sunday morning agenda always centers around the sermon. The point of the sermon is to deliver a message, and the message is that you need to base your self-worth on your membership in the group and demonstrate obedience to the group’s ideology. You’re told this will bring you closer to God. Mostly it brings you closer to the group and the offering plate.
9. The charismatic leader manipulates your emotions
Charismatic leaders will try to mesmerize you with the way they dress and talk. They guilt trip you. They make impossible promises and horrific threats. They get the crowd worked up into a vulnerable, irrational frenzy right before they deliver an ultimatum.
10. You’re given an ultimatum
The point of every cult service is to build up to the moment where the charismatic leader makes a call to action. The call for action is to either give money, take your commitment to the cult to the next level, humiliate yourself or at least honor those who do. This is brazen manipulation, and it works. Creepy cults leaders know that, and quaint suburban pastors know that.
11. You’re encouraged to humiliate yourself and mimic others
If a cult leader can convince his flock that he has more spiritual authority than them and they are unworthy in the eyes of God, then his control over them is almost guaranteed. Then the followers will have total trust in their leader when he tells them that the only path to salvation is to do whatever the cult asks of them.
12. You’re asked for money, and your worth is tied to the amount of money you give
Most church leaders don’t expect every member of the congregation to devote their lives to the church like a hard core cult. Many preachers are happy if they can just get everyone to put money in the collection plate every week. That’s as unethical as selling people fake lottery tickets.
If anyone asks you for money … they probably just want your money. If they demand money from you and threaten you and your family for not paying up, then you can be even more sure they just want your money. If the person asking you for money is wearing a suit that costs more money than what you’re wearing … then don’t give that person any more money.
13. Socializing with the in crowd
The most effective way to control the minds of a group of followers would be to lock them in an isolated compound together where the charismatic leader could control every aspect of their lives like the military does to its members. In suburbia that’s just not possible. So the trick is to keep your in-group together as much as possible and get them to willfully ostracize themselves from the rest of society as much as possible.
I’m not saying that if you hang out with your bowling buddies when you’re not bowling then that means you’re forming a cult. But when a charismatic leader organizes constant events that keep his donors together … you can predict the outcome.
14. Using indoctrination techniques in your own time and policing your peers
The amount of Coca~Cola advertisements you’ve seen in your life attests to how quickly the effects of manipulation can fade and thus how important it is to constantly top-up your message in your victim’s short term memory. One way television commercials do this is by getting a jingle stuck in your head. If you walk around all day repeating the advertiser’s custom-designed message in your head then you’re doing the advertiser’s job of reminding you of the message. Churches tell you to read the Bible constantly and to fill your house with Biblical themed merchandise. If they can get you to eat, sleep and breath church doctrine then you’ll become your own snake oil salesman. Then you’ll do the charismatic leader’s job of manipulating you for him.
Cults need a constant stream of new victims in order to finance the charismatic leader’s lifestyle. So … if you run into an organization that is constantly having recruitment drives to get people to come listen to an infomercial where they’re asked to give money at the end … don’t go there. You know what’s going to happen, and it only ends well for the charismatic leader … assuming he doesn’t get too drunk on power and do something crazy.
People selling furniture don’t need to use mind control techniques. The furniture is there for the viewing. You can sit on a chair, touch a table, etc. But when you are selling a product that you can’t see, that doesn’t make a sound, that you can’t touch, and that makes no rational sense, then you must manipulate the brain to make the sale. Christianity is a mind-fuck.
(4365) Hair covering interpolation
There is plausible evidence that a portion of 1st Corinthians was written by an impostor (not Paul). It involved instructions for women to wear covering over their heads and to subject themselves to their husbands. Also, that a man with long hair is a disgrace (Jesus?). The following was taken from:
So I have been reading 1 Corinthians and by now I have gotten used to Paul’s writing style, his theology, the fact he makes frequent references to the Old testament. And In light of all this, I have noticed something odd about parts of 1 Corinthians 11 and 14. Specifically the verses about women wearing head coverings and not being in the image of God, as well as women not being permitted to speak in church. The way these verses flow in the text reads as if they have been inserted in their by a later editor.
I know that given the nature of these verses, I understand that you may believe I have an agenda, but I think that is what this editor has. It sticks out like a sore thumb when you listen to it in audio book. These passages don’t flow in the text and make perfect sense when removed. Not to mention that these verses contain several contradictions in scripture. Here is what I mean and why I think these verses were not written by Paul. First lets take a look at these verses and see how they read.
1 Corinthians 11:
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.
3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife[a] is her husband,[b] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife[c] who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.[d] 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.
Hang on, it says “Now I commend you,” only to correct them on head coverings and then say “In the following I do not commend you.” It doesn’t flow well. Lets take the part about head coverings out and see how it flows.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.
See. That flows and makes so much sense that it would be written like that. I commend you in x but in the following I do not commend you. It reads as if the head covering things was added in.
We know for a fact that some verses have been added into the bible. Scholars have studied the early manuscripts and have found that the longer ending of mark and the woman caught int he act of adultery are parts of scripture added later. We don’t know of every addition but we have found some of them. So we know some scriptures may have been added. So in order to say a verse has been added, we need positive evidence.
Now that alone is not evidence. But what strengthens this evidence, is that the head covering passages has biblical contradictions. We should let scripture interpret what is considered scripture. In the old testament law, the priests who were male and engaging in a prophetic role, doing a ritual which did serve as a prophecy about Christ, were instructed to where a head covering:
Exodus 28:4 – These are the garments that they must make: a breast piece, an ephod, a robe, a specially woven tunic, a turban, and a sash.
Were these men being a disgrace when God ordered them to do this?
And the fact that it implies that women are not made in the image and glory of God which we all should know is not true.
It says that long hair is a disgrace yet the story of Samson, Long hair was a proud symbol of his Nazurite vow and it was shameful for it to be cut short.
Several contradictions are in this passage. Not to mention that Paul is usually so detailed and goes into in-depth explanations when he deals with lofty spiritual matters. Only here he supposedly writes “a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head because of the angels” and he doesn’t clarify what that means and know one to this day can understand it. It does not fit his usual style. It seems as though it has been added.
Not to mention that No church today follows this rule. If the spirit is active throughout the churches, then why does hardly any church, even the more fundamentalist ones, ever do this. You would think the spirit would correct this if it need be corrected. If you believe the spirit moves through your church and your church doesn’t do this, how do you square that?
This problem with the scriptures, that is, the uncertainty of which portions are legitimate and which are interpolations, would not exist if an omnipotent being was involved in the process. But since it’s obvious that the Bible is strictly a human enterprise, it is a mess of ambiguity. Because of a lack of any original manuscripts, readers are left wallowing in uncertainty about what the original authors wrote.
(4366) Bible review
It is enlightening to see how the Bible could be reviewed as if it were just another ordinary book being written strictly by human authors. As can be seen, once the veneer of holiness is removed, the Bible suffers greatly as a compelling story worthy of being read:
Overall, this book is a mess. I think the decision to write the book over several centuries with dozens of different authors certainly doesn’t help. There’s definitely a lack of a coherent vision. The old testament for example, clearly sets up God as this being that never changes, then the new testament changes everything but still pretends God is the same.
Its overly long, and some chapters are just tedious lists. While I think the lore and worldbuilding certainly helps give insight into how the protagonist is seen by his creation was well thought out, its just a lot of info dumps that I think really should have been cut for the sake of readability.
As for the story itself, its ultimately unsatisfying.
I certainly thought it was a bold choice going for a villain protagonist, and not even a sympathetic one, but an insecure narcissist who thinks he’s important because of these powers he has that aren’t even earned. Protagonists like that are rare, especially because its hard to get people to root for them.
Unfortunately, the Bible is a clear example of how not to do villain protagonists.
Stories like this aren’t satisfying without the villain protagonist getting…
a. A redemption arc
b. Getting what they deserve.
The writers decided to do precisely none of that. Personally I think that had something to do with the conflicting visions of multiple authors.
For example, if you look at Genesis, I felt the writer was setting up the God character for an interesting character arc where he learns that just because he created the world, doesn’t give him the right to control it. I mean all the suffering and pain we see the human characters go through, making us feel for these people, and making us hate God even more with his displays of cruelty and murder, its just horrifying.
I will give them some credit, they do try to course correct by making some of the human characters evil to try and hint at some more empathetic sides to the God character. But the evil of the human characters is so overshadowed by the atrocities God commits that you feel more sorry for these evil people than God.
There are times where he treats people quite nicely. I thought his relationship with David was somewhat heartwarming at first and I thought it was going to lead to a nice character arc for God. That he would slowly learn that despite its flaws, humanity deserves to be free. But then he decides to kill David’s child just because it would punish David for his evil action without sparing a single thought for the child himself. I couldn’t understand how David forgave him for that, but I suppose they were going for a character study of God, to show that even to his friends he’s still that same monster.
Despite some issues in pacing, readability, and eventually the weird repetition of having four accounts of Jesus’ life, I still had hope the book could stick the landing.
However, the ending is the most unsatisfying thing in all of fiction. After all these centuries of seeing the abuse this God has hurled at humanity, at seeing how broken and self-loathing all of his followers are just by giving into him. After seeing those who refuse to be controlled massacred and tortured for so long, you’d think an ending to this story would finally see God deposed.
Instead, this bleak dystopia the Bible spends so long fleshing out lacks any semblance of hope from beginning to end which just isn’t any fun for the reader to follow. God is just all powerful and can never be stopped, and despite the changes the new testament made, the book continues to assert he cannot change. So what is there to root for, he can’t be defeated, he’ll never be a better person, the story is ultimately not about anything but a horrible person getting everything he wants. That’s not fun to read about
I had hoped the new testament was a subtle way of indicating that God could change, that he could be more than the despotic tyrant he was at the beginning, and seeing him change could’ve made this book really compelling.
Unfortunately, the ultimate message is, an all powerful bad guy can never lose and everything is hopeless.
It ends with God triumphing over Satan and succeeding in building a world where everyone is a slave to him for all eternity or burning forever. Its a shame because Satan was by far the most interesting and promising character. Despite being a somewhat minor character, he is the one that most fills the role of the traditional hero, telling Eve that just because God created them doesn’t give him the right to control them.
While later authors try to make this ending work by turning Satan into more of an anti-hero as the book goes on, its too little too late. God is just too unlikeable of a character for us to care that he defeated his main rival. Even if Satan isn’t a good person, we have no reason to believe that this world wouldn’t be better with him in charge. That coupled with the fact that Satan is the underdog from beginning to end, and its ultimately unsatisfying to see him lose.
Overall, just a very unsatisfying story with not much to say, terrible pacing, uncompelling writing. Even for a villain protagonist he’s just too evil for us to want to follow him for the whole story. Its an overly cynical thought experiment that asks the question, what if we were ruled by an all powerful God who was pure evil. Its the kind of book an edgy emo 13 year old might write.
