(4701) Jesus lied about returning ‘soon’

Many Christians take solace in the idea that the word ‘soon’ can mean something different to God, so the fact that Jesus promised to return soon is not a serious issue affecting their belief. The problem with that is that Jesus must have known how humans would interpret the word ‘soon,’ so, if he used it in a way that met only his definition of the word, then effectively he was lying to us. The following was taken from:


Using words in ways that you know your audience doesn’t understand them is a form of lying.

Setting the Stage:

For this post, I’m focusing on how Jesus described that he was coming “Soon”. Here are a few example verses that we will be looking at (All translations are ESV):

Revelation 3:11: I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

Revelation 22:12: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.

Revelation 22:20: He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The word used in all of these examples for “soon” is ταχύ which means soon, quickly, or speedily as you can see here and here.

In this post, I will be assuming that Jesus has not yet returned, and thus I am not addressing Preterism, the idea that Jesus has already returned. If you do believe Jesus has already returned, and he did it “soon, quickly, or speedily” after he made these statements, you can safely ignore this post.


In the reference verses, Jesus says he will come quickly, speedily, or soon, in a way that his audience wouldn’t have understood it to mean. Using words in a way that you know your audience doesn’t understand them to mean is a form of lying.


First, I would like to show how generally using words in a way in which you know your audience doesn’t understand them is lying. For this, I will use a couple examples.

Example 1: Jim and Jane are celebrating an anniversary and Jim tells Jane, “I am going to buy you a ton of flowers!” knowing quite well what that phrase means to Jane, and then he only buys her two. When Jane seems confused about the difference between what he said, and what he did, Jim tells her “Two is a ton for me.” Here, Jim lied to Jane because he knew that for her, two was not “a ton” of flowers. Jane wouldn’t have been expecting a truckload of flowers that literally equals one ton (2000 pounds), but she would have expected at least a large bouquet, perhaps larger than normal. Since Jim had a different definition of “a ton” that differs from what he knew Jane’s definition of the word, he should have used different words to describe what he meant.

Example 2: Jim is at home when a fire breaks out. He runs out of the house and calls Jane, telling her that he needs her to come home. Jane says, “I’ll be home soon.” Jim feels relieved, but then he waits not only one hour, but two whole days before Jane arrives. Jane then explains that “soon” to her means anything from one minute to one week, even though she knew that Jim wanted her home as soon as possible. By saying she would be home soon, Jane played into Jim’s expectations and urgent needs in the situation, all while never intending to actually follow up with what she made him think. This means that Jane lied to Jim.

Jesus does the exact same thing in Revelation. He uses the word “soon, quickly, or speedily” to describe his return when his believers are in a time of need and suffering for believing in him. They take comfort in these words, but then Jesus doesn’t return in a year, five years, ten years, 100 years, 1000 years, or even nearly 2000 years now. All of the people who took comfort in Jesus’ “soon” return never experienced it.

How do we know that Jesus didn’t actually mean what we think of when we hear the word “soon”? Because in the book of 2 Peter, we see that the author has to explain why the reader’s expectations haven’t been met.

2 Peter 3:8-9:

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. “

Here, we have the author trying to explain how God thinks of the word “soon” and how it doesn’t fit with the natural explanation a person would have come to mind when hearing the word.

Apparently for God, soon can mean any time at all. It is so stretched, that it can mean anything from one second to thousands and thousands of years. This renders the word “soon” completely meaningless for humans.

Side note: Christians often say it’s only been about 2 days for God since he said he would be back since a thousand years are like a day to him, but you could also just as equally say it’s been roughly 730,000,000 years (365 days x 1000 years x 2000 years) for God because one day is as a thousand years. This just drives home how meaningless is it from God’s perspective to say he is coming “soon” with his own definition.

Notice how the author is seemingly responding to a worry among the believers. It sounds like they have voiced that they think Jesus is being “slow” in fulfilling his promise of his return. But the author makes it clear that even though it seems slow to us humans, it isn’t slow to God. Yet, this is exactly the issue. God used words that humans have definitions for, and then blatantly uses them in his own way without clarification. So, instead of Jesus himself explaining his own words as he speaks them, we have to rely on someone else explaining his words away into meaninglessness.

Yet, even with this explanation, it means that Jesus was using the word “Soon” to describe something that is not understood as “soon” and thus, was lying in the moment.

In conclusion, Jesus had a different definition in mind when he said he would be returning “soon” which really means absolutely nothing relevant to us humans, and therefore was pointless to tell us, but also qualifies as a lie since Jesus knows how humans interpret the word, yet used it anyway, spreading hope and expectations which he didn’t intend to fulfill.

Either Jesus lied about returning soon, or the gospels are wrong and he never promised to return soon, or he is just a character in a work of fiction. Christians cannot punt, they must embrace one of these three options.

(4702) Where are the angels?

There is theory that IF angels and demons exist, and that they are under some sort of instruction to never show themselves in public (although they allegedly did so routinely during biblical times), that there should be few rogue angels that occasionally violate that decree and would be caught appearing on security cameras or on the cell phones of passers-by. That this hasn’t happened tends to suggest that angels and demons don’t exist. The following was taken from:


I grew up in a religious family (Jehovah’s Witnesses). I was often told that demons and angels exist.

As an adult, I wondered. Let’s imagine a situation:

Angels are imperfect and can do what they want (in the Bible, for example, they descended to earth before the Flood). So they have freedom of choice.

Suppose there is one naughty, very stupid angel in heaven (or in Satan’s lair). He breaks the most important rule of all imaginary beings (not to appear in public). The angel flies to New York to Time Square and starts to show all sorts of magic tricks. All this is caught by security cameras and passersby. We take the angel to a lab and test and prove the existence of the supernatural. Done! That’s proof that angels exist. But it doesn’t happen in real life.

I came to a conclusion: If angels and demons exist, why aren’t there any cases of them appearing in public? There must be at least one naughty very stupid angel who shows up in public. But where are they? Why do I only find fake videos on the Internet? Maybe magical creatures just don’t exist. That’s a much more logical answer than making up excuses all the time.

A common response from believers is that God has forbidden angels to appear in public on purpose. Then the question is: Why did angels stop appearing in public just as scientific progress began? Coincidence?

Is it possible that Christianity is true even if angels and demons don’t exist? The short answer to that question is ‘no.’ The long answer is ‘hell no.’

(4703) The dubious evolution of the canon

Christians like to believe that the development of the New Testament canon was an orderly process engineered by the inspiration of God himself. Nothing like that is the truth. It was a disorganized, messy path to the final accepted version. The following was taken from:


Creating a “canon” was not particularly on anybody’s mind when books that are now in the Jewish Bible, the Greek Bible, Catholic Bible, or the the collection that the Ethiopians use. Shaye J.D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, 2nd ed. (2006), reminds readers that to this day, Hebrew does not have a word for “canon,” even though it does have a definite list of books that are considered scripture or holy writings. The list of books in the Hebrew Bible only got formalized in the early centuries CE.

When Paul was writing letters, he didn’t know he was writing what would become scripture, and the first person to quote his writings, the author of 1 Clement, c.90’s CE, (which ended up not being in the Bibles we have now), didn’t necessary think Paul’s letters were “scripture,” just useful to cite in order to make his points.

Irenaeus of Lyons, around 180, was the first person to name and declare that there were 4, and only 4 gospels, in Against Heresies 3.11. The reasons he gives, however, are not related to whether they are inspired or not, and make no sense at all to modern people (they are basically cosmological). His main concern, at that time, was that while there were several gospels in circulation in his time, only 4 of them should be accepted by good Christians.

Around the same time, a partial list of books acceptable for reading in the churches of Rome, today called the Muratorian Fragment, also appears to accept only 4 gospels, plus some, but not all of the letters attributed to Paul, as well as letters of Jude, a couple “bearing the name of John,” and the Wisdom of Solomon (which is now in Orthodox and Catholic Bibles, but not Protestant ones). The apocalypses of John and Peter are also accepted, but The Shepherd of Hermas is not.

Over a century later in the early 4th century, Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History 3.25, has an extensive discussion of what may be considered genuine, along with books that are considered “disputed,” “spurious,” or “heretical forgeries,” but again the criteria do not appear to involve more modern ideas about “inspiration,” but rather what is okay to read in church, and what is acceptable to be read in a more general sense. (Stevenson, A New Eusebius, 1957, pp.122-123 [Irenaeus], 144-147 [Frag.], 338-340 [Eusebius]).

