(4401) The harms of religion

If there really was a god, it can be conjectured that it would intervene with humans only if such intervention would result in a net positive effect. But this is not the case with any of the religions that have existed. They have all produced more harm than good. The following was taken from:


As someone who values scientific inquiry and evidence-based thinking, I find religious claims often contradict or undermine our current understanding of the natural world. I believe that relying on religious explanations can hinder scientific progress and impede our ability to seek truth through empirical means.

The existence of widespread suffering and evil in the world raises significant doubts for me about the existence of a loving and all-powerful God. It’s challenging to reconcile the idea of a benevolent deity with the immense pain and injustice that we observe.

Looking at the history of religions, I see countless instances where beliefs have been used to justify discrimination, violence, and oppression. I find it troubling that religious dogmas have often been employed to divide people, incite conflicts, and suppress individual freedoms.

Organized religion and its institutions, in my view, often exert control and influence over people’s lives, sometimes in negative ways. Cases of abuse by religious authorities, indoctrination of vulnerable individuals, and the perpetuation of discriminatory practices are disheartening and further strengthen my opposition to religious institutions.

I really think that the main reason is that I firmly believe in the importance of rational thinking and critical examination. Religious belief, based on faith without evidence or logical reasoning, can discourage individuals from questioning and critically evaluating their beliefs. This can hinder personal growth, hinder societal progress, and lead to harmful consequences.

I have concerns about religious “morality,” which can be subjective, outdated, and often contradictory. I believe that ethical values should be based on empathy, reason, and the promotion of human well-being rather than adherence to religious doctrine.

I value individual autonomy and the freedom to think independently. Religious belief systems, with their dogmas and often strict adherence to doctrine, can impose restrictions on personal freedom, limit the pursuit of knowledge, and suppress dissenting viewpoints.

A god would realize these problems and ‘stay out the game,’ and just leave all sentient beings alone. Furthermore he would have no reason to resurrect dead lifeforms to either reward or punish them in some nebulous afterlife. So the question ‘would the world have been better off without Christianity?’ can be answered with one word- ‘yes.’

Some apologists will counter with the fact that whether or not God intervenes, humans will make up fake gods and suffer the same problems. This is true. However, assuming that the Christian god is the only true god, and Yahweh intervenes in the manner he has done, this is not solving the problem- in fact, it only made things worse by throwing another ‘log on the fire.’ When he could, being omnipotent, show himself universally and align everyone to being Christian. Now that would solve a lot of problems.

(4402) Omnipotence and emotions are mutually exclusive

Christians routinely refer to their god as being omnipotent, meaning that he knows everything there is to know, past, present, and future. Their scriptures also paint their god as having emotions, from surprise to anger to wrath. These two properties are mutually exclusive.

This would be like attending a dance that you know will end at midnight, but then becoming angry when the party is shut down at that time. This reaction would be nonsensical.

In like manner, it makes no sense when God becomes angry as follows:

In Genesis 6:3, God is angry with the wickedness of humanity and decides to destroy the world with a flood.

In Exodus 32:10, God is angry with the Israelites for worshiping a golden calf and commands Moses to destroy the tablets of the covenant.

In Numbers 16:45, God is angry with Korah and his followers for challenging Moses’ authority and strikes them dead with lightning.

In Psalm 78:59, God is angry with the Israelites for their disobedience and stubbornness and allows them to be defeated by their enemies.

In Revelation 16:19, God is angry with the world for its wickedness and pours out his wrath on the earth in the form of plagues, earthquakes, and other disasters.

It is difficult for anyone to admit that their god has limitations because someone else can claim that their god is omnipotent and therefore better. So god inflation creates thousands of omnipotent gods. But if you are going to make your god omnipotent you should be sure to make it emotionless, or else embarrassingly suffer the illogicalities of the Christian god.

(4403) Santa Claus- the ultimate dry run

Many children are impressed with a belief in both Santa and God when they are very young and not capable of discerning facts from fantasy. At some point, belief in Santa become unsustainable because of a collision of ‘facts on the ground’ with an ever-increasing capability to think critically. At that point, belief in Santa is destroyed, never to return.

This same process takes place at a later age for many people who are raised in religious families. At some point their evolving rational mind realizes that there is a conflict between a belief in God and their observations of how the world looks, acts, and works. In a similar near-immediate way, belief in God dissolves.

So, in effect, Santa belief is a dry-run for humans to take the next step and reject a deity that has woefully insufficient evidence. The following was taken from:


It’s hard to even consider the possibility that Santa isn’t real. Everyone seems to believe he is.  As a kid, I heard his name in songs and stories and saw him in movies with very high production values. My mom and dad seemed to believe, batted down my doubts, told me he wanted me to be good and that he always knew if I wasn’t. And what wonderful gifts I received! Except when they were crappy, which was my fault somehow. All in all, despite the multiple incredible improbabilities involved in believing he was real, I believed—until the day I decided I cared enough about the truth to ask serious questions, at which point the whole façade fell to pieces. Fortunately, the good things I had credited him with kept coming, but now I knew they came from the people around me, whom I could now properly thank.

Now go back and read that paragraph again, changing the ninth word from Santa to God.

Santa Claus, my secular friends, is the greatest gift a rational worldview ever had. Our culture has constructed a silly and temporary myth parallel to its silly and permanent one. They share a striking number of characteristics, yet the one is cast aside halfway through childhood.

The “Yes, Virginia” crowd will heap implausible nonsense on the poor child, dismissing her doubts with invocations of magic or mystery or the willful suspension of physical law. Only slightly less problematic is the second choice, the debunker who simply informs the child that, yes, Santa is a big fat fraud.

I chose door number three. And that has made all the difference.

The Santa-God analogy is precise. Most people shed only one of these beliefs, but others eventually take both of them down. Their experience with Santa provides a good ‘template’ for how to ‘divorce’ from God.

(4404) List of interpolations

Scholars have researched the discrepancies between modern Bible translations and the oldest surviving manuscripts, finding many instances where later scribes added to the original script. These interpolations represent ambiguities that should not exist in an alleged divinely-inspired book. This problem is a consequence of a failure to preserve the original writings- something that a real god would definitely have ensured. The following was taken from:


Bible scholars often have suspicions of interpolations but do not go as far as taking them out of the Bible unless they have old, reliable manuscripts that omit the passage. Here are some passages that were in the King James Version but have been removed, or in the case of popular passages, they are noted as missing in the most reliable old Bibles.

KJV Passages in Modern Translations

Generally Omitted

  • Matthew 17:21

  • Matthew 18:11

  • Matthew 23:14

  • Mark 7:16

  • Mark 11:26

  • Mark 15:28

  • Luke 17:36

  • John 5:3–4

  • Acts 8:37

  • Acts 15:34

  • Acts 24:6–8

  • Acts 28:29

  • Romans 16:24

  • 1 John 5:7–8*

Omitted from Some Other Bible Versions

  • Matthew 20:16b

  • Mark 6:11b

  • Luke 4:8b

  • Luke 9:55–56

  • Luke 23:17

  • Acts 9:5–6

  • Acts 13:42

  • Acts 23:9b

    Usually Bracketed

  • Mark 16:9–20

  • John 7:53–8:11

* By the way, the 1 John 5:7–8 omission was prompted by Isaac Newton who noted it was missing in older manuscripts.

Some scholars argue that 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 is an interpolation because it interrupts the natural flow of the reading and because it forbids women to speak in church which contradicts 1 Corinthians 11:5 which permits women to pray and prophesy in church as long as their heads are covered.

1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 ESV

33 As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

1 Corinthians 11:5 ESV

5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.

So do women pray in church or not? It depends on what part of 1 Corinthians you read. If you read it in consecutive chapters, you can let the women speak until you reach Chapter 14 when you must tell them to ‘shut up.’ The Bible is a mess created by multiple authors, adventurous scribes, and the loss of the originals. It seems that an omnipotent god could have done a little better.

(4405) Morality is product of human development

Christians are trained to believe that morality is an unchanging ideal defined by their holy texts. But this view is misguided. Morality is fluid and changes with time and human progress. The following was taken from:


As society continues to evolve, our understanding of morality undergoes a transformation. It is evident that social morals have changed over time, reflecting the values and norms of different eras. In certain biblical verses, we can observe the social morals prevalent during that period in Israel. For example, passages like Ephesians 6:5–8, Colossians 3:22–24, 1 Timothy 6:1–2, and Titus 2:9–10 address the relationship between masters and servants, emphasizing obedience.

These passages reflect a moral framework that was accepted during that time, where obedience and submission were valued virtues within the context of the society portrayed in the Bible. However, it is important to note that societal norms and values have since evolved, leading to a broader understanding of morality that embraces principles of compassion, equality, and social justice.

When we consider the evolution of morality, it is helpful to examine the interplay between societal constructs and the development of moral values.

Morality, in part, arises from the social nature of humans. As social animals, we rely on cooperation, empathy, and reciprocity to thrive as communities. Over the course of human history, societal constructs, such as cultural practices, philosophical systems, and religious beliefs, have played a significant role in shaping our moral values.

Moreover, the theory of evolution provides insights into the development of moral behavior not only in humans but also in other social animals. Many species exhibit rudimentary forms of morality, which can be seen as a baseline for understanding our own moral compass. For instance, certain primates display behaviors such as empathy, cooperation, and fairness, which contribute to maintaining social cohesion within their groups.

These basic moral tendencies have likely evolved over time, just as our own moral values have. As societies progress, our moral compass expands to embrace more inclusive and accepting values compared to the moral framework presented in ancient texts. Our understanding of morality has become more nuanced, incorporating principles of compassion, equality, and social justice that go beyond the teachings of the past.

This suggests that morality is a product of human development and societal norms rather than a fixed and unchanging divine decree.

The fact that human morality has surpassed what is presented in the Bible should worry Christians. Why would God not have supplied a set of ethics that would have better stood the test of time? The moral standards in the Bible simply match the prevailing conditions of that time. This indicates they were written by humans without divine input.

(4406) Veneration of tombs is not evidence

Some apologists suggest that Jesus’ empty tomb was an early relic site for Christians of the First Century. Although there is scant evidence for this claim, the following essay shows that even if true, it would not provide significance evidence for the resurrection:


The key question to ask is “would we expect ancient Christians to come to venerate an empty tomb site even if there was in fact no empty tomb?” Arguably, the answer is not “no”. This diminishes the evidential value of them venerating a site. And the reason why the answer is not “no” is because, as it has been pointed out in other comments here, these kinds of cultic sites were common in the ancient Mediterranean world by 1st century and their presence itself does not indicate the historicity of the events they were tied to. For example, there were numerous burial sites of figures from the Hebrew Bible.

I once went through the first book of Pausanias’ Description of Greece, a 2nd century travelogue of sites worthy of visit and events tied to them, including mythological events (which were of course believed to be history at the time) and noted all persons mentioned to have a tomb. I then tabulated how many of them are ruled out from being even candidates for historicity because the person buried actually didn’t exist. And it turns out it’s about evenly split.

Tombs of historical persons:

Themistocles [1.1], Menander [1.2], Euripides [1.2], Pyrrhos of Epirus [1.13], Thrasybulus [1.29], Pericles [1.29], Chabrias [1.29], Phormio [1.29], Melesander [1.29], Apollodorus [1.29], Eubulus [1.29], Conon [1.29], Timotheus [1.29], Zeno [1.29], Nicias [1.29], Harmodius [1.29], Aristogeiton [1.29], Ephialtes [1.29], Lycurgus [1.29], Plato [1.30], Kimon [1.32], Protophanes [1.35], Anthemocritus [1.36], Molottus [1.36], Cephisodorus [1.36], Heliodorus [1.37], Themistocles, son of Poliarchus [1.37], Nicocles [1.37], Phytalus [1.37], Theodorus [1.37], Theodectes [1.37], Mnesitheus [1.37], Orsippus [1.44]

Tombs of fictional persons:

Antiope the Amazon [1.2], Pyrrhus, son of Achilles [1.3], Attis [1.4], Pandion [1.5], Theseus [1.17], Nisus [1.19], Hippolytus [1.22], Oedipus [1.28], Erysichthon [1.31], Amphictyon [1.31], Ion [1.31], Asterius [1.35], Geryon [1.35], Hyllus [1.35], Eumolpus [1.37], Alope [1.39], Pandion [1.39], Nisus [1.39], Alcmene [1.41], Amphitryon [1.41], Hippolyte [1.41], Tereus [1.41], Megareus [1.42], Timalcus [1.42], Callipolis [1.42], Euippus [1.43], Ischepolis [1.43], Pyrgo [1.43], Iphiaoe [1.43], Astycratea [1.43], Manto [1.43], Coroebus [1.43], Autonoe [1.44], Car [1.44]

Apart from burial locations, Pausanias discusses other known sites of mythological events, e.g. an altar where Theseus was purified [1.37], entrance to the Underwold through which Hades kidnapped Persephone [1.38], entrance to the Underwold through which Heracles brought Cerberus [2.35], a stone where Apollo laid his lyre [1.42], the statue of Athena from Troy [2.23], a statue of Zeus from a Trojan altar at which Priamos was killed [2.24], various buildings built by the Cyclops [e.g. 2.25], an artificial island built by Phocus [2.29], a stone where Orestes was purified [2.31], an olive tree grown from a club of Heracles [2.31], a spring where Hera regains here virginity every year [2.38], House of Menelaos [3.14], a sanctuary built by Heracles [3.15], a rock on which Orestes sat after being cured of madness [3.22], a cave where Dionysis was raised [3.24], etc.

Similarly, there have been claims about a known location not only of Jesus’ burial but also e.g. of his birth in Bethlehem (today’s Church of the Nativity) or his ascension (the Church of the Ascension). Ancient Christians even believed there were extant remnants of the Noah’s Ark!

Thus even today the remains of the Noah’s ark are still shown in Cardyaei [a region south of Lake Van, in today’s Turkey]. And if one were to make a search and discover them – it stands to reason – he would surely also find the ruins of the altar at the foot of the mountain. (Panarion 18.3.3-4)

Currently there are at least two sites in Jerusalem touted as the place where Jesus lay dead for 36 hours. Of course, there is no pedigree or historical validity to either one. On the other hand, if Jesus really did rise up from the dead, it can be conjectured that the site of his resurrection would have been widely known and the knowledge of it passed down to each successive generation. That is, there should be a single empty tomb site that has documentation leading back 2000 years.

(4407) Believing in Christianity is becoming harder

It is much harder to be a Christian today that it was in the distant past. This is because there has been an ever increasing wave of knowledge that has made its truth seem less likely. Consider the following:

(1) During early Christianity, it seemed perfectly natural to believe that the earth was at the center of the universe and that the stars were just little points of light. This seemed consistent with a god who created this scene as the stage upon which humans could strive, suffer, succeed, and fail. But when astronomy opened up the universe to an unimaginable size, it became more difficult to believe that humans were the main concern of God.

(2) Before Darwin, and theory of biological evolution, it seemed impossible to think that humans and other animals could have come about by natural means. The easy default assumption was that God performed this creation as it states in Genesis. But today, a Christian must be concerned, if being self-truthful, that a gradual evolution scheme doesn’t match the idea of a god intent on acquiring human worship.

(3) Time. During the First Century, Christians were excited about the imminent return of Jesus. But as the centuries passed without this seminal event, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain the suspense and expectation of seeing Jesus in the clouds. The more time that goes by, the more faith it takes to believe that this event will ever happen, much less anytime soon.

(4) Division. Christianity started with a measure of cohesion, such that early Christians were somewhat aligned with each other on their beliefs. It is easier to have faith when everyone around you is believing the same thing. But now, with over 40,000 Christian denominations, that cohesion is lost, requiring Christians to exercise more faith to believe that their own view is the correct one.

(5) Scientific studies have routinely shown that prayers provide no earthly benefit (they may provide some emotional benefit). Christians of the past could be assured by anecdotal evidence of their prayers, but only recently has science weighed in on this issue. A Christian today is left to wonder why the effectiveness of prayers is not more detectable by science.

(6) Early Christians were for the more part illiterate, so any issues/contradictions concerning biblical scriptures were of no concern to them. If they could read, they likely had access only to a single gospel. We know that there were groups of Christians that rallied solely around the Gospel of Luke, for example. But today, with not only multiple gospels, but letters and other texts under a single cover, the problems of text variants and contradictions have become a real concern. In fact, only in the past 50 years have many of these issues come to light. And as they do, it will require more and more effort to remain faithful.

