(4451) Early NT scribes were not trained

The books of the New Testament were written mostly in the time frame CE 50 to 150. These originals were then copied profusely by scribes who initially were not well-trained to do this. As a result, many mistakes were made as well as some changes were made deliberately. As time went on, and by the 4th Century, scribal training became more robust and copies became more reliable. But because of that early century of so of dubious textual duplication, the fidelity of the originals was permanently lost. The following is a quote from biblical scholar Bart Ehrman:

In the earliest centuries, the vast majority of copyists of the New Testament books were not trained scribes. We know this because we can examine their copies and evaluate the quality of their handwriting, and we can assess how accurately they did their work. The striking and disappointing fact is that our earliest manuscripts of the New Testament have far more mistakes and differences in them than our later ones. The earlier we go in the history of copying these texts, the less skilled and attentive the scribes appear to have been.

Second, and more important: just because we are WORSE off for other authors than for those of the New Testament does not in itself mean that we can trust that we know what the NT authors wrote. I am a lot stronger than my five-year old granddaughter. But I still am not able to bench-press a half-ton truck. Yes, but you are MANY TIMES stronger than her! It doesn’t matter. I’m nowhere near strong enough. We have far more manuscripts of the New Testament than for any other ancient writing. But that doesn’t mean that we can therefore know what the originals said. We don’t have nearly enough of the right kinds of manuscripts.

The question that should be asked is this: Would an omnipotent god allow his message to humankind to be distorted by unprofessional scribes? It would seem that such a god, dealing with a matter of extreme importance to the salvation of humanity, would have made an effort to preserve the original writings that he inspired. Instead, what happened with Christian scripture looks like a strictly human project that was vulnerable to the existing primitive nature of textual preservation.

(4452) World is too random for an intervening god

Examination of the statistics covering various ways people die indicates that the casualty rate is too predictable and too random to suppose that there is an omnipotent god who is overseeing human activity and reacting to prayers or taking any initiative on its part to lessen human suffering. The following was taken from:


The practice of thanking God for safety and protection, for food and drink, for health and well-being, or for any other “blessings”, might appear to be a commendable habit, but it is actually deeply troubling because of what it implies.

A miraculously intervening God is an unjust capricious God, sparing some and saving others, apparently on a whim.

If God really was selecting people to protect on the basis of some bigger picture, then you would not expect the number of people who are killed in various ways to be subject to the rules of probability. However, I can predict with remarkable accuracy the road toll each year, the number of people who will be struck by lightning, the number of people who will be killed by shark attacks, and so on. Each of these causes of death has a certain rate of occurrence that is quite predictable.

It is not just the number of deaths that is predictable, it is the whole probability distribution of deaths that is predictable. If you know the average number of deaths by car accidents in a city, then it is possible to calculate all the percentiles for that city. For example, you can estimate the numbers of deaths that would be exceeded only once every ten years. When you do this for many cities, you find that the 1-in-10-year extremes are exceeded in approximately 10% of cities each year. This is exactly what you would expect if the world was random, but not what you would expect if anyone was in control.

Car accidents, diseases, and industrial accidents all follow the same probability distribution, known as the “Poisson distribution”. The Poisson probability distribution is based on the assumption that accidents happen randomly. It is simply not possible for tragedies to appear to follow the Poisson probability distribution while actually being controlled by God. Any interventions of God that interfere in the random processes would be detectable. If they are not detectable, then they are random and God is not involved.

If we accept that the world is random, and that bad things happen to everyone by chance, where does that leave God? Either he does not exist, or he has no power, or he does not care. Whichever of those answers you prefer, God does not deserve our thanks.

From all appearances, the world is too predictable to support the existence of the type of god worshiped by Christians. This does not rule out a deist form of god that created the universe and just lets it run on its own. But an interventionalist, caring, prayer-answering god seems to be ruled out by the random stochastic nature of casualty events.

(4453) Belief for salvation marketing scheme

Religions like Christianity and Islam operate on a belief (without evidence) for salvation (also without evidence) marketing scheme. In the following essay it is argued that this is a predictable plan of attack to grow a religion that is un-tethered to reality:


“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.”

Alright already, we get it. The above verses demonstrate the promoted linkage between belief and salvation. They assert that those who believe will receive eternal life, while those who do not believe will face God’s wrath. While these verses make this claim, they do not explicitly provide an explanation for why belief is necessary for salvation.

Factoring out belief and salvation from this claim and examining each separately.

Belief is absolutely essential in sustaining and propagating a false religious belief system. Having no external reality, no good evidence, no actual divine revelation human belief becomes the key factor for a religious system’s survival. Without belief the religion withers away with the last believer. Therefore, belief becomes a fundamental aspect for the survival and growth of a religion, when it is based on falsehood.

Salvation, on the other hand, taps into our innate human fear of death and the desire to avoid suffering. Our instinctual aversion to death drives us to seek ways to preserve our lives and find meaning beyond our mortality. The promise of eternal life, maintaining our identity, memories, and sense of self, is a very seductive temptation. Additionally, salvation offers the prospect of escaping future pain and suffering, such as the concept of Hell or divine wrath. These incentives hold immense power over human psychology in the face of uncertainty and are highly motivating factors.

As a result, false, human-invented religions cleverly connect belief (which is vital to the religions continued existence) with salvation (which holds immense importance to humans). This coupling is pure marketing strategy, appealing to the profound motivations within human psychology in order to propagate a false religion.

Recognizing this pattern of a demand for belief in exchange for salvation can be a valuable clue in discerning the false nature of religious claims. This can save a lot of time and effort. By recognizing this frequently occurring pattern, one can skip over analyzing complex metaphysical claims, exploring ontological/creation theories, or scrutinizing theological intricacies. Entire lifetimes have been lost in these confusing, complex navel gazing activities.

No other business operates or even could operate on this type of bartering scheme. You could not get somebody to buy a plot of land based solely on making them believe that it is real. Evidence drives human activity. But religion does an end-around. Realizing that it has insufficient evidence, it glorifies the ideal of belief, while offering a reward that can be accessed only after death. This is a racket that scares people into departing with their time and money for the gain of a select few. It is a reprehensible drain on the zeitgeist of humanity.

(4454) Christianity and the flat earth

Christianity and flat-earthism share a common thread. There is no more reason to conclude that NASA (US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) would hide the fact of a flat earth as it is for God to hide his existence. So the concept of God existing but hiding himself makes no sense. The following was taken from:


God has no better reason to hide the fact that he exists than NASA has to hide the fact that the earth is flat. Both are conspiracy theories of the same order.

My thesis in this post is that theism, in at least its Christian variety*, shares features with conspiracy theories, and that this is an intellectually cogent reason to reject it.

Let me briefly define my terms.

A conspiracy theory, by my definition, is a theory which complicates a simple story by adding an entity with an unsubstantiated motive to conceal essential information.

In the case of the flat earth theory we all know and love, that’s NASA and the earth being flat.

Rather than a simple universe where the earth is flat and NASA (and others) tells us its flat, we have a complicated universe where the earth is flat and NASA, for unclear reasons, goes to a tremendous effort to convince us of the preposterous thesis that it’s an oblate spheroid.

This is unbelievable because it violates Occam’s Razor. There is nothing about the shape of the earth being flat, as a hypothesis, that would lead one to expect NASA lying about it.

I wish to argue that the situation with divine hiddenness is very similar.

At heart, Christianity also contains a simple story. There exists a personal God who wants a relationship with humans and is actively engaged, in some capacity, in saving us from damnation.

It is not integral to this story that God should be hidden. In fact, God being hidden militates with the rest of the story. It massively complicates telling people how they need to get saved from their impending perdition and it renders a meaningful personal relationship with humans impossible.

If you were to predict what the universe should be like, based only on the bare-bones Christian storyline, you would predict a universe where God makes his existence undeniable to us, like parents do with their children. Parents and children is a particularly useful comparison, because it’s a comparison the Christian scripture uses: parents don’t think of convoluted ways to hide their existence from their children.

Modifying the storyline in such a way as to account for God’s hiddenness serves to needlessly complicate the story, and thus meets the above definition of a conspiracy theory. In fact, the reasons for God hiding, as given by Christians, are necessarily all ad hoc – since the God of the Bible really wasn’t very hidden at all (allegedly).

This makes theism, like flat-earthism, very difficult to believe, and for much the same reason.

Christians have to concede that God deliberately hides himself because they cannot demonstrate enough evidence of his existence to otherwise forgo that concession. This is a difficult pill to swallow because God allegedly wants everyone to be saved. So hiding makes no sense. It also makes no sense for NASA to hide the fact that we live on a flat earth- for what purpose? Likewise, for what purpose does God hide himself? NASA wouldn’t and neither would God. The only difference is that NASA exists.

(4455) Universalism cannot rescue God’s reputation

Many Christians, weary of the criticism of God’s apparent intent to make people suffer eternal conscious torment in hell, believe in a more compassionate reality- that, in the end, God will bestow his forgiveness and allow everyone a spot in heaven. However, the Bible does not endorse this view. In fact it indefatigably refutes it. The following was taken from:


Universalism is the doctrine that all human beings will ultimately be saved and restored to a right relationship with God. No one will be suffering in hell for eternity; It’s a false doctrine.

Argument 1 – The aionios Argument

In Matthew 25:41 and 25:46, the same Greek word (aionios) is used to describe both the duration of heaven and the duration of punishment after death. Universalists often argue that aionios as applied to hell or punishment doesn’t mean “eternal” in the strict sense, but merely “age-long.” In other words, hell exists, but it’s temporary. In that case, though, we’d need to conclude heaven too is temporary that heaven comes to an end. Otherwise, how can the same Greek word have two different meanings in the very same verse “age-long” when applied to punishment or hell, but “forever” when applied to heaven?

Argument 2 – the Two Ways argument

The New Testament’s teaching on heaven and hell doesn’t materialize out of nowhere. The theme of “two ways” leading to differing outcomes is woven throughout the Bible. In just the second chapter of Genesis, Adam is given a choice between life with God (don’t eat from the tree) or death in defiance of God (if he does eat). In Psalm 1 there are different outcomes for the righteous and the wicked, and also in Isaiah 1:19-20 “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword”. The universalist idea of only one outcome for everyone—regardless of choices made—doesn’t merely contradict one verse here or there. It runs against the whole thrust of Old and New Testament teachings.

Argument 3 – the no righteous judgment argument

Universalists generally understand God as a loving being who doesn’t exercise judgment toward sin or sinners. Yet Revelation offers a picture of God’s righteous judgment against a sinful world, in overt rebellion against himself, as the bowls of his wrath are poured out in Revelation 16. The Beast, the False Prophet, and the Devil are later seized by the Lord and thrown into “the lake of fire” Revelation 19, an outcome set over and against the New Jerusalem, where the Lord dwells with Christ and the saints Revelation 21

Argument 4 – wise and foolish virgins argument

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1–13 emphasizes the limited time and opportunity that humans have to respond to God and it implies a time will come when the door to the “wedding feast” will shut, and it’ll be too late to enter in. One key text appears in Luke 13:23–24 “Someone said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able’”. Jesus’s message is explicit. Some people, or rather “many”, will wish to enter God’s kingdom but will “not be able.” How is this passage consistent with the idea that is common among universalists today, that the Lord will give endless opportunities, even after death, for individuals to turn to Christ and find salvation? He explicitly says that “many will seek to enter and will not be able.”

Argument 5 – the defeat of God’s last remaining enemy

After the defeat of God’s last remaining enemy – meaning death – in 1 Corinthians 15:26, leads to God becoming “all in all” over a redeemed creation, no enemies can still exist as such, including human, who are called “enemies of the cross” in Philippians 3:18, nor can there be any post-defeat defeat of death in their case anyway. Universalism is ruled out because the Bible links the timing and mode of this defeat of death to the immortalizing resurrection of believers.

According to 1 Corinthians 15:42-55, the believer’s resurrection, when “the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality,” is the moment when death itself is defeated, that is, “swallowed up in victory.” This conquest is grounded in the vision of new creation, when there “will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Revelation 21:4, confer with Isaiah 25:8.

But as 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 makes clear, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death”, verse 26, leaving no more enemies in existence. We are told in this passage that Jesus is then reigning over “all things,” until he has finally “put all his enemies under his feet”, verse 25. Only after “destroying every rule and every authority and every power” verse 24, does the consummation of salvation history occur, when Jesus submits himself and his rule to God the Father, *”that God may be all in all, *” see 1 Corinthians 15:28 and compare with verse 24. This is precipitated, we are told, by the victory over death demonstrated in the immortalization of believers, which makes them fit for eternal life in the new creation, signaling the destruction of the final enemy, death.

The fact that death is utterly defeated at this point means that it is not subsequently defeated gradually, as unbelievers, who were already resurrected but not made immortal in a victory over death, progressively confess Christ. On universalism, they still remain in mortal rebellion and corruption, just as they are now. Moreover, since all enemies are destroyed by the time Jesus hands cosmic rule over “all things” to the Father, to have been among the “enemies of the cross” in Philippians 3:18 is to have already been destroyed. Therefore, the mode and timing of the defeat of God’s last remaining enemy in 1 Corinthians 15:26, and the commensurate absence of any enemy in a fully reconciled creation, rules out universalism.

Argument 6 – God delaying the day of judgment argument

Since the rationale given in 2 Peter 3:9 is that God is being patient by delaying the day of judgment, “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” this delay expires when judgment day occurs, along with the related opportunity for repentance, thus ruling out universalism.

In 2 Peter 3:12,18, the apostle encourages believers to pursue holiness while “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,” the dawning of “the day of eternity”. This eternal age will fulfill God’s promises of “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells,” given through the prophets and apostles , see 2 Peter 3:13, also verses 2-4. God is patient rather than slow, and we are to “count the patience of our Lord as salvation” in verse 15.

The purpose of the delay, then, is so that more may repent and not perish. In theory, the delay could have been indefinite, so that all may eventually repent (universalism) and none may perish, but the logic of the passage indicates that in practice God’s will is more particular and conditional. Paul taught that God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world” see Acts 17:31.

Jesus taught that the day of the Lord would take many by surprise, and would come like a thief in the night in Matthew 24:36-44. This is reiterated in Revelation 16:15, and 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, where like a thief in the night the day of the Lord will overtake those who are in darkness, and “sudden destruction will come upon them . . . they will not escape.” It is also reiterated right here, immediately after Peter explains the delay: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief . . . ” 2 Peter 3:10.

Therefore, the rationale for a limited postponement of “the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly”, 2 Peter 3:7,9 , rules out the opportunity for repentance beyond that same event, and hence rules out universalism as well.

Argument 7 – the removal argument

This argument states that a crisis of judgment between the present age and the coming age results, according to Hebrews 12:27, in the “removal” of everything that does not belong to the eternal “kingdom that cannot be shaken,” “in order that” everything that does belong “may remain.” Among human beings, only believers belong to the unshakable kingdom; hence, all others are excluded from the age to come, and universalism is ruled out.

The better explanation for God’s final judgment would be either Eternal Conscious Judgment or Annihilationism.

Yahweh is either a sadist or he doesn’t exist. Christians who believe in universalism are deluding themselves. They are making up a different religion.

(4456) Religion was the precursor to science

Religion functioned as humanity’s initial stab at science, the framework upon which early humans built logical stories to explain their existence and the way that the world worked around them. Once science became mature, religion was no longer needed for this purpose. In effect, religion was the precursor to science. The following was taken from:


Do you know what amazes me? It’s that we know what wild plants and fungi are good to eat.