In 367, Athanasius wrote his Easter Letter, which has lists all the books of the NewTestament we now have, plus a discussion of some apocryphal books which are thought to be good reading for converts, but not for reading in church. But keep in mind here that this letter was not binding on all Christians, and Athanasius himself was a controversial bishop of Alexandria who was deposed and reinstated several times.

This is all to show that while there was eventually general agreement on what could and should be read in church, it was not the kind of orderly, principled debate that many modern Christians like to imagine. It was only in later years that various councils would affirm one or another list of books: the bigger list of the Greek Bible, the shorter list of the Latin Vulgate, and the still shorter list of relatively modern Protestants.

This is not the history that would have ensued if Christianity was true. In that case, God would have assured that the dividing line between scripture and non-scripture would have been self-evident and non-controversial. If Christianity was untrue, then the chaotic evolution of the New Testament would have proceeded exactly as it actually happened.

(4704) Angels lusting after women

There was an ancient belief that angels (sons of God) lusted after women, had intercourse with them, and fathered a race of giants, as discussed in the Book of Genesis. Because of this belief, Paul stated that women needed to cover their heads during certain times to tame these lecherous angels. Here are two versions of 1 Corinthians 11:10:

New International Version
It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.

New Living Translation
For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority.

Note the significant difference. The New Living Translation is by far the more accurate. It is obvious that the editors of the New International Version tampered with this verse to remove the concept of a woman needing a physical covering of their head. The following discusses commentary on this verse:


The New Oxford Annotated Bible commentary on the passage notes it this way:

The angels are probably the “sons of God” in Gen 6.2 who had intercourse with mortal women and fathered a race of giants. Like other Jewish writers of the period (e.g., T. Reuben 5.6), Paul evidently fears that the angels will be aroused to lust by the sight of exposed women.

This goes along with a general belief at the time, shown by the popularity of the Enochic literature and other pseudepigraphical works about fallen angels and their lust for women. These texts expanded on the stories of Genesis 6. Here’s Francesca Stavrakopoulou in God: An Anatomy:

This is likely a stripped-back version of a much fuller myth describing the corruption of the earliest humans. It is found in its longer form in a composition called the Book of Watchers, an early version of which is included in a text known as 1 Enoch (c. fourth century BCE). Here, the Sons of God are the Watchers – a group of 200 divine beings who function as God’s emissaries (or ‘angels’). Unable to resist the charms of mortal women, the Watchers descend from the heavens to have sex with them, but defile their holiness in the process by engaging in what is essentially depicted as cross-species sex.

For the women, however, sex with these divine beings is not defiling, but enlightening: the Watchers teach them the divine secrets of magic, medicine and metallurgy, so that they can not only better harness the powers of the cosmos, but render themselves even more beautiful by making and wearing magical jewelry. Meanwhile, the giant Nephilim born to the women go on the rampage; having gobbled up the earth’s supply of food, they begin to devour humans. It is only when God’s senior emissaries (the archangels Michael, Sariel, Raphael and Gabriel) hear the cries of despair from mortal men that they ask God to intervene and rid the world of all its dangerously corrupted life forms – hence the Flood.

It is a story that would remain popular – and alarming – within ancient Jewish and early Christian circles. Indeed, by the middle of the first century CE, Paul was alluding to it when he insisted that women should keep their heads veiled or covered during prayer and prophecy ‘on account of the angels’, to prevent them from attracting the attention of the divine beings watching over worship. And by the beginning of the second century, the story had become a repeated motif in Christian teaching, warning human sinners of God’s punishing ways, much as the New Testament letters of 2 Peter and Jude suggest.

Despite the lack of canonicity of 1 Enoch in most church traditions (Ethiopian Orthodoxy aside) it remains extremely influential on later conceptions of fallen angels and on the New Testament itself.

It should be seen as embarrassing that Christianity claims the existence of angels, and it’s even more embarrassing that its principal architect (Paul) believed that some of these angels were a threat to women, who therefore needed a form of physical protection on their heads. The tradition of women wearing head coverings in church only died out in the late 20th Century. Needless to say, the belief in lusty angels is not a good advertisement for promoting the truth of Christianity.

(4705) Psalms are not prophecies

Out of desperation and using forced creativity, Christians over the centuries have mined the biblical psalms for evidence of future predictions of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Although they get high grades for their imagination, these hopeful theists were/are not on stable ground in their pursuit. The Psalms have nothing to say about Jesus. The following was taken from:


While it does offer a linear narrative, the Bible is a chaotic amalgamation of different texts; not just because it is a collection of books from different authors, but because all sorts of genres get mixed and interpolated.

Sometimes narrative is interrupted so we can receive every obscene instruction on how to offer animal sacrifice.

But, at some point, all narrative stops, so we can get a whole book dedicated to poetry and songs, and that’s how we get into Psalms, where you can find songs to praise God, poetic writings to uplift your faith, prayers for protection and, my favorite, prayers to curse your enemies as well. Sometimes too, the Psalmist just sits down and rants about his feelings very openly, reflecting on themes like human injustice or Divine Providence.

Psalms can be many things: prayerful, cathartic, poetic, emotional… It is also very likely that some were part of worship and royal ceremonies as well.

But there is one thing they definitely are NOT: prophecies!

In all forms of Christianity there is this interesting exegetical skill of finding Jesus where he is never mentioned at all. This is especially true about the Psalms.

People find ways to retroactively insert their messianic ideas into the Psalms, but it’s not necessary to be any theological genius to notice the simple and evident truth that the Book of Psalms is just a collection of relevant Israelite poetry whose authors never had any intention about predicting an upcoming cosmic redeemer that would atone for mankind’s sin.

It goes way beyond my understanding how the New Testament writers as well as modern Christians can see any eschatological and messianic prediction in a collection of poetry.

Unless you twist the text, completely depriving it from its crystalline and simple original meaning, it is hard to see it as any sort of “supernatural revelation”. Because any esoteric or prophetic nature is completely absent from the book.

To see it, like Christian preachers do, under the light of their overly complicated soteriological views so precious to theology, is to kill the whole purpose of the Psalms. Equally sinful would be, as goes the instructions of some Orthodox Rabbis, to use this or that Psalm as a protection spell.

Psalms is a book collecting poetry, in which human feelings and human needs are expressed. It is a work of art and devotion, not a piece of theology or divination. It never talks about God in terms that fit the agenda of theologians, in fact, it is one of the few parts in the Old Testament that seems to have escaped (almost completely) from being defiled by the Levitical priests with their rush to edit the text, no matter how much their interpolations destroyed the reading flow or how poorly constructed and misplaced their additions to the original stories looked.

The book of Psalms is one in which the human being is free to express his struggles and agonies in a transparent way and to find comfort in the divine, through an honest sense of amazement and devotion as he puts his thoughts on the Divine.

It doesn’t speak about an upcoming incarnation of God redeeming the world or anything of the type. On the contrary, the ideas expressed are very simple to understand and trying to insert any amount of Christology or Eschatology inside the book is straight up denying its original intended meaning.

The misuse of the Psalms is just one example of how Christians have struggled to marry their image of Jesus with the rudiments of the Jewish faith. Mining the Old Testament and taking phrases out of context is the bread and butter of their pursuit. And it is a losing proposition. The Old Testament says nothing about Jesus, but one thing is certain- if Jesus was the plan all along, you can be assured that descriptions and predictions for him would have been unambiguously documented throughout the OT.

(4706) God, the awful parent

The following presents an analogy comparing Yahweh with a deadbeat father:


If God was a parent, he would be like a father who left you seconds after you were born, but is in touch with you through your mother.

He sends messages to your mother saying how much he loves you and that one day he will come back to you so he can spend the rest of his life with you.

So the only proof of his existence is your mother and her claim that she gets messages from him.

She refuses to show you the messages or even a picture of him, so he might just be dead and your mother just made it all up so you can feel better.

You wait through your whole childhood and he still doesn’t show up. You go to college, you get a job, and nothing. So you doubt that he cares about you and that he would ever come back…

So one day he kidnaps you, tortures you and kills you because you doubted him and his love.

Now if this was a novel, we would all agree that the father is the bad guy for failing to show up in the first place, but relying on the mother to deliver the message, and doubting the credibility of the messages gets you endless amount of pain.

But that’s God.

And even the least merciful father wouldn’t torture his own child just because he didn’t acknowledge his existence.

But the most merciful being in the universe would torture his own creation because they didn’t worship him.

The credibility of the biblical script of Yahweh’s big plan is quickly unraveling in the 21st Century, even if it was tacitly tolerated previously. He being worse than any earthly father does not put him in a favorable light. Rather, it puts him in the arena of all the other despicable figures of fictional literature.