(7) In a time of increasing apostasy, that is, the recent burgeoning atheist/agnostic movement, it becomes more difficult to retain faith. That is, it is much easier to believe something when everyone around you is believing the same thing. But when very intelligent people leave their churches, it challenges the faith of those who remain behind- wondering if perhaps the apostates are right.

(8) Clerical misdeeds. Although clerics have always been ‘sinners,’ in the past these peccadilloes and more serious violations of their faith were mostly kept secret. Today, that has changed dramatically, and the followers of any denomination of Christianity must face the fact that many of their leaders have led un-Christian lives. This has hit hard especially on the Catholic Church with the ongoing pedophilia scandal. It leaves a Christian to wonder why God is not better controlling his spokespeople.

(9) Explanations for disasters– in the past major storms or plagues, or similar cataclysms were seen as the reaction of a wrathful god, but science has now explained all of them in natural terms. This has removed a lot of what had previously been perceived as ‘acts of God.’

(10) In the past, Christians were awed by the majesty of God’s power as documented in the Bible. But those great displays of power, such as the Great Flood, the Exodus, the Long Day, the Guiding Star, the three hours of darkness and so forth have been all been crushed by astronomy, archaeology, and other branches of science and history. Only the minor miracles remain (very weakly) plausibly historic.

(11) Before the advent of modern psychology, people inflicted with psychotic disorders were often perceived as being inhabited by demons, adding fuel to the belief in the supernatural. For the most part, these mental victims are no longer seen that way, and that purely organic reasons are at play.

(12) Stories of miracles, such as sightings of angels, ghosts, reconstituted body limbs, or walking on water, for example, were the talk of the day, adding to a general belief in the supernatural. But today with cameras essentially everywhere, these ‘miracles’ are no longer accepted without authenticated pictorial or video proof. As a result, they have nearly vanished completely.

For these reasons and more, believing in Christianity has become more difficult than it was in the past. If Christianity was true, the opposite would be happening- it would become increasingly more difficult to be a non-believer, as the evidence would be ever mounting in favor of its truth.

(4408) Did the Father exist before the Son?

This is asking the question whether Christians believe that God the Father (Yahweh) existed at some time and then later, his son (Jesus) came into existence. Another way to ask this question is whether the Trinity existed at the very beginning or did it come into being with Jesus and the Holy Spirit being created at some later time.

Against the latter assumption is the text of John 1:1-2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (‘Word’ in this text is a metaphor for Jesus)

This verse seems to suggest the illogical situation where a father and his son come into being at the same time, or else they forever existed in unison.

However, on the other hand, if the Father existed before the Son and the Holy Spirit, then the Trinity did not exist at the beginning. That is, the very nature of God changed from being a singular being into a three-part being. The adage ‘God doesn’t change’ weighs against this scenario.

It seems that no matter what sequence that Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit came into existence, it doesn’t make sense. All at once or sequentially? – it would be difficult for a Christian to defend either assumption. It is much better for them not to think about it. In fact, not thinking critically is the best way for a Christian to remain a Christian.

(4409) Approaching and leaving Jericho

There exists a contradiction between the Gospels of Mark and Luke about the directional movements of Jesus when he healed a blind man sitting by the roadside outside of Jericho. Mark said it happened as Jesus was leaving the city, while Luke describes the scene as Jesus approached it.

Mark 10:46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.”Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Luke 18:35-43

As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him, and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.”Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God, and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

Biblical innerantists approach this contradiction predictably by inventing an assumption- that this is talking about two different beggars. One named Bartimaeus (in Mark) and one who is unnamed (in Luke). This would imply that the author of Luke (who we are 100 percent sure that he copied large segments of the Gospel of Mark) read the story of Bartimaeus but then decided to write not about him but about another blind beggar who was also located in the outskirts of Jericho.

So if this is true, Jesus approaches Jericho and heals a blind beggar, and then as he is leaving, there is another blind beggar that he heals in almost precisely the same manner using the same talking points. Although this is marginally possible, the much more likely explanation is that Luke made a mistake when he copied this story from Mark.

(4410) Belief and salvation

Christianity exchanges what it needs the most (evidence-free belief, because it has no hard evidence) for what its customers need the most (a feeling of freedom from death and suffering). This contract is what sustains a faith that seems obviously false to anyone who examines it critically. The following discusses this deceptive contract:


“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

Ok we get it. All these verses claim that belief renders salvation. But why? The Bible, and other holy books like it, are silent for any explanation of this key assertion of why belief renders salvation. They just claim that without it, you can’t please God and Gods wrath will be visited upon you. In essence, these verses claim that life is a credulity contest and if you can force yourself to believe this particular credulity you win! Herein I will attempt to explain the why to this claim.

Close examination of the claim there are two essential parts: belief and salvation.

Belief: For a false invented religion, belief in it is the most important element that the religion needs to sustain and propagate itself. Having no external reality, without human belief the religion withers away with the last believer. Therefore, belief becomes a fundamental aspect for the survival and growth of a religion, even if it is based on falsehood.

Salvation: Humans instinctively fear death and seek to avoid pain. Avoiding death is part of our psychological makeup. Proposing eternal life and preservation of your intact ego with memories and sense-of-self is perhaps the most seductive of all temptations. Also, as a doubleheader, salvation promises avoidance of future pain and suffering (aka Hell or Gods wrath). Together, preservation of life and avoidance of suffering, are the most powerful motivations within human psychology.

Therefore, false human invented religious, intuitively tie the act of belief (the most important thing to it) to salvation (the most important thing to the potential believer). Genius and succinct, with respect to marketing.

This demand for belief in exchange for salvation is the upmost clue to what is being proposed is a false human invented religion. Realizing this is a huge time saver. No need to spend time/effort considering complicated metaphysical claims, explanations of ontology or creation, digging through theology, looking for contradictions, incoherencies, etc.. Start at the top and when you encounter this pattern, you can skip the rest and carry on looking for other potential truths about reality.

Any organization that tells you that what you believe is more important that what you do- head for the doors and never come back.

(4411) The Bible makes perfect sense

The Bible makes perfect sense…once you realize that it was written at a time when women were the property of men, slavery was commonplace, and death was the penalty for minor offenses. A time when belief in gods and magic was widespread, when witchcraft and homosexuality were the work of demons, when Earth was at the center of the universe, and gods were used to explain every unknown (which was almost everything). A time when the most intelligent people knew less about the world than the average 8-year old does today. Then it made perfect sense.

But the only sense it makes today is that it is an obsolete product from humankind’s primitive past.

(4412) God is the villain, Satan is not

It doesn’t take much thought to read the Bible and come to a conclusion that Christians have been deceived to think of God as being all good and Satan as being all bad. In fact, an objective reading of the scriptures makes it seem much more appropriate to worship Satan and despise God. The following was taken from:


Seriously when is the Christian deity not the villain in the story? How can Christians constantly go on about their God being good and loving? Just feels like one giant case of Stockholm syndrome.

His Story is literally: Create everybody. Punish everyone for two people eating a fruit of knowledge he put there in the first place. Kill everybody for not worshiping him. Commit genocide against entire peoples. Routinely endorse and command slavery and the killing of children and innocent people. Kill those who don’t sacrifice to him. Often kill people for the smallest or pettiest offense. Routinely has to have his favorites or prophets BEG him not to kill everyone on a whim. Routinely betrays those most loyal to him. Decided to come to kill himself, to save everyone from himself. Resurrects himself. Claims credit for saving everyone from himself. Destroys world again in the end times.

Meanwhile Satan: Worst offense was wanting his bosses job, took the form of a weird snake, encouraged people to obtain knowledge, questioned the authority of his boss, generally seems to want the best for people to have a good and pleasurable life. Only killed a few people and only because the Christian deity told him to (Job). Apparently he’s the villain though? Makes no sense.

The people who wrote the Bible did a poor job of managing their narrative in that they portrayed Satan in a better light than God. This was an unforced error, but contemporary people benefit from it because it lets us know that none of this can possibly be real. God is absolutely the worst-depicted ‘protagonist’ in all of fiction.

(4413) Judeo-Christianity is self-defeating

The argument presented below suggests that God would not have had to warn his people about being lured into other religions because his religion, being so much more amazing and effective, would mean that there exists no actual competition:


The book of Exodus gives God’s demand that the Jews avoid foreign religions when they returned to Canaan (“You shall have no other gods before me,” etc.).  God had to make sure that they weren’t corrupted.

Wait a minute! How could they have been corrupted?

The Jews enter a land full of foreign gods—invented gods—but God had made plain the correct religion.  How would those made-up gods look next to the real deal?  Judaism would be a stunning and brilliant jewel compared to the other religions’ tawdry plastic beads.

Imagine the Hollywood set of a Western town, built with plywood facades, compared to a real building—Neuschwanstein castle, say.  Who’d be tempted to stray to the cutout imposter if you could have the real thing?

Another example: imagine that God provided Disney World for the Jews but warned against moving into the filthy trailer park across the street.  Why bother with the warning?  How could anyone possibly be tempted?

Similarly, with the Jews given the correct religion, how could God have ever been worried that another religion would be the least bit compelling?

… or maybe Judaism didn’t look special.  Perhaps the prohibitions—remember that these were imposed by priests—made a lot of sense because in fact early Judaism looked similar to all the other Canaanite religions.

The very existence of these prohibitions argues that Judaism was made up, just like the rest.

“Here is a ready-to-eat steak and lobster meal that I have prepared for you. But I have to warn you not to eat instead the leftover meatloaf that is in the refrigerator.” That is how ridiculous it is for the Bible god to be concerned that his people might be lured into following any of the neighboring impotent man-made religions. Judeo-Christianity is self-defeating.

(4414) Christianity can rot your brain

Trying to defend and make sense of Christianity requires untethering your brain from common sense and can cause it to rot. One of the leading apologists displays this truth when he tried to justify God’s slaughter of the Canaanites. The following was taken from:


There’s a lot of killing in the Bible—the honest and wholesome kind.  The God-commanded kind.

What are we to make of this violence?  Apologist William Lane Craig takes a stab at justifying “The Slaughter of the Canaanites.”

Craig’s entire project is bizarre—trying to support the sagging claims of God’s goodness despite his passion for genocide—but he gamely has a go.  Craig responds to the question, “But wasn’t it wrong to kill all the innocent children?”

… if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation.  We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.  Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

What’s this supposed to mean??  Does it mean that Andrea Yates was actually right that she was saving her five children from the possibility of going to hell by drowning them one by one in the bathtub?  Does it mean that abortion is actually a good thing because those souls “are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy”?  I hope none of Craig’s readers have followed up with this avenue to salvation.

It’s hard to believe that he’s actually justifying the killing of children, but there’s more.  Let’s parse Craig’s next paragraph:

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites?  Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment.

I thought that genocide was wrong.  Perhaps I was mistaken.

Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.

Yeah, right.  Killing children is actually a good thing.  (Are we living Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, where “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”?)

So who is wronged?

Wait for it …

Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves.  Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children?  The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

Uh, yeah.  That was the big concern in my mind, too.

Can you believe this guy?  My guess is that he is a decent and responsible person, is a good husband and father, works hard, and pays his taxes.  But he’s writing this?  It’s like discovering that your next-door neighbor is a Klansman.

This brings up the Christopher Hitchens’ Challenge (video).  Hitchens challenges anyone to state a moral action taken or a moral sentiment uttered by a believer that couldn’t be taken or uttered by an unbeliever—something that a believer could do but an atheist couldn’t.  In the many public appearances in which Hitchens has made this challenge, he has never heard a valid reply.

But think of the reverse: something terrible that only a believer would do or say.  Now, there are lots of possibilities.  Obviously, anything containing variations on “because God says” or “because the Bible says” could be an example.

    • “The Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’”
    • “Despite the potential benefits to public health, we should avoid embryonic stem cell research because it’s against the Bible.”
    • “God hates fags.”

Or, as in this case, “God supports genocide.”

This reminds me what physicist Steven Weinberg said: “Religion is an insult to human dignity.  With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.

In other words: Christianity can rot your brain.

A person’s integrity is linked to the ideals that they defend. Craig is beyond help in this instance. The god of the Bible cannot be defended on any basis of standard morality and should be left to rot on the dust pile of ancient fiction.

(4415) Ten reasons why the crucifixion story is nonsensical

In the following essay, ten points are made that explains why the Christian crucifixion story makes no sense.:


I’m afraid that the crucifixion story doesn’t strike me as that big a deal.

The Christian will say that death by crucifixion was a horrible, humiliating way to die.  That the death of Jesus was a tremendous sacrifice, more noble and selfless than a person sacrificing himself for the benefit of a butterfly.  And isn’t it worth praising something that gets us into heaven?
Here are ten reasons why I’m unimpressed.

1. Sure, death sucks, but why single out this one?  Lots of people die.  In fact, lots died from crucifixion.  The death of one man doesn’t make all the others insignificant.  Was Jesus not a man but actually a god?  If so, that fact has yet to be shown.

It’s not like this death is dramatically worse than death today.  Crucifixion may no longer be a worry, but cancer is.  Six hours of agony on the cross is pretty bad, but so is six months of agony from cancer.

2. What about that whole hell thing?  An eternity of torment for even a single person makes Jesus’s agony insignificant by comparison, and it counts for nothing when you consider the billions that are apparently going to hell.

3. Jesus didn’t even die.  The absurdity of the story, of course, is the resurrection.  If Jesus died, there’s no miraculous resurrection, and if there’s a resurrection, there’s no sacrifice through death.  Miracle or sacrifice—you can’t have it both ways.  The gospels don’t say that he died for our sins but that he had a rough couple of days for our sins.

4. Taking on the sin vs. removal of sin aren’t symmetric.  We didn’t do anything to get original sin.  We just inherited it from Adam.  So why do we have to do anything to get the redemption?  If God demands a sacrifice, he got it.  That’s enough.  Why the requirement to believe to access the solution?

5. The reason behind the sacrifice—mankind’s original sin—makes no sense.  Why blame Adam for a moral lapse that he couldn’t even understand?  Remember that he hadn’t yet eaten the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so who could blame him when he made a moral mistake?
And how can we inherit original sin from Adam?  Why blame us for something we didn’t do?  That’s not justice, and the Bible agrees:

Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin (Deut. 24:16)

6. Jesus made a sacrifice—big deal.  Jesus is perfect, so his doing something noble is like water flowing downhill.  It’s unremarkable since he’s only acting out his nature.  What else would you expect from a perfect being?

But imagine if I sacrificed myself for someone.  In the right circumstance, I’d risk my life for a stranger—or at least I hope I would.  That kind of sacrifice is very different.  A selfish, imperfect man acting against his nature to make the ultimate unselfish sacrifice is far more remarkable than a perfect being acting according to his nature, and yet people make sacrifices for others all the time.  So why single out the actions of Jesus?  Aren’t everyday noble actions by ordinary people more remarkable and laudable?

7. What is left for God to forgive?  The Jesus story says that we’ve sinned against God (a debt).  Let’s look at two resolutions to this debt.

(1) God could forgive the debt of sin.  You and I are asked to forgive wrongs done against us, so why can’t God?  Some Christians say that to forgive would violate God’s sense of justice, but when one person forgives another’s debt, there’s no violation of justice.  For unspecified reasons, God doesn’t like this route.

And that leaves (2) where Jesus pays for our sin.  But we need to pick 1 or 2, not both.  If Jesus paid the debt, there’s no need for God’s forgiveness.  There’s no longer anything for God to forgive, since there’s no outstanding debt.

Here’s an everyday example: when I pay off my mortgage, the bank doesn’t in addition forgive my debt.  There’s no longer a debt to forgive!  Why imagine that God must forgive us after he’s already gotten his payment?

8. The Jesus story isn’t even remarkable within mythology.  Jesus’s sacrifice was small compared to the Greek god Prometheus, who stole fire from Olympus and gave it to humanity.  Zeus discovered the crime and punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock so that a vulture could eat his liver.  Each night, his liver grew back and the next day the vulture would return, day after agonizing day.  The gospel story, where Jesus is crucified once and then pops back into existence several days later, is unimpressive by comparison.