Just imagine what it must have taken to figure this out. There must have been thousands of hungry people over the span of centuries who picked strange plants or mushrooms: sniffing them, nibbling at them, and when they’d worked up the courage, eating them to see if it made them ill.

And consider: Some plants are only safe to eat when they’re cooked correctly. Some poisonous plants look similar to ones that are harmless. Sometimes, it’s only the leaves of a plant that are edible, or only the stalks, or only the roots, or only the fruit when it reaches the right stage of ripeness. Imagine the untold numbers of people who must have sickened or killed themselves to build up this body of knowledge.

This is even truer for more complex discoveries. Bald’s Leechbook, a thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon medical text, prescribes a treatment for skin infections: a salve made from garlic, leeks, wine and cow bile, aged in a brass vessel for nine days. Modern scientists tested this… and it worked!

Imagine all the trial and error it must have taken to develop this recipe. Imagine generations of people groping in the darkness, trying out every combination of herbs and substances they could dream up, until they stumbled across a procedure that seemed to be effective.

Our ancestors knew the how, but not the why

The point is that ancient people weren’t stupid. On the contrary, they possessed a huge amount of painstakingly acquired practical knowledge. But they didn’t have an understanding of the reasons: how diseases spread from one person to another, why to let fields lie fallow between harvests, what causes seasons and weather. Despite all they knew, the universe was still a deeply mysterious place to them.

It’s no surprise that their knowledge grew intertwined with rituals, myths and magical formulae. That was humanity’s first, fumbling stab at uncovering the invisible laws that govern the world. Indeed, that’s what ancient religion was: not a list of abstract theological propositions, but a thoroughly practical attempt to figure out what the gods and other supernatural beings wanted, so we could ward off the bad ones and bestir the good ones to act on our behalf. In that sense, religion was the precursor to science.

Historian Bret Devereaux gives this example of the role of religion in the ancient world:

Let’s say we are a farming community. It is very important that our crops grow, but the methods and variations in how well they grow are deep and mysterious and we do not fully understand them; clearly that growth is governed by some unseen forces we might seek the aid of. So we put together a ritual – perhaps an offering of a bit of last year’s harvest – to try to get that favor. And then the harvest is great – excellent, we have found a formula that works. So we do it next year, and the year after that.

Sometimes the harvest is good (well performed ritual there) and sometimes it is bad (someone must have made an error), but our community survives. And that very survival becomes the proof of the effectiveness of our ritual. We know it works because we are still here.


The rituals predate the creeds

This is the reverse of how religious proselytizers typically present the origin of their faith. In the usual telling, God speaks to the prophets, identifies himself to humanity, and then explains the rituals which he wants devotees to perform.

In reality, the rituals came first, arising from humanity’s collective trial-and-error attempts to understand the world. We inferred the gods’ identities and desires based on which rituals seemed to yield the desired result. (For example, a deity who prefers bloody animal sacrifices over offerings of plants must be violent and warlike. It’s possible this passage reflects a real historical event – it would explain the Old Testament!)

The creeds, texts and other elaborations developed later, building on the ideas that developed from these rituals. The Christian story of the resurrection of Jesus, to name another instance, is an agricultural metaphor given flesh: a seed is buried in the earth, “dies,” and then returns to life. It’s a classic example of people mythologizing information that was crucial for survival.

The power that science gives us

The writers of the Bible and other religious texts saw through a glass, darkly; but we have the clarity of vision they lacked. We can tell the whole story, which they glimpsed hazily at best, and often not at all.

With the power that science gives us, we can tell better stories. We can tell stories that capture the extent and majesty of the universe in which we live.

We can say, truthfully, that humans are all one race. Genes flow back and forth, and populations mingle, interbreed and assimilate, but there are no major, consistent genetic differences between ethnic groups. Armed with that knowledge, we can expose the pathetic ignorance and narrow-mindedness of racism and other forms of prejudice. All people belong to the banner of humanity, and we’re all alike under the skin.

We can say, truthfully, that humans are one branch of evolution’s family tree, related by common descent to all other life on earth. This should inspire a powerful impulse to cherish and preserve the world we live on and the diversity of life it supports – because all living things are part of our family, as diverse and wonderful as we ourselves are.

We can say, truthfully, that humans are children of the cosmos. The atoms of our bodies were forged in supernova explosions, and they’re briefly passing through us as part of their endless Democritean dance of forms. We’re not above or apart from nature, as some have arrogantly imagined – we are nature, one pattern amidst its infinite diversity and beauty.

We can say, truthfully, what causes earthquakes and storms and plagues. Whereas primitive people cowered at these disasters, believing them to be punishments sent by the gods, we can recognize them for what they are: blind forces of nature which threaten all of us alike, but which we can outwit and overcome when we heed the wisdom of experts and pull together to help each other. Believers who try to control nature with prayer are as pitifully foolish as the legendary king who tried to give commands to the sea.

Most of all, we can put ourselves in our true context. Many religious myths and folktales are strikingly small. They postulate a tiny universe, centered on humanity, no more than a few thousand years old. They assume that the most important events in history all happened to a single tribe or even a single person in one specific region of the earth. They assume that all knowledge worth knowing was revealed to a small, insular group of people a few centuries or millennia ago, or that one particular set of tribal customs should be the model for all humanity.

With science, we can tell grander stories, stories that reflect the true inconceivable immensity of the cosmos, and our small but precious place within it. We’re not restricted to a small repertoire of endlessly repeated parables. We can draw on the best stories from across all of culture and history.

Or we can come up with our own, brand-new stories to impart the lessons we want to teach. Once we sail past the confining shoals of religion, an open horizon of limitless creativity awaits – so let’s get started!

It is certain that every technological civilization that has ever developed in the universe has gone through an earlier period where religions dominated popular beliefs. Once science became firmly established, religion was no longer needed. As a consequence, virtually all of the intelligent beings on these advanced planets are likely to be atheists. And that will true of our planet in about one century.

(4457) Gospel authors unlike their contemporaries

One of the reasons that the gospels are considered to be specious historical documents is the failure of the authors to cite the sources of their information or provide any details about contacts they might have had with eyewitnesses. This is in contrast to other biographical works of the same time period. The following was taken from:


In the genre of Greco-Roman biography (as well as historiography) ancient authors did not always name all of their oral or written sources, and there were no footnotes in the literature of the period. Nevertheless, biographers from the early Roman Empire tend to cite such sources at a much higher frequency than what is seen in the NT Gospels. The citation of literary and documentary sources (e.g., letters, previous authors, notebooks, etc.) occurs more often in biographies that deal with subjects dating to long before the author’s lifetime. The biographer Suetonius, for example, cites far more literary and documentary sources in his Lives of Julius Caesar and Augustus (who lived over a century before he was writing) than he does in his Lives of the Flavian emperors (whose reigns he personally lived through).

What is interesting about biographies dealing with subjects dating close to the author’s own lifetime, however, is that they tend to include more citations of the author’s own eyewitness experiences, as well as discussion of his oral sources. Sometimes it is claimed that the authors of the Gospels do not explicitly discuss their own eyewitness experiences, nor cite their oral and written sources, because the Gospels were written close enough to Jesus’ lifetime for such sources to be implicit for their audiences. This assumption is undermined, however, by surveying the Greco-Roman biographical literature from the same period.

In fact, virtually every biographer from the early Roman Empire whose works are still extant–Cornelius Nepos, Tacitus, Plutarch, Suetonius, and Lucian–explicitly cites his own eyewitness experiences in biographies that deal with subjects dating to his own lifetime. The biographer Cornelius Nepos, for example, discusses a funeral speech that he heard of Atticus (a philosopher and friend of Cicero) in his Life of Atticus (17.1-2):

“Of the affectionate disposition of Atticus towards his relatives, why should I say much, since I myself heard him proudly assert, and with truth, at the funeral of his mother, whom he buried at the age of ninety, that “he had never had occasion to be reconciled to his mother,” and that “he had never been at all at variance with his sister,” who was nearly of the same age with himself; a proof that either no cause of complaint had happened between them, or that he was a person of such kind feelings towards his relatives, as to think it an impiety to be offended with those whom he ought to love.”

Tacitus, although he is primarily known for being a historian, wrote a biography of his father-in-law, the Roman statesman Agricola. And indeed, Tacitus specificities that he was related to Agricola at the beginning of the biography (Life of Agricola, 3.3):

“Meanwhile this book, intended to do honour to Agricola, my father-in-law, will, as an expression of filial regard, be commended, or at least excused.”

This would be like the author of Matthew, for example, stating that he was a personal disciple of Jesus. Not only do modern scholars doubt that the Gospel of Matthew was actually written by the disciple Matthew, but furthermore the author of the gospel makes no explicit statement about his personal relation to the subject.

Works of biographical fiction (such as Superman) do not usually contain references to sources or how information was obtained from witnesses. This seems to be the proper categorization of the gospels. They might be referring to an actual person, but the deeds and quotes of the subject are made up.

(4458) God is a poor communicator

In his new book, Guessing about God, David Madison lays out in logical fashion three problems with the alleged existence of an omnipotent god, who displayed amazing competency in creating the entire universe, but also abysmal incompetence in delivering a clear, verifiable message to humanity- a fault magnified by his intent to punish those who don’t understand it. The following was taken from:


Problem One: God is invisible and silent. This fact forces humanity to rely on ineffective ways of knowing God — common knowledge, sacred books, visions, prayer, personal feelings, and theologians. But all these sources of God knowledge fall short as evidenced by a world of disagreement, not just between Christians and other religions, but within Christianity itself.

Problem Two: The Bible disproves itself. In Chapter 2, Madison narrows his focus down to the world’s most famous book. He shows how two hundred years of critical scholarship — something most Christians know nothing about — have revealed the Bible to be full of archaic ideas, moral failures, and contradictions. He makes a convincing case that all these flaws rob us of any confidence that claims of biblical revelation can be taken seriously.

Problem Three: We can only guess who Jesus was. In Chapter 3, Madison turns his magnifying glass on the four Gospels and finds them severely lacking in their attempts to provide a clear understanding of who Jesus was and what he had to say. These Gospels not only contradict one another, but when reviewed under Madison’s guidance, prompt the honest reader to request, “Will the real Jesus please stand up?”

Combining rigorous scholarship with engaging personal reflections, this book offers understanding and help for individuals struggling with tough questions about belief. And the most pressing question it provides for the reader is: How could a deity competent enough to create this Universe be such a massively poor communicator who leaves humanity Guessing about God?

 David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University.

God is either a poor communicator or he doesn’t exist. It is left to the reader to determine which is more likely.

(4459) Take the Bible

Take the Bible.

Take the Bible as your criminal sentencing book, and you’ll be accused of cruel and unusual punishment.

Take the Bible as your geography book and you’ll be blind to 99% of the world.

Take the Bible as your economics book, and you’ll be a slaveowner.

Take the Bible as your psychology book, and you’ll be burning witches.

Take the Bible as your history book, and you’ll think everything happened in the past 6000 years.

Take the Bible as your biology book, and you’ll think the brain is a heat exchanger and the bat is a bird.

Take the Bible as your cosmology book, and your universe will be extremely tiny.

Take the Bible as your medical book, and you’ll be sued for malpractice.

Take the Bible as your future prophecies book, and you’ll be left standing looking foolish.

Take the Bible as your diversity book, and you’ll be a bigot.

Take the Bible as your marriage book, and you’ll be a male chauvinist.

Take the Bible as your military ethics book, and you’ll be sentenced for war crimes.

Take the Bible as your childcare book, and your children will be taken away.

Take the Bible as your relationships book, and you’ll have to draw blood in order to forgive someone.

Take the Bible as your law book, and you’ll end up in jail.

Take the Bible as your human rights book, and you’ll be tried at the Hague.

Take the Bible as your animal rights book, and you’ll be charged for cruelty.

Take the Bible as your social relations book, and you’ll judge people by what they believe instead of what they do.

Take the Bible as your personal hygiene book, and you’ll neglect to wash your hands before meals.

Take the Bible as your family ethics book, and you’ll be tried for incest.

Take the Bible as your ethnicity book, and you’ll be  a racist.

So yes, take the Bible, take it as far away as possible, and leave it there.

(4460) Why rape didn’t make the Ten Commandments

A good sign that Yahweh had nothing to do with the Ten Commandments is that rape was not included. The best reason to explain why is that the Jewish men didn’t want to give up their guilty pleasure. The following was taken from:


When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them, why did rape get left off of the list?

Because Moses and his tribe really loved rape. Just read about the “fun” they had when they committed genocide and plundered the land of the Midianites recorded in Numbers 31: 7-9,17-18:

They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every man. Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder… Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

Kill all the parents and little boys, and rape the virgins. Moses and his boys really loved rape.

When you are making up a religion and putting prohibitions in your god’s mouth, make sure not to include those things that you really enjoy doing. Rape for these men was too good to give up. Otherwise, this commandment would be among the ten:

‘Do not inflict non-consensual sex on anyone.’

(4461) Atheism is a supremely rational position to hold

Daniel Bastian, in the essay linked below laid out twenty realities that weigh against the claims of theism. Taking everything under consideration, it would appear that atheism is by far the most rational position to hold at the present time. This is not to discount future events that could change this equation. But for now, atheism is the best ‘guess’ of our reality. The following was taken from:


In his 2017 essay, Loftus provided the link to an essay by Daniel Bastian, What Would Convince You? Loftus describes this “as the most comprehensive list of answers I’ve found”—that is, reasons for giving up god-belief. Bastian’s essay is indeed worth careful study and reflection. Just a couple of excerpts:

“In a world where Christians and other monotheists profess belief in a meddler god who influenced ancient texts, answers prayers, appoints semi-sane politicians to run for office, and worked all manner of miracles throughout history, the utter vacuum of evidence for such assertions begins to speak volumes.”

“…given the extraordinary claims made on its behalf, the Bible should exhibit an ethical blueprint that transcends the rate of cultural evolution observed across history. Yet on issues such as slavery, the status of women, penalties for various innocuous (and imaginary) crimes, and the treatment of unbelievers, the biblical texts are found to be par for the Bronze Age course.”

Bastian also takes aim at the weaknesses of the gospels, i.e., their failure to provide credible information about Jesus. Why couldn’t a competent god have done better?

As a preface to his presentation of twenty realities that undermine theism, Bastian notes: “My personal view is that a wider appreciation of reality reveals a universe that does not appear the way we would expect if theism were true, leaving non-belief as a supremely rational position to hold.”

The impact of all twenty is devastating, or as Loftus puts it: “Read ’em and weep Christians. Ya got nothing. You’ll have to whine about something else from now on.”

What do Christians claim as the One True Faith? That their god required a human sacrifice to enable him to forgive sin, and that magic potions play a role in winning eternal life, i.e., eating the flesh of the human sacrifice and drinking his blood (see John 6:53-56). How crazy can you get? Loftus quotes anthropology professor James T. Houk, “Virtually anything and everything, no matter how absurd, inane, or ridiculous, has been believed or claimed to be true at one time or another by somebody, somewhere in the name of faith.”

It is time to see faith as being detrimental to our lives- faith is what has driven enormous amounts of conflict. Evidence-based reason should become the gold standard, and when it is universally practiced, the human race and the world will be much better off.

(4662) Six times Jesus contradicted the Old Testament

It would seem that if God inspired the Old Testament, and if Jesus was God (or a third of God), then he would not have contradicted what is written in the Old Testament. However, as discussed below, he did contradict the Old Testament in six consequential ways. The following was taken from:


A friend recently told me that Jesus would never contradict the Old Testament scriptures.