(4707) How Christianity outlasted other myths

Christian apologists often point to the demographic success of Christianity as an indicator of its truth- the idea being that if it had been false, like all of the others, it would have withered out in the march of time. But this claim falls flat once one considers some of the elements of the faith, not tied to its truth, that made it popular. The following was taken from:


Here is the summary I usually provide on Christianity’s attractiveness and the mechanisms that helped it become truly ascendant, based mostly on Bart Ehrman’s The Triumph of Christianity (other sources noted where applicable):

    1. Its missionary nature as opposed to many other cults and sects that remained fairly insular.
    2. Within that missionary nature, the choice to preach the message to as wide a base as possible including the Gentiles cannot be understated – early Christianity was mocked for its appeal to women and slaves, which meant that it provided a spiritual/cultic space for a broad swath of people largely ignored by society. That part of the Christian message and appeal is very significant.
    3. Ehrman highlights the focus that these missionaries had on stories of miracles happening. Of course, very few of these miracles, he notes, come from firsthand accounts, but the retelling of them was important to its spread. “Here’s a belief system where miracles have been happening” is a good pitch.
    4. Other scholars, including sociologist Rodney Stark in his book The Rise of Christianity, also credit the Christian care for the sick and poor during the various plagues during the late imperial period as having influence on its spread.
    5. There’s a significant possibility that it may have remained somewhat less all-consuming had Constantine not converted, which paved the way for it to become the official religion of the late Roman Empire by the end of the fourth century. If the earlier points allowed Christianity able to spread, its official state-cult status guaranteed its durability over the centuries. MacCulloch notes in A History of Christianity that Christianity would often rise and then fade in areas where it was not able to convert the heads of state, like China.

Another characteristic of Christianity leading to its success was its ‘reward versus effort ratio’ being extremely large- very little to do other than believe and you win an eternal destiny in paradise. On the flip side, not believing gets you everlasting torture- another finely-tuned motivator to fall in line. The one thing missing from this formula was good, hard facts under-girding its truth- those are suspiciously missing.

(4708) The missing interpolation

It is well known that the text of John 8:1-11 is an interpolation, probably added to this gospel in the 4th or 5th Century. That is, it was not written by the original author. However, this piece of added scripture has been a lifesaver to many people over the centuries.

John 8:1-11 tells the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery. She was dragged to the venue used to stone people to death, and many bystanders had gathered stones ready to throw at her. Jesus happened to come by and was asked what they should do. Jesus responded by telling the person without sin to cast the first stone. This sterling answer defused the situation and the woman’s life was spared. It can be without doubt that the addition of this scripture has saved the lives of thousands of people who have committed adultery over the past 15 centuries and up until the present time. Such is the power of scripture in modifying the behavior of people who view it as being the voice of God.

Though crediting this interpolation for its benevolence, there is a glaring omission- an interpolation that would have exonerated people caught in the act of homosexuality. Something like the following would have been all that was needed:

A crowd gathered around two men who were found to have had sex with each other. As Jesus approached, he was asked what should be done in this situation. “Master,” they said, “these men lay with each other as a man and woman. Leviticus states ‘If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.’ But what say you should be done?” Jesus answered,” It was out of ignorance that this scripture was written. Love is love. A man’s nature is his nature, as ordained by God. Do not harm these men. They do no harm to you. Verily I say unto you, every person is justified in whom they choose to love, and God loves everyone.” At that, the crowd became angered and took up stones to kill Jesus, but he quickly withdrew and found a quiet place to pray.

If this, or something similar, had been added to any of the four gospels, the amount of discrimination and violence against homosexuals (at least in Christian countries) would have been cut to less than 10% of what actually occurred, and is still happening today. Would God, the Omnipotent, have realized this and made sure that something analogous to the above was added to the gospels? Yes. But, he didn’t. Why? Because it is hard for someone who doesn’t exist to do anything.

(4709) John’s anti-Semitic agenda

The gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke are mostly ambivalent toward the Jews who rejected Jesus other than blaming them for inciting the crowd to select Jesus over Barabbas for crucifixion. But the Gospel of John went full-bore on condemning the Jews. The following is commentary from the Jewish Annotated New Testament:

Although the Gospel draws extensively on Jewish tradition, its explicit references to Jews and Judaism are often hostile. The Greek term hoi Ioudaioi or variations appears more than seventy times. The literal translation is “the Judeans,” that is, the inhabitants of Judea, or, as became commonplace, “the Jews.” (See “Ioudaios,” p. 524.) The appropriate translation of this term is one of the most contentious issues in Johannine studies. Some suggest that the term should be translated as “the Jews” when used neutrally or positively, as in references to the festivals of the Jews (e.g., 2.13; 5.1; 6.4), but not when it is used negatively to refer to Jesus’ enemies. In these later cases, hoi Ioudaioi does not designate the Jews or even the Judeans as a whole. The crowds who eat the “bread of life” (Jn 6), or who hear Jesus teach in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7) are Jews, yet they are not arrayed against Jesus. In addition, Jesus says in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well that “salvation is from the Jews” (4.22). These examples show that the specific referent of hoi Ioudaioi within the narrative varies according to its literary context.

Yet this does not quite resolve the issue. More important than the referent of each usage is the overall rhetorical effect of the relentless repetition of the words hoi Ioudaioi. The Gospel’s use of the term serves two important functions: it blurs the boundaries among various Jewish groups, and it employs the term to designate the forces that are hostile to Jesus. Notably, hoi Ioudaioi is never used to describe the disciples and other followers, who are certainly Jewish with regard to their religious and ethnic origins, though not residents of Judea for the most part. Similarly, Jesus is not referred to as a “Jew” except once, by the Samaritan woman, who wonders that Jesus, a Jew, asks a drink of a Samaritan woman (4.9). Instead, the Gospel uses “Israelite” and “Israel” as positive terms. Jesus refers to Nathanael approvingly, as an “Israelite in whom there is no deceit” (1.47). Nathanael in turn declares Jesus to be the King of Israel (1.49) and the enthusiastic crowds who greet Jesus as he enters Jerusalem before his final Passover do the same (12.13). The effect is to distance the reader from any group designated as hoi Ioudaioi, regardless of the specific referent. On the basis of these arguments, the generic translation of hoi Ioudaioi as “the Jews” is the most suitable.

The Jews are from the outset portrayed as the people who reject Jesus (1.11), persecute him (5.16), seek his death (8.40), expel believers from the synagogue (9.22), plot Jesus’ death (9.49–52), and persecute his followers (16.2). Furthermore, both the Gospel narrator and the Johannine Jesus employ dualistic language that contrasts spirit and flesh, light and darkness, life and death, salvation and eternal damnation, God and Satan, belief and nonbelief. Those who believe Jesus to be the Messiah and Son of God are firmly associated with the positive element in each pair, whereas those who reject him—epitomized by “the Jews”—are associated with the negative elements. The most extreme example appears in Jn 8, in which Jesus declares to his Jewish audience: “You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires” (8.44). This accusation has contributed to anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism from ancient times to the present day.

In using the term “the Jews” to indicate, and to condemn, those who do not believe in Jesus, the Gospel of John encourages its readers to dissociate themselves from any who would identify with that designation. For that reason it may also be considered “anti-Jewish,” insofar as it declares that Jews who do not believe in Jesus as the Christ and Son of God thereby relinquish their covenantal relationship with God (8.47). It must be emphasized that the Gospel is not anti-Semitic in a racial sense, as it is not one’s origins that are decisive but one’s beliefs. Nevertheless, it has been used to promote anti-Semitism. Most damaging has been Jn 8.44, in which Jesus declares that the Jews have the devil as their father. The association of the Jews with Satan or the devil is pervasive in anti-Semitic discourse and imagery, from woodcuts (such as the image of [T]he Jew calling the Devil from a Vessel of Blood, a 1560 woodcut found in the Histoires Prodigieuses by the important French humanist, Pierre Boaistuau, ca. 1517–66) to plays such Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, in which the Jewish merchant Shylock is referred to as “a kind of devil,” “the devil himself,” and “the very devil incarnate” (act 2, scene 2), and on present-day white supremacist websites, to name but a few examples.

While John’s difficult rhetoric should not be facilely dismissed, it can be understood as part of the author’s process of self-definition, of distinguishing the followers of Jesus from the synagogue and so from Jews and Judaism. This distancing may have been particularly important if the ethnic composition of the Johannine community included Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. This approach does not excuse the Gospel’s rhetoric, but it may make it possible for readers to understand the narrative’s place in the process by which Christianity became a separate religion, to appreciate the beauty of its language, and to recognize the spiritual power that it continues to have in the lives of many of its Christian readers.