I don’t understand what all the hype is about.
0/10 would not recommend.
(4367) Why Luke’s census is impossible
The Gospel of Luke recounts the story of Jesus’ birth involving the travels of Mary and Joseph to Joseph’s ancestral town of Bethlehem. The following from Bart Ehrman’s blog explains why this event did not happen:
“There is a major problem with this “first registration” under Caesar Augustus. We have no record of any such thing (first or second), even though we have good documentation about the major events during Augustus’s reign. And this would have been a major event indeed. Luke indicates “all the world” had to register […] he must mean “all the Roman Empire.” But even that defies belief, and not just because it is never mentioned in any historical source. […] Are we supposed to imagine that everyone in the Roman empire had to register in the town of their ancestors, the way Joseph did? Joseph’s ancestor David came from Bethlehem, so that’s where he registers. But wait a second. Why does he go to the town where David came from? Why not from the town that David’s great-great-great grandfather came from? Why is he stopping with David? […] He registers there because he is from the Davidic line, and David was born there. But how many thousands and thousands of people in Joseph’s time could in one way or another trace their line back to David? Moreover, how would anyone really know? Contrary to what is often said and thought, there simply were not reliable genealogies back then.
But there’s yet a bigger problem. David lived a thousand years earlier than Joseph. Are we to imagine that everyone in the Roman empire is returning to the home of their ancestors from a thousand years earlier to register for this census? And there’s no record of the massive migrations involved in any historical source? They just forgot to mention that part? Even more, how is it even possible? […] There are more problems with this account. The most famous is the fact that this could not have been, contrary to what the text says, when Quirinius was the governor of Syria, if it was also “in the days of King Herod of Judea” (1:5). We know from inscriptions and the Jewish historian Josephus that Quirinius did not become governor until ten years after Herod died. What we have here is not a historical account, but something else.”
(4368) Ladder of explanations
Richard Carrier developed a list of potential explanations for anything that appears to be or is claimed to be miraculous, from the most to the least likely:
Each numbered line contains the explanation for any story of the miraculous or bizarre that is inherently more likely than the one following. In the lower numbers, this relative frequency advantage is empirically documented: when we can properly investigate, almost always, the explanation turns out to be §1; the next most common explanation we find to be true is §2; and next after that is §3. Everything below that has never once been credibly documented, and therefore has a frequency vastly lower than those three. And yet even then there are relative degrees of expected frequency: §4 rests on known background facts (aliens are plausible in general, just not plausibly around here; Clarke’s Third Law is a fact; etc.), whereas everyting below it does not, and therefore it enjoys a provably higher prior probability; §5 has a little of that same advantage, albeit less, and therefore we can expect on present knowledge it will turn out to be the case less often still.
By contrast, we have no background knowledge supporting the existence of §6 at all, so it is up to that point always going to be the least likely explanation of anything; and due to the Conjunction Fallacy, anything below that must necessarily be less probable still, because each distinguishes an increasingly specific subset of condition §6 (and in respect to prior probability, there is no way to get a subset of events to be even as, much less more probable than their superset). To say §7 did it is to allow a wide range but still specific subset of magical agents explain things; whereas to say §8 did it is to get even more narrow than that in the subset of magical agents you are allowing to be responsible; while §9 is getting even narrower, because now you aren’t saying “just any” gods did it, but a hyper-specific and particular god. Option §9 is therefore literally the least probable explanation of anything (even more than this analysis entails).
It is important to note the in the long history of miraculous claims, none of them have passed #3 on this list. It seems impossible that if we actually lived in a world with a God, angels, saints, Satan, and demons that we would be in this position. Christianity has a lot of explaining to do for why have never reached #6, #7, #8, or #9 (other than spuriously-devised claims that have all failed to muster a critical scientific credential).
(4369) Circumcision analogy
One of the best piece of evidence against Judaeo-Christianity is the alleged god-prescribed order to circumcise boys. Contemporary Christians often try to justify this bodily mutilation based on its spurious health benefits, but a simple analogy described below shows how ridiculous this argument is:
So because you follow one of three 1200+ year old ancient Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism which all have scripture promoting stoning, abuse of women, slavery, and homophobia, and also cannot be proven you now have the right to sexually assault men at birth and perform an irreversible genital mutilation ritual which has been botched and has resulted in deaths and 96% of the time has been done without anesthesia? What the fuck?
And I’m tired of “progressives” defending this practice and Abrahamic religions and complaining about shit like “Islamophobia”. There’s nothing progressive about these cults – Judaism is from the stone age, Christianity is from antiquity, and Islam is from the dark ages. Why would you defend these which promote mutilating men’s genitals at birth? And I don’t wanna hear about the “benefits” the vast majority of men from the EU, Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mexico, and the entirety of Central and South America did not have their genitals mutilated and they aren’t getting penile cancer or having their dicks fall off or getting giant infections.
Here’s an allegory. According to these people’s logic, I could claim that I received a revelation from a spirit who created everything, and in order to enter paradise you need to remove the tips of people’s fingers and toes at birth or else they’ll go to hell and so will you. And guess what, “benefits” too! They won’t have to clip or clean their nails and they can no longer get subungal hematomas, and they can’t get ingrown nails either. If you oppose this you’re a BIGOT!
Doesn’t make any sense, now does it?
Circumcision originates from a stone age religion which says killing gay people, abusing women, and enslaving people is perfectly fine and also that a burning bush talked to a man, the earth was created in 6 days, that humans are made out of clay, and that a man somehow built a boat large enough to house 2 of every animal and he manages to survive a massive flood whilst everyone else dies. (this also means their god committed genocide on a scale which has never been done at any other point in history). Circumcision of children who cannot consent and which is an irreversible procedure should not be allowed. It is evil.
We can be quite certain that a god who supposedly ‘designed’ humans would not command that his followers remove a portion of that ‘perfect’ design. But it can be well understood that superstitious humans could fall into practicing this COMPLETE AND UTTER NONSENSE.
(4370) Gamma waves surge while dying
Some of the most compelling evidence for life after death, or that a portion of human consciousness exists independent of the body, is the phenomenon of near-death experiences. Although most people who experience these symptoms go ahead and die, a small percentage survive to tell their stories. And long ago these stories likely provided fuel for the development of afterlife beliefs. But, as always, science comes along and spoils the party. The research discussed below was based on the direct observation of brain waves as people were dying and revealed that a surge of gamma waves is what is causing this out-of-body experience:
Some cardiac arrest survivors from a range of cultural and religious backgrounds have reported near-death experiences—these might include a sensation of leaving the body, a bright light at the end of a tunnel or memories of past events. Now, researchers are making strides toward a scientific explanation for these events.
In a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report that two of four comatose dying patients experienced a surge in brain activity that resembles consciousness after they were taken off ventilators and their hearts had stopped.
The findings indicate scientists have more to learn about how the brain behaves while we’re dying. The study “suggests we are identifying a marker of lucid consciousness,” Sam Parnia, a pulmonologist at New York University who did not contribute to the research, tells Science’s Sara Reardon.
Scientists aren’t sure why near-death experiences occur. These mysterious phenomena “represent a biological paradox that challenges our fundamental understanding of the dying brain, which is widely believed to be nonfunctioning under such conditions,” according to the paper.
But previous work has also shown increased brain activity at the end of life. In a study of rats in 2013, Jimo Borjigin, a co-author of the new study and a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan, found that the rodents’ brains produced surges of gamma waves for 30 seconds after their hearts stopped. Gamma waves are fast brain waves associated with attention, working memory and long-term memory—so they indicate, but do not prove, that the rats might have been conscious, writes Live Science’s Stephanie Pappas. Additionally, a 2022 study found that a person who died of a heart attack while their brain activity was being measured also had gamma wave activity after cardiac arrest.
The new research looked at four patients who had died while their brain activity was being monitored using electroencephalography (EEG). All had been comatose and were considered beyond medical assistance, writes the Guardian’s Hannah Devlin. Their families gave doctors permission to take the patients off life support.
But the brain activity measurements for two of the patients showed surges in gamma waves after they were taken off life support and experienced cardiac arrest. The surges lasted for a couple of minutes and were sometimes very strong. “It was crazy high,” Borjigin tells New Scientist’s Clare Wilson.
Notably, researchers saw intense signals in an area of the brain that can be active when people have out-of-body experiences or dreams. “If this part of the brain lights up, that means the patient is seeing something, can hear something, and they might feel sensations out of the body,” Borjigin tells Issam Ahmed of the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The findings could lead to further investigation of the dying brain and of consciousness during cardiac arrest, the authors write.
“This paper is really important for the field and the consciousness field more generally,” Charlotte Martial, a biomedical scientist who studies near-death experiences at the University of Liège in Belgium and did not contribute to the study, tells Science.
In the future, Borjigin wants to collect more data on dying brains, per Vice’s Becky Ferreira. The gamma wave activation “needs to be confirmed in more patients,” she tells the publication.
“The more consistent findings we have, the more evidence it is that this likely is a mechanism happening at the time of death,” Ajmal Zemmar, a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville Health and co-author of the 2022 study, tells Live Science. “If we can pinpoint this down to one location, even better.”
Science has destroyed the young-earth theory, the Great Flood, the Exodus, the star of Bethlehem and more. And now it is erasing one of the strongest pieces of evidence that theists have used to compel belief in an immortal soul- the near-death experience. It is nothing more than a natural process and once it’s over and the patient dies, there are no more brain waves to be felt.
(4371) The impostor theory
Among the many explanations for why people came to believe that Jesus (assuming he was an actual person) came back to life after being crucified, there is one that has not been heavily promoted, at least not in popular circles. It is the impostor theory.
First of all, this theory assumes that the empty tomb trope is a myth. Jesus, just like all other crucified criminals, was left on the cross for about a week, then taken to and buried in the mass grave outside of town.
Second, a person who was at least a tangential follower of Jesus and who bore a very close resemblance decided to make the claim that he was Jesus returned to life. He was able to convince a good number of Jesus’ followers including some of the disciples, and so the legend grew that Jesus had returned to life after being dead. This possibility is consistent with several gospel stories saying that people did not immediately recognize that it was Jesus who they were seeing/taking to (example- Road to Emmaus, in Luke 24:13-35)
The impostor, realizing that his ruse would not stand the test of time but wishing it to survive, soon exited Jerusalem for good. This left a core of several dozen people who believed that they had seen the risen Jesus. And that this meant that Jesus was truly a god or a least a prophet of God.
Many credulous people came to believe that Jesus had resurrected, more or less as a way to assuage their grief and as a way to hope for a better future and afterlife.
The impostor set in motion a chain reaction of events that eventually led to a world-wide religion.