In response to that statement, I’d like to offer this list of specific contradictions that Jesus made against teachings found in the Old Testament:

1) According to Deuteronomy, God commands His people to swear in His name:

Old Testament: “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.” – Deuteronomy 6:13

But Jesus says that to swear by anything is “from the evil one”:

Jesus: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” – Matthew 5:37

2) The Old Testament says that God’s people should show no mercy and practice an eye for eye form of justice:

Old Testament: “Show no pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” – Deuteronomy 19:21

But Jesus contradicts this directly:

Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” – Matthew 5:38–39

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-48

3) The Old Testament teaches that adulterers should be put to death without exception:

Old Testament: ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” – Leviticus 20:10

Jesus famously ignored this command when they brought the woman caught in adultery to him:

Jesus: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground….”Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.’” – John 8:3-11

4) The Old Testament commands that no one do any work on the Sabbath:

Old Testament: “But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.” – Deuteronomy 5:14

Truth be told, no one breaks the Sabbath more than Jesus does. There are dozens of examples but here’s just one:

Jesus: “Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath” – John 5:8–9

5) Right after healing this man on the Sabbath, Jesus goes one step further and He commands this man to break the Sabbath, too!

In Jeremiah 17:21–22 it says that no one should carry any burden on the Sabbath:

The Old Testament: “This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors.” – Jeremiah 17:21-22

Truthfully, the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day understood that this was in direct defiance of the specific OT command:

“…and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” – John 5:10

6) Not only this but when Jesus famously declares that “God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45) this is in direct contradiction to what Moses said in Deuteronomy 28 where he claims:

If you obey the Lord your God and faithfully keep all His commands…then He will send rain in season from his rich storehouse in the sky and bless all your work…But if you disobey the Lord your God and do not faithfully keep all his commands and laws that I am giving you today…No rain will fall, and your ground will become as hard as iron. Instead of rain, the Lord will send down dust storms and sandstorms until you are destroyed.” (Deut. 28:1-24)

So, does Jesus ever contradict the Old Testament Scripture? Yes! He most certainly does.

The way that apologists explain this is that when Jesus came, he didn’t really change anything, but rather ‘refined’ things to some extent. This explanation is hollow. These changes were substantial and meaningful, as if Jesus was creating a completely different religion. But if Christianity is a different religion, then Judaism’s Yahweh (the Father) is not a Christian. This makes a mess of the theology, and as a result Christians are trained to not think too deeply about it.

(4463) Original text of the Hebrew Bible is lost

It is often reported that the New Testament was redacted, interpolated, and mistakenly copied to an extent that we have no way to identify what was the original text. It is rarely discussed, however, how this problem is even worse for the Old Testament. The following was taken from:


When apologists discuss the “textual reliability” of the Bible, they often focus on the New Testament. Or, if they do focus on the Hebrew Bible, they seem to portray a straightforward narrative of reliability in which “so many hands worked to write it, compile it, and protect it, as historical manuscripts show.”

However, the manuscript evidence shows that the Tanakh’s text has not been preserved well. There are a few reasons for thinking this.

    1. 1) Large Differences In Early Witnesses

There are huge differences between the Masoretic Text (MT) we have preserved today and other, early witnesses of the text. The Septuagint (LXX) in particular preserves significant differences. How significant? A few examples:

• Jeremiah in the LXX is around 15% shorter than in the MT.

• The stories of David, Goliath, and Saul in 1 Samuel 16:17-18:30 are 39 verses shorter in the LXX than the MT.

• In some LXX manuscripts of Esther, the text is changed by about 1/3rd, radically affecting the story. (1)

• In Joshua, the text is shortened, lengthened, and reorganized in several significant ways up to 10%, varying by text.

2) Rampant Redaction

Redacting the text to fit theological, linguistic, or other needs was extremely common. Imagine these small differences building up over the course of up to 800 years. A few examples:

• In the Bible, Chronicles frequently redacts Samuels, for instance, such as in 1Chron. 21:1 or 1Chron 20:5.

• In the Great Isaiah Scroll, there are 2600 differences between the MT. What is significant here is that this textual variance seems purposeful, linguistically updating Isaiah to make sense in the present day Hebrew. (2)

• In Deuteronomy 32:8-9, the original text reads “according to the Sons of God.” This interpretation made some Hebrew and Greek scribes uncomfortable, as it implied polytheism. As such, they changed the text to “sons of Israel” and “angels of God” to cover it up.

3) Diverse Tradition

The early Hebrew written textual tradition seems to have been extremely diverse, pulling from multiple sources and freely combining and changing texts and oral tradition. In particular, the Ketef Hinnom amulets uses pieces of scripture to create one text from Exodus, Deuteronomy, Daniel, and Nehemiah, not as individual “verses,” but as general ideas. (3)


The Hebrew Testament we have is hardly “preserved.” Instead, it show the history of a text that could change drastically, and we only have around 300 years of the 900 years of evidence, the back 600 of which enter a period of increasing illiteracy, decreased textual preservation, and an increased period of oral transmission.

The fact of the matter is, we cannot even begin to pretend to say “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” with the Tanakh. What we have instead is an organic, changing, ambiguous work.

(1) Fox, Michael; “The Redaction of the Books of Esther: On Reading Composite Texts,” SBLMS 40. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991.

(2) Ulrich, Eugene; Flint, Peter W.; Abegg, Jr., Martin G. (2010). “Qumran Cave 1: II : the Isaiah scrolls.” Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 59–65

(3) Barkay, G., A.G. Vaughn, M.J. Lundberg and B. Zuckerman, “The Amulets from Ketef Hinnom: A New Edition and Evaluation

This is not the expected product of an omnipotent being, but it is precisely what we would expect to see of a set of documents written and preserved by fallible humans. The Bible was produced (and inexactly preserved) by flesh and blood people.

(4464) Resurrection in body or in spirit?

Christians cannot decide if their awaited resurrection will be a physical experience of if just their immaterial spiritual self will be transported to heaven. Defending the latter is 1 Corinthians 15: 44-50:

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Defending the former is the story told in John, Chapter 11, where Jesus raises Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, in his original body (it is uncertain what would have happened if Lazarus had been cremated).

To date, Christians cannot agree on this issue. The following abstract addresses this issue:

How the Body of Lazarus Helps to Solve a Pauline Problem

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2017


While the locus classicus for early Christian arguments concerning resurrection of the flesh is Paul’s first Corinthian letter, the statement in 15.50 that ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’ complicates early Christian understandings of resurrection and its form. Such explicit denial of fleshly inheritance and resurrection within Paul’s writings leads to widely conflicting interpretations of this Corinthian passage. Consequently, early Christian writers such as Irenaeus, Tertullian and Augustine engaged other New Testament texts such as John 11 in order to subvert the claim of 1 Cor 15.50 and develop their argument for fleshly resurrection.

It is inconceivable that such an important element of Christian resurrection and afterlife is left to debate. Wouldn’t an omnipotent god have explained this truth beyond the point of confusion? Or is God the author of such?

(4465) God’s love for all came later

Christians assert that God loves all humans, but fail to consider that God (Yahweh) did not always seem to have that level of love. Practically the entire Old Testament implies that God was much more interested in obedience than in love- and that whatever love he had was conditioned on that level of obedience. And further, that his love was restricted to the Israelites. He didn’t seem to care for others, that is, until Jesus came on the scene. The following was taken from:


The Hebrew Bible does not really have the concept of “unconditional love,” the ethics of the Hebrew Bible is far more about Obedience and that while G-d (whoever the author of the text within the Hebrew Bible would equate with G-d), does love certain people, that love is always conditioned on obedience.

Susan Ackerman has a phenomenal Essay on what “Love” means in the Hebrew Bible, in short it is far more “political” in that it is not about emotional affection, but about reverence and treaty/covenantal statutes between the two “lovers.” THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL: COVENANTAL AND AFFECTIONATE LOVE (‘ĀHĒB, ‘AHĂBÂ) IN THE HEBREW BIBLE. Ackerman, SusanVetus Testamentum, 2002, Vol.52 (4), p.437-458.

Furthermore, again as Susan Ackerman points out, in the Hebrew Bible, G-d is only ever described as loving Israelites as a whole or in part in some way. Loving all of mankind would not be something that the authors of these texts seemed to care about.

The adage that ‘God is the same past, present, and future’ rings hollow when one peruses the bowels of the Old Testament. It rather appears that Christians invented a new and improved ‘loving’ god for their purposes.

(4466) Predicting the return of Jesus

Christian scriptures promise that Jesus, who allegedly flew off the planet after he came back to life after being crucified, will return to judge the living and the dead. Although the same scriptures promised that this would occur during the lifetime of some of those who were living in Jesus’ day, this has not stopped Christian luminaries from predicting later return dates even up to our present time. The following was taken from:


I cannot understand how anyone today still can stand and say that Judgement Day is upon us, Jesus is returning, after thousands of years of “predictions”. Did a little research a couple of years ago for a school project how many biblically motivated “predictions” of these apocalypses there has been. Since the year 0 I found there has been 157 promised returnings predicted by priests and other influential religious people interpreting the Bible and finding clues and signs. Might be (and probably is) even more years around forgotten through time. So in case anyone is interested these are the years i found out about:

(AD) 70, 365, 400, 482, 500, 793, 800, 806, 847, 995, 1000, 1033, 1260, 1284, 1335, 1351, 1370, 1378, 1504, 1524 (two predictions), 1525, 1528 (two predictions), 1533 (two predictions), 1534, 1555, 1585, 1588, 1600, 1624, 1648, 1651, 1654, 1656, 1657, 1658, 1660, 1666, 1673, 1788, 1789, 1694, 1697, 1700, 1708, 1916, 1719, 1734, 1736 (two predictions), 1757, 1773, 1780, 1789, 1794, 1795 (two predictions), 1804, 1805, 1814, 1836 (two predictions), 1843 (two predictions), 1844, 1847 (two predictions), 1862, 1863, 1874, 1881, 1890, 1901, 1910, 1911, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1926, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1954, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1967 (two predictions), 1969 (two predictions), 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982 (three predictions), 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 (three predictions), 1989, 1990, 1991 (two predictions), 1992 (two predictions), 1993, 1994 (four predictions), 1995, 1997 (three predictions), 1998, 1999 (four predictions), 2000 (four predictions), 2001, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 (four predictions), 2012 (three predictions), 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021.

It is highly probable that this list will soon include 2023, 2024, etc. Maybe when we get to the year 5487, Christians will finally give up and concede ‘yeah… he ain’t comin’ back.’

(4467) Childhood religious indoctrination is child abuse

Religion’s primary source of longevity is the indoctrination of children. Unlike adults, a child’s brain can be ‘hard-wired’ to believe in things that are not supported by evidence. This childhood belief can be removed later in life only by a strong conscious effort- a feat that eludes most people who are so inculcated.

This gives religion a guaranteed following without having to do any heavy lifting to support its claims. But, in a larger sense, indoctrinating a child to accept as literal truth a certain religion (and certain denomination of that religion) can be categorized as child abuse. The following essay was produced by ChatGPT:

Title: Religious Indoctrination: Examining its Potential Harm as Child Abuse

Introduction: Religious indoctrination refers to the process of instilling a specific set of religious beliefs and principles into the minds of individuals, often starting at a young age. While religious freedom and the right to practice one’s faith are fundamental, it is essential to critically evaluate the potential negative consequences of religious indoctrination, particularly when it involves children. This essay aims to explore the argument that religious indoctrination can be considered a form of child abuse due to its potential to restrict critical thinking, limit personal autonomy, and impede intellectual development.

Restriction of Critical Thinking: Religious indoctrination often involves teaching children that certain beliefs and doctrines are unquestionable and should be accepted without critical examination. This process can hinder the development of essential critical thinking skills necessary for independent thought and rational decision-making. By discouraging skepticism and the exploration of alternative perspectives, children may be at risk of growing up with a limited worldview that is resistant to questioning or critical analysis. This restriction on critical thinking can inhibit their ability to navigate complex moral, ethical, and social issues later in life.

Limitation of Personal Autonomy: Childhood is a crucial period for the development of personal autonomy and the formation of individual beliefs and values. Religious indoctrination can undermine this process by imposing a particular religious worldview onto young minds that are still in the early stages of cognitive and emotional development. When children are taught that their religious beliefs are absolute truths and deviation from them is sinful or wrong, it can lead to a suppression of individuality and personal autonomy. This suppression can inhibit their ability to make informed choices and develop a sense of self that aligns with their own unique experiences and beliefs.

Impediment to Intellectual Development: Children are naturally curious and have an intrinsic desire to explore and understand the world around them. However, religious indoctrination can hinder intellectual development by presenting religious teachings as absolute and unchangeable truths. This may conflict with scientific knowledge, logical reasoning, and empirical evidence, potentially leading to cognitive dissonance and confusion. When religious dogma takes precedence over critical inquiry and academic pursuits, children may be deprived of the opportunity to develop comprehensive knowledge, intellectual curiosity, and an appreciation for evidence-based reasoning.

Conclusion: While religious freedom is a fundamental right, it is essential to critically assess the potential negative consequences of religious indoctrination, particularly when it involves young and impressionable minds. The restriction of critical thinking, limitation of personal autonomy, and impediment to intellectual development are factors that justify viewing religious indoctrination as a form of child abuse. It is crucial to strike a balance between nurturing children’s spiritual development and allowing them the freedom to explore diverse perspectives, fostering their intellectual growth and personal autonomy. By encouraging an open and inclusive approach to religious education, we can promote an environment that respects the rights and well-being of children while fostering their individuality and intellectual curiosity.

So, in essence, religions, none of which are true by any normal means of investigation, thrive only by subjecting children to mental abuse, hijacking their brains while they are defenseless. A true religion could easily gain followers by presenting evidence to adults who had never heard of it before. But this is not true of any earthly religion. They are all false.

(4468) No new religions

It appears that the time has passed for any new religions to be created. The last ones that had any traction were Mormonism and Scientology, but even then, they struggled and continue to struggle for legitimacy. But now with cell phone cameras, the internet, and AI, there is no shelter for scurrilous people claiming to be what they are not. The following was taken from:


If religions like Christianity and Islam were truly accurate, they would possess complete scientific knowledge about every aspect of the world and the universe. However, these religions fall short in terms of scientific accuracy and understanding. They lack mention of important scientific concepts such as the age of the Earth, the existence of dinosaurs, or the process of evolution. This absence can be attributed to the fact that the creators of these religious texts lived in a time when such knowledge was absent. If these religions were genuinely true, they would possess all-encompassing knowledge about every detail of the planet and the universe. However, it is evident that their texts contain gaps and ignorance on various subjects. This is why all these religions are bullshit lies.

Most of the popular religions we know today originated in ancient times when superstitions and beliefs in the unimaginable were prevalent. The lack of knowledge and widespread ignorance during those periods made it easier for fantastical ideas to be embraced and believed. Back in those times, people still believed in witchcraft and magic, so it’s not surprising why they’d believe a guy had a message from God or a guy claiming he’s God but just in human form. But now as humans have become more educated and knowledgeable, the likelihood of another major religion ever emerging seems highly improbable. If someone were to make a claim of receiving a message from God in modern times, they would likely face ridicule and mockery. If Muhammad or Jesus were living in times where people were educated and knowledgeable, they’d also be laughed and mocked. They’re the two biggest frauds in history, and that much is evident.

To start a new religion would now require a truly supernatural capability that would need to be vigorously verified. However, we know that our world is purely natural, so it just isn’t going to happen. Anyone claiming to be a god or doing miracles will come under intense scrutiny and will be revealed to be a fraud. The only new religion-like movements will be those that don’t include any supernatural elements, and which could just as well be described as being emerging philosophies.