So much negativity toward the Jews seems to have been the consensus of the time that this gospel was written, well after Mark, Matthew, and Luke, or else it was the product of a community that held specific enmity toward the Jews, or perhaps a combination of both. But one thing is certain- if Jesus had fomented this accusatory attitude towards his own tribesmen, it certainly would have been fleshed out in the synoptic gospels. That not being the case, consequently, nothing in John should be considered historically reliable.

(4710) SIDS belies an omnipotent creator

Christianity assumes the existence of an omnipotent god who is intimately involved in the details of every human life- this god sees what everyone is doing, what they are saying, hears their prayers, and can even read their thoughts. This god can can literally do anything. There are many problems with this assumption, but one of the most difficult is the ongoing occurrences of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The following was taken from:


Sudden infant death syndrome is the unexplained death of a baby. The baby is usually less than a year old and seems to be healthy. It often happens during sleep. Sudden infant death syndrome also is known as SIDS. It is sometimes called crib death because infants often die in their cribs.

The cause of SIDS is unknown. But it may be caused by problems in the area of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and waking up from sleep.

To be consistent, a Christian must agree that God can protect these infants from this mysterious killer, but quite often, he just lets them die anyway. Christians often decry the abortion of fetuses, while seemingly being OK with God ‘killing’ children that have already been born. The use of the word ‘killing’ is justified and relevant because it involves the death of a person that could otherwise have been effortlessly avoided by the timely actions of an informed and capable agent.

The death of infants is poignant because it deprives this being the chance to become sentient and live a life of its choosing. This is not an especially isolated tragedy. In the United States alone, approximately 3500 babies die each year from SIDS.

The standard apologetic line of defense is to say that God calls these infants home and delivers them to heaven- so, ‘no foul.’ But the same could be said of women who choose to abort their fetuses.

Needless to say, SIDS is not consistent with a world governed by Yahweh, the Omnipotent. On the other hand, it is fully consistent with a godless universe where the biological respiratory functions of newborn humans is fragile, and can often fail under certain circumstances. Taking Yahweh out of the equation makes the formula work.

(4711) Christian belief is founded in ego

Any discussion with a Christian challenging the truth of their theology will inevitably descend into a defense of their feelings versus an examination of evidence and facts. This is because the entire foundation of Christianity rests on the a priori assumption of its truth, such that presenting evidence is redundant. The fact that such evidence is severely lacking is driving this tactic. The following was taken from:


Most Christians are lazy both intellectually and morally. They don’t care what their religious text actually says, what they really care about is the false sense of superiority it gives them with no actual effort expended on their part. It’s impossible to argue with them because from their point of view you are not engaging with them in a discussion of ideas and reason, rather you are laying siege at the very foundation of their ego.

Because that’s what it really is. Their beliefs are not a product of an internalized study of scripture or a reasoned examination of history, science, or other; rather it’s the product of the conviction that they are special, correct, and specially chosen by the creator of the universe, and you are not.

If Christianity was true, you would have Christians pointing to the results of studies showing that prayers have a statistically-significant effect, miracles that were verified by science, cosmology showing that the earth was as old as scripture would suggest, scriptures reflecting knowledge ahead of its time, and biblical history verified by subsequent analysis. None of this exists, so all they can do is claim victory and leave the playing field.

(4712) Three hurdles apologists must face

The job of a Christian apologist is exhausting. It requires jumping three major hurdles- the quality of the testimony, the association of seeming miracles with the supernatural, and showing that a specific god was responsible for an alleged amazing event. To date, these hurdles remain unscaled.


Hurdle One: the quality of the testimony

If your neighbor came home from church boasting that the pastor had miraculously healed a paralytic—the paralyzed person was suddenly able to get up, walk and dance—you would be skeptical of such testimony. These days, we’d like to see the cell-phone video. Or we’d like to see the person’s doctor certify that the person really was paralyzed, and that there is no way to account for the sudden restoration of movement.

But what do we do with the story of a paralytic being healed by Jesus?—and he did the trick by forgiving the guy’s sins. (Mark 2:1-12) We have a much bigger problem with the credibility of this testimony. Corner presents the problem:

“To determine whether the report of a miracle is credible, we need to consider the reliability of the source. Suppose subject S reports some state of affairs (or event) E. Are S’s reports generally true? … if she has any special interest in getting us to believe that E has occurred—if, for example, she stands to benefit financially—this would give us reason for skepticism. It is also possible that S may be reporting a falsehood without intending to do so; she may sincerely believe that E occurred even though it did not, or her report may be subject to unconscious exaggeration or distortion…her report may also be influenced by emotional factors—by her fears, perhaps, or by wishful thinking. We should also consider whether other reliable and independent witnesses are available to corroborate her report” (pp. 33-34).

Other reliable and independent witnesses. That’s precisely what we don’t have with this story. Mark didn’t tell his readers how he found out about this event. When Matthew and Luke copied the story, they added details—based on what, we wonder. The professional historian is stumped: there is no way to verify that Jesus did any such thing. As Corner indicates, emotional factors and wishful thinking can contribute to the creation of such stories: the author of Mark’s gospel wanted to promote his holy hero, to attract followers to the new Jesus cult.

Corner here makes reference to David Hume’s analysis of miracles, specifically, Jesus walking on water. We have overwhelming evidence that this wonder—this stunt—is a product of magical thinking. He sums up Hume’s position: “…we have the strongest possible evidence that any object that is placed onto water is one that will sink. Accordingly, we have the best possible reasons for thinking that any report of someone walking on water is false—and this no matter how reliable the witness” (p. 36) Given the amount of sheer fantasy in Mark’s gospel, there is no way he could be considered a reliable witness—whoever the author was, he wrote several decades after Jesus died.

Hurdle Two: the false assumption that miracles prove the supernatural

The much-touted miracles might not be what they’re assumed to be. Corner notes: “The occurrence of the purported miracle might be understood as evidence for the existence of God, but it is at least as reasonable to suppose that it is evidence that our understanding of natural law is not complete” (p. 39). Defenders of the spectacular Bible wonders may assume that these supposed events demonstrate that there are realities beyond what we see in the natural world. But that doesn’t work, as Corner points out:

“It would appear that the question of whether miracle reports are credible turns on a larger question, namely, whether we ought to hold the supernaturalistic worldview, or the naturalistic one. One thing seems certain, however, and that is that the apologist cannot depend on miracle reports to establish the supernaturalistic worldview if the credibility of such reports depends on our presumption that the supernaturalistic worldview is correct” (p. 43).

“The apologist wishes to appeal to testimony in order to establish the occurrence of a supernaturally caused event. As we have seen, there is no existing scriptural testimony that is strong enough to accomplish this, given the minimal probability that the event really did occur” (p. 48)

No existing scriptural testimony that is strong enough. This is a major hurdle indeed. No event depicted in the gospels and Acts can be verified by contemporaneous documentation. This is how authentic history is written, that is, by consulting letters, diaries, transcriptions, and other archival materials that are contemporary with events—or as close to them as possible. Richard Carrier has stated this reality emphatically:

“Each author just makes Jesus say or do whatever they want. They change the story as suits them and neglect to mention they did so. They craft literary artifices and symbolic narratives routinely. They frequently rewrite classical and biblical stories and just insert Jesus into them…These are thus not historians. They are mythographers; novelists; propagandists. They are deliberately inventing what they present in their texts…We have to stop thinking we can use them as historical sources” (p. 509, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt)

Hurdle Three: showing that a god was responsible for the amazing event

There have been hundreds, thousands, of gods imagined by humans. Christians are pretty sure that their god—there can be only one Master of the Universe, right? —must be given credit for miracles. Believers would get into a big mess if they conceded that other gods meddled miraculously in human affairs. But no gods are required. Corner has stated the case well:

“It is possible that nature undergoes spontaneous lapses in its uniformity. Such events would be nonrepeatable counterinstances to natural law, but they would not be miracles. They would fall within the unaided potentialities of nature; the naturalist need not admit the necessity of supernatural intervention to produce such events…the naturalist may argue that simplicity dictates we forgo any appeal to the supernatural, since this would involve the introduction of an additional entity (God) without any corresponding benefit in explanatory power” (p. 52).