9. The Bible itself rejects God’s savage “justice.”  This is the 21st century.  Must Iron Age customs persist so that we need a human sacrifice?  If God loves us deeply and he wants to forgive us, couldn’t he just … forgive us?  That’s how we do it, and that’s the lesson we get from the parable of the Prodigal Son where the father forgives the son even after being wronged by him.  If that’s the standard of mercy, why can’t God follow it?  Since God is so much greater a being than a human, wouldn’t he be that much more understanding and willing to forgive?

If we were to twist the Prodigal Son parable to match the crucifixion story, the father might demand that the innocent son be flogged to pay for the crime of the prodigal son.  Where’s the logic in that?

10. The entire story is incoherent.  Let’s try to stumble through the drunken logic behind the Jesus story.

God made mankind imperfect and inherently vulnerable to sin.  Living a sinless life is impossible, so hell becomes unavoidable.  That is, God creates people knowing for certain that they’re going to deserve eternity in hell when they die.  Why create people that he knew would be destined for eternal torment?

But don’t worry—God sacrificed Jesus, one of the persons of God, so mankind could go to heaven instead.

So God sacrificed himself to himself so we could bypass a rule that God made himself and that God deliberately designed us to never be able to meet?  I can’t even understand that; I certainly feel no need to praise God for something so nonsensical.  It’s like an abused wife thanking her abuser.  We can just as logically curse God for consigning us to hell from birth.

Perhaps I can be forgiven for being unimpressed by the crucifixion story.

Christianity would have made a lot more sense if Jesus came to the world and taught us how to live and then promised that those who lived honorable and charitable lives would be rewarded with a pleasant afterlife. Then simply left without enduring a bloody execution. Left without speaking of a hell. Left without specifying a need to hold a specific belief. This would have been a universal religion that would have resulted in a much more peaceful world.

(4416) Carbon monoxide haunted house theory

Although Christianity does not explicitly take credit for haunted houses as being evidence for its truth, it does on a peripheral basis accept that these sightings do provide a basis for believing in demons, angels, and the immortality of the human soul. So when science intrudes on this spiritual intrigue, it diminishes the credence that anyone should give to it or its wider implications. The following gives a valid explanation for (non-fraud related) haunted house phenomena:


Many haunted houses have been investigated and found to contain high levels of carbon monoxide or other poisons, which can cause hallucinations. The carbon monoxide theory explains why haunted houses are mostly older houses, which are more likely to contain aging and defective appliances, and why more hauntings are reported in the colder months.

Carbon monoxide poisoning explains many of the occurrences in haunted houses, such as feelings of being watched, hearing footsteps or voices, seeing “ghosts”, headaches, dizziness, and sudden death or illness of people or pets, and also strange behavior in pets such as excessive barking or meowing. The carbon monoxide theory also explains why some ghosts don’t show up on photographs or videos (photographs that do show “ghosts” are usually caused by dust, insects, fingers or camera strap in front of the lens, and multiple exposures).

If it seems like every other-worldly incident eventually succumbs to scientific scrutiny, it’s because they all do. If the supernatural exists in any form, it is beyond astounding that none to date have penetrated the ability of science to apply a convincing or at least plausible natural explanation. Christianity relies on the existence of the supernatural- it needs to better explain why we are not seeing it.

(4417) The other side of the Flood story

Christians are often lulled into a romanticized version of the Genesis flood story, extolling the faith and grit of Noah and his family. But when the story is written from the perspective of someone who died, the tone is dramatically changed. The following is taken from:


Imagine you’re a mother with a newborn child in distant ancient times. And there’s this guy, the town weirdo, building a giant boat because he says the entire world is gonna be covered with water by his god. There is absolutely no good reason to believe that he knows what he’s talking about. Whether you want to believe him or not is a moot point: as a mother of a newborn in that time period you are entirely dependent on your husband and your extended family to survive. Talking to the town weirdo and considering his ideas means inviting alienation from your entire support structure. So you go on living life as normal.

Then the flood does come, and you, in abject terror are trying to move to higher ground, swim, and keep your crying terrified baby above the flood waters, while all your friends and family members all around you are screaming, just as terrified and struggling as you. And in your final moments you realize that there’s nothing you can do. You and your baby are going to drown. And then you do. Dying in terror and agony. And you are just one person of all (minus one family) of all people on earth, with a similar story.

Tell me again how this god is ‘good.’

The fact that the flood story is fictional is not the main point. Rather, it is that such a gruesome myth ever made it into God’s ‘holy word.’ Only highly programmed, inculcated people can navigate their way through this scripture without throwing the book in the trashcan.

(4418) God and Bigfoot

Most Christians would admit that Bigfoot doesn’t exist because the evidence is not sufficient to conclude otherwise. But they don’t realize that the same logic applies to their god- and even more forcefully, because Bigfoot is a theoretical animal, and we know that animals exist. But God is supernatural, and we don’t have proof or even the slightest evidence that supernatural beings do or even can exist. The following was taken from:


Note also the difference in the claim that Bigfoot doesn’t exist versus the claim that God doesn’t exist. Science has been blindsided by new animals in the past. The gorilla, coelacanth, okapi, and giant squid were all surprises, and Bigfoot could be another. After all, Bigfoot is just another animal and we know of lots of animals. But the very category of the Christian claim is a problem. Science recognizes zero supernatural beings.

As definitively as science says that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, how much more definitively can science say that God doesn’t exist when the category itself is hypothetical? Perhaps more conclusively, what about the claim that a god exists who desperately wants to be known to his creation, as is the case for the Christian god?

Let’s be careful to remember the limitations on the claim, “God doesn’t exist.” Science is always provisional. Any claim could be wrong—from matter being made of atoms to disease being caused by germs. As Austin Cline said in “Scientifically, God Does Not Exist,” a scientific statement “X doesn’t exist” is shorthand for the more precise statement:

This alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful.

The Christian may well respond to science’s caution, “Well, if you’re not certain, I am!” But, of course, confidence isn’t the same as accuracy. This bravado falls flat without dramatic evidence to back it up.

Now, back to the original question, Does God exist? Does this look like a world with a god in it? If God existed, shouldn’t that be obvious? What we see instead is a world in which believers are forced to give excuses for why God isn’t present.

Any scientist worth that moniker would assert that the probability of Bigfoot’s existence is greater than that of God. Bigfoot may inhabit a small footprint of geography and live a purposefully reclusive life, while God is purported to be universally present and involved in the minute details of the life of every human individual. So evidence lacking for Bigfoot is trivial compared to evidence lacking for God. Worshiping Bigfoot makes more sense.

(4419) Christians should not have children

If one believes that hell is a real place, then it’s immoral to have kids. It’s just too risky. There’s really no way to confidently know that if there is a hell, what things one should do, believe, and practice in order to avoid it. And it is impossible to assume that one’s child will not become an atheist or else otherwise repudiate their Christian upbringing.

Even if Christians make the ‘mistake’ of having children, a good case can be made that they should murder their children as infants, because that will ensure them a place in heaven.

Would a Christian prefer to have no children, or else have five with four going to heaven and one to hell? The responses to this hypothetical would be interesting to see. The compassionate answer would be to select the former. It should be devastating to think that you created a life that will suffer eternally.

Christians will often disagree with this dilemma and claim that hell is a punishment reserved for a rare few. But they should direct their attention to the Bible- “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7: 13-14)

By inventing hell, Christianity created a wonderfully effective recruitment tool, but it also unwittingly provided a disincentive for Christians to have children. This then brings up a non sequitur- because it is well established that Christians on average have more children than atheists or followers of other faiths (not Islam) that have no belief in hell. Why is this? It seems one possible reason is that Christians themselves know intuitively that hell is not real. Or else they over-confidently entertain a fantasy that they can be assured that their children will not stray.

Christianity’s invention of hell was a colossal mistake. Absent this ridiculously gruesome ‘place,’ it would be a much better religion.

(4420) The ‘resurrection’ of Bella Montoya

On June 9, 2023, in Ecuador, a 76 year-old woman, Bella Montoya, observed by medical professionals to be dead, and placed in a casket, ‘come back to life’ and banged on her coffin during a wake. She was returned to the hospital. This incident can be compared to the legend of Jesus’ resurrection, on the basis of evidence and documentation. The following was taken from:


Thesis: the case of Bella Montoya shows that it is irrational to believe in the resurrection of Jesus based on the evidence about his resurrection.

Last week, 76-year-old Bella Montoya was declared dead at a hospital in Ecuador, but astonished her relatives by knocking on her coffin during her wake. The event was widely reported in the news. The woman was admitted to the hospital and examined by a professional physician. She was diagnosed with cardiorespiratory arrest and all resuscitation attempts failed. She was declared dead and brought to a funeral home, where she was wrapped in sheets and placed inside a coffin. After five hours of the wake, she woke up and began hitting the coffin from within.

This case is similar at its base to the resurrection of Jesus; both involve a patient who was thought to be dead but later appeared alive. However, every aspect of Montoya’s case makes belief in her resurrection more rational than belief in the resurrection of Jesus:

    • Montoya was declared dead by a professional physician with 21st-century medical training. Jesus was allegedly declared dead by a Roman centurion, who is not known to have had medical training. It is possible that Jesus was misdiagnosed and wasn’t truly dead. Even if you judge this to be improbable in Jesus’s case, you must admit that it is more improbable in Montoya’s case.
    • For Montoya’s case, we have medical records and first-hand testimony from specific eyewitnesses we can name and who have been interviewed by credible news stations. For Jesus’s case, we have testimony of an unknown quality, which could be second- or third-hand or not originate with eyewitnesses at all. Even if you judge this to be improbable in Jesus’s case, you must admit that it is more improbable in Montoya’s case.
    • Montoya’s body was under continuous supervision from the moment of death until the moment of resurrection; her family took her straight from the hospital to the funeral home and placed her in a closed coffin. When she awoke, it was certain she was the same person that was declared dead. Jesus’s body was missing from his tomb, leaving open alternate possibilities; for example, it is possible that the “resurrected” individual was someone else, that the body was stolen, that Jesus was secretly given medical treatment after his body was taken into Roman custody, or some other unknown sequence of events occurred. Even if you judge this to be improbable in Jesus’s case, you must admit that it is more improbable in Montoya’s case.
    • Montoya’s presence after her resurrection can be confirmed beyond doubt – she was admitted back into a hospital where doctors certified that she was alive and present, and she is still around right now. There is no possibility of her appearance being a grief hallucination, misremembered event, or other illusion. Jesus’s presence has at least some chance of having been a grief hallucination, misremembered event, or other illusion. Even if you judge this to be improbable in Jesus’s case, you must admit that it is more improbable in Montoya’s case.
    • We have testimony about Montoya’s case from within minutes of her resurrection (since she was rushed to the hospital) and more testimony and evidence from the following hours and days, making legendary development impossible. Even by the most conservative estimates, our testimony about Jesus comes from decades after his resurrection, leaving open the possibility of legendary development. Even if you judge this to be improbable in Jesus’s case, you must admit that it is more improbable in Montoya’s case.

In summary, however strong you think the evidence is for the resurrection of Jesus, the evidence is at least as strong for the resurrection of Montoya; in fact, the evidence is much stronger in every respect in Montoya’s resurrection. Therefore, if the evidence surrounding the death of Jesus convinces you that he resurrected, rationally you must also believe that Montoya resurrected. We can use this to construct the following syllogism:

    1. If it is rational to believe Jesus resurrected based on the evidence about his resurrection, then it is also rational to believe Montoya resurrected.
    2. We know Montoya did not resurrect, so it is irrational to believe she resurrected.
    3. Therefore, it is irrational to believe Jesus resurrected based on the evidence about his resurrection.

Now I will outline the possible responses I see to this argument (besides agreeing).

    • Accept the conclusion but persist in believing Jesus resurrected. Some people are comfortable with openly having an irrational belief in the resurrection of Jesus, for example by appealing to faith. If this is your position, I have no quarrel with you; objecting to it is beyond the scope of this post.
    • Deny premise 2 and assert that Montoya resurrected. This would declaw the argument, but would also raise serious problems for a Christian. Presumably Montoya is not the son of God, so if we accept her resurrection, then the resurrection of Jesus no longer attests to him being the son of God. Montoya is not an isolated case, either – there are many similar cases all over the world, which demolishes the significance of a resurrection.
    • Refuse to accept Montoya’s resurrection on the basis of the evidence from this article and do more research about her case. If you do any additional Googling about Montoya at all, then this is you. This position requires you to abandon belief in Jesus to remain consistent; if you refuse to believe in Montoya’s resurrection without additional evidence, you ought to refuse to believe in Jesus’s resurrection without additional evidence (even if such evidence has been lost to time).
    • Appeal to some unrelated evidence about Jesus to strengthen the case for his resurrection, like fulfilled prophecy or the holy spirit assuring you of it. In this case, you are not basing your belief in the resurrection on evidence about the resurrection. This position requires you to first establish Jesus’s divinity by other means before examining the evidence for his resurrection, meaning the resurrection doesn’t act to support his divinity.

Finally, an intuitive appeal. It is obvious to everyone that Montoya did not resurrect. No one reading that news article seriously considered that she might have resurrected; it’s clear there was just a botched diagnosis. The medical board immediately began investigating the doctor for the misdiagnosis and didn’t pause to consider the possibility of a resurrection, and we would condemn them if they did otherwise.

Someone who seriously thought she resurrected would be widely perceived as gullible and irrational. Given the caliber of evidence around Jesus’s resurrection, it ought to be just as obvious that he did not resurrect and that some other circumstance took place – he was misdiagnosed, we’re missing some relevant evidence, he didn’t truly appear again after his death, some of the details about the story were exaggerated or misremembered, some legendary development occurred, or any one of thousands of other possibilities. The difference between the two cases is solely our cultural ethos: we generally don’t take claims of resurrection seriously, but the claim of Jesus’s resurrection has a lot of cultural momentum and a lot of associated rhetoric and emotion. If there was no Christianity and someone found a copy of the gospels in an archaeological dig one day, the thought of Jesus truly resurrecting wouldn’t even cross anyone’s mind – it would be obvious that he didn’t. It should be just as obvious to us.

It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to believe that Jesus resurrected but that Bella did not. Yet that is the position that most Christians must take to protect from injuring their faith.

(4421) Polytheism makes more sense than monotheism

Although Judaism went through a period of polytheism in its early years, it eventually became monotheistic. Christianity has always been monotheistic as long as you accept the convoluted dogma that the trinity is talking about one god, not three. But, as discussed below, if we assume that god(s) exist, polytheism does a better job than monotheism explaining the world in which we live:


Polytheism is a superior worldview to monotheism. As the title suggests, this is primarily due to explanatory power. I posit that the worldview with higher explanatory power should be held because it is more likely to be true.

I am going to start with the assumption that at least one god exists. I’m taking it from this point because I believe that there is already adequate argumentation surrounding the existence of a god (these arguments do not exclude multiple deities) and I do not want to tread ground. For the sake of this discussion I will be defining polytheism as the belief in more than one god.

Polytheist traditions do not hold that the gods are omnipotent. This solves logical problems with omnipotence as well as the problem of evil. These problems with monotheism as solved in polytheism which supports that given the existence of some number of deities, there are likely multiple. Evil can also be explained by antagonistic deities, which unlike in a monotheistic worldview, can exist.

Polytheism also solves the problem of multiple traditions existing. If a single god were to exist, why reveal itself in a single area? How does one square the religious experiences of other groups?

Polytheists would simply say that their god did it, but a monotheist would need to engage in some form of rationalization. Often, this is in the form of relabeling (either claiming other gods are demons, or simply the “one true god”). This however, is not an easily defendable position as the same reasoning could be used to discredit the monotheists tradition. Monotheists cannot explain religious diversity without special pleading while polytheists can, this makes polytheism the superior worldview.

I would like to address likely counter arguments. The first is that the mightiest deity is the only god. This is a semantic distinction. The fact is that other cultures have viewed gods that are not as mighty as others, as gods. It seeks to relabel what others believe and define the problem out of existence.

The second argument is that a holy book says there is only one god. This ignores the fact that all religions have Holy books and stories. There is no reason to believe one set over another. However, a polytheistic perspective allows for all to be correct in everything except being the lone god. Again, this would rely on special pleading.

Based on the available evidence we can construct a probability tree, such that the most probable situation is that there is no god, second most likely is polytheism, and monotheism is the least likely. That puts Christianity in the back of the bus.