(4469) Jesus wants to build a church?

No. Jesus had no intention of building a church. But at the time the Gospel of Matthew was written, about 50 years after Jesus had died, and it looked like it might be a while before he would return, the concept of building churches began to make sense.

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

The following was taken from:


Blog member:

What are your evidences that the historical Jesus did not originally utter the words of “Matthew 16:18”?

2. What are your evidences that the author of Matthew only heard “Matthew 16:18” in the tradition?


a. It is not found in any other Gospel account; b. it does not correspond with anything else we can establish with relative certainty about what the historical Jesus said; c. in fact it runs counter to the consistently attested view of Jesus that the kingdom was coming soon to earth, not that he would establish a church; d. it uses vocabulary for a group of Jesus’ followers (“church”) that cannot be attested for the historical Jesus e. it embraces precisely the views of Christians after Jesus death. In other words, it fails all the criteria we have. 2. There’s no option, unless one thinks the author heard Jesus say it, which is almost never considered an option (for solid reasons) by biblical scholars.

We can easily categorize Matthew 16:18 as an anachronism. Jesus, assuming he was real, did not have any reason or intention to build a church, especially one that would compete with his Jewish faith, but rather was convinced that the end times were upon us and that he would imminently become an earthly king. The idea of a church that would emerge, evolve, and splinter for twenty centuries and more was far from his thoughts.

(4470) Faith-based attributions are worthless

Christians often use attributions based on faith to prove or demonstrate the existence of their god (My god causes Event A, and Event A happened). But this method can just as easily be used to justify belief in nonsensical characters. The following was taken from:


If, when asked to provide convincing evidence for their religion, the believer gives faith-based assertions, that is a red flag that their belief doesn’t align with reality.

This is a thought experiment for believers, specifically Christians.

Suppose I say that I’m going to prove, or give good reason to believe that Persephone exists. Can you find the logical flaw in the following argument?

“Persephone makes flowers, and only she has the power to do so. Since you see the flowers growing, it must be true that she exists.”

The flaw in this argument is that, because there is nothing that indicates that Persephone makes flowers, the argument is no longer tied to reality. It is a coherent argument, if one assumes the premise is true, however if the goal is to demonstrate the actual origin of flowers, or the existence of Persephone, this argument fails. It is only valid if one is predisposed to believe in Persephone in the first place, so it is invalid in providing supporting evidence to an objective third party.

If you point that out and I respond “Well you can’t make flowers, can you? Can you prove she doesn’t?”, do either of these points strengthen the argument for the existence of Persephone?

If I say, in the process of proving her existence, that you have to accept on faith that she creates flowers, and that not accepting this self-evident fact is a moral failing on your part, does that strengthen the case for her existence? If I say that I am a better person for not asking for evidence, and instead attributing all good things to her, does this strengthen the case?

If I say, now, that you have angered Persephone, and that this argument no longer has anything to do with me, because you’ve refused to do the one thing she demands, which is to accept my argument for her, does this strengthen the argument? Or is it a red flag that I don’t have good reasons for what I believe, and instead expect you to accept on no evidence what I accepted on no evidence?

This is applicable to all reasons that believers give for having faith. Once you skip the step of demonstrating that your deity exists, and instead use things that you, on faith, attribute to it, your argument is no longer tied to reality. It is instead an untethered assertion, no more probable than all other baseless claims.

Christians attribute to god the workings of human life, the self-healing activity of the body, favorable turns of everyday events, and sometimes even inanimate things like the tides of the ocean, the beauty of the mountains, and the heat from the sun. All of this attribution fails to demonstrate the existence of their god. If just shows that they have a faith based on flimsy if not fully non-existent evidence.

(4471) Misogynistic interpolation

There exists a scripture that Paul allegedly wrote in one of his letters that seems counter to his normal discourse. It has been determined to be an interpolation, something added by a scribe for some nefarious personal agenda. In the end, this mistaken textual insertion has caused much grief among Christian women, who have been suppressed because of it. This is the scripture in question (bolded, verses 34-35) with the surrounding text shown for comparison:

1 Corinthians 14:33-36

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?

The text flows smoothly without the interpolation. The following was taken from:


1 Cor 14:34-35 would be an interpolation if it was not originally in the text of 1 Corinthians but was added later in the margin. Scribes copying the manuscript later would naturally assume that the text in the margin was inadvertently omitted and so insert those verses into the text. All manuscripts of the Western Text-Type put these two verses after 1 Cor 14:40. Virtually all other manuscripts put these two verses after 1 Cor 14:33. Such divergent positioning is one of the hallmarks of interpolations.

There is no comparable instance of any other manuscript of any of Paul’s letters of a scribe rearranging Paul’s argument with a significant block of text in this way. Consequently, we know that it was contrary to scribal convention for a scribe to take the liberty to change the order of Paul’s argument simply because he thought a different ordering of the text would make better sense. This is the primary basis that Gordon Fee and many others have argued it is highly unlikely that if the text were originally in Paul’s letter after v. 33, that any later scribe would move that text to follow v. 40.

Similarly, it is highly unlikely that if the text were originally in Paul’s letter after v. 40, that any later scribe would move that text to follow v. 33. We know it is highly unlikely since no scribe of any surviving manuscript (and there are thousands) of any of Paul’s letters ever did anything like this in any other passage of Paul’s letters.

Christians must admit that their all-seeing, all-powerful god purposefully allowed this misogynistic poison to pollute his holy scripture. Or else he was asleep, or else he doesn’t exist. Probabilities of this trilemma are 0,0, and 100.

(4472) Origin of out-of-body experiences

Christians have often pointed to out-of-body experiences as evidence for a personal identity that is independent of the body, usually called a ‘soul.’ But scientists have located a structure in the brain that can produce these types of experiences simply by stimulating it. The following was taken from:


Scientists have pinpointed a special part of the brain that, when stimulated, appears to produce out-of-body experiences.


Certain drugs can produce an out-of-body experience, so can a pulse of electricity if it’s sent to the right place in the brain. NPR’s Jon Hamilton reports on a brain area that seems to keep us attached to our physical selves – well, most of the time.

JON HAMILTON, BYLINE: A few years ago, Dr. Josef Parvizi got a visit from a patient with epilepsy. The man told Parvizi about some very strange symptoms.

JOSEF PARVIZI: My sense of self is changing, almost like I am a third observer to conversations that are happening in my mind that I’m not part of. Plus, they just feel like I’m floating in space.

HAMILTON: Parvizi, a neurology professor at Stanford, was intrigued. He figured the man’s seizures must be affecting an area of the brain called the PMC.

PARVIZI: It’s hidden in-between the two hemispheres in the back.

HAMILTON: The PMC helps create what’s known as our narrative self, a sort of internal autobiography that helps us define who we are. So Parvizi figured the PMC was also responsible for our physical self, which tells us that our body and thoughts belong to us, not someone else.

PARVIZI: As you are sitting in your chair, you have an understanding that it is you looking at me, your point of view in space and in your environment.

HAMILTON: That sense of being anchored in your body disappears when you have an out-of-body experience, like the man with epilepsy. Parvizi and a team were able to recreate the man’s symptoms by electrically stimulating the PMC. Then they tried the approach on other volunteers. And Parvizi says it became clear that a person’s physical self was tied to one particular spot in that special part of the brain.

PARVIZI: What we discovered is that towards the front, there is this sausage-looking piece of brain called the anterior precuneus.

HAMILTON: Parvizi’s team stimulated the area in eight patients.

PARVIZI: And, lo and behold, everybody has changes in their sense of what we call the physical self.

HAMILTON: The results appear in the journal Neuron, and Parvizi says they suggest that the anterior precuneus is critical to understanding that something is happening to me, not another person.

CHRISTOPHE LOPEZ: We think this could be a way for the brain to tag every experience in the environment as mine.

HAMILTON: Christophe Lopez says that makes sense. He’s a researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research in France. Lopez thinks that our physical self comes in part from the inner ear, which senses motion and the body’s position in space. And he says Parvizi’s team found evidence supporting that view. Lopez says the anterior precuneus appears to act as a hub for signals coming from the inner ear.

LOPEZ: When they stimulate these anterior precuneus, you can evoke that the body or the self is floating in the room, like the body is rising or the body is falling like freefall.

HAMILTON: As a result, the inner ear may be saying the body is moving while the eyes say it is stationary. Lopez says that’s confusing for the brain.

LOPEZ: Sometimes the best solution, which is found by the brain, is to think that you’re somewhere else out of the body.

HAMILTON: It’s not just electrical stimulation that can confuse the brain, so can the mind-bending anesthetic ketamine. Patrick Purdon, a researcher at Harvard, has been studying the drug’s effects on the brain. He says it acts a lot like brain stimulation when it comes to the anterior precuneus.

PATRICK PURDON: Ketamine seemingly is producing this kind of artificial rhythm that is disrupting function of that area.

HAMILTON: Purdon says that means it might be possible to use electrical pulses in place of anesthetic drugs like ketamine.

PURDON: You could get the specific brain areas that you want without having to cause a brain wide and system-wide effect that might carry with it a lot of side effects.

HAMILTON: Purdon says stimulating the precuneus might even reproduce ketamine’s powerful antidepressant effect, though that’s never been tried. Jon Hamilton, NPR News.

Subtracting out-of-body experiences as evidence for a soul, or as proof that humans live beyond their physical death, leaves that theory injured, and wholly without evidence. Our science tells us that people cannot continue their conscious identity without a body. 2000 years ago, this seemed possible, but it no longer makes sense.

(4473) Our gods are made unaccountable for a reason

Did you ever wonder why Christians are swift to sing god’s praises when one person in a family is spared death during a storm, but never criticize their god when the whole family is wiped out? There is a reason for this, and it is discussed in this article:


All gods are human made—and we make them unaccountable for a reason.

In February 25, 1649, three rabbis convened a trial against God Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth. Although the defendant’s problematic behavior was nothing new, the decision to bring him at last before the bar was sparked by a fresh atrocity—a pogrom in which every Jew in the town of Shamgorod, save two, had been slain.

The trial was a fantasy, imagined by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel for his 1979 play The Trial of God. But like Arthur Miller’s allegory on McCarthyism in The Crucible, Wiesel’s 17th-century pogrom was anchored in a more recent horror—the Holocaust, of which Wiesel was the sole survivor in his immediate family.

Wiesel was justified in feeling that a God who claimed to be both all-loving and all-powerful had a lot to answer for.

It wasn’t the first or last fictional depiction of God on trial. The Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov interrogates and banishes Jesus; in two different films, an Australian fisherman and a Gujarati atheist sue God when their insurance companies refuse to pay for the loss of a boat/shop due to an act of God; and in the 14th-century tract Consolatio peccatorum, seu Processus Luciferi contra Jesum Christum, Lucifer sues Christ for trespassing in Hell after his crucifixion.

There have also been several real-world suits against God, with plaintiffs including a lawyer’s secretary whose house was struck by lightning, a Nebraska state senator and atheist who sought “a permanent injunction ordering God to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats”; a convicted murderer in Romania who pursued a breach of contract suit against God for failing to protect him from the Devil despite his baptism (the contract); and an Indian lawyer who sued Rama for abusing his wife, Sita.

Although the fictional trials had varying outcomes, all of the real-world actions ended the same: it was judged impractical, or otherwise unthinkable, to hold the god in question to account for his actions or inactions.

But there’s another instructive difference between fact and fiction here. Fiction has the freedom to focus on the trial and the charges. The idea itself is allowed to play out for our consideration. But in actual cases, whenever an unimpeachable god is placed in the dock, the fury of his followers becomes the real story. Each of the actual plaintiffs above was the recipient of a torrent of abuse from the faithful for the very suggestion that their god might be criminally culpable for the mayhem in his wake. This is important: The charge itself doesn’t even enter into it. It’s the very idea of accountability that is unthinkable.

The current god in the dock

The criminal indictment of Donald Trump—the whole Trump saga, really—has less to do with him than with his followers, whose devotion not coincidentally mimics religious fervor. Like every other man-made god, he gave them something they yearned for. Whereas Jehovah conquered death, Trump conquered political correctness, “wokeness,” a world in which their dominance was under threat. It felt amazing to be liberated from that threat. They weren’t the crazy ones, he said—it was everyone else! And with their support, he (and he alone) would set things right again.

In return, like religious zealots, they’ve declared his culpability unthinkable. Putting him at risk puts that feeling at risk. No evidence, no matter how overwhelming, can dislodge their faith in him and in the vile wrongness of his persecutors.

Even if he is found guilty, nothing will change for the true believers because nothing can change. As Robert McAfee Brown said in his introduction to Wiesel’s Trial of God:

The trial lasted several nights. Witnesses were heard, evidence was gathered, conclusions were drawn, all of which issued finally in a unanimous verdict: the Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, was found guilty of crimes against creation and humankind. And then, after what Wiesel describes as an “infinity of silence”, the Talmudic scholar looked at the sky and said “It’s time for evening prayers”, and the members of the tribunal recited Maariv, the evening service.

So it goes.

Special Counsel Jack Smith said, “We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone.” But in the compartmented heads of the faithful, that is simply unthinkable.

Christians safeguard their feelings for God by making sure that God never gets blamed for tragedies, and, on the flip side, always gets praised for favorable outcomes. This way their god is never vulnerable for being exposed as evil, indifferent, or, for horrors, non-existent. This would be analogous to praising Hitler for his oratory skills while remaining silent on everything else.

(4474) Hide and seek with dire consequences

Imagine playing a game of hide and seek, where if you fail to find the hider, you are inflicted with intense pain. That is essentially the game that Christianity is playing. Yahweh hides out, making it look very much like he doesn’t exist, and then threatens those who fail to find him with unending torment. Is this a fair game? Is this the type of divine being that deserves to be worshiped? The following was taken from:


God plays hide and seek like little kids do. It isn’t here but it demands a lot from us. Unreasonable.

People are OK with this. They say they can’t wait to spend eternity worshiping and in the presence of a complete stranger. Of course this thing threatens to punish us if we don’t believe (because you know its so loving and all that) so these brainwashed terrified poor weak people probably think eternity of worship is better than eternity of torture. In reality they both suck.

This absent, invisible useless god sucks. Hide and seek is the favored game. Having faith in bullshit is not a noble quality. Believing in reality and what you see before your eyes is at least being true to yourself.

To be honest, it doesn’t really matter whether Yahweh exists or not. His heaven would be a hell to anyone, being forced to worship a god who is simultaneously torturing many of your loved ones, all of whom had good reasons not to believe. Living an unending, unchanging, un-challenging existence that seems to serve no purpose other than to stoke the divine ego. Heaven and hell are equally horrible. The best hope is that this god and all other gods are non-existent and that death will deliver a peaceful state of nothingness.

(4475) Jesus doubles down on demons

We know that demons don’t exist. Everything previously attributed to their actions are now known to have physiological causes. But Jesus didn’t seem to know this, as he conformed to the conventional wisdom of his day. Jesus not only believed in demons, but thought that there were at least two different kinds of them. Consider this scripture:

Mark 9:28-29

And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”

So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

So apparently Jesus thought that some demons could come out of a person simply by ordering it to do so in his name, but that others were able to resist this command and required some additional prayer and fasting. So he is inventing two categories of a thing that doesn’t exist.

It should be obvious that if this scripture is accurately reporting the actions of Jesus, then he was not God, not connected to a god, and not any more enlightened than any other person of his time. If this is not accurately reporting what happened, then that’s another serious problem.