Without any corresponding benefit. Saying that a god pulled off a miracle is no help at all in understanding the cosmos and how the world works: because theologians have never been able to agree about god(s). Conflicting ideas about the Christian god have been piled high by searching the scriptures, which do not agree about the god they supposedly represent.

Bragging about miracles is not the way to defend and explain god.

Christian apologetics remains impotently standing on the track, unable to hurdle any barriers between its claims and the evidence needed to support those claims. In the end, it depends simply on blind faith to accept that something impossible has actually happened and that their specific god was the being that made it happen.

(4713) Luke relocates resurrection appearances

Nothing spells myth more than an author using another source for his material and then changing it to suit his own agenda. This is what the author of Luke did, in copying text from the Gospel of Mark, and changing the location of the resurrection appearances of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem- presumably because he was influenced by a Hebrew scripture that allegedly prophecizes Jesus’ return to occur on the Mount of Olives, near to Jerusalem, (not in Galilee). The following was taken from:


Matthew, Mark, and John all feature Jesus resurrection appearances occurring in Galilee. Luke appears to deliberately eliminate this tradition in favor of having all these appearances happening in Jerusalem.

What reasons do scholars speculate for Luke wanting to do this?

A few days I suggested my own crazy theory on the weekly thread:

Crazy theory: The reason Luke keeps all of the resurrection appearances in Jerusalem is because he wants the ascension to take place on the Mount of Olives (not in Galilee).

And the reason Luke wants the ascension to take place on the Mount of Olives is so that the parousia will take place on the Mount of Olives. (Acts 1:11 could be interpreted to imply that Jesus’ return will be in the same place as his ascension.)

And the reason Luke wants the parousia to take place on the Mount of Olives is because of Zechariah 14:3-4, which talks about the LORD’s feet standing on the Mount of Olives on the day of the LORD.

Zechariah 14:3-4

Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

For a record allegedly inspired by God, the gospels contain a lot of information that seems to be rather indulgent to the whims of its individual authors. The lack of consistency in the four biographies of Jesus would not occur unless something is missing- in this case what is missing is a supernatural agency guiding the process.

(4714) Church liberalization reveals its irrelevance

Many Christian churches, seeing their numbers dwindling, have taken more liberal positions on certain moral issues, such as homosexuality and abortion, in order to stem the tide of the exodus. But, in so doing, they are tacitly admitting that secular society has done a better job of assessing moral issues than the church- meaning that the church is irrelevant in forming our moral landscape. The following was taken from:


A frequently-read comment following the recent debate about the blessing of gay couples is that Catholicism – and Christianity in general – should get on with the times and drop teachings such as homosexual activity being disordered or abortion being a moral evil. The reasoning is that a religion that refuses to change will find itself at odds with the broader cultural environment and lose people, fail to attract converts and will sink into irrelevancy. The clear decline in religiosity in the West since the 20th century is said to be evidence that this analysis is correct and that churches need to urgently update their creed.

I think what this reading misses is that doing so would essentially be an admission by church authorities that an important part of their teachings were wrong from the start. If you tell society at large that your view of human sexuality was incorrect for more than a thousand years, why would anyone listen to you? People may applaud you for finally ‘getting it’ decades after the rest of society but that’s it. Why would a secular, non-religious person join the church when from that person’s perspective they were right all along and it’s the church who is the slow-witted person who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into modernity? You could say that at least the new teachings will prevent people from leaving the church by allowing them to reconcile their religion with modern practices but in the long term you’re sending the message that on fairly central moral points the secular world can be right and the church wrong, so essentially that people do not need you to find the truth and live a moral life.

Note that the point I am making isn’t about whether or not gay blessings or abortion are compatible with the Bible. I mentioned them because they are recent examples where the above argument (churches need to align their views with mainstream society or perish) has been frequently raised during discussions.

Acceding to the normalization of liberal social attitudes might seem like a way for churches to survive, but, in reality, it is just another sequence in their death spiral that will soon lead to a total crash and burn scenario. Not only does Christianity hold on to many ridiculous, anti-science, and obviously fictional stories, but its relevance for guiding people for how to live their lives has evaporated.

(4715) Rending of the veil is an interpolation

The Jerusalem Temple veil was a heavy curtain that separated the rest of the temple from the ‘Holy of Holies,’ a place accessible only to the high priest. In the Gospel of Mark, the author asserts that this veil was split in two at the moment of of Jesus’ death:

Mark 15:37-39

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

The following explains why this story is almost certainly a Second Century interpolation:


Among Jews, there was long-term, geographically widespread understanding of the veil as a cultural, religious, and political symbol, and that its intact status before 70 C.E. could not have been in doubt. Among gentiles, great numbers of those as far away as Rome saw the veil during the Flavian Triumph; the authors of the earliest recorded Greek version of the rending of the veil, in canonical Mark, thought the veil was so well known among the gentile part of their audience that no explanation whatsoever was required as to what it was. The later decay and garbling of memory about the veil can also be tracked in our sources. Near Eastern Christians and proto-Christians seem to have preserved a clear and fairly accurate concept of what the veil was for centuries after the Roman-Jewish War, while gentile audiences in the west lost their memory more quickly or had spottier knowledge to start with.

Thus there is more than ample justification for applying our standard clock of forgetting, which “ticks” about once per half-century. (If anything, the decay of memory among Jews in the Near East seems to have been slower than that.) We have an if-A-then-B where A is naturalism and B is the proposition that no version of the Gospel of Mark that included 15:38 could have circulated anywhere in the Jewish diaspora until about a half-century after the Flavian Triumph, or — very approximately — about 120 C.E. This is much later than the dates usually given for canonical Mark as a whole, but consistent with estimates by other workers who have used textual methodologies to infer the length of time needed for the Markan gospel to become substantially fixed.

I consider the possibility that the present estimate is wrong because the audience of Mark would have to have read the veil story non-literally. This does not turn out to be plausible. I compare with previous work supporting a picture in which the Gospel of Mark remained highly fluid until well into the second century — fluid enough to allow the interpolation of a narrative feature as significant as that of the Temple veil and the centurion.

This is a good example of how the scriptures were manipulated by editors well into the Second Century CE and it brings into doubt any effort to definitively decipher exactly what the original gospel author had written. No god worthy of that depiction would have allowed this degree of confusion to pollute its ultimate message to humankind.

(4516) Other-person resurrection theory

There is some scriptural evidence that the person thought to be the resurrected Jesus was an impostor who managed to fool even Jesus’ closest associates. Although this is a low-probability conjecture, it is much more probable than having a dead man coming back to life after decomposing for 36 hours. The following was taken from:


In their descriptions of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, 3 out of 4 gospels, including John twice, say that the people closest to Jesus didn’t recognize him after he allegedly rose from the dead. Mary Magdalene, and separately two of the apostles and all but one of the apostles, who would’ve known Jesus personally better than anyone, looked at him, talked to him, and ate with him, without being able to recognize him by sight. He appeared to them in a different form.

Mark 16:12:

After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.

Jesus appeared in another form. He has changed his appearance.

Matthew 28:17:

And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

Even in the one gospel that doesn’t explicitly say Jesus was unrecognizable, it mentions that some still doubted even after seeing him. Matthew ends without ever saying their doubts were assuaged.

Luke 24:15-34:

While [two of them] were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?”

The apostles then tell Jesus his own story, about who Jesus was, how he died, and how the women reported angels saying he was alive again. They invite him to stay with them for the night. They clearly have no idea who this guy is. Then Luke 24:30-32:

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

Again, two of the apostles cannot recognize this supposed Jesus. They travel with him, talk to him about Jesus’ own story, and invite him to stay with them, all without recognizing the man they were traveling with. Only as the man vanishes from their sight do they decide this man was Jesus. Their evidence isn’t recognizing him by sight, but that he spoke well about scripture-related things.

John 20:14-16:

Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Mary Magdalene fails to recognize Jesus while looking right at him and talking to him, assuming he was a random gardener. It’s only after he says the right thing that she decides this man was Jesus.

John 21:4-14:

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Somehow, even after seeing the resurrected Jesus twice if the story order is original, they couldn’t recognize this man as Jesus. They only assumed it was Jesus after they got a big haul of fish. For some reason it’s implied that even after talking to him they would ask who Jesus was, but didn’t dare ask because they simply knew. Even to the end of the story, it seems they couldn’t rely on their eyes to recognize Jesus.

There are other stories in the gospels where the allegedly resurrected Jesus appears to the apostles or to the women, and there is no mention of not recognizing him. That doesn’t negate all the mentions of his being unrecognizable.