(4372) Confused Jesus
In the gospels, Jesus just can’t seem to present a consistent and coherent theology. He is all over the map. The following was taken from:
Are we talking about the Jesus who said “Whatever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, so you do unto me” [Matthew 25:41-45], or the one who said “To those who have much, much will be given, and from those who have little, even what little they have will be taken” [Matthew 25:29]?
Are we talking about the Jesus who said “Sell all you have and give the money to the poor” [Matthew 19:21], or about the Jesus who said “You will always have poor people, so don’t waste money on them that could be used to glorify me instead” [Matthew 26:8-11]?
Did he say “Love your neighbor as yourself” [Matthew 22:39], or did he say “I have come to set father against son and mother against daughter! Anyone who does not hate his family is not worthy of me!” [Matthew 10:34-37]?
And a couple more:
Did he say “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” [Matthew 56:52], or did he say “That’s enough” after the disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” [Luke 22:38].
Did he say “And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” [Matthew 5:22], or did he say “You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?” [Matthew 23:17].
(4373) John left out the temptation
The first three gospels, Mark, Matthew, and Luke, all tell a story of how Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert. Despite the fact that Satan is a fictional character, and that the teleportation that occurred during the alleged temptation was physically impossible, there exists a more salient problem- an omnipotent god cannot be tempted. So in the final gospel, John, the author deliberately left this story out because his principal agenda was to equate Jesus with God. The following was taken from:
The Gospel of John does not include the account of Jesus’s temptation in the desert. This is because the Gospel intended to portray Jesus as God, and that the may have considered the temptation to go against the narrative of his divinity and nature as he believed. It’s also quite strange how the Gospel of John has so many statements of Jesus claiming to be God and not even ONE of those statements are in the 3 other gospels. If He went around saying stuff like “Before Abraham was I AM.” Or “If you have seen me you’ve seen the father.” And “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” And many more, don’t you think they’d be in the other other gospels like that type of information wouldn’t be excluded especially since it’s said the writer of Mathew was the same Mathew who was his disciple and knew him first hand.
It also doesn’t make sense for Satan to feel the need to tempt Jesus when Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. That would mean that he already owns everything in his God part. Considering he was tempted by Satan in the desert and that he even cried out to God about his temptation it makes it 100 percent clear why John left it out.
This is another example of how the three synoptic gospels and the Gospel of John do not belong all under the same cover. They are telling two different stories and about two different persons. Yet most Christians gravitate to John’s depiction of Jesus and base much of their theology on it, despite its authorship occurring at a point further in time after Jesus’ life. This fact among many others makes John plausibly less reliable than the synoptics.
(4374) Theism requires repetition, atheism does not
One of notable things that came of the COVID-19 pandemic was the desperation that religious people displayed when their churches were closed. Why was this such a problem for them? Well, as it turns out, their faith is dependent on continual reinforcement, and without that, it tends to wane. However, atheists who believe in science were not affected at all. They don’t need to be told over and over that evolution is true. The following was taken from:
Probably no one among the world’s two billion Christians has ever lost sleep over the Muslim Hell, and conversely I doubt that any Muslims worry about the Christian hell. I would agree that most of the time you can’t argue an incorrect idiot into being correct, and you certainly cannot add a point to anyone’s IQ by arguing with them. But (and this is a but big enough to warrant Sir Mixalot’s scrutiny) it’s hard to win a war without showing up. The disinformation machine doesn’t worry about the difficulty of changing people’s minds. It understands that repetition is the most potent form of persuasion. Trump for example was able to fool about 30% of Americans into disblieving in our elections. For most of American history, there was no widespread doubt about our elections. People often didn’t like the outcome, but they understand that elections really do reflect the will of the people. Trump was able to destroy over 200 years of that belief in a few short years.
Christianity in the USA is losing about 1% of market share per year. So it’s clear that somebody is getting through to idiots with the voice of reason. Maybe we can speed that up a little by getting and staying in the game. Fox News doesn’t need to be the only voice they hear.
During the… COVID-19 pandemic, religious people complained loudly about the lockdowns that denied them their weekly churchy fix. Religious people have an ongoing need for group reinforcement. In contrast, once you learn some science, you don’t have to keep going back to science class every week to keep yourself convinced. Atheists may have griped about lockdowns too, but not because isolation in any way threatened to change their beliefs.
The major reason why theists require continual reinforcement of their beliefs is because of the stark mismatch between those beliefs and the way that the world is observed and experienced. In other words, as one exits a church, they are entering a situation that is not consistent with what they were taught during that one hour of preaching. There is unmitigated suffering, miracles are not happening, prayers are not being answered, angels and demons are not appearing anywhere, and science is continuing to refute one theist argument after another. So what is needed?- continual reinforcement/inculcation. If Christianity was true, this would not be necessary.
(4375) How could the Bible have become so esteemed?
How could a book containing written instructions for owning people, murdering gays, silencing women, killing naughty children, and promoting bloodthirsty religious warfare become the world’s most revered book? It is beyond astonishing. And not only that, it contains a not-so-veiled threat of eternal torture to be suffered by the majority of humankind.
How ON EARTH could a book such of this not only not be banned, despised, or condemned, but rather held up as the gold moral standard for how we should conduct our lives? Here is a plausible explanation for how this happened:
(1) It was compiled during a time when civilized morality was still in a crude state- that is, during a time when slavery and capital punishment, killing gays, and subjective women to second class status was considered normal and perfectly acceptable.
(2) It became known as the repository of God’s law and message, and so it had a divine credential, meaning that even if it seemed crude by more modern standards, it was from God, and therefore good by default.
(3) Even as society began to reject a lot of the ancient biblical themes, clergy began to focus on the good parts while ignoring the bad, such that modern-day Christians, few of whom read the Bible, are spoon fed only the more favorable aspects of the scriptures.
If an alien species were to visit the planet and they wanted to see the most popular book to get an idea of what humans hold in the highest regard, they would be appalled. And when they saw execution-style crosses being prominently displayed they might say:
(4376) Inverse homunculus fallacy
Simple non-explanations are standard fare for parents trying to explain to their children, for example, where babies come from (a stork) or what hold the earth up (a turtle). These explanations explain nothing, by presupposing the very thing that is being explained. This is known as the inverse homunculus fallacy. And just like children, adults are placated in their search for WHY? by the concept of an omnipotent god- that once again is a non-explanation by presupposing something that is more complex than what is being explained. The following was taken from:
The homunculus fallacy “explains” a system by positing a part of the system that has the properties of the whole system. It conceptually presupposes what it claims to explain.
There is an inverse of the homunculus fallacy. The inverse homunculus fallacy “explains” a system by positing that it is a part of a bigger system that has the properties of the smaller system. It also presupposes what it claims to explain, but by projecting a part onto the whole, rather than the whole onto a part.
The classic, absurd example of the inverse homunculus fallacy is the “world-turtle”: the theory that the world sits on the back of a giant turtle.
See World Turtle on Wikipedia.
We can imagine how this sort of pseudo-explanation arises. A little girl asks her father “what holds the world up?”.
This is a perfectly reasonable question for a little child or an Indian peasant in 500 AD. In ordinary life, objects fall unless they are held up by something, or actively kept up by some process, such as wings flapping. So, our ordinary intuition is that things fall. Today, most people know that the Earth is a ball in space, and that up and down are not absolute directions, but are relative to the center of the Earth. Without this modern knowledge, it is quite natural to think of the Earth as unmoving, and up and down as absolute directions. It is also quite natural to wonder what lies below.
The father of the little girl tells her “The world is sitting a turtle’s back”.
Of course, this explains nothing. A turtle is an object that exists on the Earth. Turtles are normally held up by the ground or by water when they are swimming. They have something underneath them. They need air, water and food. The idea of a turtle presupposes the Earth as a whole. Our ordinary assumptions about how the world works are hidden inside the concept of a turtle. But those ordinary assumptions are what we are trying to explain.
The little girl might ask “What holds the turtle up?”. The philosophical joke-answer is that it is turtles all the way down. The father could say that the turtle is standing on another turtle. Or he might say that the turtle is standing on the surface of a bigger world. Either way, the “explanation” does not explain.
A turtle-believer might insist that the turtle theory does explain things. For example, it explains earthquakes: those are caused by the turtle moving. But then why aren’t earthquakes always happening? Why do they happen in specific places? What are volcanoes caused by? Why aren’t there periodic floods when the turtle goes for a swim? And so on. Just because a theory is consistent with some (cherry-picked) data, that doesn’t mean the theory has explanatory power. It must reduce the complexity of the data to have explanatory power.
God is another example of the inverse homunculus fallacy. Supposedly, the concept of God explains various things, such as the existence of the Earth, the existence of life, human nature, rationality, etc. But the concept of God presupposes those things. God is a metaphorical person. He has the properties of a human being. He exists. He is alive. He has desires. He thinks and acts.
The Christian notion of God is analogous to the world-turtle. It tries to explain the whole (the universe) in terms of something that exists within the universe: a person. Of course, the imaginary person of God is BIG in various ways, just as the turtle is big. God doesn’t just think and act. He is omniscient and omnipotent!!
One could use the same trick with the world-turtle, by claiming that the turtle is infinitely big. Then there would be nothing underneath the turtle. It would be “turtle all the way down” instead of “turtles all the way down”. Of course, it still wouldn’t explain anything.
Like turtles, human beings exist on the Earth, and our properties are tied to our way of existence. Mental operations, such as thought, desire and action, are ways of solving the problems of living beings. They are adaptations. It makes no sense to extend them to infinity, or attribute them to a universal being.
If God is omnipotent, then there is no distinction between his will and reality. But will is the desire to change reality. Omnipotence is an absurd notion, or it is just a confusing way to say “causality”. Likewise for omniscience. If God is omniscient, then there is no distinction between his knowledge and reality. But knowledge is limited information about reality, not reality itself. Just as “up” and “down” are only meaningful on the Earth (or some other large body), “knowledge” and “will” are only meaningful for limited beings, such as us.
See To EyesWideOpen for more about the conceptual incoherence of the God-concept.
If we eliminate the human properties of God, exchanging “will” for “causality” and “knowledge” for “existence”, then we have exchanged “God” for “reality”. Any apparent explanatory power of the God-concept comes from conceptual question-begging, through the metaphor of God as a human being.
The cosmological arguments for God involve the inverse homunculus fallacy. They insist that we must posit God to explain reality, but their notion of God presupposes the properties that are “explained”. Just as the world-turtle smuggles in ordinary assumptions about objects and up | down, God smuggles in ordinary assumptions about reality.
(4377) Falsely asserting God is perfect
Matthew 5:48 has Jesus saying:
‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
Other than the fact it is literally impossible for a human to reach ‘perfection,’ the real problem with this scripture is that it brazenly asserts that God is perfect. A simple perusal of the Bible shows that God is far from perfect- making this one of the most controversial verses in the Bible. The following was taken from:
“….just as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48.