(4476) Bible god is not the god of classical theism

Classical theism proposes a god who is unmoved, unchanged, and unchallenged, a static figure of strength and power. Although Christians imagine their god to be characterized as such, their scriptures tell a different story. The Bible god, Yahweh, in no way meets the classical definition of the divine. The following was taken from:


Recently came across a classical theist presenting Aquinas argument of the prime mover/pure act and using terminology such as potencies and actuality. The claim is that “God” is devoid of potencies and can’t be moved/changed. They then reinforce this position with the famous verse from the OT “I am who I am” as solemn support for this thesis and vision of God.

However, they exclude/ignore all the other references and descriptions of God from the Bible. Considering the Bible as a whole we can very quickly exclude the Abrahamic God from the list of possible candidates of this purified perfect unchanging God.

In the OT the alleged God changes all the time. This God is soothed by the aroma of burning flesh, God frequently grows angry and is full of wrath, God is surprised with human industriousness in the story of the tower of Babel, God’s wrath can be placated by blood sacrifice, and God even changes his mind when arguing with Moses in Exodus. The Biblical text literally says.

“And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” (Exodus 32:14)

It would be to their advantage for Christians to concede that much of how their god is portrayed in the Old Testament is in error. Because without that admission, their theology is resting on a flimsy surface, and their god is neither strong, nor unchanging, nor consistently loving. He is a brute, making worship of him a forced conviction under threat of punishment.

(4477) Rates of infant mortality

If Christianity was true, then God would be carefully overseeing the birth of new humans, and we should see a consistent (and very low) mortality rate among newborns. But this is not what has happened. The rate of infant mortality was previously very high and has been consistently dropping. While the amount of prayers over this period of time has remained the same, the application of improved scientific medical procedures has been steadily advancing. So, it seems, no- it is obviously true, that these babies are surviving by means of science and not by prayers. The following was taken from:


Infant Mortality Rates. This alone is a fatal blow to theism. How can it possibly be argued that god is paying attention to what’s going on? So much heartache for parents throughout millennia. God couldn’t be bothered? Bastian points out:

“Two hundred years ago, there was a 50 percent chance of your child not surviving past its first year. By 1850, IMR for babies born in America was 217 per 1,000 for whites and 340 for African Americans. By 1950, global IMR was down to 152 per 1,000 babies born (15.2 percent).

“It is thanks to advancements in medicine and biomedical science that these numbers have been reduced to 4.3 percent today and continue to fall…New life is still shuttered at staggering rates across the third world from malnutrition, infectious diseases, and a miscellany of genetic factors. One can only imagine how high these numbers have climbed historically, prior to when these types of records were kept. Salvation of these newborns has clearly been delivered by the hands of science, not by any god or goddess.”

According to Christians, God is intimately involved in the human reproduction process. This is why they oppose abortion and often birth control as well. But if infant mortality is used a barometer for this theory, then they are DEAD WRONG. If God is somehow involved with this, then he is miserable failure.

(4478) How Christianity broke away from Judaism

It is not well known among Christians that the earliest followers of Jesus were Jews and didn’t consider themselves to be anything other than Jews. In fact, most of the early Gentile converts also considered themselves to be converts to Judaism, even if they didn’t comply with all of the Jewish commandments. At least some effort was made to do so, as attested by what can be gleaned from the scriptures. It wasn’t until after the Jewish-Roman War, culminating in CE 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple that Christianity made a clean break from Judaism and became a separate religion. At that point, the theology of a ‘New Covenant’ gave Christians the allowance to dis-observe the Jewish law and strike out in an independent fashion. The following was taken from:


In the very early stages of Christianity the movement was almost entirely Jewish. But by the time Paul comes around there begins to be a significant flow of Gentiles who are interested in hearing about Jesus. The Jewish-Christian apostles are working under the tacit assumption that this is a Jewish movement focused around a Jewish messiah and a Jewish God, and so anyone interesting in becoming a follower of Jesus should/would necessarily want to convert to Judaism to get the full flavor. But Paul notices rightly that the full demands of converting to Judaism (circumcision particularly) are not being well received by a large contingent of these interested gentiles, and are hurting his ability to bring these people into the fold.

This is where we find Paul meeting with the Jerusalem disciples to try and hash out whether or not converting to Judaism, and therefore following Jewish law, is a necessary requirement to be part of the movement, because these Jerusalem based Jewish proselytizers (“Judaizers”) keep insisting they must (or should). James, the brother of Jesus, is the leader and final decision maker of the disciples in the Jerusalem church and makes the decision that if these gentiles don’t wish to convert to Judaism then they don’t need to follow Jewish law (obviously, because Jewish law is for the Jews only, not universally). So James gives them a short list of guiding principles that they should, at the very least, try to follow. This includes avoiding eating meat sacrificed to idols, eating meat with blood in it, and avoiding sexual immorality. Paul considers this a victory and passes along this judgement to his congregations. In no way is James saying that Christians in general don’t need to follow Jewish law, however. Jewish-Christians, who still make up the majority of the believers in Jerusalem for instance, are not released from their Jewish obligations. And so Paul is approved to spread this decision amongst the Gentiles, as James and the others continue with the Jewish mission.

This isn’t the end of the story, however, as Paul appears to continue to spread this message amongst Jews as well as the gentiles, leading some Jews that hear him to understand that they too can, or should, stop following Jewish customs and laws. The incident in Antioch is an example of this, where the strict rules about Jews not eating with gentiles are being disregarded in Paul’s church, and “men from James” come to re-enforce the rules, much to Paul’s distain. But the Jewish contingent, including Peter and Barnabas, bow to this pressure from the “home office” and appear to agree to re-enforce the restrictions. Paul disagrees with this decision, unsurprisingly. Paul even disagrees with the light restrictions that James placed on the gentiles earlier, regarding eating meat sacrificed to idols, as we can see in 1 Corinthians where he argues that only “weak brothers” with a “weak conscience” believe that idols are real and that in reality no harm is done by eating such meat, aside from offending these “weak brothers”.

So, we can see that even outside of Jewish law Paul had some issues with the kinds of light restrictions that were being passed down from James for the gentiles. This is a struggle that is consistent throughout the entirety of James and Paul’s lives, and is really never solved. Taking Acts (and a grain of salt) we see that when Paul visits Jerusalem very late in his career he is still accused of “teaching Jews among the gentiles to forsake Moses”, and tells Paul that he’s not really well liked by the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. It’s not until the revolution and destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD that this Jewish oversight of the movement is eliminated and Jewish influence is largely a non-issue going forward.

I recommend “Paul and Jesus” by James Tabor and “Paul vs James” by Barrie Wilson, for further reading on this issue.

What should be obvious with regard to the history of the Jesus movement is that it changed rather significantly during the 40-year period from CE 30 to CE 70. Starting out as a purely Jewish religion (as Jesus intended) and ending up as a quasi-separate faith, asserting that God had created a new theology of his own, a New Covenant, changing the rules, that now was available to everybody, not just the Jews. This was the religion of Paul, not the religion of Jesus.

(4479) Jesus was OK with animal sacrifice

Jesus allegedly arrived on the scene so he could be killed to replace the practice of sacrificing animals to appease the wrath of God. But as soon as he began his ministry, he was still promoting this disgusting primitive ritual. The following was taken from:


Then there are those who have been groomed to believe in ancient superstitions about a god who keeps a close watch on every person, and whose anger about human sin was modified by a human sacrifice—who, in fact, was this god’s only son, “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)

How can we get people to just say NO? This is pathetic magical thinking, that derives from the belief that killing an animal was a method for making a god less angry that you’ve done something wrong. This practice is on full view in the Old Testament. Check out the first chapter of Leviticus, vv. 4-5:

“You shall lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be acceptable on your behalf as atonement for you. The bull shall be slaughtered before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer the blood, dashing the blood against all sides of the altar…”

Before the Jerusalem temple was destroyed in 70 CE, this was still common practice, as we find in Jesus-script in Mark 1:44. After Jesus had healed a man with a skin disease, he ordered him:

“See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded as a testimony to them.”

This ancient superstition thrives today because there’s a huge bureaucracy dedicated to keeping it going, with one big change. The early Jesus cult was convinced that a single human sacrifice had replaced animal sacrifices. Among other things, this bureaucracy has been obsessed with building, and many of these structures are filled with splendid works of art, e.g., paintings, sculpture, stained glass—truly, wonders to behold. But the rituals practiced in these places of worship often represent the worst of ancient superstitions: drinking the blood and eating the flesh of the human sacrifice. Religion thriving on magic potions as well as magical thinking. (John 6:53-57) When I was growing up, this was communion—across town at the Catholic church it was the miracle of the Mass. It was naively accepted. We had been trained to be gullible.

As noted in the Markan scripture, Jesus endorsed the practice of animal sacrifice despite being sent to end it. Some Christians will say that this ritual needed to be continued until his death on the cross a year later. But if Jesus was God, why did he tell the man to cleanse himself with an animal sacrifice? Couldn’t he have done it himself right there? I mean, if he was God couldn’t he forgive right away, or did he still need some bloodletting to do it?

Why does Jesus, starting a new contract between man and the divine, resort to endorsing a primitive means of atonement that he knows will soon (mercifully) end. None of this makes sense, and it just places Jesus as being fully enmeshed in the primitive, superstitious culture of his time- the idea that blood must be spilled to enact forgiveness.

(4480) Bible refutes God’s tri-omni nature

Christians are taught that God is everywhere, is all-powerful, and knows everything. So if that is the case why do we read this scripture?:

Genesis 18:20-21

Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

The following was taken from:


I must be pedantic for a moment. Omnipotent is All Powerful. Omnipresent is In All Places At All Times. Omniscient is All Knowing.

All three of them, along with All Loving, are properties that Catholics are taught gawd possesses. However there’s a story in Genesis that disproves those claims:

Yahweh visits Abraham at his house. Yahweh is traveling to Sodom to investigate reports of “wickedness” in the city, and if the reports are correct Yahweh will smite the city. Abraham bargains with Yahweh to save the city, saying “what if there is even one good man there?” Eventually Yahweh relents.

If the Yahweh character is omniscient why does he need to investigate anything, shouldn’t he already know?

If the Yahweh character is omnipresent why would he need to travel anywhere?

If the Yahweh character is omnipotent why is he only able to smite the “wicked” and the innocent at the same time? Why can’t he smite just the “wicked” and leave the innocent unharmed?

It is inconvenient to Christians that the Bible directly refutes what they are trained to believe. God is everywhere? Nope. God is all-knowing? Nope. And the list goes on- God is merciful? Nope. God is loving? Nope. God is forgiving? It depends, unlike regular humans, he forgives only if you worship him. What a stinking brute!

(4481) Holy book full of holes

The following delivers a 2-minute review of the Bible that lays it to waste. How an omnipotent deity could not have crafted a better product is something that Christians need to consider.


A preacher recently asked me how I view the bible, so I told him (of course I’m paraphrasing)

“The Old Testament is a collection of 39 books relating the myths and fables of the Jews. It condones slavery, treats women as property, gives the most appalling instructions to “the chosen people” in its treatment of “others” including wholesale genocide. It’s “moral” teachings are extremely reprehensible, given by the monstrous figure of Yahweh. A book adopted by Christian’s because they believe it prophesies the coming of Jesus, which it doesn’t. I agree with Marcion, it’s a book that should have been consigned to the dustbin of history.

As for the New Testament, it starts with four differing accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus. Two of which borrow from the first written, Mark, along with material from other sources and the last, John, which tells a whole other story with a completely different Jesus. So which of these is the “story” one should take from? they all tell of a different character and constantly contradict each other. There’s very little history there and much of myth.

This is followed by the story of the surviving apostles which quickly turns into a love letter about Paul. Paul who is credited with having written thirteen letters, six of which are forgeries, but he is the only identifiable author in the entire book. More letters follow not written by the claimed authors, illiterate Aramaic speaking day workers and fishermen. And the last a book of the mad ramblings of a man who found some interesting mushrooms on Patmos.

So tell me, what exactly do you think I can take from this book, what moral lessons do you believe it contains? While I will admit that now and then it says some things I can agree with those nuggets are few and far between and none of which I cannot get from my own moral foundation based on my secular humanism, your book offers me me nothing.”

The Bible offers nothing of value other than a few feel-good verses that are easily obtained from other sources. But it also includes much that would be better consigned to the nearest landfill. Why would a message from God have to include genocide, incest, misogyny, slavery, and homophobia? Look, we as humans are better than that- why not God?

(4482) Differences in Jesus coming and going

Let’s start with how Jesus left the earth:

Acts 1:9-11

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Note the angel’s promise that he will return in the same way- meaning that he will descend to the earth in his male human body (neglecting for the moment the problem of a human body traveling in outer space).

But that’s not how he came the first time, back in CE 0. And the question should be asked, why not?

And how exactly did Jesus come to the earth then? He must have had this physical body beforehand if he had it ‘after-hand.’ So when he came did his body just disintegrate and become a male sperm cell that entered Mary’s vagina?

Christians gloss over this problem. They believe that God is everywhere, that Jesus is God, but then believe that he was a human for 30 years and at that time most certainly was not everywhere. In fact, not only was he not everywhere, but he was a fetus within Mary’s body for nine months. During this time of gestation was he still administering his divine powers or did he just have them turned off?

But according to the angel (neglecting for the moment that angels don’t exist) he will come back just as he left- in a human body floating down to the earth- not as a fetus inside a woman. Why the difference? Why not come that way the first time?

Ah, the Christian says- ‘because he had to fulfill the scriptures that he was a descendant of David.’ But Joseph (presumably a descendant), his step dad, did not contribute to the conception– so that scripture was not fulfilled anyway.

The bottom line is that none of this makes sense, unless you have been inculcated from an early age, or your critical thinking skills are seriously diminished.

(4483) Atheist beliefs

Beliefs are generally associated with religion. But it is insightful to see a list of beliefs associated with atheism. The following was taken from:


My ex Christian beliefs are as follows in 10 simple points, each of which has been the focus of one debate / discussion or another around here:

1) I believe that all religions are man made social constructs geared towards politicizing ancient mythology and folklore.

2) I believe that no one really knows with certainty the answer to the question of origins or destination.

3) I believe that the bible is demonstrably false from the outset as a guide to the truth of the universe or the human condition.

4) I believe that anything basing itself on the assumption that the bible is true is automatically false, as the bible is demonstrably false.

5) I believe that morality is an evolved concept which continues to evolve and has never been static or handed down from on high.

6) I believe that the morality of the biblical writings is long since outdated and mostly irrelevant to modern society.

7) I believe that modern scholarship has revealed the truth about the biblical writings and the evolving theistic concepts contained therein.

8) I believe that it’s both intellectually honest and well intended to expose what truths can be demonstrated about the bible and Christianity, through counter apologetics.

9) I believe that as painful as it may be at times, it’s ultimately for the greater good that Christianity and similar religions are losing membership and declining into the future under the weight of their own growing lack of relevance.

10) I believe that humanity doesn’t need the fluff and circus show of religion in order for people to do what’s right, be decent, and get along.

I believe that any god who would punish someone holding these beliefs is not worthy of respect, much less worship. The Christian god is a terrorist and deserves to be hated.