It seems that stories of Jesus not being recognizable as himself, or appearing in an alternate form were around even before the gospels were written. It could be these specific events mentioned, where he was recognized after saying or doing something recognizable. It could be the whole story.

When you see a person, and they don’t look at all like Person X, the most common explanation is that they aren’t Person X. This is doubly true if X is dead. Even if they later say something Person X might have said, they still probably aren’t. Without speculating as to the who it was or who arranged it, we can’t rule out that Jesus post-resurrection was a completely different person, or persons, than Jesus pre-crucifixion. The gospels themselves offer some support for this.

Disclaimer: I don’t take this theory too seriously, but I will try to defend it. It is super weird that in the 4 gospels there are 4 mentions of him being unrecognizable.

It is certainly possible that someone who bore a physical resemblance to Jesus might have tried to pass himself off as the resurrected Jesus, and that the followers were in such a state of grief that they simply accepted it at face value. (There are some modern examples of people making analogous claims.) And the people of that time were considerably more credulous than those in modern times.

(4717) Exodus story insulted the Egyptians

The (fictional) story in the Book of Exodus painted the Egyptians in a very negative light. In response, the Egyptians, rightfully insulted, mocked the Jewish god Yahweh as having a donkey head. They considered Yahweh to be in the same category as their own disparaged god, Set. The following was taken from:


During the first few centuries before and after the Common Era, Judaism and its followers were spread throughout the Greek-speaking world, with a significant number residing in Alexandria, Egypt. Here, Alexandria was a melting pot of cultures and religions, including a sizable Jewish population that revered the Exodus story. When translated into Greek and orally performed in Alexandria, the book of Exodus would likely have been perceived as offensive by the Egyptians for multiple reasons:

    1. The Exodus narrative portrays Egyptians as oppressors and adversaries of the Israelites, defeated by the God of Israel—who was originally El and then later became Yahweh. Such polemical portrayals would have been seen as derogatory to the Egyptian people and their cherished gods.
    2. The Exodus narrative also undermines the power and authority of Egyptian deities by showcasing Yahweh’s superiority in freeing the Israelites while performing numerous miracles, a plot device that would have been considered blasphemous and insulting to Egyptian religious sensibilities.

In other words, the Exodus story (and, thus, Jewish identity itself) casts the Egyptians in a decidedly dark and malevolent light. The story not only brands them as sorcerers and murderers, but it also frames their pantheon of gods as powerless before the might of a lone, foreign desert god—Yahweh. The Exodus story also subjugates their divine pharaoh to the role of mere pawn, destined for a watery grave (an end that was deemed ignominious within Egyptian religious thought). For the ancient Egyptians, drowning was not merely a death; it was a calamitous fate, making it an anathema to their understanding of a dignified transition to the afterlife.

For these Egyptians and other Gentiles, there was only one god who would create such disdainful mayhem: Set.

Yahweh and Set

In Egyptian mythology, Set was the god of chaos, deserts, storms, and was associated with violence and disorder. He is notorious for murdering his brother Osiris, dismembering him, and scattering the body parts. Osiris is a central figure in Egyptian religion, often associated with death, resurrection, and the afterlife. Hence, Set’s role in Osiris’s murder casts him as the primary antagonist within the Egyptian pantheon, embodying disorder and opposition to the beneficial rule and fertility that Osiris represented.

In response to an insulting Exodus story, many Egyptians equated Yahweh with Typhon (the Greek name for Set). This was a natural development considering several more factors:

    1. Both Yahweh and Set had associations with storms and deserts. Yahweh’s demonstrations of power in the Exodus narrative, like the plagues and parting of the Red Sea, could be likened to the chaotic and destructive aspects attributed to Set. For example, in Egyptian mythology, Set injured one of Horus’ eyes. The sun was believed to be his good eye and the moon his injured eye. As the Pharaoh’s magicians noticed in Exodus 8:19, Yahweh’s plague of gnats was “the finger of God.” And yet, it was the finger of the Egyptian god Set that had been used to damage the “Eye of Horus.”
    2. Set was also the god of foreigners and was associated with those chaotic elements outside the ordered Egyptian society. Yahweh, as the god of a foreign, nomadic people who had a contentious history with Egypt, fit into this category from an Egyptian perspective.
    3. Beginning in the eighteenth century BCE, the Canaanite storm-god, Ba’al, was identified with Set. Set would also be equated with the Hittite god Teshub. Since Yahweh and Ba’al were two competing storm gods in the Levant, later merging into one deity in later Judaism, it was natural for people to equate Yahweh with Set.
    4. To counter the negative portrayal of Egyptians in Exodus, some Egyptians responded by demonizing Yahweh, equating him with one of their most controversial gods, Set. This demonization included depicting Yahweh as a donkey-headed deity, drawing on Set’s animalistic representations and further mocking the Jewish religion.

This imagery of the donkey head became a focal point for religious slander, theological polemics, and cultural exchange, reflecting the deep-seated tensions and complex perceptions among ancient communities. By equating Yahweh with Set, certain Egyptian elements attempted to undermine the Israelite god’s legitimacy and portrayed him as akin to a demon. This was a part of the broader context of Hellenistic cultural and religious polemics.

Yahweh and Set are two pees in a pod- both nefarious, both unenlightened, and… the most important quality they share…imaginary.

(4718) Jesus mythicism, the unabridged case

Although most scholars, Christians or secular, believe that the Jesus story in the gospels is at least loosely centered around a real, historical man, there is a growing minority opinion that he was just as mythical as Paul Bunyan or Robin Hood. The following essay explores this possibility and shows that enough evidence exists to suggest that it is not far-fetched:


Most New Testament scholars agree that some 2,000 years ago a peripatetic Jewish preacher from Galilee was executed by the Romans, after a year or more of telling his followers about this world and the world to come. Most scholars – though not all.

But let’s stick with the mainstream for now: the Bible historians who harbour no doubt that the sandals of Yeshua ben Yosef really did leave imprints between Nazareth and Jerusalem early in the common era. They divide loosely into three groups, the largest of which includes Christian theologians who conflate the Jesus of faith with the historical figure, which usually means they accept the virgin birth, the miracles and the resurrection; although a few, such as Simon Gathercole, a professor at the University of Cambridge and a conservative evangelical, grapple seriously with the historical evidence.

Next are the liberal Christians who separate faith from history, and are prepared to go wherever the evidence leads, even if it contradicts traditional belief. Their most vocal representative is John Barton, an Anglican clergyman and Oxford scholar, who accepts that most Bible books were written by multiple authors, often over centuries, and that they diverge from history.

A third group, with views not far from Barton’s, are secular scholars who dismiss the miracle-rich parts of the New Testament while accepting that Jesus was, nonetheless, a figure rooted in history: the gospels, they contend, offer evidence of the main thrusts of his preaching life. A number of this group, including their most prolific member, Bart Ehrman, a Biblical historian at the University of North Carolina, are atheists who emerged from evangelical Christianity. In the spirit of full declaration, I should add that my own vantage point is similar to Ehrman’s: I was raised in an evangelical Christian family, the son of a ‘born-again’, tongues-talking, Jewish-born, Anglican bishop; but, from the age of 17, I came to doubt all that I once believed. Though I remained fascinated by the Abrahamic religions, my interest in them was not enough to prevent my drifting, via agnosticism, into atheism.

There is also a smaller, fourth group who threaten the largely peaceable disagreements between atheists, deists and more orthodox Christians by insisting that evidence for a historical Jesus is so flimsy as to cast doubt on his earthly existence altogether. This group – which includes its share of lapsed Christians – suggests that Jesus may have been a mythological figure who, like Romulus, of Roman legend, was later historicised.

But what is the evidence for Jesus’ existence? And how robust is it by the standards historians might deploy – which is to say: how much of the gospel story can be relied upon as truth? The answers have enormous implications, not just for the Catholic Church and for faith-obsessed countries like the United States, but for billions of individuals who grew up with the comforting picture of a loving Jesus in their hearts. Even for people like me, who dispensed with the God-soul-heaven-hell bits, the idea that this figure of childhood devotion might not have existed or, if he did, that we might know very little indeed about him, takes some swallowing. It involves a traumatic loss – which perhaps explains why the debate is so fraught, even among secular scholars.

When I’ve discussed this essay with people raised as atheists or in other faiths, the question invariably asked goes something like this: why is it so important for Christians that Jesus lived on earth? What is at stake here is the unique aspect of their faith – the thing that sets it apart. For more than 1,900 years, Christianity has maintained the conviction that God sent his son to earth to suffer a hideous crucifixion to save us from our sins and give us everlasting life. Jesus’ earthbound birth, life and particularly his death, which ushered in redemption, are the very foundation of their faith. These views are so deeply entrenched that, even for those who have loosened the grip of belief, the idea that he might not have been ‘real’ is hard to stomach.