As a formerly practicing Pentecostal Christian, it awakened a negative feeling me since I heard it last in my teen years. For every fault and mistake I made, there was always someone’s voice ready to counteract my reasoning for being human and not perfect with that verse. And many at times, I always wanted to tell them it made no sense because anyone willing to dissect the Christian Bible thoroughly would know that he is not perfect in almost any sense.
Does a perfect god acknowledge that his “perfect” action of creating human beings was flawed and wipe them out with a flood, scatter their languages so they can’t reach him, take his “children” on what should have been a couple days journey for 40 years, watch the Israelites go through slavery under the Egyptians, and all of this is just the first five books.
I did my due diligence in my younger years to comb over every book of the Bible. First with indoctrinated eyes, then with a questioning mind and finally an awakened set of eyes. There is no perfection in life, sure once you mess up and don’t ask for forgiveness, you’re bound to hell. I cannot fathom how this verse came to be, as the person who inscribed it clearly turned a blind eye to so many mistakes and imperfections God had done. And funnily enough, he acknowledges them in multiple verses in the Old Testament alone.
So when I heard someone say those words in an open street today, I just smiled at them and walked on. He obviously is oblivious and there isn’t an element of perfection they can turn to the scriptures for to convince me that I too can be perfect.
A god who makes many mistakes himself, and then plans to punish people for making similar (but much less grievous) mistakes is the very epitome of a hypocritically-fueled psychopath. This verse should be mercifully extracted from the Bible.
(4378) Evaluating the real Ten Commandments
Most Christians do not realize that there are two versions of the Ten Commandments, one in Exodus 20 and the other in Exodus 34. The second version bears little resemblance to the first, but they were the only ones that the Bible refers to as the Ten Commandments. Christians use the first version, though it appears by reading Exodus that they were superseded by the second version after Moses allegedly smashed the original tablets. So, it is fair game to evaluate the commandments that the Bible itself renders as the Ten Commandments:
Exodus 34: 14-26
(1) “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
(2) “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.”
(3) “Do not make any idols.”
(4) “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.”
(5) “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons.”
(6) “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.”
(7) “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”
(8) “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God.”
(9) “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.”
(10) “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.”
(11) “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
- The first thing to note is that there are actually 11 commandments, not 10.
- It is very curious that God seems to have an issue with yeast as it appears twice- (4) and (9). Why would a god be so anal retentive?
- This list is even more deficient than the one in Exodus 20, as it has no prohibition for murder, theft, adultery, or bearing false witness.
- This list seems to contain instructions to make sure that the priests have lots of food to eat- (5), (6), (8) (9), (10). This appears to be self-serving.
- Two commandments are wasted on mundane commands to celebrate holidays (4), (8).
- It contains a totally nonsensical command (11) that seems to come out of nowhere.
The first thing anyone should ask is whether they believe that this list of commands is the work of an omniscient god who created the entire universe. If not, then there is a problem- human frailties have entered the scriptures.
(4379) Three criteria for seeing visions of the dead
There exist three criteria that make it more likely that a person will see visions of a deceased person. In the case of Jesus, assuming reasonable accuracy of the scriptures, all three of these criteria existed. The following was taken from:
In his book How Jesus Became God, Bart Ehrman gives three criteria that make such visions of the deceased much more common. All of them are met in the case of the death of Jesus of Nazareth. They happen when “the deceased was especially beloved; when his or her death was sudden, unexpected, or violent; and when the visionary feels guilt.” With regards to the latter, the criterion of embarrassment might suggest that there might be some truth in the Bible accounts of disciples deserting Jesus in the hours approaching the Crucifixion (see Mark 14:50 & Matthew 26:56)—an act about which Jesus’ followers may have experienced considerable guilt, thus exacerbating their visionary experiences further. Such postdeath encounters with the dead are very, very real to those undergoing them. They explain why Jesus’ early followers insisted so fervently on the resurrection of Jesus as an event grounded in reality, helping to make it such a widely held belief almost two thousand years later.
Jesus was beloved, he died quickly and expectantly, and the disciples felt guilt for abandoning and renouncing their association with him. This set up the ideal situation for them to see visions, or dreams, that made them believe he was still alive, even if in a different realm. This provides a non-supernatural explanation for the resurrection belief.
(4380) “God won’t mind if we disobey this rule”
Christians supposedly revere their scriptures, considering them to have come directly from the mind of God. But when it comes to whether they follow them, they pick a few they like and ignore the rest. This is the grandest display of hypocrisy. Why would a god promote so many themes that (he should have known) would later become discarded by this followers? The following was taken from:
The GOP national platform wants to protect businesses from having their “religious liberties” violated. They say that bakers shouldn’t be forced to bake wedding cakes for gay people. OK, but are these very religious bakers being consistent when they apply God’s laws? The gay stuff is buried in Leviticus, but the Ten Commandments say that adultery is a sin. Any type of sex outside of marriage is adultery. When a straight couple approaches him about a wedding cake, does he ask them if they’re virgins? If they’re not virgins, does he refuse to bake a cake for them because they have committed the sin of adultery? No, because then he’d only be making 3 cakes a year.
Yes, adultery is a big deal. It’s in the top ten list. But, to lead a our country, let’s choose a man who’s been married three times and cheated on every once of his wives. He’s bragged that between marriages, he had sex with so many women that it was like “Vietnam” wondering if he was going to get a deadly STI. Yes, adultery is one of the top ten sins, but let’s just ignore it so this person can be in charge. God won’t mind if we ignore this rule.
The Bible says that working on Sunday should be punishable by death. (Ouch!). Why are Walmart and McDonalds open on Sunday? Because if stores close on Sunday, they’ll lose more than 15% of sales profits. Sunday is the biggest day for restaurants, especially Mother’s Day. So, we’ll just ignore that rule so that corporations can make more money. (Too bad for their wage slaves, though.) God won’t mind if we disobey this rule.
The same section that says homosexuality is an abomination also says that it’s a sin to wear clothes made of multiple fabrics. Have you ever tried to find an article of clothing at Walmart that is 100 percent cotton? It’s hard. Most clothing is made of a blend of cotton and polyester. Why? Because it’s cheaper that way, and the corporations can make more money. Since we all like paying “everyday low prices” at Walmart, we’ll just ignore that rule about fabrics. God won’t mind if we disobey this rule.
The same section of the Bible says that it’s a sin to get a tattoo. 25 percent of the US population has a tattoo. I’ve even seen bible thumpers with tattoos of crosses. So…let’s just ignore that rule too. Because tattoos look cool! God won’t mind if we disobey this rule.
The Bible says that women should be a subservient helpmate to a man and that they should be silent in government. If that’s how God feels, then he can’t be too happy with Marge Taylor Green and Lauren Bobert making a spectacle of themselves in Congress. But let’s keep electing them anyway because they’re bullies who upset people we don’t like. God will understand if we ignore this rule. Maybe this rule is outdated because women were considered property when the Bible was written.
What about the gay rule. Maybe it’s outdated too? Since the Bible was written, we’ve learned that people are born gay and they don’t choose to be gay. Does God automatically hate 10 percent of people who are different due to the chance of birth? Maybe we should ignore this rule, too? NO. even though we’re ignoring a lot of God’s other rules, we will NOT ignore this rule. Because…. Because…?
If Christians ignore major portions of the Bible, why should anyone else give any part of it any credence at all? Is the fact that they dismiss so much of it a tacit sign that they realize it is bullshit?
(4381) Belief is a result, not an effort
The judgment system of Christianity, at least according to the most prominent denominations, is based on one’s belief- the belief in Jesus, his death and resurrection. Acknowledging and professing this ‘fact’ allegedly imparts a magical ‘sin-washing’ effect to your soul and provides an entry ticket to heaven and, even more importantly, protection against the agony of hell. In the following, Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) argues that this a flawed way to decide a person’s fate. This is because belief is a non-willful result of the collision of one’s brain with the evidence it receives:
Can we control our thought? Can we tell what we are going to think tomorrow? Can we stop thinking? Is belief the result of that which to us is evidence, or is it a product of the will? Can the scales in which reason weighs evidence be turned by the will? Why then should evidence be weighed? If it all depends on the will, what is evidence? Is there any opportunity of being dishonest in the formation of an opinion? Must not the man who forms the opinion know what it is? He cannot knowingly cheat himself. He cannot be deceived with dice that he loads. He cannot play unfairly at solitaire without knowing that he has lost the game. He cannot knowingly weigh with false scales and believe in the correctness of the result.
The Bible quotes Jesus with having said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” The Christians say that it is the duty of every person to read, to understand, and to believe this revelation – that a man should use his reason; but if he honestly concludes that the Bible is not a revelation from God, and dies with that conclusion in his mind, he will be tormented forever. They say,” Read,” and then add: “Believe, or be damned.” Suppose then I read this Bible honestly, fairly, and when I get through I am compelled to say, “The book is not true.” If this is the honest result, if the book and my brain are both the work of the same Infinite God, whose fault is it that the book and the brain do not agree? Either God should have written a book to fit my brain, or should have made my brain to fit his book. The brain thinks without asking our consent; we believe, or disbelieve, without an effort of the will. Belief is a result. It is the effect of evidence upon the mind. The scales turn in spite of him who watches. There is no opportunity of being honest or dishonest in the formation of an opinion. The conclusion is entirely independent of desire. We must believe, or we must doubt, in spite of what we wish.
To judge on the basis of belief is to fate a person on issues not under their self-control, and thus is ultimately unfair. If heaven and hell exist, the only fair criterion is to be a good person, but that wouldn’t make Christianity exclusive, and thus would fail to meet the ulterior motives of the clergy.
(4382) Reasons to disbelieve Jesus as the messiah
One of the pillars of Christian theology is that Jesus was the long-predicted Jewish messiah. This fact is necessary to connect Christianity with its Jewish roots. However, there are good reasons to disbelieve this assumption. The following was taken from:
I am a former Christian currently agnostic / converting and I no longer believe Jesus is the messiah. Here is why:
– He didn’t fulfill the messianic prophecies to create a world free of war and peace.
– He isn’t a descendant of the tribe of Jacob, as you can only be a descendant of a tribe through your father – of which his is not known (or at best calls into to question if an adopted father can allow their son to be a descendant of their tribe?).
– He didn’t fulfill the prophecy to unite Israel.
– It says he only claimed to be the messiah “I am” to Pilate in Mark but not in Matthew and Luke – where he says “You have said so” wouldn’t this be significant to include?
– The messiah was promised to be a political and military leader but Jesus never raised an army.
– A lot of Jews didn’t even know about Jesus; It’s estimated 1 in 200 was able to “reject or accept him” at the time.
– His name was not Emmanuel.
– In Hebrew the word “almach” means young woman not virgin, so it didn’t matter if Mary was a virgin.
– John says “I and the Father are one” but no mention of this huge piece in Matthew, Mark, or Luke.
– He did not live long days (Isiah 53:10).
– Messiah son of David was not said to die before completing his mission.