(4422) Christianity should be sued for inflicting mental cruelty

How is it that Jesus paid for all of the sins of humankind by being flogged and nailed to a cross for a few hours, but each individual who dies without being saved must pay for just their individual sins by being tortured for eternity? To say the least, this makes zero sense.

But, it’s much worse than that. The Christian religion has inflicted on its followers an inescapable fear that they will be sent to hell if they don’t do what is expected of them. This is a fear that they carry every day throughout their lives, even if it is just a tiny thought in the back of their brains.

This religion has unnecessarily damaged the mental health of billions of people who are concerned about the eternal fate of themselves and their families and friends. It has used an invented place of afterlife punishment as a means to further its recruitment goals.

Imagine if a person is told by someone that there is a chance that some night they will break into their house and shoot them dead while they sleep. Even if this never happens, the fear of it will invade every waking moment of that person’s life. They will never be fully at ease. Likewise, Christians cannot ever be at ease about their situation. Even more tragically, they must worry when their loved ones break away from the faith. This brings up the hypothetical situation where they could be in heaven worshiping a god who is simultaneously torturing their son or daughter.

Let’s be real. Hell is an invented place, but Christianity has succeeded in making billions of people believe that it is real. Consider the legal ramifications if it could be proven not to exist.

Christian churches should be sued for falsely inflicting mental cruelty as a means for increasing their financial gain.

(4423) Mark’s low Christology

There is a wide gulf between the way Jesus is portrayed in Mark, the first gospel written, and John, the last gospel. In the following, it is shown that Jesus, in Mark, rather than being cast as God himself in John, is rather compared to the successor to the prophet Elijah- who was Elisha.


In Mark’s gospel John does proclaim the coming of one more powerful than him. He is also, in Mark’s gospel, portrayed as Elijah. With that in mind, the allusion is abundantly clear. The one more powerful who comes after Elijah is Elisha, not YHWH incarnate. Joel Marcus goes over this extraordinarily well in his book John the Baptist in History and Theology. In Mark’s schema, Jesus is not God incarnate, he would simply be “Elisha”, and together with him and “Elijah” (John the Baptist) they would be ushering in God’s imminent kingdom on earth, (see also: Ehrman’s Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, or Maurice Casey’s Jesus of Nazareth for how Mark’s gospel portrays Jesus as an anointed apocalyptic prophet, not God incarnate). John would be first and would prepare the way, while Jesus would then likely usher in the Kingdom as God’s messiah.

This is also much more consistent with the rest of how Mark portrays Jesus. You see, in Raymond E. Brown’s An Introduction to New Testament Christology, his analysis concludes that Mark presents clear differentiations between Jesus and God all throughout the gospel. And those are still there, even if one somehow reads the allusions to the more powerful successor of Elijah being God incarnate rather than Elisha. So one would need to reconcile Jesus saying things such as “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭18‬) and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭15‬:‭34‬) if Mark is trying to portray Jesus as God. It’s rather easy if one understands Mark to be implying Jesus is an Elisha-like prophet the way John the Baptist was “Elijah” according to Mark. But ultimately, to see Mark as portraying Jesus as God is reading an absurd amount into the opening of Mark’s Gospel, almost rather anachronistically, as you don’t see Jesus portrayed as God until nearly half a century after Mark’s gospel was written.

One thing to consider, for instance, is that when John’s gospel wants to portray Jesus as divine, it comes out and explicitly says he was the Logos incarnate, and then has Thomas call Jesus o theos to his face at the end of the gospel. I’m not sure why, when exclusively examining Mark’s gospel on its own, we would lower our standards to a single possible allusion that contradicts other features of the gospel being sufficient to suggest that Mark was portraying Jesus as himself God, while also writing Jesus to not want people referring to him as good because “only God is good” and then Jesus later crying out that God had abandoned him at his death.

It makes much more sense to me that Mark portrayed John as “making straight the way for the Lord” not as a way to reference Jesus himself as the Lord, but in reference to Jesus, John’s successor, then ushering in the Kingdom of God as God’s anointed one. And this would be the argument of Brown, Ehrman, Casey, etc.

The inclusion of the gospels of Mark and John under one cover should disturb Christians because they are telling about two different Jesus’s. Remove the Gospel of John and Christianity would be a very different religion. Instead of Jesus being a third of God, he would just be an analog to the prophet Elisha.

(4424) Exodus patterned after Jericho

The fictional story of the Exodus was likely inspired by prior events that occurred in Jericho along with a motive to fashion the Jewish god Yahweh as being more powerful than the gods of Egypt, a country which at that time was considered the preeminent world power. The following was taken from:


Jericho was destroyed in about 1550 BCE. However, it is incorporated into the story of the Exodus several hundred years later. Accordingly, there must have been significant oral history about Jericho and that oral history must have been important to the people who became Jews.

It is known that images representing the elites had their faces destroyed during the destruction of Jericho. It is also known that there was an exodus of a large mass of people from Jericho. The descendants of those people were likely dispersed through the Levant.

It is quite likely that the working people of Jericho overthrew their elite masters and then abandoned Jericho, which is eerily similar to the story of the Exodus.

At some point, when the story of Moses, which may refer to the oral history of an exiled sect of Akhenaten Priests, was combined with the story of Jericho. Many things that happened at Jericho were then represented as happening in Egypt, since Egypt represents the peak of elite power.
Yahweh overcoming the gods of Egypt demonstrated that Yahweh was the most powerful god. So, it made sense to reshuffle the events in the combined oral history., which was eventually written down and then augmented in Babylon.

This explains better than any other theory why the fictional story of the Exodus became Jewish scripture. It was an effort to burnish Yahweh’s credentials and fashion him as the world’s most powerful god. Only later would the Jews come to see Yahweh as the only god in existence.

(4425) Gospels are the casualty of oral history

Although Christian apologists confidently claim the that the gospels present a mostly (or perfectly) accurate account of Jesus’ time on earth, these stories had to endure four decades of oral history transmission, and there exists a well-known problem with this process. The following was taken from:


Imagine that the year is 50 CE and you are a merchant in Judea or Galilee. A traveler stops at your house and asks for lodging, and you comply. After dinner, you chat with your new acquaintance and mention that you have recently become a follower of the Jewish messiah, Jesus. He is unaware of Jesus and asks to hear more, and you tell the complete gospel story, from the birth of Jesus through his ministry, miracles, death, and resurrection. Your guest is excited by the story and eager to pass it on. He asks that you tell it again.

Instead, you ask him to tell the story so that you can correct any errors. He goes through the story twice, with you making corrections and adding bits to the story that you’d forgotten in the first telling.

You’ve now spent the entire night telling the powerful story, but you and your new friend agree that it was time well spent. He is on his way, and a week later the events are repeated, but this time your friend plays host to a traveler and the Good News is passed on to a new convert.

Imagine how long you would need to summarize the gospel story and how many times you’d need to correct yourself with, “Oh wait a minute—there was one more thing that came before” or “No, not Capernaum … I think it was Caesarea.” That confusing tale would be a lot for an initiate to remember, and yet this imaginary encounter was about as good as it got for passing on so complex a story. Consider other less perfect scenarios—getting fragments of the story from different people over months or years, or having two believers arguing over details as they try to tell the story.

“And then Jesus healed the centurion’s slave—”
“Hold on—that’s when he healed the daughter of Jairus! Or Gyrus, or something. And it wasn’t the centurion’s slave, it was his son. Or maybe his servant, I forget.”
(And so on.)

Apologists acknowledge the problem of oral history when they argue that the earliest gospel(s) were written just 20 to 30 years after the resurrection instead historians’ typical estimate of 40 years, but this does little to resolve the problem.

Let’s then assume just twenty years of oral history in a pre-scientific culture produced a story about the Creator of the Universe coming to earth. What certainty can we have that such a whopper is correct?

Christians and atheists can agree that the period of oral history is a concern, but what is rarely acknowledged is the translation that happened at the same time.

To see this, first consider a different example. In response to the 1858 sightings of Mary at Lourdes, France by a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette, the local bishop investigated and concluded a year and a half later that the sightings were genuine. Bernadette and the bishop were from the same culture and spoke the same language.

The gospel story had a much more harrowing journey. Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic and came from a Jewish culture, but this isn’t where the gospel came from. Every book in the New Testament was written in Greek and came from a Greek culture. The story would have been heard in and (to some extent) adapted to a Greek context.

For example, imagine a gospel without the water-into-wine story. “Wait a minute,” the Greek listener might say. “The Oenotropae could change water into wine. If Jesus was god, couldn’t he do that as well?”

Or imagine a gospel without the healing miracles. “Asclepius was generous with his healing gifts and even raised the dead. Didn’t Jesus do anything like that?”

Or a gospel without the resurrection. “Dionysus was killed and then was reborn. You mean Jesus just died, and that was it?”

Humans have a long history of adapting gods to their own culture—for example, the Greek god Heracles became Hercules when he was adopted by the Romans. Athena became Minerva, Poseidon became Neptune, Aphrodite became Venus, and Zeus became Jupiter. Or, a culture might adopt a story or idea from a neighboring community, as Jewish history adopted the Mesopotamian flood story Gilgamesh and the Sumerian water model of the cosmos.

We know how stories evolve in our own time.  As Richard Carrier notes (video @ 26:00), the evolution of the Jesus story is like the evolution of the Roswell UFO Incident.  A guy finds some sticks and Mylar in the desert, and this was interpreted as debris from a crashed spaceship.  But within 30 years, the story had morphed into: a spaceship crashed in the desert, and the military autopsied the dead aliens and is reverse-engineering the advanced technology.

Let’s return to your telling the story to the new convert. How close was your version of the story to that in the New Testament? And how similar would the new guy’s telling of the story be to the one that you told him?

How much variation is added with each retelling?

The gospel story was an oral tradition for four decades or more before finally being written down. That’s a lot of time for the story to evolve.

Christians may respond that by relying on writing, our memory skills have atrophied. In an oral culture like that in first-century Palestine, people became very good at memorization.

Yes, it’s possible that people memorized the Jesus story so that they could retell it the same as it was taught to them, but there is no reason to imagine that this was how it was passed along. Indeed, it’s wrong to assume that storytellers in an oral culture always wanted to repeat a story with perfect accuracy. We care about perfect accuracy because we come from a literate culture. Only because we have the standard of the written word do we assume that other cultures would want to approximate this unvarying message.

The theory of oral-formulaic composition argues instead that tales are often changed with the retelling to adapt to the audience or to imperfect memory. Any transcription of such a tale (like a single version of the Iliad) would simply be a snapshot of a single telling, and you would deceive yourself if you imagined that this gives an accurate record of the story. This is seen in modern-day oral epic poetry in the Balkans and is guessed to be the structure of Homeric epic storytelling as well.

But this is a tangent. The gospel story wasn’t an epic poem, but rather a story passed from person to person. It changed with time, just like any story does.

The gossip fence is a better analog than Homer.

It’s hard to imagine a less accurate way to transmit history to humankind that what transpired from 30 to 70 CE. The gospels are nothing more than legends that grew with time, from telling to telling, from Aramaic to Greek, from Judea to the surrounding nations, and from people who tried to stick with the facts to those who had incentive to add magical elements to them. They do not deserve to be categorized as anything more than pure fiction.

(4426) The evolving Jesus story

True stories don’t change with time. Christianity’s does change with time, and quite dramatically, substantially, and materially. This represents considerable evidence that whatever survived the evolution amounts to a story that’s very unlikely to be true. The following was taken from:


If the gospel story were true, it wouldn’t change with time. God’s personality wouldn’t change, God’s plan of salvation wouldn’t change, and the details of the Jesus story wouldn’t change. But the New Testament books themselves document the evolution of the Jesus story. Sort them chronologically to see.

Paul’s epistles precede Mark, the earliest gospel, by almost 20 years. The only miracle that Paul mentions is the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:4). Were the miracle stories so well known within his different churches that he didn’t need to mention them? It doesn’t look like it.

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:22–3).

The Jews demand signs? That’s not a problem. Paul had loads of Jesus miracles to pick from. But wait a minute—if the Jesus story is a stumbling block to miracle-seeking Jews, then Paul must not know of any miracles.

Miracles come later, with the gospels. Looking at them chronologically, notice how the divinity of Jesus evolves. He becomes divine with the baptism in Mark; then in Matthew and Luke, he’s divine at birth; and in John, he’s been divine since the beginning of time.

The four gospels were snapshots of the Jesus story as told in four different communities at four different times. Because the synoptic (“looking in the same direction”) gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke share so much source material, their similarity is not surprising. Nevertheless, 35% of Luke comes uniquely from its community (such as the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son), and 20% of Matthew is unique (such as Jesus and his family fleeing to Egypt after his birth and the zombies that walked after Jesus’s death). And, of course, John is quite different from these three, having Gnostic and (arguably) Marcionite elements.

This synoptic similarity undercuts the argument that the gospels are eyewitness accounts. If the authors of Matthew and Luke were eyewitnesses, why would they copy so heavily from Mark? The authorship question (that Mark really wrote Mark, etc.) that grounds the claims that the gospels record eyewitness history is another tenuous element of the evolving story, as I’ve written before.

The gospels don’t even claim to be eyewitnesses (with the exception of a vague reference in John 21:24, in a chapter that appears to have been added by a later author). And even if they had, would that make a difference? Would tacking on “I Bartholomew was a witness to all that follows” to a gospel story make it more believable?

Would it make the story of Merlin the wizard more believable?
Consider some of the noncanonical gospels that include attributions. “I Simon Peter and Andrew my brother took our nets and went to the sea” is from the Gospel of Peter, and “I Thomas, an Israelite, write you this account” is from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. These gospels are rejected both by the church and by scholars despite these claims of eyewitness testimony. Why then imagine that the vague “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down; we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24) adds anything to John?

There are dozens of noncanonical gospels. Christian churches reject these in part because they were written late. But if we agree that the probable second-century authorship for (say) the gospels of Thomas, Judas, and James is a problem because stories change with time, then why do the four canonical gospels get a pass? If the gospel of John, written 60 years after the resurrection, is reliable despite being a preposterous story, why reject Thomas, written just a few decades later?
The answer, it seems, is simply that Thomas doesn’t fit the mold of the version of Christianity that happened to win. History, even the imagined history of religion, is written by the victors.

The very first letters written by Paul and the first gospel written, Mark, should have fully fleshed out the history and tenets of Christianity. There is no excuse for many of the tales and theology to have evolved over time. A careful read of the New Testament in the order that the books were written provides definitive evidence that Christian dogma accreted over time, a sure sign that it was a human-governed enterprise subject to the vagaries of each successive generation.

(4427) John 21 should be removed from the Bible

Anyone reading the Gospel of John will think that it is over when they finish Chapter 20. That seems to be an appropriate and satisfying conclusion to the story. But then there is Chapter 21, which seems like a mis-matched piece attached to the original. The following explains why most scholars accept the idea that Chapter 21 was an addendum added by someone other than the original author:


I’m currently reading Evan Powell’s The Unfinished Gospel (1994) and he provides an overview of reasons why a lot of scholars doubt John 21 is original. Here’s a few:

    • In John 20, Jesus appears to the disciples twice, after which they come to realize Jesus was raised from the dead. But in John 21, they return to fishing around Galilee. This seems discontinuous, because it’s hard to image the disciples returning to “business as usual” if they’d witnessed the resurrected Jesus.
    • John 21 portrays the disciples as fishermen, but the rest of John does not. This suggests John 21 may have been added on by someone familiar with the Synoptics, in which the disciples are depicted as fishermen.
    • In John 20, the disciples return to their homes. Later that day they see Jesus in Jerusalem. This implies the disciples lived in or around Jerusalem. But John 21 shows the disciples working near Galilee, which implies they lived far away from Jerusalem, near Galilee. Again, we potentially have Synoptic influence, since Mark and Matthew say the disciples lived in Galilee.
    • John 21 contains 28 Greek words absent from John 1-20. Some of these words, like epistrephein (“to turn”) are found in the Synoptics.
    • John 1-20 generally shows Peter in a very poor light — at least, harsher than his depiction in the Synoptics. However, John 21 seems to rehabilitate John’s treatment of Peter, as if a later editor did not like the implications of such anti-Petrine rhetoric.