You’d think that a cult leader who drew crowds, inspired devoted followers and was executed on the order of a Roman governor would leave some indentation in contemporary records. The emperors Vespasian and Titus and the historians Seneca the Elder and the Younger wrote a good deal about 1st-century Judea without ever mentioning Jesus. That could mean simply that he was less significant an actor than the Bible would have us think. But, despite the volume of records that survive from that time, there is also no death reference (as there was, say, for the 6,000 slaves loyal to Spartacus who were crucified along the Appian Way in 71 BCE), and no mention in any surviving official report, private letter, poetry or play.

Compare this with Socrates, for example. Though none of the thoughts attributed to him survive in written form, still we know that he lived (470-399 BCE) because several of his pupils and contemporary critics wrote books and plays about him. But with Jesus there is silence from those who might have seen him in the flesh – which is awkward for historicists like Ehrman; ‘odd as it may seem,’ he wrote in 1999, ‘[i]n none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.’ In fact, there are just three sources of putative proof of life – all of them posthumous: the gospels, the letters of Paul, and historical evidence from beyond the Bible.

Christian historians base their claims for a historical Jesus on the thinnest mentions of early Christians by the Roman politicians Pliny the Younger and Tacitus (who write of Christians they interviewed early in the 2nd century – in Pliny’s case, a tortured female deacon – all followers of ‘The Way’ who talked about Jesus) and by Flavius Josephus, a Romanised Jewish historian. Josephus’s 20-volume Antiquities of the Jews, written around 94 CE, during the reign of Domitian, contains two references to Jesus, including one claiming that he was the Messiah crucified by Pontius Pilate. This would carry some weight if Josephus actually wrote it; but the experts, including evangelicals like Gathercole, agree this reference was likely forged by the 4th-century Christian polemicist Eusebius. The other reference is to ‘the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James’. Some scholars say the ‘called Christ’ bit was a later addition, but it hardly matters when Josephus was drawing from stories told by Christians more than six decades after Jesus’ assumed crucifixion.

The earliest evidence testifying to a historical figure comes not from contemporary records, but from the letters of Paul, which date broadly from 50 to 58 CE (of the 14 letters originally attributed to Paul, only half are now thought to be mainly his writing, with the rest thought to be written sometime in the 2nd century). The problem with Paul for proof-seekers is how little he says about Jesus. If Jesus lived and died in Paul’s lifetime, you might expect he’d refer to Jesus’ ministry on earth – to his parables, sermons and prayers – and that his readers would want this crucial life story. But Paul offers nothing on the living Jesus, such as the stories or sayings that later appear in the gospels, and he provides no information from human sources, referring only to visionary communication with Jesus and to messianic Old Testament quotes.

Which brings us to the gospels, written later, and not by those whose names they bear (these were added in the 2nd and 3rd centuries). The gospel of Mark, which borrows from Paul, came first and set the template for the gospels that followed (Matthew draws from 600 of Mark’s 661 verses, while 65 per cent of Luke is drawn from Mark and Matthew.) The first version of Mark is dated between 53 and 70 BCE, when the Second Temple was destroyed, an event it mentions. The last gospel, John, which has a different theology and stories that contradict those of the three ‘synoptic’ gospels, is dated at around 100 CE. All four gospels include sections written in the 2nd century (among them, two different virgin birth narratives in Matthew and Luke), and some scholars place the final 12 verses of Mark in the 3rd century. Several historians assume that Matthew and Luke had an earlier source they call Q. However, Q has never been found and there are no references to it elsewhere. Barton suggests that a belief in Q may serve a ‘conservative religious agenda’ because to say these gospels drew from an earlier source ‘is an implicit denial that they made any of it up themselves’.

Taken together, what can the gospels tell us about the historical Jesus? Secular scholars agree that much of their content is fictional, and note, as Ehrman puts it, that ‘these voices are often at odds with one another, contradicting one another in minute details and in major issues’. And yet Ehrman is convinced that Jesus existed; he contends that the gospel writers heard reports about Jesus and ‘decided to write their own versions’. A few basic facts, like the dates of Jesus’ birth and death (gleaned from their mention of various rulers), are widely accepted, and several of Jesus’ sayings are said to be close to his real words. To separate the factual wheat from the fictional chaff, they employ ‘criteria of authenticity’ – stories and words that ring true. The three main criteria are: embarrassment (are those details out of step with 1st-century Judaism and, if so, why would the gospel writers invent things that would cause problems?); multiple attestation (the more sources, the better); and coherence (are details consistent with what we know?)

However, there is good reason to interrogate this approach. With regard to the criteria of multiple attestation and coherence, we know the gospel writers borrowed from each other, so we’d expect them to include the same stuff. The gospel of Luke, for instance, borrowed Matthew’s ‘consider the lilies of the field’ speech, but if Matthew’s tale is fabricated, Luke’s repetition hardly adds credibility. In addition, the ‘embarrassment criterion’ relies on our knowing what went against the grain. But the Church was diverse when the gospels were written and we can’t be sure what might have embarrassed their authors. It’s often argued, for example, that the gospel writers went to such great lengths to show that the crucifixion was predicted in the Hebrew scriptures in order to make it palatable to an audience convinced that no true messiah could be thus humiliated. But this argument can be turned on its head if we accept that the crucifixion tale was included because the gospel writers – pace Paul – believed it was required to fulfil prophesy. If the crucifixion was prophesied, then how can it have been embarrassing?

On the subject of the crucifixion, it’s worth noting that, while the four accepted gospels have Jesus sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate, in the non-canonical gospel of Peter it is Herod Antipas who does the deed. The gospel of Thomas, meanwhile, makes no mention of Jesus’ death, resurrection or divinity at all. According to the 4th-century theologian Epiphanius, the Torah-observant Nazorean Christians (thought to have descended from the first group of believers), held that Jesus lived and died during the reign of King Alexander Jannaeus (10-76 BCE) – a century before Pontius Pilate. And the Babylonian Talmud agrees, claiming that Jesus was executed by stoning and ‘hanging’ in the town of Lydda (not Jerusalem) for ‘immorality, sorcery and worshipping idols’. So, even when the ‘criteria of authenticity’ are met, historical consensus is hard to establish.

The most concerted effort to separate fact from fiction started in 1985 when a group of mainly secular scholars were drawn together by the lapsed Catholic theologian Bob Funk. Funk’s ‘Jesus Seminar’ met twice a year for 20 years to ‘search for the historical Jesus’. At its launch, Funk said the group would enquire ‘simply, rigorously after the voice of Jesus, after what he really said.’ These scholars (eventually numbering more than 200) used the ‘criteria of authenticity’ to assess the deeds and words of Jesus as reported in the gospels. Many seminars later, following much debate, they concluded that Jesus was an iconoclastic Hellenistic Jewish preacher who told stories in parables and spoke out against injustice; that he had two earthly parents; and that he did not perform miracles, die for people’s sins or rise from the dead. The veracity of his sayings and deeds was decided by a group vote. Scholars were invited to place plastic beads in a box: red (three points) if Jesus said it; pink (two points) if he probably said it; grey (one point) if he didn’t, but it reflected his ideas; black (zero) if invented. When tallied, there were black or grey beads for 82 per cent of Jesus’ Biblical sayings, and 84 per cent of his deeds.

Such methods are regarded as quaint, at best, by scholars researching non-Biblical historical figures. One of those I canvassed was Catharine Edwards, professor of classics and ancient history at Birkbeck, University of London, who said that some historians of the ancient world tend towards scepticism – ‘for example, we can’t really know anything about the earliest stage of Roman history beyond what is gleaned from archaeological evidence’ – while others tend towards ‘extreme credibility’. But, even among those, ‘criteria of authenticity’ are not a familiar tool. She added that the coloured-beads approach ‘sounds naive and on the credulous end of the spectrum where scholars make assumptions about the character of a particular ancient individual and on that basis decide what they think he (invariably) may or may not have said.’

Hugh Bowden, professor of ancient history at King’s College London, said that there was more evidence for the existence of Socrates and Pericles than for Jesus, but ‘much less hangs on it’. The focus on the historicity of Jesus has ‘no real equivalent in other fields, because it is rooted in confessional preconceptions (early Christianity matters because modern Christianity matters) even when scholars claim to be unaffected by personal religious views. Historians in other fields would not find the question very important.’