– Paul called himself the “second Christ” and had a God complex. He never met Jesus but is the reason Christianity exists as opposed to Jesus’s goal to adhere to the Torah and unite the Jewish people and free them from Roman oppression.
– There was a big dissension between Paul and the apostles who actually met Jesus because of this; Jesus was Torah observant and Kosher and so were they. They didn’t have a deistic idea of their friend but instead thought he was HaMashiach. They were called “Ebonites” which were a group of Jews who followed what Jesus taught and believed he would return again someday to fulfill the messianic prophecies. But they still saw him as a man.
– However when Paul came into the council of Jerusalem (read 1 Peter) he caused dissension amongst the original apostles and began preaching beliefs of Jesus being the literal Son of God (not just a Son of God) but God himself which led to the Christianity we see today.
– Peter was in charge of the church but after he had a vision of Christ he decided to believe Paul and hence we have the church we see today.
– Constantine changed the church to be more “pagan” friendly when he converted to unite the Roman Empire.
– Finally Christianity led to major antisemitism because it blames Jews for killing God and that is the exact opposite of what the messiah would do.
I love Jesus but I don’t believe this is what he wanted. He wanted us to adhere to the Torah and promised it would be fulfilled – all of it not just some. He was Jewish and never outright claimed to be the messiah. The only time it’s mentioned the only way to the Father is through him is in John- wouldn’t such an important statement be in every book??
The facts simply don’t align with the idea that Jesus was the Jewish messiah. In fact, they aggressively refute it. This well explains why Christianity’s mission field was impotent within the sects of scripturally-literate Jews and was almost entirely focused on Gentile populations.
(4383) Mathematically, everybody ends up in hell
There is no scripture assuring that once you arrive in heaven, you are guaranteed an unconditional and everlasting visa to stay there. After all, Christian theology states that Satan and 1/3 of the angels were cast out of heaven for misbehaving. Over time, and certainly before eternity ‘ends,’ it is 100 percent certain that everyone will make a similar mistake and be sent to hell for the ‘remainder of eternity.’ The following was taken from:
According to Abrahamic religions, the fella in charge of hell used to be in heaven, but he ended up in hell because of some poor life choices.
According to mathematics, on a long enough timeline, the probability that you’ll eventually make a poor choice approaches 100%. On an infinitely long timeline, every choice that is possible to make will eventually be made, including one that get’s you banished to hell. Eternity is a long time.
No matter how much you love singing God’s praises in heaven, you’re certain to eventually do something that get’s you kicked out, and once you’re in hell, there’s no coming back. You might be quite happy up in heaven for the first few hundred trillion years or so, but that is an infinitely small amount of time compared to eternity.
Don’t waste the true potential of your short life here in the hopes that you’ll end up somewhere better in the next life. There is no next life, and even if there was, eventually it would be pretty terrible, according to the source literature.
The Christian formula for salvation is very confusing, leaving many to wonder whether they have met heaven’s entry criteria, but even if they succeed, there seems to be no guarantees of being granted an eternal deed of residence. Even a trillion years in heaven would not merit a single year in hell, and that’s just getting started.
(4384) Jews failed to understand their scriptures
According to Christianity, the scriptures now referred to as the ‘Old Testament’ were filled with hints, prophecies, and declarations of the future arrival of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s ultimate contract with the human race. But curiously, somehow, millions of scripturally-literate Jews over many centuries had failed to detect this message. The following was taken from:
Christians deny the validity of Tanakh as Jewish scriptures. The most basic way in which they do this is by interpreting the sacred books in their entirety (starting with Genesis 3:15) as being principally advance notices of Jesus (Helms, 1988, p. 18, 28, 53, 116, 134). Christians perceive the Jewish texts either allegorically, or as “types” of future things (Hatch, 1890, pp. 65-83; Helms, 1988, p. 19, 77; McGrath, 2011, pp. 130-134; Reimarus, 1774-1778/1879, pp. 76-81; Teeple, 1994, p. 281), and conceive their meaning to be an anticipation of Jesus in the role that Christians assign to him and to the Christian organization. (For refutations of this notion, see Asher, 2012 and Troki, 1633/1851, pp. 59-66, 93-127, 132-205, 209-217.)
From the time of the earliest extant Christian writings, the authors were ransacking the Jewish scriptures looking for passages on to which they could impose a false interpretation as a reference to the future Jesus (Helms, 1988, p. 50, 131; Lane Fox, 1992, pp. 121-123, 338-344; Reimarus, 1774-1778/1879, pp. 34-47; Ruether, 1997, pp. 70-71). By creating stories about Jesus that used events, ideas, and often phrasing from Tanakh (Cassels, Vol. 3, pp. 409-443; Helms, 1988, pp. 63-70, 74-80, 85-95, 102-128, 134-144), the authors of the Gospels could allege that those stories were fulfillments of things foretold in the scriptures and therefore should be believed. Many citations from Tanakh, however, were misappropriated, manipulated, textually incorrect, or invented (Helms, 1998, pp. 49, 52, 57-58, 62-63, 104, 115-116, 131-132, 134, 140-141; Lane Fox, 1992, pp. 339-340; Troki, 1633/1851, pp. 209-217, 227-228, 230-235, 237-238, 244-249, 255, 270-272, 274-276, 278, 281-283, 285-288, 290-294).
And how did one explain the fact that no one before the (proto)Christians had detected the anticipatory character of Tanakh? The answer was simple: despite 1300 years of prayerful study and analysis, the Jews had never understood their scriptures (Ruether, 1997, pp. 64-65, 71-73, 79)! Somehow they failed to perceive that the histories of the Jews, the books of the prophets, and the other writings were only the prelude to the short life of a Jewish working man who lived in a state ruled by a foreign empire that came into existence a century after the final book of Tanakh (Daniel) was written. The Jews’ interpretations of their scriptures could simply be discarded (Helms, 1988, p. 53).
So the Jews never understood their scriptures. Presumably, Yahweh watched and did nothing to alleviate this confusion among his chosen people. For Christianity to be true, the preceding two sentences must be true. How likely that is will be left to the reader to determine.
(4385) Atheist affirmations
Many theists conjecture that atheists must be emotionally depressed because they have no hope for an afterlife or belief in a supernatural being who can hear and answer their prayers during this life. But this is a misguided perception. The following affirmations indicate that atheists have much to be happy about:
(1) I don’t waste time, effort, or money on preparing for an alleged afterlife.
(2) I try to be a good person without expecting or hoping for a reward, or doing so in fear of being punished if I don’t.
(3) I live my life based on facts, not claims. I go where the evidence leads.
(4) I don’t need to make up mental acrobatics to keep clinging to things I want to be true but have no basis in reality.
(5) I don’t need to waste time on variations of Pascal’s wager because I can stand on the shoulders of intellectual giants who have adequately debunked this morally bankrupt argument.
(6) I can be free to view theists, no matter their beliefs, as being innocuously deluded, without having to worry about their dire afterlife consequences.
(7) I can fully embrace and be awed by science without having to worry about how it might damage my beliefs.
(8) I can embrace emerging philosophical/morality concepts without concern for whether they conflict with an ancient holy book.
(9) I can be free to see LGBTQA+ people as being completely OK and worthy of my respect and admiration.
(10) I can acknowledge women’s bodily autonomy and support abortion rights.
A world crippled by the reality of Christianity (which would be unavoidably obvious to all) would not allow for these affirmations because we would be living under a celestial dictatorship that would render humans as being nothing more than intellectual prisoners. It is truly appropriate to say ‘thank god there is no god.’
(4386) Song of Solomon
The 8-chapter Song of Solomon, a collection of erotic poetry, originally but no longer thought to have been written by King Solomon, is totally out of place in the Bible. It’s inclusion was based partly on the dubious assumption that that author(s) was (were) as making allegories comparing love for God with love/lust for a woman or a man. The following was taken from:
The Song of Solomon is a biblical book comprising eight chapters of poetry, primarily the words of a female and a male lover describing their own and each other’s bodies and their feelings about and sensual desires for each other. Although authorship of the Song is traditionally ascribed to Solomon, the general academic consensus is that Solomon is not really the author.
The Song shares several features with ancient Egyptian love poetry, and most scholars see the Song as originally an example of ancient Israelite love poetry. A major factor in the Song’s inclusion in the Bible is that some early readers began to allegorize the male and female lovers, seeing God and his people as represented in the Song.
The opening line of the book, “The song of songs, which is Solomon’s” (1:1; KJV), is the basis for its two most common names in English, “Song of Songs” and “Song of Solomon.” It has also been called “Canticles,” which is an anglicized form of the Latin name Canticum Canticorum (Song of Songs) in the Vulgate.
Many modern translations refer to this book as “Song of Songs,” but some render the name as the “Song of Solomon,” in harmony with the alternative tradition reflected in the King James Version (KJV), which explains why Church materials in English have generally referred to the book as “Song of Solomon.”
The following explains why scholars believe that this book was written by a multitude of authors:
Brettler, “How to Read the Jewish Bible” (2007), goes into an unusual amount of detail on the Song in “Drink Deep of Love: Reading the Song of Songs,” (257-266), in part because it is so unusual in the context of the Bible.
There seems to be no likelihood that the Song was written by one author, or that it was written in the first part of the 1st millennium BCE. Three things Brettler points to are:
- A refrain in the song, occurring at 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4, “does not appear in exactly the same Hebrew words, as we would expect in a work from a single author.”
- The book “uses variant forms of of the same words–variants that linguists understand to arise from different Hebrew dialects.”
- He examines a ‘wasf’ (an Arabic word for a common feature of Arabic poetry: the elaborate description of a lover’s body), which is repeated and varied in 4:1-9. “Why would a single author repeat the same description? If he were to repeat it, why do so with these particular variations? The best answer is that more than one version of these poetic passages circulated in ancient Israel; someone then collated them together into a larger work that eventually became the the Song of Songs as we have it.”
Elsewhere, Brettler looks at similarities to ‘wasfs’ in the Song, and those in Egyptian love poetry of the New Kingdom (c 1500-1000 BCE), and Mesopotamian literature. In his conclusion, he considers it a collection of songs that the original audiences may have found erotic, and that ancient Israelites just enjoyed them for their own sakes.
Much of Kugel’s shorter discussion in “How to Read the Bible” (2007), pp.514-518, recapitulates main points of Brettler’s examination, and looks more at its eventual reception as a religious, rather than an erotic work. He reminds the reader that one of the reasons the Bible remains important to so many is the interaction between the Bible and its readers:
“The question that poses itself to today’s readers is: can we still read the Bible with the approach and assumptions that these ancient interpreters brought to it, even though modern biblical scholarship has now convinced many people that that this way of reading is quite out of keeping with the original meaning of the text?…Indeed, can we hold both old and new together in our heads, and perhaps recalling a hypothetical ‘Read it it my way…’ and a wink?”