(4484) Jesus quotes Isaiah to send people to hell

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus makes a statement that seems 180 degrees out of phase with what conventional Christianity is all about- trying to save everyone. He seems to want to restrict salvation to a select few. In so doing, he was quoting from Isaiah, where a similar effort was made to keep people from being saved. The following was taken from:


Again Jesus began to teach by the lake…. The Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “To those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mark 4:10-13)

From everything I’ve seen and read about this passage it seems to be Jesus saying he is intentionally giving them parables so they don’t understand and won’t be saved. The Oxford Bible commentary says this,

“These verses are, by almost universal consent, among the hardest in the whole gospel to interpret, w. 11—12 seem to ascribe to Jesus the view that he teaches in parables precisely in order to hide his meaning and to prevent other people (the crowds) from understanding him. This is what Mark’s Greek clearly means…”

And this passage seems to be quoting Isaiah 6 in which God intentionally hardens Israel’s hearts so they won’t repent, see this quote,

“Christ’s teachings confirm Isaiah 6:9-10 that the closed eyes, dulled ears, and hardened hearts are deliberately forced upon God’s disobedient people in order to prevent them from understanding, choose conversion, and receive healing.” – EXEGESIS OF ISAIAH 6:1-13 BY KATHY L. MCFARLAND

Here is Isaiah 6:9-10:

He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;

be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’

Make the heart of this people calloused;

make their ears dull

and close their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

hear with their ears,

understand with their hearts,

and turn and be healed.”

So Jesus quotes from this scripture to justify keeping people from making it to heaven. This should be a show stopper, but of course, Christians are not known to think very deeply about their faith.

(4485) The Newer Covenant

Christians assert that God changed the rules which govern his interactions with humans. First he created a law-based contract with a small tribe of people (the Israelites) to the exclusion of all other civilizations. Then, after almost a thousand years, he created a ‘New Covenant’ that was a faith-based contract that included all of humanity. This represented a dramatic shift for a ‘changeless’ god.

But what would prevent God from changing his mind again?– and create a ‘Newer Covenant.’ He made a change once, why can’t he do it again? After all, he is God, and what he decides, goes.

The Newer Covenant might be a shift away from faith, while emphasizing more how one acts and treats others. This newer dispensation might allow people to enjoy his celestial paradise without a requirement to hold a specific belief. In other words, good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell regardless of whether they believe in him, other gods, or no god at all. Most people would see this newer covenant as being (much) better than the first two.

If God changed his mind once, there is no reason to believe he won’t do it again. It would be hard for any Christian to refute this possibility. They might say that God was adamant about the New Covenant, but he was also adamant about the Old Covenant, and that didn’t stop him from engineering a significant overhaul. There is simply no argument to be made. Yahweh changed his mind once, and there’s no reason why he won’t do it again.

If the Newer Covenant above becomes reality, it will be good news for good atheists, and bad news for bad Christians.

(4486) Jesus killed due to arming apostles

The gospels make it clear that Jesus had his followers lightly arm themselves with swords as they entered Jerusalem for the last time, apparently in anticipation of a skirmish that they thought might accompany an envisioned (and hoped for) world-ending apocalypse (with Jesus ascending to the divine throne) during the Passover season in Jerusalem. It is conjectured that the bearing of arms within the city limits of Jerusalem alarmed the Romans, and this might have been the central reason why Jesus was crucified. The following was taken from:


Jesus may have been crucified because his followers were carrying weapons, according to a scholarly analysis of New Testament books.

Dale Martin, a professor of religious studies at Yale University, says that this aspect of stories about Jesus, as told in the gospels, has received too little attention, but could alone explain Jesus’s execution and also show that the man from Nazareth was not the pacifist he’s usually made out to be.The biblical books of Mark and Luke both state that at least one (and probably two or more) of Jesus’s followers was carrying a sword when Jesus was arrested shortly after the Last Supper, at the time of the Jewish festival of Passover. One disciple, Simon Peter, even used his sword to cut off the ear of one of those arresting Jesus, according to the Gospel of John.

This militant behavior almost certainly wouldn’t have been tolerated by the Romans, led by the prefect Pontius Pilate, Martin tells Newsweek. For example, historical documents show that it was illegal at the time to walk about armed in Rome and in some other Roman cities. Although no legal records survive from Jerusalem, it stands to reason, based on a knowledge of Roman history, that the region’s rulers would have frowned upon the carrying of swords, and especially wouldn’t have tolerated an armed band of Jews roaming the city during Passover, an often turbulent festival, Martin says.

“Just as you could be arrested in Rome for even having a dagger, if Jesus’s followers were armed, that would be reason enough to crucify him,” says Martin, whose analysis was published this month in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament.Harold Attridge, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School who wasn’t involved with the paper, tells Newsweek that Martin’s analysis is sound and that “likely the Romans would have been severe against someone seen as a political threat,” as almost certainly would have been the case with Jesus.

The paper “reminds us that the early followers of Jesus and perhaps Jesus himself were inevitably thrown into conflict with arbitrary state terrorism by the Roman Empire [in which] Romans practiced both random and intentional violence against populations they had conquered, killing tens of thousands by crucifixion,” says New Testament scholar Hal Taussig, who is with the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Martin’s paper addresses an even more important question, says Bart Ehrman, a professor at the University of North Carolina: Why were Jesus’s followers armed at all, especially during a religious festival?

Martin makes the case that Jesus and his followers were likely expecting that an apocalyptic showdown was on the horizon, one in which divine forces (in the form of angels) would destroy Rome and Herod’s temple and usher in a holy reign. And this might require some fighting by Jesus’s disciples, he adds.

It sounds pretty far-out, but a similar scenario is described in parts of the Book of Revelation. And this scenario of “heavenly forces joined by human forces…was an expectation in a central document of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” a group of texts that shed light on the thinking of various Jewish peoples around the time of Jesus, Martin adds.

Indeed, many academics who study the historicity of the Bible believe “that Jesus was an apocalyptic Jewish prophet who was expecting an imminent arrival of the kingdom of God on Earth,” Martin says.

The paper also suggests that Jesus may have been in favor of fighting, at least in this apocalyptic instance, Ehrman tells Newsweek.

“It’s making me rethink my view that Jesus was a complete pacifist,” he says. “And it takes a lot for me to change my views about Jesus.”

The gospels are not reliable historical documents, but they do hint at what might have been a reason for Jesus’ execution. This is far more believable than that he was killed because he claimed to be the King of the Jews, and that this incensed the Sanhedrin to the point where they prescribed the death penalty.

Anyway, and besides all of this, Christians should find it troubling that Jesus would need any weapons at all if he was the omnipotent god of the universe.

(4487) Sixty-five years without the paranormal

The testimony below indicates the following:

If the world contains paranormal activity, supernatural beings, or magical elements unknown to science, then these phenomena must be very subtle for all of it to evade the perceptions of an elderly well-traveled person.

The following was taken from:


I am 65 years old. I have been all over the US and to several foreign countries. I have slept in countless houses and hotels in the city and out in the boonies.

I have never experienced or witnessed any sort of paranormal or extraterrestrial event. No ghosts. Nothing attributable to poltergeists. No ET. No miracles. No walking dead. No voices coming from unknown sources. No feelings of an unseen presence. No real unexplained events. Nothing.

How about you? I just wonder if there is a correlation between the willingness to believe in a god or other supernatural entities and “experiencing” such events.

It seems that you have to believe in these extraordinary things before you ‘see’ them. Specifically, the ordinariness of common life is the best evidence against Christianity– we don’t live in a world that is compatible with Christian ‘truths.’

(4488) Inherited brain circuitry affects religiosity

According to recent research, it appears that one’s degree of belief in religion, as well as any other paranormal phenomena, depends largely on inherited features of brain circuitry. Religious people tend to use lower-order (more primitive) areas of the brain to process their beliefs, while non-believers evaluate religion using higher order (more recently evolved) sections of the brain. The following was taken from:


Delusions are false beliefs that are held with certainty and are resistant to contradictory evidence. The human brain appears to easily embrace false beliefs and act as though they are true. Conspiracy theorists enjoy talking about the suspicious role of the CIA in Kennedy’s assassination, aliens at Area 51, and the claims by some conservatives that former President Donald Trump won the last election. Neuroscientists are fascinated by the resilience of this brain proclivity.

One study of the resilience of delusions was performed in 1959. Psychologist Milton Rokeach brought together three male schizophrenic patients who all identified as Christ. They lived together for two years in the Ypsilanti State Hospital. At first, the patients got along well, but then, their conversations turned to the issue of who is Christ. They argued extensively. “You oughta worship me, I’ll tell you that!” one of the Christs yelled. “I will not worship you! You’re a creature!” At the end of the experiment, they each were convinced that the other two were mentally ill and that they were the true Jesus. Today’s political discourse exhibits similar features.

The Experience of Delusions

The delusions of these three schizophrenics, like today’s conspiracy theorists, were assigned certainty and were intolerant to any scrutiny that might give rise to doubt, even when confronted with the weakness of their evidence. A recent study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify the brain network(s) involved in gathering information under conditions of weak evidence. The study compared people with schizophrenia experiencing delusions as compared with people with schizophrenia not experiencing delusions, as well as healthy controls. The healthy controls and patients not experiencing delusions strongly activated a brain network involved in visual attention; patients with delusional beliefs showed no increased activity in this network. Essentially, delusional thinking manifests as reduced information analysis during the early stages of visual information processing whereby weak evidence is incorrectly stamped as conclusive.

Today, almost two thousand different religions are practiced by humans. Religious beliefs are a form of extremely resistant personal delusions that are held with certainty and are resilient to contradictory evidence. A recent study investigated which resting-state brain circuits are utilized by religious non-believers, as compared to religious believers. Previous studies have demonstrated that a resting-state analysis is objective, stable, and capable of revealing individual differences in how the brain functions. Essentially, the analysis provides a kind of neural fingerprint of which brain regions are involved in the processing of emotions, memories, and thoughts.

Heuristic or Analytic Reasoning

The believers self-identified as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu. The non-believers self-identified as atheists or agnostics. The believers and non-believers did not significantly differ with regard to gender (only slightly more were female), standard markers of intelligence, social status, a predisposition towards anxiousness, or emotional instability. The study concluded that not believing in a deity is due to the activation of distinct higher-order brain networks. The results demonstrated that religious believers are more likely to use more intuitive and heuristic reasoning and that religious non-believers are more likely to use more deliberate and analytic reasoning. For example, non-believers are more likely to process sensory information, particularly visual information, in a more deliberative manner that involves higher cortical areas, called top-down processing, involved in reasoning.

In contrast, religious believers are more likely to interpret visual information in a more emotional or intuitive manner, called bottom-up processing, which involves more ancient brain systems. Religious believers share this bottom-up processing bias with people who believe in supernatural or paranormal activity, such as telekinesis or clairvoyance.

Delusions may not always indicate a severe mental illness, sometimes they are just evidence of variations in the inherited brain circuitry of people who easily embrace wildly improbable beliefs that are powerfully held despite incontrovertible counter-evidence.

Religious people, particularly those who carry a strong sense of belief into later adulthood, are more likely to have brain circuitry that permits them to cognitively bypass evidence that normally would destroy the cherished beliefs learned in childhood. Atheists have no problem seeing the obvious- that all supernatural-based religions are mythical. But this research provides a good reason to not blame anyone for their religious beliefs- it seems that it is largely an inherited trait, much as hair and eye color.

(4489) Age of Miracles

Christian and other Abrahamic religions promote the idea that there was a time and place where miraculous events occurred, and that the fact that we don’t see them much anymore is not a problem with the theology. The idea is that there was an ‘age of miracles’ that has settled down into an age of fewer and less dramatic miracles. The following essay refutes this theory:


In Abrahamic theology, the concept of the “Age of Miracles” refers to a period in history when supernatural events were believed to have occurred frequently, demonstrating divine intervention. However, a closer examination of specific examples from the Abrahamic traditions reveals inherent logical challenges. This argument aims to showcase the illogical nature of the “Age of Miracles” by analyzing inconsistent patterns of miracles, the selective nature of divine intervention, contradictions with scientific understanding, and the implications for a coherent worldview.

Inconsistent Patterns of Miracles:

When we study the religious texts of the Abrahamic traditions, such as the Bible, Torah, and Quran, we find that miraculous events are concentrated within specific time periods and contexts. For instance, the Bible’s Old Testament recounts numerous miracles during the time of Moses and the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, while the New Testament records several miracles attributed to Jesus and his apostles. Yet, these events seem to diminish significantly as we move into more recent historical periods. If the “Age of Miracles” was a consistent reality, one would expect divine intervention to transcend time and remain evident throughout history.

Selective Nature of Miracles:

In Abrahamic traditions, miracles are predominantly associated with specific religious figures and groups. For example, in the Bible, we witness God performing miracles exclusively for the Hebrew people during their journey in the wilderness. Similarly, the Quran narrates miraculous occurrences primarily involving the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. Such selectiveness raises questions about the objectivity and universality of divine intervention. If the “Age of Miracles” were genuine, we would anticipate a broader distribution of miracles across different cultures and religious contexts.

Contradictions with Scientific Understanding:

The concept of the “Age of Miracles” contradicts established scientific principles and natural laws. Miracles, by definition, involve the suspension or violation of these laws. For instance, the miraculous parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites’ escape challenges our understanding of hydrodynamics. The Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection defies the universally accepted principle of biological death. Embracing the “Age of Miracles” requires rejecting the predictability and consistency of the natural world, leading to an inherent conflict between faith and reason.

Evolution of Divine Agency:

Throughout history, as human knowledge has expanded, the interpretation of divine agency has evolved in Abrahamic traditions. Early societies often attributed natural events, such as thunderstorms or eclipses, to divine intervention due to their lack of scientific understanding. However, as scientific knowledge has advanced, many of these phenomena can now be explained through natural causes. The concept of an “Age of Miracles” becomes increasingly problematic as our understanding of the world expands, and we rely less on supernatural explanations for natural occurrences.

Implications for a Coherent Worldview:

Belief in the “Age of Miracles” challenges the coherence of a consistent worldview. If we accept the historical occurrence of countless miracles, it alters our understanding of causality and natural order. The scientific method, based on cause and effect relationships, is undermined by the idea of arbitrary supernatural interventions. Moreover, relying on miracles to explain certain events may lead to fatalistic thinking, limiting human agency and progress.

The concept of the “Age of Miracles” in Abrahamic theology faces logical challenges when examined through specific examples. The inconsistent patterns of miracles, the selective nature of divine intervention, contradictions with scientific understanding, and implications for a coherent worldview all contribute to its inherent illogical nature.

Instead of a bygone age of miracles, or a geographical limit to their occurrence, we would expect, given that Christianity is true, that there would be a more or less long-term consistent rate of miracles spread broadly over the entire planet. This has not happened. Recently, with the availability of much greater information-gathering apparatus, we have seen nothing of a miraculous nature that evades common explanation. It seems that age of miracles is nothing more than a mythical concept.