Powell summarizes the issue thusly:

In summary, what we find in John 21 is a stylistic middle. There are clearly a number of textual indicators which point to authentic origin within the Johannine community. However, the text is discontinuous in storyline from the Gospel of John, and it also contains numerous clues that indicate synoptic origin or influence.

John Chapter 21 should be removed from the Bible. Perhaps someday it will. But for now, it remains as many Christians like some of the themes it expresses. In particular, the Catholic Church likes it because it quasi-legitimizes their highly-questionable dogma of Peter being the first pope.

(4428) Questioning Mark’s gospel authorship

Conservative Christian scholars assume that the Gospel of Mark was written by a journalist who accompanied the Apostle Peter, who was an eyewitness, and that therefore this gospel has equivalent credentials to an eyewitness account. There are many holes in this argument, as discussed below:


How do we know that Mark wrote the gospel of Mark? How do we know that Mark recorded the observations of an eyewitness?

The short answer is because Papias (< 70 – c. 155) said so. Papias was a bishop and an avid documenter of oral history from the early church. His book Interpretations was written after 120 CE.

Jesus died in 30, Mark was written in 70, and Papias documents Mark as the author in 120 (dates are estimates). That’s at least 50 years bridged only by “because Papias said so.”

But how do we know what Papias said? We don’t have the original of Papias, nor do we have a copy. Instead, we have Church History by Eusebius, which quotes Papias and was written in 320.

And how do we know what Eusebius said? The oldest copies of his book are from the tenth century, though there is a Syriac translation from 462.

Count the successive people in the claim “Mark wrote Mark, which documents an eyewitness account”: (1) Peter was an eyewitness and (2) Mark was his journalist, and (3) someone told this to (4) Papias, who wrote his book, which was preserved by (5) copyist(s), and (6) Eusebius transcribed parts of that, and (7) more copyist(s) translated Eusebius to give us our oldest manuscript copy. And the oldest piece of evidence that we can put our hands on was written four centuries after Mark was written.

That’s an exceedingly tenuous chain.

The sequence of people could have been longer still. Papias was the bishop of Hierapolis, in western Asia Minor. Mark might have been written in Syria, and no one knows how long the chain of hearsay was from that author to Papias. No one knows how many copyists separated Papias from Eusebius or Eusebius from our oldest copies.

It gets worse. Eusebius didn’t think much of Papias as a historian and said that he “seems to have been a man of very small intelligence, to judge from his books” (Church History, book III, chapter 39, paragraph 13). Evaluate Papias for yourself: he said that Judas lived on after a failed attempt at hanging and had a head swollen so large that he couldn’t pass down a street wide enough for a hay wagon. Who knows if this version of the demise of Judas is more reliable than that in Matthew, but it’s special pleading to dismiss Papias when he’s embarrassing but hold on to his explanation of gospel authorship.

Even Eusebius’s Church History is considered unreliable.

The story is similar for the claimed authorship of Matthew. A twist to this story is that Papias said that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew (or perhaps Aramaic), which makes no sense since Matthew used Mark, Q, and the Septuagint Bible, all Greek sources.

What about the other gospels? That evidence comes from other documents with simpler pedigree but later dates.

    • Irenaeus documented the traditional gospel authorship in his Against Heresies (c. 180). Our oldest copy is a Latin translation from the tenth century.
    • Tertullian also lists the four traditional authors in his Against Marcion (c. 208), but he doesn’t think much of Luke: “[Heretic] Marcion seems to have singled out Luke for his mutilating process.” Our oldest copy of this book is from the eleventh century.
    • The oldest manuscript labeled “gospel according to Luke” dates from c. 200.
    • The Muratorian fragment, a Latin manuscript from the seventh century, may be a translation of a Greek original from the late second century (or maybe from the fourth). It lists many books of the New Testament, including the gospels of Luke and John.

We grope for evidence to back up the claim that the gospels document eyewitness accounts. Perhaps only faith will get you there.

The credibility of Christianity lies heavily on the credibility of the Gospel of Mark, since it was the prototype for the canonical gospels that followed. However, there is little evidence to ground this work into the bowels of authentic history. Rather, its ambiguous origins makes it difficult to elevate it above the level of fantasy literature.

(4429) Forty reasons to not be evangelical

The following essay was written by a Christian who had previously been an evangelical. It lists 40 reasons why he no longer considers himself as such. This is a quintessential demonstration of the initial step someone takes on the path to atheism. It is a first step realizing the incongruities of taking Christianity literally from the pages of scripture and then contrasting it with the realities that define our lives. The following was taken from:


There is no way that I’m an evangelical Christian anymore. This realization was terrifying because evangelicalism was the entire belief system I was brought up with, the bedrock of my faith, and the moral and spiritual foundation of my universe.

Now it had all changed.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m still following Jesus — well… as best I can. But, let’s just say if the Evangelicals are right, I’m not gonna be in Heaven with them. I’m too much of a heretic now. But I have reasons — forty of them, in fact. I sat down and started writing them down, and well… one reason led to another, and before I knew it, I had a long, long list.

It was then that I knew it was okay. I wasn’t a fool for walking away — though I’m sure some would call me that. Maybe it would help someone out there — someone like me — to know the reasons why I jumped ship and cast myself into the great unknowing. Why am I not an evangelical anymore? Here’s why:

1. No one has ever been able to satisfactorily explain why God — the same God who created the universe and set the laws of the universe in motion — somehow decided that the wages of sin (even the smallest of sins) had to be death.

2. No one has been able to satisfactorily explain why our sin was so bad that the only way God could deal with it was to kill his one and only son in the most horrific way possible. Sure, I was told that sin offends God so grievously because he is so holy, but I don’t buy it.

3. I do not believe that a God who possesses both unlimited love and unlimited power would consider it justifiable to condemn the vast majority of humanity to everlasting, conscious torment in hell in order to fulfill his holiness.

4. In fact, I think God will send very few people to eternal hell. And by “few,” I mean “none.”

5. I believe that the only gospel people need to hear is that despite all their feelings to the contrary, they are beloved sons and daughters of God, and nothing will ever change that.

6. I do not believe anyone is born into this world intrinsically bad, absent of inherent worth, or repulsive to God. Quite the opposite: I believe that all people are made in the image of God, born into this world intrinsically good and, by their very nature, worthy of love.

7. I don’t believe in an angry God anymore. And I don’t believe that God hates you, me, or anyone else. I think people who hold to those images of God are, in fact, creating a God that supports their own biases.

8. I believe that using guilt, fear, or shame to coerce people into following any religious beliefs is nothing more than spiritual abuse.

9. I find the idea that the eternal destination of my family and friends rests on my willingness to share a certain gospel message with them is far too much pressure for a person to carry.

10. I believe that it is discourteous at best, and insulting at worse, to try to evangelize others. I don’t enjoy being someone else’s evangelism project, so I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be mine.

11. I no longer want to hold onto dehumanizing and objectifying views of people that evangelicals deem as “lost.”

12. I no longer want to participate in demonizing people who live differently from me or express their love for one another differently from me, nor be part of any organization that does the same.

13. I have been to many evangelical congregations, and I don’t find Jesus there any more than I find Jesus in the laughter of my children, the company of good friends, or a gentle breeze on my face.

14. I believe the church has confused unity for uniformity. Personally, I think the more diverse a congregation is, the more healthy.

15. I do not want my daughters brought up in a system where they are taught that women have a God-ordained ontological need to be led by, decided for, taught by, and subject to men.

16. I have known hundreds and hundreds of evangelical Christians through the years. Yet, I have observed that a lot of them do not embody the character nor have any interest in the practices and priorities of Jesus Christ.

17. On the other hand, I have seen Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, and even Catholics (Shock! Horror!) who are better at following Jesus Christ than many evangelicals, including me. I find them inspirational and I want to be more like them.

18. I enjoy conversing about religious beliefs with others from diverse religious backgrounds. They aren’t pitiable, lost people — which was what I was taught in the evangelical church. In fact, I think I could learn plenty from them.

19. I have been to seminary and studied theology and religion. I get it. I know what it is. I know how it works, and the fact is, there we have plenty in common with people of other faiths.

20. I have read the Christian Bible cover to cover multiple times, and I think parts of it are amazing. But I also believe the Bible makes much more sense when you don’t have to take it literally or view it as inerrant.

21. I believe the Bible was one culture’s best effort to understand God within its own cultural context at a particular time in history. Therefore some of it should not be applied verbatim to a different culture at a different time.

22. I believe that there is plenty of truth and plenty of answers to be found both inside and outside of the Bible.

23. I have seen evangelical Christians use the Bible to justify all kinds of abuses.

24. I have seen two groups of evangelical Christians use the same part of the Bible as a proof text for two completely different versions of the truth. How?

25. As I get older, I am becoming more comfortable with not knowing all the answers. I think true faith involves paradox, mystery, and doubt. In fact, I think certainty is the enemy of faith. I would rather have questions I can’t answer than answers I can’t question.

26. I do not believe that science is the enemy of faith. In fact, I think they make quite good bedfellows. I think advances in science and medicine are part of the unfolding revelation of God in the world.

27. I do not believe that Jesus supports a particular political party, but if he did, it would probably be the one whose policies were inclined towards mercy and compassion.

28. I do not believe that Jesus favors one nation over another or one people over another.

29. I believe in Jesus.

30. I just want to follow Jesus, free from the burden of performance-based religion.

31. I believe that if you were to summarise the teachings of Jesus and boil them all down, it would amount to this: Love God and love others. It’s pretty simple, really.

32. I believe being kind, generous, and loving is much more important than having the right beliefs or doctrines. I would rather be loving than right.

33. I think that Monday is the proof of Sunday. How we live our lives between our religious services matters much more than the building we might happen to visit on Sunday morning.

34. I like hanging out with sinners.

35. And I like having a drink occasionally. The sky did not fall the first time I got a little bit drunk. It didn’t lead to debauchery or pre-marital hand-holding.

36. I think that Jesus can use anything or anyone — even a non-believer — to teach me anything for any reason at any particular time. I don’t have a monopoly on the truth.

37. In fact, I am confident that I am wrong about some things.

38. Therefore, I am happy to hear others’ perspectives on matters of faith.

39. And, if someone convinces me that I’m wrong, I will happily change my mind about these aspects of my faith. I don’t need to defend God.

40. Finally, if you disagree with any of the things on my list, I’d still be very happy to be your friend.

Although nothing is certain, it could well be imagined that in a few years, this same person will write another confessional, this time discarding the entire concept of Jesus as a superhuman/god, and realizing that it was all made up in an age replete with other similar fantasies and superstitions. As it turns out, this is the inevitable end-game for anyone who investigates and doesn’t fear finding the truth.

(4430) Salvation criteria contradiction

Christians should be excused for being confused about how a person’s salvation is determined. In the following two scriptures, a completely different criterion is expressed:

John 3:16-18

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Revelation 20:12-13

I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.

Which one is correct? The most feeble response is: Both– that anyone who believes will also do the things necessary to gain salvation. This seems to suggest that non-Christian theists and atheists do not do the same kind of good things as do believing Christians. Such a claim can be dismissed out of hand. Easily an atheist can point to Revelation and say that she is doing good things and therefore will be saved (even if she is wrong about Jesus).

If God dictated the Bible, then he is the author of confusion.

(4431) Conversion/De-conversion asymmetry

It can be conjectured that if Christianity stood on a mountain of plausible intellectual arguments that the rate and reasons why atheists converted to Christianity would be similar to the same as when Christians convert to atheism. This is not the case. There is a wide difference between these two belief-change processes. The following was taken from:


I can believe that you used to be an atheist. An atheist is simply someone without a god belief. It’s the “just like you” part that I’m having trouble with.

Lots of Christian apologists introduce themselves as former atheists. Lee Strobel, for example, often begins presentations with a summary of his decadent, angry atheist past. The implied message is that people like me convert to Christianity all the time. With the ongoing prayer experiment, I want to revisit this question and make a few changes.

Here is my original argument. First, consider three groups of people.

Group 1. Christians are here.

Group 2. The atheists need two groups. People in Group 2 are technically atheists because they don’t have a god belief, but they don’t know much about arguments in favor of Christianity, rebuttals to those arguments, or arguments in favor of atheism. Nothing wrong with that, of course—the God question doesn’t interest everyone—but they’re not well informed about atheism.

Group 3. These are the well-informed atheists. They understand both sides of the ontological, teleological, cosmological, transcendental, fine-tuning, and moral arguments and more. They are at least well-educated amateurs on evolution, evolution denial, and the Big Bang. They can make positive arguments for atheism, not just rebut Christian apologetics. And so on. I put myself into this group.

For each of these groups, how likely is it for people in these groups to be argued into the opposite camp?

Group 1, Christians. Lots of Christians have deconverted: Rich Lyons from the Living After Faith podcast. Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Community of Austin. Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Bob Price, the Bible Geek. Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus. The hundreds of pastors in the Clergy Project.

They’re now all in Group 3, and they’re particularly interesting because they were very well informed Christians. Education turned them away from Christianity.

Group 2, Uninformed Atheists. Many in this group have converted to Christianity. This sounds like the group that the imagined former-atheist-now-Christian came from.

Group 3, Well-Informed Atheists. But here’s my point: I’ve never heard of anyone in Group 3, the well-informed atheists, who converted to Christianity because of intellectual arguments. Of course, this makes me vulnerable to the No True Scotsman fallacy—rejecting any counterexample with, “Oh, well that guy wasn’t truly a well-informed atheist”—but I invite you to comment with anyone I’ve omitted.

Well-informed Christians deconvert to atheism (and are happy to explain, using reason, why they left), but well-informed atheists don’t convert to Christianity through reason. More education about the history and origins of Christianity increases the likelihood that the Christian will deconvert, but more education increases the likelihood that the atheist will stay put.

This is an asymmetry that I don’t think apologists appreciate. Becoming a well-informed atheist is a one-way street. It’s a ratchet; it’s a gravity well. Once you become a well-informed atheist, you’re stuck. (What about conversion through non-intellectual reasons? Let’s set that aside for the moment.)
Here’s why I argue that no well-informed atheists convert to Christianity through intellectual arguments. By their fruit, you would recognize them.

Well-informed atheists, now Christians, wouldn’t make the arguments that apologists make. They wouldn’t make arguments to which I have a quick rebuttal. Indeed, they would focus on those arguments which they knew (since they’d been just like me) I had no response to.

These former atheists would know all the secret passwords and trap doors to get into my secret atheist lair, and, as Christians, they would walk back in and blow it up. But we never see this. Christians are still making the same old arguments, banging on the atheist stronghold with a rock hammer. I never see an “ex-atheist” who hits me where I live, who explains why my arguments are wrong from my perspective.

What this implies is that the use of critical thinking and in-depth analysis of history and scripture has a decided one-way path- in the direction against belief in the tenets of Christianity. If Christianity was true, this one-way path would be going the other way.

(4432) Failed prophetic probability analysis

There have been attempts to analyze scriptural prophecies to create a probability number that reflects the (allegedly negligible) chance that they don’t refer to Jesus. One of such is discussed below:


Now and again I come across bold statements that are widely accepted within Christian circles, but they’re often passed along without evidence, like urban legends. The Christian who shares them usually doesn’t know why they should be believed.

For example, the claim that Mark was the assistant to an eyewitness and wrote the gospel named Mark (I wrote about that here).

That the apostles wouldn’t die for a lie (I wrote about that here).

And that the probability of just eight of Jesus’s 300 fulfilled prophecies coming true randomly—that is, without him being the real deal—is 1 in 1017.

Cover the state of Texas in silver dollars two feet deep and find a particular one, blindfolded, by dumb luck—that’s the equivalent probability. In other words, probability shows the reliability of the evidence for Jesus. Who’s going to argue with probability?

At least, that’s the question we’re meant to focus on. The proper question: Who says the probability is 1:1017? And what was the calculation?

I finally had a chance to explore this claim when I recently stumbled across the source, Science Speaks by Peter Stoner, originally published with a different title in 1944. The online version is here (go to chapter 3).

The computation examines eight different prophecies, determines the likelihood of their happening to anyone, and then multiplies them together to get the minuscule 1:1017.
Stoner was the chair of the departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College, so he should know something about reasoning. Let’s step through these eight prophecies and see.

1. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Stoner asks the probability of someone being born in Bethlehem as opposed to anywhere else in the world and concludes that one birth of every 280,000 worldwide happens in Bethlehem. In other words, if Jesus could have been born anywhere, that he was born in Bethlehem was quite unlikely.