Multiple unknown authors (not including King Solomon) and the dubious interpretation of the authors’ intent renders an inescapable conclusion- this book should not be in the Bible. The decision to do so appears to have been the assumption that King Solomon had written these poems and that he was comparing carnal love to his love of God. Neither assumption was correct. This book is nothing more than ancient literary pornography.
(4387) Re-animated Jesus would not join Christianity
It is often said that if Jesus were to come back to life today that he would not join the Christian religion, but would remain a Jew. Christianity so distorted his message that it would be totally foreign to him. The following was taken from:
If the “historical” Jesus were reconstituted, he would find that his message, as described at the beginning of this essay, has been erased by Christians who seem to have known little about what he did and said. That message was replaced with the ideas of men who used Jesus’ preaching, and to an even greater extent tales about his deeds, only as a scaffold for their own thoughts.
- Instead of being a messenger for Yahweh, Jesus has been transformed into the subject not only of his own statements, but of the entire revelation by Yahweh in scripture.
- Yahweh has been replaced by a novel tripartite deity and his name has been abandoned.
- Instead of exhorting Jews to be more observant of their status as Yahweh’s people, Christians deny the Jews’ special relation to the deity and are hostile to them.
Also, Jesus’ belief in the imminent divine judging and transformation of the world has been largely abandoned, not because of Christianity, but because the end of the world did not happen in Jesus’ time, as predicted. (This notion has, however, been a continuous fantasy of Christians, and deforms the thoughts and actions of many Christians today.)
One can imagine the horror and despair that Jesus would feel were he to learn that the result of all his labor and preaching is that he:
- is believed to have committed the damnable blasphemy of claiming to be God;
- is alleged to be the authority for heretical and blasphemous notions about the deity;
- has become the reason for the systematic misinterpretation of, and disregard for, books that he esteemed as holy;
- is claimed as the founder of a religion that disregards God’s ordinances, asserts that Jews are damned, and is inimical to Jesus’ principles (as they are described in the scriptures of that religion); and
- has been used to justify countless terrible crimes against his people, the Jews.
Moreover, this all came about largely because of one man—Paul—who never saw or heard Jesus, probably did not know of his existence while he was alive, and had almost no interest in what he had done. Paul transfigured Jesus into a Jewish adaptation of a pagan type: the savior who descends from above, dies an atoning death, and is resurrected (Fredriksen, 2000, p. 56; Maccoby, 1986, pp. 16, 101-103, 184).
We can reasonably conclude that Jesus would hate Christianity.
The reanimated Jesus would be raging mad and appalled at seeing his image hanging on crosses all over the world. He would not even recognize himself in the gospels or any of the New Testament letters. He would hate Christianity.
(4388) Descent from sword converts
The first theists in most peoples’ family tree were coerced into becoming followers at the tip of a sword or by other violent or aggressive means. This started a domino effect as each successive generation was brainwashed into similar compliance. The following was taken from:
Grab any random religious person off the street, if you go back far enough in their family tree, it’s much more likely than not that foreign invaders conquered their ancestors and forced their religion upon them in the most brutal and inhumane ways. Their forefathers were tortured and slaughtered, their foremothers were raped and forced to carry the invaders children, their people were seen as subhumans and oppressed for generations.
Now the descendants of those people are fanatics, devoting their entire life to the Gods of their oppressors.
This happened almost everywhere. Europe, North & South America, Africa, Asia, The Middle East. I think the only place where the people don’t worship foreign Gods is remote areas of the Amazon and the Indian subcontinent, and even then half of them do (The Islamic invaders were especially brutal in enforcing their religion)
This fact is what made me leave my birth religion and turn to atheism.
I think if this fact was more well known, many more people would reject these archaic belief systems.
The outcome of religious wars often determined which religion the survivors’ descendants would be following. Objective evidence for each religion’s truth was essentially absent, and so it played a very small part in what was mostly a ‘might-makes-right’ process.
(4389) What would appall Jesus the most
It can be conjectured that if Jesus could be restored to life, he would object to the majority of ways he is depicted by Christianity. Perhaps the greatest concern would be how he is alleged to have claimed to be God himself. The following was taken from:
The feature of Christianity that probably would most appall Jesus is that it accuses him of the ultimate impiety of alleging that he is, in some sense, Yahweh himself (Vermes, 2001, p. 186). This monstrous irreverence of a person claiming to be the one God is not even mentioned in Tanakh; it might have been too horrific to express. The deification of Jesus, and the attribution of this impiety to him, were notions that developed after his death (Ehrman, 2014; MacDonald, 2015, pp. 13-17; Teeple, 1994, pp. 342-360).
One result of Jesus’ deification that would especially offend him is the doctrine that all righteous deceased Jews—including persons whom Yahweh particularly favored, such as patriarchs, prophets, and just rulers—were languishing in Hell waiting for Jesus to come to release them. (For a contradiction of this doctrine in the New Testament, see Troki, 1633/1851, pp. 257-258.) This scenario has Jesus himself descending into Hell the moment that he died, albeit for a sojourn of less than two days. He would find this highly insulting.
When a group of believers wants to persuade other people that a certain individual was an agent of a deity, they imagine—or invent—wonderful deeds associated with that individual. These are offered as signs of the person’s divine mandate (and also strengthen the believers’ pre-existing notions). The Gospels depict Jesus as a wizard, and emphasize his performance of miracles (37 recorded in all) (Price, 2003, pp. 131-163; Teeple, 1994, pp. 199-214) and his prescience. Miracles are exhibitions of power, and the Gospels thus make Jesus a dominating person. Jesus, however, would have wanted people to listen to and believe him not because he was thought to perform magical acts, but because he was exhorting them to follow the principles of the religion to which both he and they adhered. The Gospels deny him his true role of a devout Jew addressing his coreligionists in a familiar rabbinic manner, with parables and exhortations (Vermes, 2001, p. 10).
For a rabbinical Jew to declare equivalence with God would be blasphemy, so we can safely assume that Jesus never made this claim. If he had, he would have had close to zero followers and would have been a marginal figure looked upon with pity and scorn.
(4390) Blood magic
The use of blood to enact magical outcomes is endemic in the Abrahamic religions. This is indicative of the fact that these faiths originated in primitive, superstitious minds at a time before the era of modern science. The following was taken from:
First of all, the doctrine of vicarious redemption by human or animal sacrifice is morally bankrupt. Scapegoating your sins onto another life form is the quintessential denial of personal responsibility.
Second, blood magic is an intricate part of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Magic is the power to influence events through the use of mysterious forces. To achieve magical outcomes, physical substances or actions are often carried out in a ritualistic manner that symbolically indicates magic is being performed. The use of blood to carry out magical spells is evident in many Jewish traditions. Judaism can even be perceived as having begun with the killing of a sheep.
Blood sacrifices are still held as important. Jews and Muslims developed ritualistic animal killings to appease God and influence events.
A prominent example of blood magic is in the Exodus myth, where sheep’s blood is used to ward off the angel of death from killing their firstborns. Hence the annual Passover festival.
Interestingly, the gospels emphasize it was at the time of year when Jews celebrate Passover, that Jesus (also referred to as “the lamb” in scripture) was crucified. Thus, a correlation between sheep’s blood and a firstborn son being killed in a manner that was coordinated by God has an archetypal significance that flowed through to Christianity. Not to mention “drink this, for it is my blood”, of course.
It can be conjectured that if a religion analogous to Christianity was being developed today that blood would not be a feature. Humanity has moved on from such foolish irrationality. For example, the more modern religions of Scientology and Mormonism discarded the blood magic theme.
(4391) Paul was a racist
A positive case can be made that Paul was a racist, which is unbecoming a true prophet of god, The following are pages taken from Paul Behaving Badly by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien:
(4392) God and the anthill
The idea of God, the alleged creator of a universe that is now 93 billion light-years across, would be become so incensed because two men were making love that he would incinerate their entire city (Genesis 19) is equivalent to a human watching ants building an anthill and noting that two male ants were rolling together and not contributing to the colony, and becoming so enraged that he bulldozed their hill.
(4393) Dead body tourism
An event that occurred in Gower, Missouri (USA) is a testament to just how thin the evidence for Christianity is. The corpse of a nun dead for four years was disinterred and observed to have minimal decay. This discovery has resulted in an in-flock of 20,000 people to a town with a population of 1,533. It can be assumed that if Christianity was true, such a spectacle would not create so much as a ripple as there would be available MUCH BETTER EVIDENCE of its truth.
CATHOLICS. as we all know, have a ghoulish fascination with matters pertaining to death.
Their taste for all things creepy has now created a tourist boom in Gower, with thousands queuing for hours to goggle at the corpse of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, who died four years ago aged 95.
The invasion of the town began almost immediately after international news coverage of the “miraculous” discovery that the African-American sister’s corpse hadn’t succumbed to the normal rotting process.
Neither had her clothes. Even her socks still bore a Hanes tag, according to Sister Scholastica Radel, prioress at the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles in Gower.
OSV News reported Sister Scholastica as saying:
All of her features were there. I mean she had hair on her face, the eyebrows were there, the eyelashes were there, her nose, her mouth—her mouth was even curved up in a smile, so you could see a little bit of the tooth underneath.
The reason for Lancaster disinterment was simple. The sisters decided to move the stiff to the community’s main chapel, with plans to place them in an altar dedicated to St Joseph behind the main altar.
When they discovered that the body was “incorrupt”, Radel said:
All the sisters screamed at that point, we couldn’t hold it in.
They are now hoping that the dead nun will be declared a saint, although that not guaranteed.
She wrote that, at one time, the Church would accept a candidate for sainthood’s incorruptibility as one of the miracles required for canonisation.
This practice, she said, fell out of use because being incorrupt after death is not one of the requirements to be declared a saint in the Catholic Church, nor is it a definitive sign of having lived “a heroic life of virtue.”
Rocked by the influx of thousands of pilgrims—an estimated 20,000—Gower has been compelled to introduce special measures to deal with the crowds. Police have even set up a mobile command post.
The nun’s corpse can be explained by the conditions under which she was buried, most likely under very sanitary conditions that limited bacterial decay. But the response is what is most telling. People coming in droves to see a dead body wreaks of desperation- letting us know that their faith is so fragile that ANYTHING that might suggest it is true demands ultra-focused attention. And anyway- why would this dead body be faith-promoting? God preserves a corpse but lets 25,000 children starve to death daily? This departure from reality is stunningly mind-boggling.
(4394) Christian claims versus the Bible
Christians are being constantly bombarded with mantras about their god, reinforced every Sunday, such that they regurgitate these sayings without thinking about whether they make any sense. And, in short, they don’t. The following was taken from:
God loves us unconditionally – if that was true there wouldn’t be conditions. There wouldn’t be any sin because the love is unconditional. If god loves us unconditionally he doesn’t demand worship. or demand we have faith or hate gay people because unconditionally means there are no conditions. But, wait, there are lots of conditions…so…he loves us unconditionally but with conditions? Ok…
Christians are freedom loving – But Christianity puts a lot of rules and restrictions on people. If you have to submit and obey that isn’t freedom. Or maybe Christians just mean that they think they have total freedom to sin as often as they like as long as they repent every Sunday they will be fine.