(4490) Six problems for miracle claims

If a Christian admitted that the miracle claims of the Bible are mythical, it would be difficult to understand why such a person would continue to identify as a Christian. Perhaps because they found some worth in the words of Jesus as documented in the New Testament, or that they enjoy the pageantry of the Exodus story, whatever. But, in the final analysis, Christianity without miracles is dead, and the following explains why the miracle claims of the Bible are highly problematic:


To lay out the reasons why an appeal to the supernatural runs against the principles of modernized, critical history is practically just to give a lesson in critical thinking. Here, then, are six general problems for miracle claims and for theism:

    • These claims are improbable, by definition, as David Hume explained, since laws of nature are backed by a wealth of experience, so a naturalistic explanation of an event is always more probable than a claim that a law of nature has been violated.
    • These claims are untestable and unfalsifiable, which cheapens them. The fact that affirmations of the supernatural can be modified to incorporate all possible contrary pieces of evidence reassures folks psychologically, but this practice detaches the miracle claim, say, from the objective world. The claim that a miracle occurred or that God exists and answers prayers is based more on human imagination and rationalization than on what the facts themselves report.
    • These claims commit the fallacy of special pleading. After all, why accept only Christian miracle claims? Why not be just as credulous about the supernatural assumptions of all the world’s religions? For that matter, why not accept all the world’s conspiracy theories? Here, then, is a slippery slope: if you’re going to relax the principles of critical thinking in one area, you might as well relax them everywhere. But Christian apologists don’t do that: they’re skeptical about every myth apart from theirs, which is inconsistent.
    • These claims are inconsistent with modern background knowledge established by science, which is just to say the claims aren’t naturalistic.
    • These claims are explanatorily empty since they’re not reductive, and they posit big mysteries as pseudo-explanations of small mysteries. The miracle of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, for instance, is “explained” by saying the miraculous figure of God somehow made it happen. None of that’s enlightening, so this narrative has no part in a critical report of historical facts.
    • These claims are semantically empty since they’re often internally incoherent and based on obscure concepts. It’s not just that these claims are weak as explanations; rather, they’re not meaningful propositions at all, but only signals of social allegiance. By speaking of miracles, the Christian sacrifices her integrity on the altar of her commitment to some religious authorities and institutions. Appeals to the supernatural aren’t empirical claims at all, but more like social cues disguised as statements.

The dilemma for Christians

Let’s return to the question I raised at the outset. What could it mean to say that the founding Christian narrative is historical? If we’re thinking of “history” in the technical sense, which is to say the modern way that’s been established over the last several centuries, we must conclude that it’s nonsensical to suggest that that narrative is historical.

The New Testament narrative features God and miracles, which makes it theological and therefore contrary to a skeptical, naturalistic telling of history. Moreover, the NT is explicitly propagandistic, as opposed to being a neutral, disinterested account of the facts.

What can the apologist mean by “history,” then, to reassure Christians that they have the facts on their side? There are two possibilities.

First, the apologist can adopt the modern, skeptical, naturalistic standpoint, and maintain that there’s some such history in the NT buried under layers of theological hyperbole and propaganda. Maybe the founding event of Christianity consists of the existence of a Jewish man who preached uncompromising moral principles, was crucified as a threat in a turbulent time for Roman-Jewish relations, and whose followers honoured him by deifying him with legendary tall tales.

That would be fair enough, but it would give the game away to critics of Christianity. The historical record would include no reference to miracles, God, angels, demons, divine revelation, Heaven, Hell, or an apocalyptic judgment of humanity. That is, Christian history would be purged of the theological overlay, which would entail presenting a very different narrative than what you find in the whole of the NT and in Church traditions.

Second, the apologist might equivocate on “history.” She might attempt to obtain the benefits of a modern approach to history, such as the prestige that comes with discovering objective facts, as opposed to just expressing wishes and fears. But she’d couple that with a retreat to a premodern conception of history, one far less rigorous and epistemically restrained. So, she’d have the benefits of critical history without the responsibilities.

And this would be fallacious. It would be like a witch doctor dressing up as a physician without having graduated with a medical degree and practicing magic rather than scientific remedies.

No, a narrative isn’t entitled to the honour of being called “historical” unless the teller abides by rational principles that were developed because of the Scientific Revolution’s overthrow of medieval dogmatism and theocracy. It means we’re free to think whatever we want, but if we want to know the facts, we should test the possibilities against the background knowledge that’s been scientifically established. And we should be pragmatic in discounting supernatural possibilities that are implausible and indeed incoherent.

Christianity rests on a pillar supported by miracle claims, such that each and every one of those pillars is compromised by science, common sense, human nature, and the simple day-to-day observations of how the world works. The pillars are crumbling, and what’s left of Christianity is a treatise on how people viewed morality from a time when they didn’t know what is common knowledge today.

(4491) Hell is the default position of Christianity

Unlike all other aspects of our life, Christianity states that you are guilty until proven innocent. As Christopher Hitchens once said, ‘you are born sick and commanded to be well.’ Once you back away from the inculcation of your childhood, you realize that this is an absurdity. The following was taken from:


One of the many absurdities of Christian doctrine is how, for the original sin that Adam and Eve committed by eating the forbidden fruit, we (humans) all deserve to burn in hell for our sins unless we devote ourselves to God, and that Jesus Christ died for our sins. (I was never raised religious so tell me if I’m wrong about the story).

Regardless of that, the default position for all human beings regardless of who they are is hell. Even if they were a good, moral person throughout their life; if they didn’t accept Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, didn’t get baptized, didn’t believe in God, didn’t follow the tenets of the Bible, etc. They’re going to burn in hell!

As we all know in a court of law, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. So logically (not that there is logic in religion) all humans should go to Heaven unless proven otherwise by doing immoral deeds.

But with Christianity, it’s guilty until proven innocent. We all deserve to burn in hell for our sins, the sins that Adam and Eve committed (even though we had no part in it). It’s up to us to prove that we are worthy of salvation as the burden of proof is not on the “prosecution” but the accused.

I think we can all agree that this is messed up but also it kind of works out like one of those annoying As Seen on TV ads. “They” (in which I mean religion) claim that you’re lost, immoral, sinful, and destined to burn in hell (even though you did nothing) and that your only form of salvation is from Jesus. I don’t think it’s a stretch to notice how it plays out just like a snake oil salesman as they claim your life is miserable before you had this product, but now that you have the magic potion, life is magically better.

Let me know what you think about hell being the default position because I got inspired to write this when I encountered someone at my university trying to convince people to join their church. At first they asked, “Do you believe you’re going to Heaven?” Trying not to be confrontational I answered “As long as you’re a good person, I believe so.” But then he answered, “No, you can only enter the gates of Heaven if you devote your life to Jesus.” In my head I was like WTF, so you’re saying that by default we’re all supposed to go to hell? That was before I become a more militant atheist and learned more about Christian theology and original sin but still, WTF?!

The transfer of guilt from a mythical pair of humans to all of humanity is one of the most ridiculous theological doctrines ever invented, and probably the most despicable. Human babies are born pure, with a blank slate, not as stained, sin-infused reprobates. Christianity is a cesspool of human ignorance and bullshit.

(4492) John’s gospel is eccentric

Christians rarely become aware of just how different the Gospel of John is when compared to the other three gospels. This eccentricity is casually dismissed by preachers and congregants alike. In fact, many Christians rely almost solely on John’s gospel as their go-to source of inspiration, totally oblivious that it is describing a Jesus that is wildly different from what the other gospels relate. The following was taken from:


No Baptism of Jesus

In John’s gospel, Jesus is not baptized. Since his divine Jesus had been present at creation (more about this later), there was no need for him to be baptized for the remission of sins. Matthew was also bothered by this, so when he copied Mark’s text, he said that John the Baptist himself didn’t like the idea of baptizing Jesus. Matthew added Jesus-script: “Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). In other words, let’s do it for show. In John’s gospel, Jesus doesn’t set foot in the water. The Baptist is there to proclaim that Jesus in the “lamb of God who takes way the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

 No Parables in the Teachings of Jesus

 In Mark 4:10-12 we find the bizarre Jesus-script in which he claims that he taught in parables to prevent people from repenting and being forgiven. In Mark 4:34, we read that he taught only in parables. It seems that the author of John’s gospel was determined to show this was wrong. Instead of teaching in parables, we find long Jesus monologues found in none of the other gospels.

 There is no Eucharist at the Last Supper

 In John’s presentation of this episode, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples—that’s the primary event (chapter 13). There is no mention of eating the bread as a symbol of Jesus’ body, and nothing about wine being his blood of the new covenant. However, late in chapter 6, which begins with the feeding of the Five Thousand, we find the especially ghoulish text about the importance of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood. More about this later too.

There is little ethical teaching in John.

This theologian-author was mainly concerned to present Jesus as the key to gaining eternal life. While Matthew added the Sermon on the Mount when he copied Mark’s text—and Luke modified the Sermon—John left it out altogether. And there’s a touch of irony here. In John 8 we find the famous story of the woman “taken in adultery,” whom the religious leaders are so eager to have stoned to death. They bring her to Jesus for his opinion on what to do. “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). But this story, which is commonly taken as an illustration of Jesus’ compassion, was not in the original text of John’s gospel. In some manuscripts, it turns up in Luke 21. There is nothing whatever by which to verify that it is an authentic story about Jesus.

John changed the day of the crucifixion—and Jesus’ attitude.

One of John’s theological themes is that Jesus was “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Thus it was crucial for him that Jesus die at the same time that lambs were killed for the Passover meal. The other gospels present Jesus having the Passover meal with his disciples that evening. And it was unthinkable for John that Jesus wasn’t the perfect divine being throughout the ordeal of the crucifixion. The other three gospels indicate that a man was picked out of the crowd, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. In John 19:17 we read that Jesus carried the cross himself. In Mark’s gospel, the last words of Jesus were, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” John would have none of that; when Jesus breathed his last, he simply said, “It is finished” — “then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).

Christians should be challenged to pick either the Jesus of the synoptics or the Jesus of John. Keeping both is not allowed. ‘Your savior had to be one person, not two.’

(4493) Jesus ‘prophecies’ based on circular logic

The authors of the gospels acted in an unprofessional manner when they scoured the Old Testament to ‘find’ anything that could possibly be construed as being a prophecy of Jesus. In so doing, they undermined the integrity of their work. The following was taken from:


Christians claim they believe that Jesus is the Jewish messiah based on OT messianic prophecies. But it seems to be the opposite. It seems that they claim certain verses to be messianic based on the fact that they sound like they’re talking about Jesus (or could be made to sound like they are).

John 19:36 is a perfect example. The fact that the Roman soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs is, according to John, a fulfillment of a messianic prophecy. John conveniently doesn’t specify which verse he’s quoting, but there are three possible candidates: Exodus 12:43,46; Numbers 9:12; or Psalms 34:20. The problem is that none of these are messianic prophecies. In fact, they’re not prophecies at all. Two of them are instructions, and one is a poem/song. They have nothing to do with the Messiah. They’ve been retroactively deemed as Messianic prophecies so that they can then be used as evidence for Jesus being the Messiah.

This is how almost all Christian proof texts regarding the Messiah work. The OT is scoured for passages that sound like Jesus and, since christians already assume Jesus is the messiah ahead of time, those verses are automatically considered messianic prophecies. They can then take the verse that they decided was messianic because it sounds like Jesus, and use it as evidence for Jesus being the Messiah.

If I’m wrong, and Christian’s do use some kind of objective criteria for identifying messianic prophecies, they should be able to tell me how a given verse would be evaluated as either messianic or not messianic without knowing what verse will be presented to them.

It is certain that you could locate ‘prophetic verses’ in the Old Testament to ‘show’ that they foretold the life and times of virtually every person who has ever lived. It should be OBVIOUS that if the Old Testament writers had really been prophesying Jesus, we would have seen some scriptures similar to this:

And the day will come when God will become a man, walk the earth, work wonders, preach the good news, and then will die and resurrect to make salvation available to the entire world.

Something like that would have been needed for the gospel authors to make a legitimate point.

(4494) Supernatural beliefs have roots in childhood

The research discussed below has shown that children are predisposed to interpret ritualistic behaviors as evidence for the supernatural. This appears to set the stage for them to accept in adulthood religious claims as having greater validity than what the evidence for them would suggest. The following was taken from:


Cultures are defined by their rituals. Some rituals are ubiquitous across cultures, such as marriage and holidays, whereas others differ across cultures, such as worship rites, rites of passage, oaths of allegiance, and the myriad rituals around birth and death. These rituals also vary in their expressive elements, ranging from hazing, self-mutilation, and animal sacrifice, to unique gestures, dancing, and food. Ritual is what brings us closer to our Gods and to each other, and perhaps what comforts us most in times of grief.

Given the importance of rituals in everyday life, it should come as no surprise that ritualistic behavior shows up even at the earliest stages of childhood. Children have been shown to mimic ritualistic behaviors while learning, despite the actions’ having no logical purpose. Why has evolution equipped us with such a predilection?

One reason is that developing humans like to take a precautionary approach. While learning, we reason, “Well, that seemed unnecessary… but she achieved her goal so it must have been done for a reason.” Other animals don’t do this to the same extent. Chimps, for example, have been shown to better ‘read between the lines’ and mimic only the necessary behaviors in order to execute an action. Humans, on the other hand, don’t like to miss steps, even if they appear purely performative. Rituals are also quite repetitive in nature, which might help with the memorization of new abilities and ensure that we give things more than one go.

new paper by Anna Mathiassen and Mark Nielsen takes a closer look at the potential link between children witnessing ritualistic behaviors and their supernatural beliefs surrounding those rituals. Specifically, they investigated whether children would repeat ritualistic actions on an object if they watched an adult perform those actions. They also measured whether the child assigned supernatural powers to the object that was treated ritualistically rather than instrumentally.

Previous research has supported the idea that children like to replicate irrelevant actions, especially when the goal of the action becomes increasingly obscure. A 2018 study by Nielsen and colleagues showed that, when children 3-6 years old watch an adult perform unnecessary actions while opening a box, the children are more likely to repeat these behaviors when there is no clear goal to the behavior (i.e., the box is empty) than when there is (i.e., the adult retrieves a sticker from the box). This finding is in line with the precautionary approach aforementioned, as it shows that the more uncertain we are about why an action was performed, the more likely we are to repeat it, just to be safe.

An experiment by Hannes Rakoczy and others taught 2-3-year-olds to associate new actions with a pseudo word (e.g., “I’m going to show you how to ‘dax’”. Later, when a puppet ‘daxed’, the children would protest if it was done incorrectly. This illustrates that not only do children quickly learn to perform non-instrumental behaviors, but they also form normative beliefs about them.

What previous research has failed to demonstrate is the psychological mechanisms behind ritual and how these mechanisms lead to magical beliefs.

Mathiassen and Nielsen’s recent study establishes this link by investigating whether children will form magical beliefs about an object based on how an adult interacts with the object. Instead of seeing whether the child will imitate the irrelevant actions of an adult, this study solely focuses on the child’s beliefs about the object. They hypothesized that children will be more likely to ascribe magical powers to an object when the actions toward it seem opaque, and when the overall goal for engaging with the object is unclear.

The study involved using two identical percussion eggs, with one being designated as magical without revealing which one. The experimenters performed ritual behaviors with one egg (i.e., cleaning it with a tissue without actual contact, lifting it above their head, and looking at it reverentially). The other egg was treated instrumentally, with similar actions as before but this time with a logical purpose (i.e., actually wiping the egg with the tissue, inspecting it for dirt spots, and looking at it with a neutral face).

The children were then asked to repeat the actions of the adult, and at the end of the experiment, they were asked which object they believed to be magical.

Their results showed that children were more likely to believe that the ritualized object had magical properties than the instrumental object, and showed more protest when its magical properties were disputed (remember, the children were never explicitly told which object was magical). The authors also observed that the children also imitated ritual actions with higher fidelity than instrumental ones.

These findings show that children are quick to associate magic with ritualistic behavior, suggesting that supernatural beliefs have their roots in childhood. Children seem to have an urge to explain mysterious phenomena (in this case, ritualistic action), and recognize that the unexplainable is consigned to the supernatural realm.

We could walk away from this study concluding that kids are gullible, but a more charitable takeaway is that children have an impressive understanding of how reality should operate, and when this understanding is violated, they immediately understand it as supernatural.