Let’s ignore the fact that a character in a book about Israel was far likelier to be born in Bethlehem than in Bermuda, Brazil, or Borneo, so comparing Bethlehem against the rest of the world is unrealistic. Let’s also ignore that Stoner simply assumes that Jesus was divine.

At least we have it on good authority that the Micah reference, “out of you [Bethlehem] will come … one who will be ruler over Israel,” actually refers to Jesus, because the gospel of Matthew says so (Matt. 2:6).

Or do we? When you actually read Micah 5, it is clear that this ruler of Israel will be a warrior who will turn back the Assyrians, the empire that began conquering Israel piecemeal beginning in 740 BCE. “Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed” (Micah 5:9) doesn’t sound like any event in the life of Jesus.

Additionally, Stoner takes the historical accuracy of the gospel story as a given, but why assume that? The authors of Matthew and Luke were obviously literate, and they would have read Micah. Did they accurately record Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus, or did they just throw in Bethlehem to jazz up the story with a “fulfilled” prophecy?

2. Jesus didn’t enter Jerusalem carried in regal splendor but riding humbly on a donkey (Zech. 9:9). Stoner asks: Of all the men who entered Jerusalem as a ruler, what fraction did so on a donkey? He gives this a probability of 1 in 100.

But again, this simply assumes the historicity of the gospel story. It’s like asking, “How many people who walked the Yellow Brick Road did so after landing on a witch in a house?”
Let’s take a closer look at Zech. 9:9. It says that the victorious king will come

lowly and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

What are they saying here? Is this a mother donkey with its colt? No, this is synonymous parallelism, a poetic form found in the Old Testament, where the last line simply echoes or restates the previous line.

All four gospels have Jesus enter Jerusalem on a donkey, and Matthew and John both mention the prophecy. But Matthew doesn’t understand the poetic structure and thinks that it means two donkeys: “They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on” (Matt. 21:7).

What’s more likely—that Jesus rode two animals like a circus acrobat or that Matthew was inventing the fulfillment of a prophecy?

And like the previous prophecy, the king is a warrior. This time, his domain after his victories will extend from sea to sea, which (again) doesn’t match the Jesus of the gospels.

3. Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12). Stoner’s question: “Of the people who have been betrayed, one in how many has been betrayed for exactly thirty pieces of silver?”

The gospel fulfillment (Matt. 27:9) refers to Jeremiah, not Zechariah. Oops—I guess divinely inspired authors are only human. But even when we find the reference in the correct book, the Zechariah story has nothing to do with betrayal.
And so on. There’s no need to dig into the remaining prophecies; you see how this plays out. Not only are these “prophecies” poor matches for the Jesus story, the probability calculations for these eight examples simply beg the question by assuming that the gospels are history (which is the question at hand) and make meaningless estimates of probability to create the fiction that actual science is going on here.

Are we dealing with actual prophecies? No—the allusions to Old Testament stories are easily explained if we suppose that the authors of the gospels simply searched the Scriptures for plot fragments that they could work into the Jesus story. The probability calculations are meaningless.

Don’t suppose that the gospel authors were journalists writing history. Scholars don’t categorize the gospels as biography but as ancient biography, which is not the same genre. An ancient biography isn’t overly concerned about giving accurate facts but with making a moral point.

When we have a plausible natural explanation like this, the supernatural explanation doesn’t hold up.

The prophetic ‘fulfillments’ referred to in the New Testament were either (1) reverse-engineered (deliberately fulfilled), or (2) imagined into existence using loose interpretations. You would have to believe that an omnipotent deity could have fashioned more accurate and more impressive prophecies to foreshadow the arrival of his son to our planet.

(4433) Wafer ‘miracle’

On March 5, 2023, at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Thomaston, Connecticut, United States, an alleged miracle occurred when a bowl of wafers being distributed to parishioners magically refilled itself rather than going empty. The following describes this event:


During a March mass at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Thomaston, Conn., a Communion bowl reportedly never emptied.

The priest paused after finishing a prayer, looked at someone off to his side and scratched his forehead.

“We had something happen,” he told the congregation.

The Rev. Joseph Crowley paused again, video shows.

“It’s hard to say, actually,” he added.

What happened, some at the Connecticut parish now say, was a miracle: During Communion, a bowl holding the hosts — the wafers that Catholicism teaches are transformed into Jesus Christ’s body during the Mass — began to run out. And yet, Crowley said, the bowl never emptied.

The possibility that the receptacle may have refilled itself during a March 5 service has kindled fascination among the faithful. It has also inspired the Archdiocese of Hartford to launch an investigation, which has since been sent to the highest echelons of the church hierarchy for review. If the Vatican finds that the reported increase in Communion hosts defies rational or scientific explanation, the conclusion could bolster Catholics’ belief in the teaching that the sacramental wafers literally become Jesus.

There are four possibilities of what happened, and none of them are good:

(1) The priest as well as his associates were mistaken about what happened. They underestimated the number of waters in the bowl and then thought erroneously that they had multiplied inexplicably.

(2) Someone refilled the bowl without it being noticed by the person who was distributing from it. Then that person stayed silent in deference to the alleged miracle.

(3) The priest and someone else colluded to plan out and execute the ‘miracle.’ There would have been an incentive to do this in order to increase attention, bring more people in, and increase the church’s prestige and income.

(4) God actually worked this ‘miracle.’ This might be worst outcome of all. Because it indicates that God can bend the forces of nature and yet seems to perform only parlor tricks and never does any miracles that would be really meaningful, such as regrowing an amputated limb.

OK, lets assign probabilities, based on a subjective best guess:

(1) 75%

(2) 15%

(3) 10%

(4) 0.000001%

There might be some arguments about the low number assigned to #4, but honestly, a Christian should not be favoring that outcome, as explained above.

In the end, this event is an example of what happened during the days of the bible when any semblance of something usual was interpreted as a deity-produced miracle. In this instance, there could have been video evidence, but it was conveniently lacking (or intentionally deleted- because it would have destroyed the story).

(4434) Question for the ages

Once in a while, it is a good exercise to step back and try to see the big picture. When it comes to the Bible, arguments have been bandied back and forth for centuries about whether it represents a laudable work of literature or a suitable rule book for human morality in order to deserve the lofty status assigned to it by Christians. But consider the following:

How could a book with written instructions for owning people, murdering gays, silencing women, burning witches, killing naughty children, spilling the blood of innocent animals, promoting genocidal religious warfare, and threatening the eternal torture of non-believers become the world’s most revered book?

It is BEYOND astonishing.

An alien species visiting our planet would be appalled to become aware of this situation and their reaction might be similar to the scene below:

r/exchristian - Why we have not seen aliens…

The Bible is a disastrous counter-example of how humanity should govern their society. Yet, somehow, inexplicably, disturbingly, and seemingly impossibly, it remains the favorite book of billions.

(4435) God of the anthills

Suppose you own a large yard that contains multiple anthills. Suddenly and mysteriously, you gain some supernatural powers that allows you to know what each ant is doing and what they are thinking. Buoyed by your new powers, you buy an even larger and more wonderful yard where you plan to revive some of the ants who have died and give them an eternal place to build their little hills.

Being really creative, you then decide to make yourself into an ant and go to one of the anthills and give a message to the ants there. If they then believe in you, the ant-god, and follow your instructions, they can go to that newly-created beautiful yard paradise when they die. So far, so good.

Now, let’s be real, you could easily have gone to all of the anthills to deliver this message, but you only went to one. After doing that, you are depending on the news spreading naturally across to all of the other anthills. This takes many years. For some reason, you are not concerned about how long it takes for the news to reach the far ends of the yard.

Now, that was not the best strategy, but then things get worse- MUCH WORSE. For some nefarious, morbid, and frankly ridiculous reason, you get all upset that not ALL of the ants are respecting you or even believing in you.

So you buy a third yard and make it into a horrible place full of anteaters and other insects and animals that eat and torment ants. Little bugs that eat into the insides of the ants. And to this horrible place, you send the dead ants that have died without doing your bidding. That is, you create a new ant body for each of them and imbue them with pain sensors so they can be painfully tortured. But you also make sure that they will never die, and so they can be tormented for eternity.

One of you neighbors comes along and sees what you are doing. They see your original yard and the second yard with all of the happy ants. But then they also see the torture yard, and ask, ‘what is happening there? You say, ‘it’s where I punish the ants who have died and who were not good.’ So your friend asks, ‘couldn’t you just as easily have left them to be dead.’ You say, ‘no, they made me mad for not honoring me.’ You neighbor then says, ‘they’re just ants, what the fuck?’ Your neighbor leaves, and resolves to never interact with you again. And that is how we should view Yahweh.

(4436) Hell is a load-bearing belief

In a building, there are walls that are load bearing and others that are just ornamental. Remove an ornamental wall and nothing happens, but the building might collapse if you remove a wall that is load-bearing. In the following essay, it is argued that the concept of hell is load-bearing for Christianity- remove it and the whole charade collapses:


Hell is a load-bearing belief. If Christians gave up their belief in hell, Christianity couldn’t continue to exist in the form it currently takes. If it didn’t cease to exist, it would have to be radically transformed.

As an example, take Urban Christian Academy. It was a private school in Kansas City that provided tuition-free education to underprivileged students. It was an explicitly Christian institution, but its staff practiced an inclusive theology which believed that LGBTQ people are made in God’s image and didn’t condemn them. As they put it, “We don’t believe in being spiritual gatekeepers who say who’s in and who’s out.”

For a while, UCA preached this quietly. Eventually, they decided this was dishonest and made a public statement about their support for LGBTQ people. As soon as they did, funding from Christian donors nosedived. UCA no longer has the money to keep their doors open, and they’re shutting down this spring.

Another story along the same lines is Carlton Pearson. He was once a fire-and-brimstone Pentecostal preacher, a rising star of the religious right who had a megachurch and his own televangelist show and spoke with presidents. Then he had an awakening of conscience which convinced him that a loving god wouldn’t consign people to eternal torture. As soon as he announced he no longer believed in hell, attendance at his church plunged, and he was cast out by all his former allies.

As I’ve observed before, widening the circle of salvation is a much greater offense than narrowing it. No church or preacher of the religious right has been declared heretical for being too strict or for having too many rules. However, declaring God’s love and forgiveness over some formerly outcast group is treated as a grave offense.

Naively, you might think this would be a joyful occasion. Getting people to heaven is supposed to be the goal, after all. It should be great news that what was once thought to be sin a should no longer be considered such. Christian evangelicals ought to welcome this doctrinal revision: “More people will be saved than we thought! Hooray!”

Instead, they cling to their belief in God as wrathful and judgmental. They fiercely resist any suggestion that he might not be so wrathful as was previously believed.

The idea of hell is so pervasive that it overpowers every other doctrine. Evangelical Christians say that, once you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart, your sins are washed away and you’re forgiven. However, in practice, their belief in hell trumps their belief in Jesus. As many ex-evangelicals will testify, they still feared for their salvation even when they were believers. Many of them “get saved” and repent over and over—just in case they did it wrong last time.

Historical evidence echoes this pattern. Of the three parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Inferno has always been the most popular and culturally influential by far. The sections about purgatory or heaven are obscure by comparison. Evidently, humans are just more fascinated by hell.

Why is hell so vital to Christianity in a way that other beliefs aren’t?

Simply put, it’s because Christianity, as it’s practiced today, is an exclusionary religion. It’s all about who’s in and who’s out, who’s saved and (more importantly) who’s not.

Hell is a necessary doctrine to give believers an outgroup to define themselves against. If Christians believed in universal salvation—or even if they believed that salvation could be found through many paths, and that it couldn’t be boiled down to whether you say a certain prayer or vote a certain way—then evangelical believers couldn’t maintain their unwarranted confidence.

They wouldn’t be able to define themselves as the righteous ones. They could no longer claim they’re the only ones who understand God’s will. And they wouldn’t be able to bash and condemn outsiders so recklessly, or cheer for their persecution.

It’s the professed certainty of you’re God’s enemies and we’re not, you’re going to hell and we’re not that gives rise to all the evils of Christian fundamentalism. Like the medieval inquisitors who justified torture on earth as necessary to save heretics’ souls from torture in hell, modern-day believers can inflict any kind of cruelty on outsiders and convince themselves it’s for their own good. But the true motive is as Thomas Paine wrote: if God hates those people and wants to punish them, how can it be wrong for Christians to express a lesser version of the same impulse?

Christianity without hell is like an automobile without the wheels. It just can’t go. The fact that a gruesome place of out-of-proportion punishment that exceeds the worst impulses of ordinary humans is needed to run your religion is a sign that there is something seriously wrong with your faith. Christianity without hell is a different religion.

(4437) God is a terrible writer

The proof is in the pudding. Given the absolute lack of any scientifically-verified miracles happening on earth or anywhere else in the universe, the only physical evidence we have available of the Christian god is the Bible. If the Bible was a work that displayed amazing brilliance exceeding the capability of humans of its time, then we could start to see it as evidence for God. But the opposite is true. The following is a quote from Valerie Tarico:

“Although some passages in the Bible are lyrical and gripping, many would get kicked back by any competent editor or writing professor—kicked back with a lot of red ink. Mixed messages, repetition, bad fact checking, awkward constructions, inconsistent voice, weak character development, boring tangents, contradictions, passages where nobody can tell what the heck the writer meant to convey. . . This doesn’t sound like a book that was created by a deity.”

Not only does the Bible fail as a history book or a science guide, its construction is of such poor quality that it can’t be observed as anything more than a product of human minds. If the Bible was actually a book authored by God, ‘he’ missed a big opportunity to give us some accurate history, some good insights in science, and a literary style that would make Shakespeare blush.

(4438) Christianity’s miracle problem

The following essay explores the promises embedded in Christian scripture implying that a plethora of miracles should be happening daily. In fact, it proposes that we should be witnessing about 12 billion miracles per year, or about 33 million per day. Where are they? The following was taken from:


I recently watched a Youtube video by Brian Dalton (aka “Mr. Deity”) entitled “No Evidence,” and it got me thinking.


His basic argument was that, in both the Old and New Testament, God was not shy in showing that he existed and demonstrating his enormous power. He did this by way of miracles performed in real-time, right in front of witnesses and participants. Dalton specifically cited the miracles performed by God concerning Moses, through which he convinced the Pharaoh to release the Hebrews from slavery.

I could also add the really spectacular miracle performed by Elijah against the priests of Baal as detailed in 1 Kings 20-40. Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to a “duel” whereby each set up an altar with a bull sacrifice and called upon their respective gods to light the wood to burn the sacrifice. The priests of Baal tried unsuccessfully to get the kindling to light. However, Elijah, even when the wood was dowsed with water (maybe the liquid was not water but an accelerant), when he called on God, managed to light the wood to burn the sacrifice. As a sidenote, after this triumph, the Priests were slaughtered in a truly magnanimous gesture!

Dalton then went on to say that Jesus (through his divinity) performed (by some estimates) 34 miracles during his 3-year ministry which equates to 11.3 miracles per year. Jesus stated that his followers, if they had a mustard seed’s amount of faith, could achieve even more than he did. Thus, Dalton rounded the number up to 12 miracles per person per year. Since there are approximately 2 billion Christians worldwide, and assuming at least 50% of them had a “mustard-seed’s amount of faith” we should expect 12 billion miracles per year reported from Christians worldwide.

And yet, we see no such miracles occurring, which is why Dalton maintains there is no evidence for the Christian God.

Jesus certainly seems to assert that people, other than himself, could perform miracles:

    • “And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” (Matthew 21:21)
    • “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
    • “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

There is no * after these statements with a footnote “Terms & Conditions Apply”, or any “Use-By Date” so one would feel justified that these promises extend to all faithful Christians then and now.

It would appear that Christian apologists are cognizant of this type of argument, since when one looks at various online sources concerning this issue, they mostly make the argument that it was only the disciples and early followers of Jesus who were able to perform miracles. Their rationale for this is that miracles were required to spread the Christian message to unbelievers of that age who had no knowledge of this new religion. Later this was no longer required since the New Testament was then available to spread the message without requiring miracles

This can be seen in this answer from www.gotguestions.org when someone asked:

Question: Are the miraculous gifts of the Spirit for today?