God is slow to anger – But every description of god, particularly in the bible itself, depicts god as perpetually very angry and needing anger management
God is forgiving/god is loving/god is merciful – Ok that’s good. A forgiving/loving/merciful god doesn’t need to be so obsessed with the threats of punishments and hell. oh wait…
Salvation is a free gift – but it comes at a price…
We have free will but god is in control – again just a blatant contradiction
So, all of the feel-good Christian themes are negated by a simple objective perusal of their own scriptures. In fact, God’s love is conditional, Christians are not freedom loving, God is quick to anger, God is not forgiving or merciful except to a select few, salvation is earned at a cost, and either there is no free will or God is not in control. Christians are taught that God is “A,” when the Bible says God is “not A.”
(4395) Christianity checks all boxes of being a scam
Consumers are often apprised of the warning signs of a scam, in an effort to protect them and to make scamming less profitable for the scammers. But unbeknownst to Christians, the ‘product’ they were sold met all of the same warning signs. The following was taken from:
Today at work I was explaining to someone the red flags they had missed in a phising email test, and it suddenly hit me: Christianity meets all the criteria for a scam.
- Unsolicited offers (accept Jesus)
- Creating a sense of urgency (you could die tomorrow)
- Seems to good to be true (no more tears, see all your loved ones again, etc.)
- Identifies a previously unknown problem and conveniently has the solution (you’re a sinner without knowing it, here’s how to get right)
- Pressures you to act without thinking (you can feel Jesus tugging at your heart, don’t let your head get in the way)
God coming to earth to save us is as realistic as Bill Gates calling you to fix your laptop. If you’re getting that call, it’s a scam.
Christianity floats these promises and warnings without offering a shred of evidence that they are true. They are the greatest scammers of all time- and their hoax is comfortably shielded beyond the grave, so no one can uncover the fraud in any demonstrable fashion.
(4396) Photos of demons
It would seem that if Christian theology concerning demons is true, that they are in this world, can be seen, and cause havoc with individual lives, and given the ubiquity of photo-taking smart phones, that we would have today thousands if not millions of (verified) photos of them. But all we have are known hoaxes. The following was a response from Google Bard:
There have been many claims of demons being photographed, but there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. The photos that are said to show demons are either hoaxes or misinterpretations of natural phenomena.
One of the most famous photos that is said to show a demon is the Amityville Horror photo. This photo was taken in 1979, shortly after the Lutz family moved into a house in Amityville, New York. The Lutzes claimed that the house was haunted by demons, and they eventually fled the house in terror. The Amityville Horror photo shows a dark figure standing in the hallway of the house. However, many people believe that this photo is a hoax. The figure in the photo could be a shadow or a reflection, and there is no evidence that it is actually a demon.
There have been many other photos that have been claimed to show demons. However, none of these photos have been scientifically verified. It is possible that demons exist, but there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Until there is more evidence, it is best to consider these photos as hoaxes or misinterpretations.
Here are some of the most famous photos that are said to show demons:
- The Amityville Horror photo
- The Pazuzu photo
- The Black Monk photo
- The Enfield Poltergeist photo
- The Winchester Mystery House photo
It is important to note that these are just some of the most famous photos that are said to show demons. There are many other photos that have been claimed to show demons, but they are not as famous.
It is also important to note that not everyone believes that these photos show demons. Some people believe that they are hoaxes, while others believe that they are misinterpretations of natural phenomena. There is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims, so it is up to each individual to decide what they believe.
Either demons are invisible or they don’t exist. There can be no credence given to the claim that demons are visible to the human eye or cameras. The same can be said for ghosts, goblins, poltergeists, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, mermaids, hobbits, alien abductions, wizards, witches, angels, satyrs, fairies, zombies, and unicorns. We live in a world devoid of supernatural beings.
(4397) Confirmation bias is not ubiquitous
Some religious people will admit that they are biased to the religion they were raised with, but also assert that everybody is similarly biased in almost every avenue of human endeavor. The following provides examples that refute this claim:
1. Scientists who deliberately try to falsify their own theories, by thinking of every possible objection and testing each one.
2. Political operatives who do “oppo” research, i.e. investigate their own candidates to dig up any dirt that political opponents are likely to find and use against them.
3. Candidates who prepare for public political debates by practicing against consultants who imitate their opponents.
4. Attorneys prepping their clients to testify, by doing mock cross examinations just as opposing counsel will do.
5. Military commanders who “war game” against mock opponents.
6. Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training.
7. Sports teams that practice against scout teams.
8. Any corporation that stress-tests its products to failure.
All of the above people try to expose their own weaknesses before facing the real opponent, or the real world, or the scientific community, or the market.
Religions work the opposite way, primarily within their own protective bubbles, where the goal is not to stress-test one’s beliefs, but to shield believers from contrary facts. So if you attend a church of one denomination, it probably won’t invite guest speakers from another denomination, let alone from different religions or no religion. Religion needs monologue, not dialogue or multi-logue.
Serious people acknowledge the possibility that they can be wrong, that they can lose the game, the war, the court case, or have a bad theory or a bad product. Religious people assume they are correct from the get-go, so why would they need to subject their beliefs to any kind of test? They deny that their beliefs can fail.
But religious belief is contrary to reality, or at least contrary to probability as the OTF shows. A common method to prevent faith from failing is to prevent it from being tested.
This is probably why a personal crisis is a common way out of faith. It’s easy to ignore John W. Loftus talking about the OTF, but harder to ignore your child dying.
Anytime someone discourages you from thinking critically or exploring other possible options (or religions), it is a sign that they acknowledge the weakness of their position (faith), realizing that it might not stand the test of objective scrutiny. It is a warning sign to do the opposite- explore, gather facts, analyze, and reason.
(4398) The gods of the Old Testament
Christians pride themselves as being monotheistic, even though the god(s) they worship are composed of three separate beings (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). But the problem runs deeper than that. The Old Testament, which remains an integral part of their scriptures, indicates a belief in a multitude of gods. The Israelites were polytheists before they limited themselves to just one god. The following is a list of gods that appear in the Old Testament:
Aka: Adramelech, Adar-malik
Meaning of the name: Majestic King
Domain: The sun, a counterpart to Anammelech, the goddess of the moon
Biblical reference: 2 Kings 17:31: The people of the Assyrian city of Sepharvaim were said to burn their children as sacrifices to the god.
Description: This handsome devil has the face of a mule and the plumage of a peacock. He’s also depicted as having a lion’s body with wings and the bearded head of a man.
Strange story: According to Collin de Plancy, author of the Dictionnaire Infernal, Adrammelech is in charge of Satan’s wardrobe.
Aka: Athirat, Ashratu
Meaning of the name: Happy or Upright
Domain: There’s a lot of confusion around this deity. She could be the mother of the gods. In some incarnations, she was a goddess of sexuality or of the mountains. She also could be tied to the sea or the sun.
She might not even be a goddess; asherah seems to refer to cult objects — specifically the consecrated poles used in worship at the time.
Biblical reference: 1 Kings 18:19: The goddess’ 400 prophets eat at Jezebel’s table, along with the prophets of Baal.
2 Kings 23:4-7: Josiah had “all the articles” made for Asherah and Baal burned, and the “idolatrous priests” were done away with. The Asherah pole was also set on fire and its ashes spread over the graves of the common people. And the quarters where women did weaving for the goddess were torn down.
Description: Often depicted as a stylized tree
Strange story: She’s connected with Yahweh as a consort — meaning that before the Jews were monotheistic, their God had a wife!
Aka: Atar-gatis; connected to Ishtar and Astarte
Meaning of the name: Star
Domain: The moon; supreme goddess of Canaan and female counterpart to Baal
Biblical reference: 1 Samuel 12:10: One of many references to people declaring they will no longer worship the Baals and the Ashtoreths. The use of the plural could indicate that these names were used to speak generally about so-called pagan deities.
Description: As Atar-gatis, she was a woman with the tail of a fish.
Strange story: As an earlier incarnation, Ishtar, the goddess was worshipped through prostitution. And she eventually morphed into a male demon, Astaroth, a great duke of Hell.
Aka: Ba’al, Baal of Peor, Baal-Berith, Baal-Zebub
Meaning of the name: Lord
Domain: Fertility, as well as the sun and storms; supreme god of Canaan and Phoenicia
Biblical reference: The Old Testament is lousy with references to Baal. He gave the Golden Calf a run for its money. Some choice selections:
2 Kings 10:18-28: The Israelite King Jehu tricked all the servants and priests of Baal to come to the temple for a great sacrifice, where he had his soldiers massacre every last one of them. To add insult to injury, Jehu then made the house of Baal a public latrine.
Jeremiah 19:5: Baal’s worshippers are said to burn their sons alive as a sacrifice to appease the deity.
1 Kings 18:28: The priests of Baal worked themselves into a frenzy and cut themselves with swords and lances.
Description: Baal is basically a minotaur — a powerfully built man with the fearsome head of a bull. He’s sometimes shown as a man wearing a toilet-plunger-looking hat over his luxurious curls and holding a lightning bolt in his upraised hand.
Strange story: Baal’s worship included public ritual prostitution between one of his priests and a local woman.
The demon Beelzebub, whom Jesus links to Satan in the Book of Matthew, is a modification of one of Baal’s names.
Meaning of the name: Uncertain; perhaps Destroyer or Fish God
Domain: War, mountains; primary god of the Moabites
Biblical reference: 1 Kings 11:7: Despite being held up as a paragon of virtue, King Solomon actually built a sanctuary to Chemosh — thought of as a move to please his Moabite wife.
2 Kings 3:27: The king of Moab sacrificed his firstborn son and heir to Chemosh on the city wall — and the strategy worked. The Israelites scurried away in defeat.
Description: An old man with a full beard, wearing a bulbous cap and sometimes brandishing a sword
Strange story: There’s rare archeological evidence that calls out Chemosh by name: the Moabite Stone, or Mesha Stele, discovered in 1868 at Dibon. It bears an inscription commemorating the circa 860 BCE endeavors of King Mesha to overthrow the Israelite dominion of Moab.
Meaning of the name: Grain
Domain: Fertility, agriculture, war, death and the afterlife; chief god of the Philistines
Biblical reference: 1 Samuel 5: The Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the temple of Dagon. In the morning, the statue had fallen over, face-down, in front of the ark. The next morning, the same thing had happened, and the statue’s head and hands had broken off. The worshippers of Dagon were justifiably freaked out, so they moved the ark from town to town — but everywhere it resided, the people developed tumors. Eventually, the Philistines returned the cursed ark to Israel.