This study also shows the power of cultural transmission via rituals. Kids seem to immediately recognize ritual as ritual, defend ritualistic behavior when challenged, and show a knack for remembering the sequences of ritualistic actions than instrumental ones. No wonder why rituals have a way of sticking around for millennia – we gravitate toward them at the earliest stages of our lives.

Though often illogical and supernatural, rituals play a powerful role in sharing beliefs and values, preserving cultural heritage and familial traditions, and promoting inter-generational understanding. Of course, ritual can be waved away as nonsense, or even be weaponized to build cults, justify violence toward animals, and scare the daylights out of children about hell, demons, and ghosts; or it can be used to preserve the most beautiful parts of our cultures and cherished as the robust educational tool that it is.

The substrate for adult religious belief is laid down in childhood, giving religions a head start and a defense against the absolute lack of physical evidence supporting their claims. Humans are unique in this way, but it is likely that any species reaching a high level of intelligence and consciousness would be so affected. It would be good for all adults to realize that they were groomed as children to believe in supernatural claims, regardless of whether their parents were religious. It is important to be aware of this built-in bias.

(4495) John’s low point

There was a verse in which the author of the Gospel of John reached a low point, a point that should encourage everyone to say ‘enough is enough’ and throw their Bible into the trashcan. The following was taken from:


This chapter opens with Jesus feeding a crowd of 5,000 people. One of the disciples noticed a boy who had five barley loaves and two fish—from which Jesus, again working his magic—produced enough food for everyone. The next day he advised those whom he’d fed: “Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (v. 27). We’re getting closer to perhaps the worst text in the New Testament, vv. 53-57:

 “So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day, for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.’”

 If Christians heard these words shouted by a deranged street preacher, they’d cross the street, run in the other direction. The author of John’s gospel was so absorbed in his version of the Jesus cult that he was okay advocating this grotesque idea. His religion embraced magic potions, i.e., eating flesh, drinking blood that belongs to a god. But when you’re deep into the cult, this no longer causes offense. Over the centuries, the ecclesiastical bureaucracy promoted this ancient superstition relentlessly. It became part of ritual—to the ridiculous extent of making a big deal of First Communion, i.e., kids are allowed to eat Jesus for the first time. I often wonder: when are Christians going to snap out of it?

Imagine someone standing on a street corner and proclaiming that ‘unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you cannot be saved.’ What would people think of such a person? But over a billion Christians are currently worshiping a person who (allegedly) did just that.

(4496) When the light bulb comes on

For some people, there is a moment of cognitive clarity where their belief in Christianity or any other religion suddenly vanishes. This is happening very frequently in modern times due to advances in science and the increasing availability of virtually-instant information. The following is an essay of someone who recently went through this process:


Anyone can cherry pick facts to support their biases, and anyone can make up claims (with no evidence) and then call them facts. Instead, you need to look at how data was collected and judge the quality of the data based on that.

Throw out the Bible. Now throw out science books and history books. Now redo the scientific experiments and look at the data without expectations of what should happen. And do the experiments properly, don’t just do them trying to find a conclusion you like. What do you find? You find there is evidence the world is 4+ billion years old, you find no evidence of a global flood, you find massive evidence of evolution, zero evidence of an exodus from Egypt, zero evidence of an afterlife or miracles. You find evidence that people have believed religion, but no evidence that those beliefs are true at all.

And in the end, it’s not up to the skeptic to disprove a point, but up to the person claiming something to provide non-cherry picked evidence that was collects using proper methodology. If the person can provide good evidence, the skeptic shouldn’t simply move the goal posts and reject the evidence, but accept that evidence. At least until even better evidence comes along, then they should tweak their worldview to be more and more accurate.

The fact is, looking at how people construct religions and myths around the world, including religion and myths that Christians reject as false, there are certain patterns. There is no evidence for the Bible being true, overwhelming evidence for mutually exclusive ideas that contradict the Bible, and overwhelming evidence that Christianity is no different from any other religion that sought to explain where rain came from and what happened when you died, as well as a tool for those in power to consolidate their power by claiming the divine was on their side.

It is easy to disprove Christianity beyond a reasonable doubt. All it takes is a little research combined with an open mind. That last thing, the ‘open mind,’ is what hangs up many people who unfortunately end up believing this fantasy for their entire lives.

(4497) Belief falling when it should be rising

Given the information age, the advent of smart phone cameras, instant social network communications, and eight billion people ‘recording history,’ it would seem that things that are real would become more believed and things that are not real would become less believed. So, we would expect that over the past 20 years or so, belief in ghosts, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster would decrease- because if they existed we would expect evidence to be piling up in their favor. But the opposite is happening- the evidence is suspiciously absent.

In the same way, evidence for Christianity in the form of answered prayers, or the existence of angels or demons, or for that matter, anything at all miraculous, is being put the test- and failing to produce. So it is precisely because Christianity is not true, that people are believing it in lesser numbers as each year goes by. Christianity is feeling the fiercest headwinds it has ever faced- and the numbers are beginning to show it. The following research from 2023 was taken from:


    • Americans’ belief in God, angels, heaven, hell and the devil fell to the lowest point in more than two decades.
    • Belief in all five spiritual entities has decreased 3 to 5 points since 2016.
    • Americans who regularly attend religious services, Protestants and Republicans were all more likely to believe in such spiritual entities.

Americans’ belief in God, the devil and other spiritual entities has fallen to a new low, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday.

Seventy-four percent of Americans said they believe in God, while 69 percent said they believe in angels and 67 percent said they believe in heaven, the poll found. Slightly smaller shares — 59 percent and 58 percent — said they believe in hell and the devil.

Belief in all five spiritual entities has fallen between 3-5 points since 2016, the last time that Gallup polled Americans on the topic.

Since the pollster first began collecting survey data on the subject more than two decades ago, belief in God and heaven has dropped 16 points, while belief in hell has fallen 12 points and belief in the devil and angels has decreased by 10 points.

Belief in what is true is enhanced by the availability of new and easily accessible information while things that are not true are believed in lower numbers. In a world exploding with information sources, the recent belief trend for Christianity appears to place it squarely in the latter category.

(4498) Failure of the Bible’s binary system of sex

The Bible shows no awareness of sexual ambiguities that exist with approximately 10 percent of the human population, including the entire spectrum of LGBTQ+ individuals. This is a problem on two counts- how could God have failed to inspire his biblical authors to address this point, and further, if he is really all-powerful, and this is important to him, then why didn’t he make sure that every human was either 100 percent heterosexual male or 100 percent heterosexual female? The following was taken from:


It is often said that the Bible supports a binary system of sex where all humans are either male or female, that this quality cannot be changed, and that this quality affects how a Christian person ought to live their life.

So what makes someone male or female?

Obviously there are many biological differences between male and female humans, from those as obvious as genitalia to those as invisible—though no less impactful—as neurology. For most people, these are aligned, so there isn’t a lot of question as to which category they belong to. But for some, it is not clear.

Intersex people are those born with an unclear biological sex. This may be in their genitals, or it may be in other aspects of their biology—people born with penises who then experience what we consider female puberty, for example. Or even the notable number of people who display most of the characteristics of one sex but may have nonstandard chromosomes (such as someone with most expected female characteristics but XY chromosomes, or people with XXY and other combinations).

Studies increasingly show that transgender people may actually be a sort of intersex as well—while their external sex characteristics usually seem to fit one of the binary definitions, they are found to have mismatched or even completely unprecedented neurological sex characteristics.

Considering how much weight Christian teachings place on one’s sex for various purposes, what is the distinction in cases that are not clear-cut? How is someone with sexual characteristics that are not completely aligned supposed to determine which sex in God’s binary they are meant to identify themselves as? Or are they excluded from God’s binary, and if so, how are they supposed to observe biological-sex-related Christian teachings (for example, are they allowed to marry)?
The reality of these questions seems to be ignored by the majority of Christian institutions. Their teachings do not allow for the breadth of God’s creation.

If Christianity’s sex binary does not provide a consistent way to identify intersex and transgender people, then it has no sound basis on which to offer guidance on binary-sex-related affairs, policies, or duties to God for those people (such as which bathroom to use, or who to marry).

This is the practical need that the modern notion of “gender identity” is meant to address. These questions, after all, need to be answered for practical political, cultural, and legal reasons, and the modern method of self-identification—scorned by many traditional Christians—is the current solution to that practical need.

The fact that many Christians oppose this solution without offering one in return demonstrates its inadequateness in addressing practical concerns for real people, yet it continues to be used erroneously to inform policy decisions and practitioner behavior. And if Christianity cannot provide answers to practical questions of faith, morality, and piety, it is a poor theology.

Sources Neurological Differences Between the Sexes

Becker, J. B. (2008). Sex Differences in the Brain: From Genes to Behavior. Oxford University Press.

Intersex People With Unambiguous Genitals

Vora, K. A. & Srinivasan, S. A Guide to Differences/Disorders of Sex Development/Intersex in Children and Adolescents. Aust. J. Gen. Pract. 49, 417–422 (2020).

Transgender People and Unaligned Neurological Sex Characteristics (Before Any Medical Intervention)

Bao, Ai-Min; Swaab, Dick (February 18, 2011). “Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relation to gender identity, sexual orientation and neuropsychiatric disorders”. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology. 32 (2): 214–226.

Guillamon A, Junque C, Gómez-Gil E (October 2016). “A Review of the Status of Brain Structure Research in Transsexualism”. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 45 (7): 1615–48.

The Bible and human sexuality part ways in a fashion that casts serious doubt on the basis on which it was written. It seems to paint God as being clueless about his own creation. But if the Bible was just written by uninformed men, then we have nothing to wonder about.

(4499) Adjustments to fit the flood story

The story of Noah’s flood story was added after many details had already been documented regarding the lifespans of the patriarchs, and when that happened, it created an embarrassing problem- the chronologies had several of these men outliving the flood, something that supposedly could not have happened since it was survived exclusively by Noah and his family. The following describes how attempts were made to resolve this problem in the three major textual variants of Genesis:


The three major surviving textual traditions of Genesis — the Masoretic Text (MT), Samaritan Pentateuch (SP), and Septuagint (LXX) — do not agree completely on the chronologies of the patriarchs. Three patriarchs differ between the MT and SP: Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech. All the pre-Noah patriarchs differ in the LXX from the MT (except Jared) and SP. When we look at SP in particular, it becomes fairly obvious what the reason for these variations is. Jared Methuselah, and Lamech — the three that differ from the MT — all die in 1307 A.M., the year of the Flood. The Flood is the key.

As I have remarked in previous articles, it is fairly well-understood that the story of the Flood was a later insertion into a patriarchal foundation story that didn’t have it. (For a recent paper on this, see Derschowitz 2016.) In an earlier text, Cain, the eponymous founder of the Kenite (Cainite) tribe, was the ancestor of an unbroken genealogy that included the founders of various industries practiced by the tribe — shepherding, metalworking, etc. His genealogy was replaced with Seth’s by the Priestly author, and precise lifespans were assigned to each patriarch from Adam to Noah and beyond.

According to research by Old Testament scholar Ronald Hendel among others (Hendel 2012), the insertion of the flood story in Noah’s day created a problem that later scribes couldn’t overlook: if you did the math, the long-lived patriarchs Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech all survived for many years past the Flood, even though the Flood story made it clear that all outside the Ark had perished.

The editors of the LXX, SP, and MT had basically two ways to solve the problem: either delay the year of the Flood by delaying the age at which the patriarchs begat sons, or have the patriarchs in question die sooner. Here’s what each of them did:

The LXX’s editor methodically added 100 years to the age at which each patriarch begat his son. Adam begat Seth at age 230 instead of 130, and so on. This had the result of postponing the date of the Flood by 900 years without affecting the patriarchs’ lifespans, which he possibly felt were too important to alter. Remarkably, however, the editor failed to account for Methuselah’s exceptional longevity, so old Methuselah still ends up dying 14 years after the Flood in the LXX. (Whoops!)

The editor of the SP adopted a simpler method. He just altered the lifespans of the three patriarchs that posed a problem. Adjusting their ages as little as possible, he had them die in the same year as the Flood.

The editor of the MT chose to keep the lifespans untouched (like the LXX), and he altered the age of begetting only for the three patriarchs affected, pushing back the Flood date as a result. He first added 100 years to Jared’s begetting, and then 120 years to Methuselah’s. This reduced the overlap to 94 years. By adding 94 to Lamech’s begetting, he completed the fix, placing Methuselah’s year of death in the year of the Flood.

If that’s clear as mud, maybe this table will help:

This explanation accounts so well for the differences between the MT, SP, and LXX, that it is almost certainly correct, at least in its broad strokes. A few other observations must be made:

    1. The original age of Lamech was 753, and a late editor of the MT changed it to the schematic 777 (inspired by Gen 4:24, it seems, even though that is supposed to be a different Lamech: If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold). (Hendel 2012: 8; Northcote 251)
    2. If, as Hendel argues, 88 was the original age of Lamech’s begetting, then the SP’s 53 must be a scribal error that anticipates the 53 in his age total (653). In my opinion, if there was such an error, it occurred before the SP became a separate text, since the SP’s flood date is calculated from that number.

The only other detail that bothers me slightly is the fact that SP was able to subtract exactly 100 from Lamech’s original age (753) to have him die the year of the flood. That nice round number could just be coincidence, or there might have been another step involved somewhere.

Clearly, such manipulation of dates would be unnecessary in a text inspired (dictated) by a supreme being. But in writings emanating from human brains not connected to the supernatural, then what happened here is to be expected.

(4500) Two points against the Christian god

The following two points are presented as evidence against the existence of the Christian god:


This argument applies to any sect that argues for salvation through faith, which in my experience is a primarily Christian idea.

Point 1- The argument that god wants us to be saved and that said salvation occurs through faith in it/him has many flaws which are often dissected in this group at great length but one I haven’t seen discussed as often I’d like to focus on today: god as it is presented doesn’t actually want faith in itself, and in fact makes faith in it impossible. People don’t actually have faith in god, they have faith that other people are telling them the truth about god.

Anything anyone on earth knows about this god, up to and including its existence, comes through other humans. Be it parents, church leaders, people who interpret the Bible, translate the nine, or wrote the Bible. It’s only ever people telling us about a thing. If you believe the Bible was divinely inspired you do so because you trust the people who told you it was.

Point 2 – if god wanted us to have faith in it, as followers often assert, it would make more sense to instill in us knowledge of its existence and the rules it wishes us to follow from birth. The common argument against this line of reasoning is that such a thing would impede our free will but the fact is quite the opposite: it would expand our free will by allowing us the conscious choice of whether to follow god and abide by its rules or to follow our own desires. A choice is only meaningful when someone is both aware of the consequences and aware that there is a choice to be made in the first place. I think most people understand that on a base level, we raise our own children differently than how we describe god raising us. Most parents understand that when a child makes a mistake it’s because they don’t know better, and they then take time to teach them how to do better.

Since we are not born with innate knowledge of god and it’s rules we are left with two possibilities:

Either god is an invention by people, or god actively chooses one of, if not the, least effective modes of communicating its message. The latter conflicts with the common description of god as just and all powerful, which leaves us with either a god who unjustly punishes people for things outside of their control (I.E not the Christian god) or else no god at all.

These are problems that should end all speculation about the reality of the Christian god. If this god was real, and he had the benevolent properties assumed by the faith, it would be 100 percent probable that he would apprise everyone of his existence and his plans and requirements for the afterlife. It is impossible to believe that the most critical feature of our time on earth, the criteria deciding our eternal fate, would be obscured in such uncertainty.

Follow this link to #4501.