Answer (in Part): …It is also important to realize that the early church did not have the completed Bible, as we do today (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, etc. were necessary in order for the early Christians to know what God would have them do. The gift of prophecy enabled believers to communicate new truth and revelation from God. Now that God’s revelation is complete in the Bible, the “revelatory” gifts are no longer needed, at least not in the same capacity as they were in the New Testament.

This seems a very dubious argument: There are approximately 8 billion people living in the world today, but only 2 billion are Christians (say 25% of the world’s population). If God really is all-loving and wanted all of his creations to be saved, he would do all he possibly could to convince the remaining 75% of his salvation message so they would not suffer eternal torment or some such other negative outcome. Miracles would be very convincing to people in parts of the world that do not have ready access to Bibles (say, some remote Amazonian tribe).

Furthermore, Christians are not averse to claiming that miracles do occur even today, so it seems they want to “Have their cake and eat it, too.”

I do note that in modern times, Christians tend not to pray for miracles. Rather, they pray for desirable but achievable (but hardly miraculous) outcomes. For example, “Pray my surgery goes well”, “Please help me find my car keys”, and so on. I believe that, in many mainstream Churches, things like “laying on of hands” for healing is discouraged, presumably so as not to raise unrealistic expectations. In the US, this type of event seems more common.

I was reminded of a recent case from the US about a woman who claimed that the power of prayer had regrown her three amputated toes. The story was circulated in several newspapers and online (such as here, which includes a video of her claim).

The woman, named Kristina Dines, was a victim of domestic violence. She fled from her abusive husband and moved in with a friend. Her husband tracked her down and came after her with a shotgun. Several shots were fired resulting in the death of Kristina’s friend and serious injuries to Kristina’s abdomen, liver, and toes (three of which were amputated). This all happened in June 2015.

Then in March 2023, Kristina attended the James River Church in Springfield, Missouri, and during the 30-minute prayer session, she felt her toes regrowing. When she checked, she claimed her toes were growing back.

There is a lot to be skeptical about with this story:

    1. The Pastor who was officiating at this service refuses to present any evidence of this event, saying he is protecting the well-being and privacy of Kristina (even though she was happy to record a video detailing her experience).
    2. Kristina has not, to my knowledge, presented any evidence to back up her claim, which, you would think, could be easily done. She could present an authenticated X-ray of her foot after the attack by her husband, and then an authenticated X-ray after the “healing.” In addition, she could present some sort of legal affidavit from her doctor confirming the regrowth of her toes.
    3. With so many people having smartphones these days, it seems strange that no one thought to video this amazing event.
    4. The same church claimed another parishioner regrew a kidney, but again no evidence was submitted (however, an attempted resurrection of a young child failed).
    5. Why did God just heal her toes when she had other horrendous injuries, such as with her intestine and liver?
    6. If God is all-loving why did he not prevent the husband inflicting such injuries in the first place, and also save the life of Kristina’s friend? Was it necessary for Kristina’s friend to die just so God could demonstrate his awesome power?
    7. If the story is true, and God intervened, why did God decide to treat Kristina’s toes rather than, for example, save a child with cancer whose Christian parents had prayed so hard for a healing? Maybe, God could, instead, eliminate cancer altogether, or solve world hunger which would be a more meaningful demonstration of his love and power.
    8. If this story is true, it is most certainly a game-changer, and could potentially convince hundreds, if not thousands of people, to embrace Christianity. So why the reticence? This only promotes skepticism. It gives the impression that the people of this church are being evasive, deceitful, and self-serving.

Someone has even started a website called www.ShowMeTheToes.com asking for anyone with proof of this supposed miracle to email it to the website. As far as I know, no one has so far posted any evidence to confirm this “miracle.”

It certainly seems that Jesus asserted that his faithful followers could perform miracles, with no limitations, and yet Christian apologists are trying to “explain” why we should not expect miracles today (even though they are quick to claim credit for any supposed “miracle” that happens in modern times). It all seems a very convenient “Get out of Jail free card” for apologists to dodge this rather obvious miracle problem.

I think we’d even be impressed to see 33 miracles per day rather than the 33 million that we should expect. Or even 33 miracles per year. Or even one miracle that could be scientifically verified. But none are forthcoming. This implies that Jesus was off center in his claim, or he never actually made it, or he never really existed.

(4439) Historical events reshaped Judaism

The two sackings of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem eventually did away with animal sacrifice, and the Babylonian exile changed methods of worship and also pushed Judaism from its previous beliefs in multiple gods into being monotheistic. These changes are understandable with respect to the external pressures and influences, but if Yahweh is the only god in existence, then it becomes hard to explain why any of these changes occurred. The following was taken from:


Before the Babylonian exile, Jewish religious life revolved around the Temple in Jerusalem. When the Babylonians expelled the Jews from Judea, they destroyed the Temple completely. Jewish law stipulated that certain important aspects of Jewish religious life — most notably animal sacrifice — could only be performed at the Temple in Jerusalem. Since the Jews now lacked both a temple and the ability to go to Jerusalem, changes were needed to retain their cultural and religious identity. The result was the rise of the synagogue among the Jews dispersed throughout the Babylonian Empire. The focus shifted from animal sacrifices, which could only be properly performed at the Temple, to the study and teaching of the Torah — the Jewish Bible — which became the focal point of worship in the synagogues.

This new focus gave rise to a new class of professional clergy within Judaism, the rabbi. The rabbi was and is both a scholar and a teacher, a spiritual leader tasked with explaining God’s expectations to the common people. Early rabbis compiled the Talmud, a series of writings that further explain the Torah. Additionally, the biblical books of Daniel and Esther were written during the Babylonian captivity. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah detail the end of the exile. They describe the overthrow of the Babylonian Empire by the Persian Empire, the subsequent return of many of the Jews to Judea and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Even after the Temple was rebuilt, many aspects of Jewish worship that began during the captivity continued as part of Jewish worship. These include the prominent use of the singing of Psalms, prayer and instruction as part of the synagogue service. Synagogue worship and rabbinical teaching continued to operate alongside the newly constructed Temple. For almost seven centuries, Jews came to Jerusalem to participate in the worship, sacrifices and other activities carried on at the Temple, while also engaging in worship in synagogues wherever Jewish communities existed.

When the Romans sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70, they also destroyed the Temple and expelled the Jews from Jerusalem. With the Temple again destroyed, synagogue worship again became the norm for Jewish people and continues to be so to this day. This is in part because the Muslim Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque are on the site whereJewish law stipulates the Temple was to stand, effectively preventing the Temple from being rebuilt.

Many scholars believe that the Jewish religion was monolateral before the Babylonian Exile. Simply put, that means that the Jewish people acknowledged the existence of other gods, but believed that they should only worship the god of Israel. At the time the Persian Empire overthrew the Babylonians, many of the Persians practiced Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic religion that worshiped a deity named Ahura-Mazda. Zoroastrianism went beyond monolateralism, insisting that only one god exists. Whether the concept came to Judaism through Zoroastrians or not, the teaching — known as monotheism — is now the central tenet of Judaism.

If Yahweh is the solo god of the universe, and if he was the god of the Jews (initially), then it would be expected that the Jews worship practices and beliefs would have been consistent throughout the historical upheavals that they endured. Instead, it becomes difficult to explain why everything changed so dramatically over time.

(4440) Prophecy qualifications

Many Christians defend their faith by pointing to scriptural prophecies that have been fulfilled either by other scriptures or events that have occurred. Of course many ‘fulfilled’ prophecies ‘occur’ when the faithful interpret a scripture as prophecy and then work hard to ‘make it happen.’ This is not fulfillment as much as it is long-term planning. The following defines what is not prophecy:


In order for there to be an actual prophecy it first has to:

Predict an actual event – What’s not a prophecy: ”World War Z happened.”

Be not made up after the event – What’s not a prophecy: ”911 was predicted in a book written in 2020.”

Be non-mundane – What’s not a prophecy: ”Someone said that I’d find a feather and just over a month later I found a feather. On a bird. In a pet shop…. that sells birds.

Be non-vague – What’s not a prophecy: ”A war will take place at some point in the future”.

Predict the event accurately – What’s not a prophecy: ”Many years ago, Nostradumbass said that the president would be shot yesterday. Amazingly his bodyguard was stabbed last week while the president was indoors DOING shots….”

Be verifiable – What’s not a prophecy: ”My aunt predicted she would meet angels when she went into the woods alone…. and then guess what she said happened….”

Be non-self-fulfilling – What’s not a prophecy: ”I just knew SOMETHING was going to happen when I went out dressed as Hitler and was horribly obnoxious to every passer by.”

None of the prophecies in the Bible withstand the full effect of these disqualifications. And neither do any of the prophecies uttered by Christians over the ages. It should be obvious that the future, at least from our perspective, is fluid, not set in stone, and that no one, even if they think they are connected to a heavenly deity, has the ability to predict it with precision.

Suppose a Christian claimed he received a very precise message from God, such as  ‘an earthquake of magnitude 6.9 will strike 25 miles southeast of San Francisco at 03:35:28 am on May 12, 2025, so get prepared.’ Of course, no one would pay much attention to this ‘quack.’ We’ve heard this kind of thing before. But if it happened as predicted, then we are talking. Then we have something to work with. Then we would have to reconsider our concept of reality.

(4441) Copying the Code of Hammurabi

The infamous ‘eye for an eye’ text in the Book of Exodus can be faulted for two reasons. First, it is clear plagiarism of the Code of Hammurabi. Second, it presents a crude, primitive system of justice that no civilized nation would enforce. The following was taken from:


Thesis: Exodus 21:23-25 was not written by God, yet it was written by man. This can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by looking at the code of Hammurabi, which came before Exodus and what it says is so similar that it must have been borrowed from.

Have you guys heard the saying “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? That comes from Hammurabi’s code. Which was written around 1700B.C. Exodus was written around 600B.C. Let’s look at those three verses I mentioned. Feel free to pull out your Bible or read the quotation here.

“But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭21:23-25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Now let us compare that to a quick excerpt from Hammurabi’s code.

196. If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. [ An eye for an eye ] 197. If he break another man’s bone, his bone shall be broken. 198. If he put out the eye of a freed man, or break the bone of a freed man, he shall pay one gold mina. 199. If he put out the eye of a man’s slave, or break the bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay one-half of its value. 200. If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out. [ A tooth for a tooth ]

Source: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/ancient/hamframe.asp

Now that we have compared them, do you see how similar that they are? Those three verses in Exodus are a quick summary of the longer Hammurabi text. They are, in fact, too similar to be an original idea. Since they are too similar to be an original idea, the later Exodus verses are borrowed from the original Hammurabi’s code.

Plagiarism from a non-canonical means that these three verses in Exodus were not inspired by Yahweh. Also, such a tit-for-tat punishment regime is antithetical to virtually every system of modern justice. But Yahweh allowed this rogue paradigm to be inserted into ‘his book’ when he should have realized that it would not stand the test of time.

(4442) Christianity as an adult activity

If society felt that religion is an adult activity and should be practiced only by people whose minds have matured, then it can be conjectured that Christianity would die out rather quickly. So much of its survivability depends on impressing immature minds of its ‘truth.’ Childhood indoctrination is its lifeline. The following was taken from:


Suppose we re-categorized Christianity as an adult activity. It would be like smoking, alcohol, voting, driving, sex, marriage, and (in some states) pot—things that you must be mature enough to handle wisely.

How long would this adults-only Christianity survive? My guess is that, starved of its primary source of new members, it would die out within a few generations.

We all have inside us what could be called a BS Detector—that common sense that helps us believe as many true things and reject as many false things as possible. For example, present most American adults with a case for Islam or Hinduism or Sikhism, and they will be extraordinarily unconvinced in the same way that claims for miracle cures, alien abduction stories, and great deals on swamp land in Florida would typically be rejected.

As adults, we’re far better at sifting truth from BS than we were as children. And that’s why Christians must be indoctrinated as children, before their BS Detectors are mature. This is the idea behind the Jesuit maxim, “Give me a child until the age of seven and I will give you the man.”
(The full version ends with “… but give me the man, and he will say, ‘Dude, are you insane? Who would believe that??’”)
Getting a 50-year-old who’s never smoked hooked on cigarettes is like getting a 50-year-old who’s never heard of Jesus hooked on Christianity. It’s possible in both cases, but it’s far easier when you make the appeal early in life.

Imagine this conversation between the father of a 6-year-old child and the grandmother.

Grandma: “Little Johnny is old enough for me to take to Sunday School now.”
Dad: “You can take him when he’s 18, but I’d prefer he stay out of church until then.”
Grandma: “But 18 is too late! By then he’ll be set in his ways. He won’t accept the truth then.”

What kind of “truth” is it that must be taught before people are mature, before their BS Detectors are fully functioning? Grandma realizes that only before someone’s BS Detector is operating correctly can the beliefs of religion be put into someone’s head. This is a very poor stand-in for truth.

Many Christians will agree that Christianity needs access to immature minds to survive. But what does this say about the evidence behind the Christian claim that God exists?

It is no surprise that Christians are focused on a three-prong approach to brainwashing children to believe in Christianity.

First prong- promote home schooling- where it’s easy to instill religion into the curriculum and certain ‘anti-Christian’ subjects such as evolution can be discarded.

Second prong- promote the proliferation of secular schools

Third prong- maximize religious teaching into public schools

It should be obvious that if Christianity was true, there would be little need to focus so heavily on childhood indoctrination, since, in that reality, any clear-thinking adult would readily see its truth. By focusing on children, Christians are unwittingly admitting that their beliefs are poorly-evidenced.

(4443) Jesus likely ‘healed’ through hypnosis

There is no reason to conclude that Jesus (assuming he was a real person) was any different than any other faith healer of his time or since. There is a time-honored tradition of using dramatic suggestion to cause people to feel a temporary healing- that goes away sometime later. Not only that, there is a tendency for people to fake that they have been healed so as not to embarrass the healer. The following was taken from:


Among all primitive peoples, the principal cause of disease was supposed to lie in the displeasure of some deity toward the afflicted person, who was punished by this deity for some offense or neglect (Psalms xxxviii, 3). One of the favorite methods of the gods in afflicting was sending evil and tormenting spirits into the body of the victim. After more was learned of disease, this theory gradually diminished in strength as regarded some troubles, but for centuries it was the universal theory that mental derangements and nervous afflictions were solely due to demoniacal possession, and all priests and medicine-men resorted to various exorcisms, from the primitive banging of gongs and tooting of trumpets to scare away the spirit, to the prayers and sprinkling of holy water of the mediæval church to rid the patient of the unwelcome inhabitant of his body.

That Jesus believed in this demoniacal possession is undoubted, and he effected his cures by ordering or calling out the devil from the body of the possessed. For example, there is a story of Jesus driving devils into an innocent herd of swine (Matt. viii, 28–33Mark v, 2–14Luke viii, 26–34). We also find him casting out and rebuking devils in various instances (Matt. ix, 32–34xii, 22–24xvii, 14–18Mark i, 23–2434iii, 11Luke iv, 33–3641ix, 37–42).[51]

In all probability, these medical miracles of Jesus were copied from older legends by his biographers. But, even if they actually occurred, they were not miracles at all, for a miracle must be, in the very meaning of the word, performed by the suspension of a natural law, and from all gospel accounts the mental therapeutics of the Christ were performed, if at all, in perfect accordance with well-established psychological laws. They had been performed years before his birth, and they have continued to be performed years after his death, even to the present time. Through the force of faith, the patients were placed in passivity (hypnosis) and treated by suggestions being impressed upon their subjective minds, when present; at a distance, they were cured by the telepathic suggestions conveyed from the healer to their subjective mentalities. There is no miracle here; it is merely a demonstration of telepathic and hypnotic phenomena, governed by psychic laws, and does not place the Christ on a higher intellectual plane than modern hypnotists and mental healers, who consciously and knowingly work within the dispensation of these laws. They are anything but proofs of the godhead of Jesus.

It would seem that the Pharisees had some such idea in mind when they demanded an astronomical miracle and requested “a sign from heaven.” But, unable to comply, he evaded this performance by calling them hypocrites and “an evil and adulterous [52]generation,” and saying, “There shall no sign be given unto this generation” (Matt. xii, 38–39xvi, 1–4Mark viii, 11–13Luke xi, 1629John ii, 1824vi, 30).