Description: A merman — half man, half fish, or a bearded man wearing a sort of giant fish cloak, with the open mouth pointing skyward
Strange story: The concept of Dagan’s appearance is fishy, though — some sources think it’s a misrepresentation of the deity.
Meaning of the name: God
Domain: Father of the gods
Description: An old man, often with wings; sometimes depicted as a bull
Strange story: In the Bible, El is the supreme god of the Canaanites, yet is identified with Yahweh. In fact, he could very well have been the original conception of the Hebrew God. It’s right there in the “el” in the name Israel, which is usually translated as “He Who Struggles With God.”
If El was the prototype of Yahweh, it explains the connection between his wife, Asherah, and the Hebrew God
Aka: Ramman; often conflated with Baal
Meaning of the name: Thunder
Domain: Storms, fertility
Biblical reference: It’s believed that some of the mentions of lower-case baals (gods) in the Old Testament refer to Hadad — though he also gets jumbled up with numerous other deities of the region.
One theory, which I imagine to be controversial, states that Psalm 29 was actually about Hadad and not Yahweh, waxing poetic about the voice of God striking with flashes of lightning, shaking the desert, twisting oaks and the like.
Description: Another bearded man wielding a lightning bolt
Strange story: Like the Egyptian deity Osiris, Hadad is murdered by a fellow god, and the world goes barren before he is resurrected.
Aka: Bel (which means Lord)
Meaning of the name: Bull Calf
Domain: Justice, compassion, healing, magic; sometimes also a storm and agriculture deity; patron god of Babylon
Biblical reference: Jeremiah 50:2: A rallying cry about the fall of Babylon, where Bel is put to shame, and Marduk is dismayed
Description: A man with a curly beard wearing a robe covered with circular devices. He’s got a pet/servant dragon.
Strange story: Marduk killed the goddess of chaos, Tiamat (often shown as a griffin-like creature), with an arrow that split her in two. From her eyes, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers began to flow, and from her corpse, Marduk formed the heavens and earth.
Aka: Molech, Molekh, Mo’lech, Moloc
Meaning of the name: King
Domain: Not sure — maybe the underworld; does sacrificing babies count?
Biblical reference: Leviticus 20:2-5: Yahweh demands that the Israelites stone to death any man who “gives his seed” to Moloch, who loved a good child sacrifice.
Description: A calf or an ox; a man with the head of a bull with arms outstretched, its body a furnace to roast infants
Strange story: There’s no real archaeological evidence of a god named Moloch. This most likely wasn’t the name he was known by among his worshipers but rather a Hebrew transliteration. Some scholars think Moloch was actually the same god as Baal.
Meaning of the name: Possibly relating to a plank of wood, specifically from Noah’s Ark, which Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, worshiped as an idol
Biblical reference: 2 Kings 19:36-37: Sennacherib was worshipping in the temple to Nisroch, when two of his sons came in and smote the heck outta him with their swords.
Description: A muscular man with the head and wings of an eagle (though this is thought by some scholars to originally have been a depiction of a jinni), sometimes shown watering a sacred tree
Strange story: There’s some debate as to whether Nisroch is actually a deity or if it’s a scribal error for the god Nimrod. In later folklore, Nisroch became a demon who’s the chief cook in Hell.
Meaning of the name: The Flawless Youth, the Good Young One
Domain: Fertility, shepherds (helping keep newborn animals from being defective)
Biblical reference: Ezekiel 8.14-15: A being of fire (even its loins were aflame) shows the prophet Ezekiel pagan atrocities. At the entrance to the Temple in Jerusalem, Ezekiel sees women weeping for the death of Tammuz, much to his horror. The fire being, though, assures him he’ll see much worse abominations, which is hardly surprising.
Description: A total hottie
Strange story: Tammuz was killed by his lover, Inanna, the goddess of sexuality, because she felt he didn’t mourn her enough when she was lost in the Underworld. Don’t worry: In a foreshadowing of Christ (and in the tradition of Adonis and Osiris), Tammuz was resurrected.
So the ancient Jews believed in multiple gods, the more recent Jews believe in just one god, and it can be argued that the Christians then came to believe in three gods. Theists have never explained why the universe could or should have just one god, or why that concept is important to their theology. But it is a far cry for a Christian to say that Yahweh is the only god and that that is what his followers have always understood. Evolving ideas about gods is an earmark of human imaginations.
(4399) Jesus is never coming back
Christians have stubbornly held on to the hope that Jesus will soon return and initiate the end times scenario. To maintain this hope, they have had to ignore their own scriptures that say this should have happened long ago. The following was taken from:
The New Testament prophecies are clear. The return of Jesus Christ was supposed to take place within the lifetime of those living in the 30s AD. Since that did not happen, and since we’re now 1900 years down the line, the only reasonable conclusion is that Jesus is not coming back.
The first passage in the gospels that makes the time for Jesus’ return clear is the one found in Matthew 16:27-28, Mark 8:38-9:1, and Luke 9:26-27. Here, Jesus, after mentioning his glorious second coming, says that there are some standing there who will not taste death till they have seen the Kingdom of God. Christians have tried to exonerate Jesus from having made a false prophecy by claiming the second verse doesn’t refer to Jesus’ return, but rather to the transfiguration that took place several days later. This argument can’t be sustained, however, because it’s very clear from the context, particularly in Matthew, that Jesus was referring to his second coming, which he had just mentioned. And how would the transfiguration fulfill the prophecy of the disciples living to see the Kingdom of God anyway?
That this was Jesus’ intended meaning is made even more clear in the passage found later in Mark 13, Matthew 24, and Luke 21. In Mark, Jesus mentions the tribulation at Jerusalem, that we know took place in 70 AD, then says his coming in the clouds would occur in the days following. Matthew makes this even more emphatic by having Jesus state it would occur immediately following.
Luke takes a more lengthy approach, having Jesus state the times of the Gentiles would need to pass first. However, Luke is in complete agreement with Matthew and Mark in quoting Jesus as saying that “all these things” he had previously mentioned, which included his glorious return in the clouds, would take place within the generation then living.
Christians have tried to exonerate Jesus from making a false prophecy here by saying he only meant that the signs preceding his second coming would happen within that generation, not the second coming itself. Even if you accept that interpretation, however, Jesus makes it abundantly clear, using the example of the leaves of the fig tree, that once the signs preceding the second coming started taking place, his return would occur shortly thereafter.
Besides these, there are other passages where Jesus states people then living would witness his second coming. At his trial, he tells his prosecutors they will see him coming in the clouds of heaven.
(Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62) In John, even though whoever added the last chapter is trying to convince readers Jesus didn’t mean what he said, he clearly states the disciple he loved, presumably John, would remain till his return. (John 21:20-23)
The New Testament apostles, in their writings, were also united that the return of Jesus would take place shortly. Peter says, “The end of all things is near.” (1 Peter 4:7) John says, “It is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) Paul says those who were alive at that time and remained until Jesus’ coming would be caught up in the air to meet him. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) In the Book of Revelation, Jesus warns first century Christians of his imminent return, and the symbolic representations, matched up with first century history, clearly have him returning during the time of the Roman emperors.
Looking at the New Testament prophecies as a whole, it is abundantly clear that Jesus was supposed to return during the lifetime of those then living, which means it should have happened in the late first century or early second century at the latest.
Since we are now 1900 years from the time these prophecies should have been fulfilled, it’s time to give up talk about the end times, the rapture, and Jesus’ return. Sorry, Christians. Jesus is never coming back.
(4400) Nine branches of science disprove Christianity
Over the past few centuries, science has been cruel to Christianity as it has consistently chipped away at its apparent truth. The following lists nine branches of science that have uncovered facts that diminish the ostensible probability that Christianity is true:
- Biology disproving Adam and Eve: The theory of evolution, supported by extensive evidence from various scientific fields including genetics, paleontology, and comparative anatomy, contradicts the notion of a single human pair as the ancestors of all humans. The genetic diversity observed in humans today, along with the fossil record, clearly indicates a complex and gradual process of evolution over millions of years.
- Engineering disproving Noah’s Ark: The story of Noah’s Ark describes a global flood that allegedly covered the entire Earth, with Noah and a pair of each animal species surviving on a large vessel. However, engineering and logistical challenges make it implausible. Accommodating millions of species, their food, and waste, while maintaining suitable conditions, presents insurmountable problems in terms of size, stability, and resources.
- Cosmology disproving a 6-day creation: Our understanding of cosmology, particularly the Big Bang theory and the age of the universe, contradicts the idea of a 6-day creation as described in religious texts. The vast expanse of time revealed through astronomical observations, such as the cosmic microwave background radiation and the formation of galaxies, clearly demonstrates a process that spans billions of years. Scientists have determined that the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old.
- Evidence disproving intelligent design: The field of genetics provides compelling evidence against the idea of intelligent design. The presence of genetic mutations, redundancies, and imperfections in the human genome is inconsistent with the notion of a perfectly crafted design. Additionally, the shared genetic code across various organisms reflects common ancestry rather than a deliberate design by an intelligent creator.
- Statistics disproving power in prayer: Numerous scientific studies (two examples being The STEP (Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory) Prayer trial, and The MANTRA II (Monitoring and Actualization of Noetic Trainings) trial)), examining the efficacy of prayer have failed to provide consistent evidence supporting the notion that prayer has a direct causal effect on outcomes. Large-scale, double-blind experiments have shown no significant difference in health outcomes between groups receiving prayer and those not receiving it, undermining the idea of prayer as a powerful intervention.
- Geology disproving a young Earth: Geology provides overwhelming evidence for the Earth’s age, which contradicts the notion of a young Earth as suggested by some religious interpretations. Radiometric dating of rocks, analysis of geological formations, and the gradual processes observed on our planet all point to an Earth that is approximately 4.5 billion years old
- Archaeology disproving Moses and the Exodus: Archaeological investigations in the region where the biblical Exodus allegedly occurred have failed to find substantial evidence supporting the narrative of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The lack of corroborating artifacts, inscriptions, or any independent historical records from that time period undermines the historicity of the Exodus story.
- Neurologically disproving souls: Neuroscience explores the intricacies of the brain and its functions, shedding light on the nature of consciousness and self-awareness. The growing body of knowledge in this field suggests that consciousness arises from neural activity, and there is no compelling evidence to support the existence of an immortal soul separate from the physical brain.
- Physics disproving an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent god: Our understanding of the laws of physics, including the limits of information, energy, and causality, challenges the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere-present god. The existence of natural laws and the absence of evidence for supernatural phenomena suggest a universe governed by natural processes rather than the intervention of a divine being.
If Christianity was true, scientific discoveries would be confirming its truth over and over again. Instead, it seems that every new discovery makes it appear to be less genuine. This raises the challenge for its followers, demanding ever more faith to remain in the fold.
Follow this link to #4401