The gospel stories of Jesus’ healing exploits are actually counter-productive to characterizing him as a god. The miracles are too mundane- maybe impressive for a human faith healer, but not for a god who could have done some much more impressive works. Even if these stories have some semblance of truth, we should view Jesus in the same was as we see modern faith healers. None of them, including Jesus, have caused anything to happen that violates the laws of nature.

(4444) Atheists as healthy as the religious

If Christianity is true, then the power of prayer must be true. Prayers for health should tend to make Christians far healthier than atheists. However, this difference was not found in the following scientific study:


Atheists and agnostics tend to be just a healthy and satisfied with life as their religious counterparts, according to new research published in Journal of Religion and Health. The findings cast doubts on the theory that religion and spirituality enhance personal wellbeing.

Study author David Speed sought to test the belief-as-benefit effect, which describes a broad pattern of findings where religious beliefs and behaviors are positively associated with health outcomes. Much of this research has failed to include non-believers.

“There is an enormous literature addressing religion and health, there are literally 10,000s of article connecting belief, religious attendance, prayer, religiosity, etc. with a variety of health outcomes,” explained Speed, an associate professor at the University of New Brunswick. “However, there is a shortage of research addressing atheists, despite this population consisting of millions of Americans and Canadians.”

Speed used data from Canada’s General Social Survey to examine whether religion predicted physical and/or psychological wellness in a representative sample of Canadians. The survey collected data regarding religious identity, religious attendance, prayer frequency, and religiosity (“How important are your religious or spiritual beliefs to the way you live your life?”). The survey also included assessments of self-rated stress, self-rated physical health, life satisfaction, and self-rated mental health.

The sample included 455 atheists, 215 agnostics, 2,080 individuals who identified as “nonreligious,” 6,205 Catholics, 5,685 Protestants, 595 Eastern Religion practitioners, and 430 who identified their religious beliefs as “other.”

After controlling for sex, age, household income, marital status, language, minority status, education level, and geographic region, Speed failed to find any evidence that religious believers had better levels of stress, physical health, life satisfaction or mental health compared to non-believers. Additionally, religious attendance, prayer, and religiosity were generally unrelated to all four outcomes.

“The average person should be skeptical of claims that religion is inherently healthy or inherently health-promoting,” Speed told PsyPost. “While some religious people are undoubtedly healthy, the same can be said of some nonreligious people. Whatever advantages to life religion may (or may not offer), health simply isn’t one of them.”

The findings remained the same even after Speed compared the most nonreligious atheists, agnostics, and “nones” to the most religious Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Religion practitioners, and “other” practitioners.

“I’ve published a fair bit in this field so my findings weren’t particularly surprising to me,” Speed said. “But, my findings do run counter to an enormous literature that extols the health benefits of religion. My research program regularly shows that there are few (if any) health benefits to religion. This may surprise individuals who are only passingly familiar with the field.”

The findings are mostly in line with a previous study, which examined data from more than 15,000 U.S. residents. But as with any study, the new research includes some limitations. Speed noted that the General Social Survey did not collect data on two factors that could have important effects: social support and personality.

“Research addressing religion and health is almost always correlational, this means that we can’t figure out if religion is actually causing health differences,” Speed said. “For my money, I’d wager that the religion-health relationship is an indirect effect of social support or coherency.”

“We need to explore whether nonreligious groups (e.g., atheists, agnostics, Satanists, etc.) are systematically less healthy than the religious – if we can’t find a consistent difference this would suggest the field has deep problems.”

This represents a failed opportunity for Christians to demonstrate the reality of their beliefs. Praying to stay healthy, to cure a cancer, to heal a struggling heart, or to resolve a blood pressure disorder- all of these should represent advantages for those people who have a direct line of support from an omnipotent being. But if that being doesn’t exist, then the result of this study makes perfect sense.

(4445) Christians adopted emperor’s titles for Jesus

Theologian John Crossan developed a theory that the early followers of Jesus used the titles assigned to the Roman Emperor and applied them to Jesus. This would have alarmed the Roman authorities because, in so doing, the Jews were broadcasting their belief that the emperor no longer had access to this status. The following was taken from:


In God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now (2007), Crossan assumes that the reader is familiar with key points from his earlier work on the nonviolent revolutionary Jesus, his Kingdom movement, and the surrounding matrix of the Roman imperial theological system of religion, war, victory, peace, but discusses them in the broader context of the escalating violence in world politics and popular culture of today. Within that matrix, he points out, early in the book, that “(t)here was a human being in the first century who was called ‘Divine,’ ‘Son of God,’ ‘God,’ and ‘God from God,’ whose titles were ‘Lord,’ ‘Redeemer,’ ‘Liberator,’ and ‘Saviour of the World.'”

“(M)ost Christians probably think that those titles were originally created and uniquely applied to Christ. But before Jesus ever existed, all those terms belonged to Caesar Augustus.” Crossan cites their adoption and application by the early Christians to Jesus as denying them to Caesar Augustus. “They were taking the identity of the Roman emperor and giving it to a Jewish peasant. Either that was a peculiar joke and a very low lampoon, or it was what the Romans called majestas and we call high treason.”

This theory provides an additional reason to conclude that the gospel stories, blaming the Jews for demanding Jesus’ execution, are fictional. When it becomes clear that Jesus was crucified by the Romans as an observed threat to the empire’s order, it dissipates a good measure of conventional Christian dogma. That is, he was not killed because he upset the Sadducees, nor was he tried by them.

(4446) Paul’s rambling ruminations

Paul went through several stages of crafting and then refining Christian theology as his missionary career progressed. What it shows is that much of what Christianity would eventually become was the result of this single individual who was self-doubting, confused, and making things up as he went. The following was taken from:


In the Gospels, Jesus prophesies the coming of “the Son of Man,” who will come on the clouds and whose angels will separate the good from the bad (e.g., Mark 13; Matthew 24). Paul accepted this view, but he believed, probably along with other followers of Jesus, that the enigmatic figure, the Son of Man, was Jesus himself: Jesus, who had been raised to heaven, would return. This view appears in 1 Thessalonians 4, which proclaims that when the Lord (Jesus) returns, the dead in Christ will be raised, and they, with the surviving members of the body of Christ, will greet the Lord in the air.

In the Endtime vision of 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul indicates that he thinks that some people will die before the Lord returns but that many (“we who are alive, who are left”) will not have died. In this passage he does not specify what will be raised, but the implication is corpses. As noted above, this belief was difficult for Paul’s pagan converts to accept, and Paul attempted to overcome their reluctance by emphasizing that the resurrection body would be changed into a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42–54).

A second problem was the delay: Christ did not immediately return, and the idea that believers would have to remain in the ground until he came was troubling. Paul responded to this by stating that the transformation to a Christ-like spiritual body was already beginning (2 Corinthians 3:18). He also, however, seems sometimes to have accepted the Greek view that the soul would be detached from the body at death and go immediately to be with the Lord; at death believers will be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). He restated this view when imprisonment forced him to think that he himself might die before the Lord returned (Philippians 1:21–24). Eventually Christianity would systemize these passages: the soul escapes at death and joins the Lord; when the Lord returns, bodies will be raised and reunited with souls.

If Paul was connected to Jesus, he would have had the correct formula at the start and would not have been making changes on a whim. But if there was no such connection, then his waffling was understandable.

(4447) Christianity versus aliens

In the following essay it is demonstrated that people who believe in Christianity but disbelieve in alien visits are not being logical:


Do you think that Jesus rose from the dead? That he was virgin born? That he sits in heaven at the right hand of the creator of the universe?

That the gospel story is actual history is an immense claim, but Christians say they have the evidence. Let’s test that. If Christians accept this claim, then, to be consistent, they must also accept any claim with better evidence. Such a claim is that space aliens have visited the earth.

Let’s compare evidence for these two claims point by point.

1. Recentness of Event. You can interview people today who claim to have seen UFOs or encountered aliens. To understand the gospel claims, we must peer back across 2000 years of history.

2. Number of Sources. Thousands claim to have been abducted, and the number who claim only to have seen aliens or their technology must be far higher. There were only four gospels, and those aren’t even independent accounts.

3. Period of Oral History. The period of oral history is negligible for many alien claims. It may be just hours or days from a claimed event until a newspaper story. By contrast, the Gospels were written decades after the claimed events.

4. Reliability of Source. It may be easy to imagine alien claimants as insane, drunk, or uneducated, but one psychiatrist studied 800 claimed abductees and was struck with the ordinariness of the population. Another survey reported that this group is no more prone to mental disorder than the general population.

Question the sanity of those who claims to have seen aliens if you want, but we at least have something tangible—interviews with those people and people who know them, police records, and so on. With Peter and Paul or some other Christian patriarch we have 2000-year-old stories. Who’s to say if they’re accurate?

5. Natural vs. Supernatural. The supposed aliens came from a planet (we know about planets) on which there was intelligent life (we know about intelligent life), and they presumably got here in a spaceship (we know about technology and spaceships). This is 100 percent natural.

Science keeps finding strange new animals on earth living in extreme environments—worms that live miles underground, in glaciers, or in hot or cold places at the bottom of the ocean. Is it hard to imagine animals on other worlds? Their discovery would be surprising or even shocking, but we wouldn’t need to discard any scientific laws if aliens presented themselves.
By contrast, the Gospel story requires you to believe in supernatural beings and supernatural events. We have plenty of claims but no scientific consensus that even one is valid.

6. Cultural Gulf. The evidence for aliens is from our time, from our culture, and in our language. By contrast, the gospel story is from a culture long ago and far away, and the Greek gospels are already one culture removed from the actual events. Jesus and the apostles spoke Aramaic and came from a Jewish environment; the gospels were written in Greek by authors who lived in a Greek environment.

7. Contradictions. Any contradiction between alien claims can be chalked up to a different space ship or a different alien race. By contrast, the four gospel accounts are trying to document the same events.

8. Quality of Evidence. On the alien side, you talk directly to people who claim to be eyewitnesses. The argument that the gospel writers were eyewitnesses or close to them is a flimsy tradition.

Our oldest complete copies of the New Testament date from the fourth century. Yes, we do have fragments of New Testament books that date earlier, but these are incomplete and are still copies from one to two centuries after the original authorship.

9. Criterion of Embarrassment. Christians ask, “But who would make up the gospel story? Who would endure the persecution?” First, I never claimed that anyone made up the story, simply that the supernatural elements in the gospel story are easily explained by supposing that it evolved as it was passed along. Second, that defense crumbles when we consider that alien claimants tell their story today in the face of much potential ridicule. Is a story in the face of persecution strong support for the truth of the story? Okay—then consider it strong evidence for alien claims.

If the Gospel stories are believable, shouldn’t alien stories be far more believable? Seen the other way around, Christians who read this and think up many objections to the alien argument need to apply those same objections against the gospel story to see if it holds up.

I think they’ll find that the net that pulls in Christianity will pull in a lot of bycatch as well.

The evidence for alien appearances far exceeds that for Christianity. And the evidence for aliens is pathetically poor. In both cases, if one of these claims were true, it is virtually certain that there would not be believers and non-believers, there would simply be people acknowledging the situation and dealing with it as best they can. That is to say, if a God was interacting with humans or if beings from another planet visited us, there would be no room for doubt.

(4448) Shelley, the poet

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was an English romantic poet, considered one of the most advanced skeptical intellects ever to write a poem. Skepticism related to the belief in God was highlighted in the following quote:

“If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him with our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If he is all powerful, how offend him? How resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? If he has spoken, why is the universe not convinced? Why has God failed?”
– Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1811

Shelley was ahead of his time, before science and evolutionary theory injured the sectarian explanations for our existence. In that comparatively primitive era, he used common sense, critical thinking, and a bit of imagination to debunk the idea of a benign omnipotent being who engaged with humans as its pet project. We can learn from Shelley as his voice penetrates our consciousness from 200 years ago- that god belief is nonsense- WE ARE ALONE.

(4449) Christians should have remained as Jews

It has never been adequately explained why Jesus, a Jew, would have wanted to start a new religion that did not honor the Jewish traditions of worship, diet, and circumcision (that he himself observed). If Jesus was (a part of) God, then he was the same being who prescribed these commandments. So why would he come to the earth and abrogate those same commandments? The following discusses Paul’s difficulty in trying to make sense of this:


Paul’s central convictions made it difficult for him to explain the proper role of Jewish law in the life of his converts. Paul believed that the God of Israel was the one true God, who had redeemed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, given the Israelites the law, and sent his Son to save the entire world. Although Paul accepted Jewish behaviour as correct, he thought that Gentiles did not have to become Jewish in order to participate in salvation. These views are not easily reconciled. If the one true God is the God of Israel, should not one obey all the commandments in the Bible, such as those regarding the Sabbath, circumcision, and diet? If “love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18, quoted in Galatians 5:14 and Romans 13:9) is valid, why not the rest of the commandments in Leviticus 19?

Paul reconciles Jewish law with Christian faith by using Jesus’ words “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another” (John 13:34). He states that this single commandment is a fulfillment of the entire Jewish law (Galatians 5:14). He was sure that his Gentile converts were not obliged to accept circumcision and many other parts of the law. In his surviving letters, however, he does not work out a principle that would require his converts to observe some but not all of the Jewish law. It is noteworthy that he did not regard Sabbath observance—which is one of the Ten Commandments—as obligatory (Romans 14:5; Galatians 4:10–11).

One point is especially difficult. Paul maintained that the law is part of the world of sin and the flesh, to which the Christian dies. But how could the law, which was given by the good God, be allied with sin and the flesh? Paul, having nearly reached the point of equating the law with the powers of evil (Romans 7:1–6), promptly retracts the equation (Romans 7:7–25). What led him to make it in the first place was probably his absolutism. For Paul, everything not immediately useful for salvation is worthless; what is worthless is not on the side of the good; therefore, it is allied with the bad. However, he does maintain that the Jewish law is sacred and that the commandments are righteous and good (Romans 7:12). He continues to say that his mind desires to obey God’s law, while his flesh makes him “a slave to the law of sin” (Romans 7:21–25).

The connection between Christianity and Judaism is tenuous and it is easily understandable why Christianity fared very poorly in Jewish cities, but thrived in Gentile cities. As a continuation of Judaism, it didn’t make sense. But as a separate religion that mirrored some aspects of the Gentile mystery religions, it fared quite well. Jesus was a Jew, but Paul made him into a Christian posthumously.

(4450) Islamic rant

It is enlightening to see religious people criticize other religions. In the following case, a Muslim criticizes Christianity:


Christians, explain why your Bible has a publishing company. The Qur’an starts with “Bismillah”. We have no middleman.

Allah sent us the unchangeable, perfectly preserved Qur’an, and yet you still insist the Bible is somehow more reliable? Nobody can even agree on what the Bible is. The Bible doesn’t even come from the time of Jesus. Luke, Matthew, etc are literally unknown individuals who were assigned these arbitrary names by later Bible scholars! Luke starts his gospel by saying he “investigated” into these stories, but via which sources? Again, 100% unknown!! This would be literally unacceptable transmission of knowledge in Islam. Even a WEAK hadith cannot have such a break in the chain of narration, let alone the Qur’an’s perfect preservation.

The Bible itself doesn’t even use the word “Bible”, while the Qur’an often refers to itself and tells us to use the Qur’an. The Bible doesn’t even say to use the Bible as part of your religion! Furthermore, the Bible doesn’t even contain the word “Christian”! The Qur’an, on the other hand, is very clear in its use of “Islam” and “Muslim”. Why is this? Jesus didn’t even use the word Christian, yet Muhammad (saws) consistently used the word Muslim. He called people clearly to Islam!

And how could the Prophet Muhammad saws have copied the Bible when he was illiterate and living in a remote, backwards desert village where there were no Bibles, let alone Bibles in Arabic which didn’t even exist ANYWHERE in the world at the time.

If you sincerely care about the truth, then you need to seriously consider Islam. How can you accept every other Prophet of God except the one individual who has been more thoroughly documented and narrated from than any other single person in human history, down to the side of his body he slept on and the way he ate his food?

Religious people are very adept at seeing the flaws in every religion except their own. Indoctrination creates a blind spot in the minds of its victims. It is reminiscent of the following:

The Christian says “Muslims and Jews are wrong.

The Jew says “Christians and Muslims are wrong.”

The Muslim says “Christians and Jews are wrong.”

The atheist says, “You are all correct.”

Follow this link to #4451