If we remove those preconceptions, it seems commonsensical to apply caution to the historicity of the gospels and let doubt lead our interrogations. The first gospel, Mark, was begun nearly half a century after Jesus’ ministry (and its final verses much later). Jesus’ Aramaic-speaking followers were probably illiterate, and there were no reporters taking notes. The likelihood of Jesus’ words being accurately reproduced by writers who’d never met him, and were elaborating on increasingly fanciful tales passed down through the decades, seems remote.

One scholar who was part of the Jesus Seminar and yet harboured such doubts, is Robert Price, a respected New Testament professor with a PhD in ‘Systematic Theology’, and a former Baptist pastor turned atheist. Price came to query the methodology used to establish historicity, prompting him to doubt whether Jesus ever lived. ‘If there ever was a historical Jesus there isn’t one anymore,’ he said, later writing: ‘There may have been a real figure there, but there is simply no longer any way of being sure.’

Price became the heavyweight figure for a fringe group of ‘Christ myth’ sceptics – historians who propose that early Christians, including Paul, believed in a celestial messiah and that he was placed in history by the gospel writers in the next generation. So, while most of the 200 believe Jesus was a historical figure mythologised by the gospel writers, the sceptics believe the opposite: he was a mythical figure who was subsequently historicised.

Such ideas have been around for centuries. Thomas Paine was an early adopter but it was the 19th-century German philosopher Bruno Bauer who advanced the theory most assiduously. Bauer, an atheist, recognised the gospel themes as literary rather than historical, arguing that Christianity had pagan roots and that Jesus was a mythical creation.

In recent decades, it has become widely accepted by secular scholars that the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is more myth than history. In particular, the Israeli archaeologist Israel Finkelstein and his American colleague Neil Asher Silberman have written in The Bible Unearthed (2002) that none of the patriarchs, from Moses and Joshua backwards, existed as historical figures; that there was no record of Jews having been enslaved in Egypt (instead, they descended from the Canaanites); that David and Solomon were warlords rather than kings; and that the first temple was built three centuries after Solomon. But the view that the Christian Bible is similarly lacking in veracity has, until recently, been drowned out by those arguing for a flesh-and-blood Jesus. One reason for the consensual chorus may relate to the fact that tenured positions in departments dealing with Bible history tend not to be offered to those who doubt that Jesus was real. So the revival of the ‘doubters’ camp’ owes much to the internet, as well as to the missionary zeal of its key proponents.

Momentum began to gather in the 1990s with a series of books by Earl Doherty, a Canadian writer who became interested in scripture while studying ancient history and classical languages. Doherty claimed that Paul and other early Christian writers did not believe in Jesus as an earthly figure, but instead as a celestial being crucified by demons in the lower realms of heaven and then resurrected by God. His views (ironically, on the face of it, the most ostensibly religious, in being so thoroughly spiritualised) were rejected by historical Jesus scholars who claimed that Doherty lacked the academic nous to understand ancient texts. But the next wave, which included Price, was more firmly rooted in academia.

Price believes that early Christianity was influenced by Middle Eastern myths about dying and rising deities that survived into the Greek and Roman periods. One was a Sumerian legend, ‘The Descent of Inanna’, which tells of the queen of heaven who attends an underworld funeral only to get killed by demons and hung from a hook like a piece of meat. Three days later, however, she’s rescued, rises from the dead, and returns to the land of the living.

Another is the Egyptian myth of the murdered god-king Osiris. His wife, Isis, finds his body, restores it to life and, via a flash of lightning in one version, conceives his son, Horus, who succeeds him. Osiris goes on to rule over the dead. In Plutarch’s Greek version, Osiris is tricked to lie in a coffin, which floats out to sea before washing up at the city of Byblos. There, Isis removes Osiris’ body from a tree and brings it back to life.

Several Jewish texts in circulation at the time reinforced the messianic aspects of these narratives. For instance, 1 Enoch (a book written mainly in the 2nd century BCE, and particularly revered within the Essene community, thought to be responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls) refers to the ‘Son of Man’ (a phrase used for Jesus in the gospels) whose name and identity will be kept secret to prevent evildoers from knowing of him until the appointed time.

The favourite ‘Christ myth’ source is the Ascension of Isaiah, written in bits and pieces in the 1st and 2nd centuries. It includes a section dealing with a journey through the seven heavens by a non-human Jesus who is crucified in a lower heaven by Satan and his demonic ‘archons’ who are the rulers of that realm and yet do not know who he is. Again, the story ends with Jesus rising from the dead.

‘Christ myth’ scholars believe that ancient tales of death and resurrection influenced the gospel writers, who also borrowed from Homer, Euripides and the Hebrew Bible. For them, the Jesus story fits the outlines of the mythic hero archetype of the time – a spiritual saviour killed by ‘archons’ before rising triumphant. They contend that later Christians rewrote Jesus as a historical figure who suffered at the hands of earthly rulers.

The rock star of scepticism is Richard Carrier, a Bible scholar with a very modern aptitude for using social media (some of his lengthy YouTube videos have attracted more than a million viewers). He enters into fervent debates with rivals, lectures, and writes acerbic, clinical and fact-laden books. With his PhD in ancient history from the University of Columbia and his record of publishing in academic journals, his credentials are less easily dismissed than Doherty’s. Ehrman, for instance, acknowledges Carrier and Price are serious New Testament scholars.

At one time, Carrier accepted the historicity of Jesus but he became contemptuous of the mainstream position because of what he saw as the parlous state of scholarship supporting it. He and the Australian Bible historian Raphael Lataster use Bayes’ theorem, which considers historical probabilities based on reasonable expectations (weighing up the evidence and attaching mathematical odds to it), to conclude that it is ‘probable’ that Jesus never existed as a historical person, although it is ‘plausible’ that he did.

The ‘Jesus myth’ advocates get plenty of airplay, but the fringe label has stuck, and not just because religious studies departments freeze them out. Their own methodology has been criticised, not least their use of Bayesian methods. Bizarrely, Carrier offered odds to his readers, concluding that the likelihood of a real-life Jesus was no better than 33 per cent (and perhaps as low as 0.0008 per cent) depending on the estimates used for the computation, which illustrates the wooliness of this use of Bayes’ theorem.

Carrier and his comrades do a fine job poking holes in the methods of historicists but what they offer in exchange seems flimsy. In particular, they have found no clear evidence from the decades before the gospels to show that anyone believed Jesus was not human. Each reference in the epistles can be explained away as referring to a celestial saviour, but it all feels like a bit of a stretch. Paul frequently refers to the crucifixion and says Jesus was ‘born of a woman’ and ‘made from the sperm of David, according to the flesh’. He also refers to James, ‘the brother of Christ’. Using these examples, Ehrman says there’s ‘good evidence that Paul understood Jesus to be a historical figure’. Which was certainly the view of the writer/s of Mark, a gospel begun less than two decades after Paul’s letters were written.

If we accept this conclusion, but also accept that the gospels are unreliable biographies, then what we are left with is a dimly discernible historical husk. If Jesus did live at the time generally accepted (from 7-3 BCE to 26-30 CE) rather than a century earlier as some of the earliest Christians seemed to believe, then we might assume that he started life in Galilee, attracted a following as a preacher and was executed. Everything else is invention or uncertain. In other words, if Jesus did exist, we know next to nothing about him.

One way of looking at it is to think of a pearl, which starts as a grain of sand around which calcium carbonate layers form as an immune response to the irritant until the pearl no longer resembles the speck that started it. Many legends have developed in this way, from the tale of the blind bard Homer onwards.

The outlaw and thief Robert Hod was fined for failing to appear in court in York in 1225 and a year later he reappeared in the court record, still at large. This could be the grain of sand that begat Robin Hood, whom many people assumed to have been a historical figure whose legend grew over the centuries. Robin started as a forest yeoman but morphed into a nobleman. He was later inserted into 12th-century history with King Richard the Lionheart and Prince John (earlier versions had Edward I), along with his ever-expanding band of outlaws. By the 16th century, he and his Merry Men had mutated from lovable rascals to rebels with a cause who ‘tooke from rich to give the poor’.

The Jesus story likewise developed fresh layers over time. At the start of the common era, there may well have been several iconoclastic Jewish preachers, and one of them got up the noses of the Romans, who killed him. Soon his legend grew. New attributes and views were ascribed to him until, eventually, he became the heroic figure of the Messiah and son of God with his band of 12 not-so-merry men. The original grain of sand is less significant than most assume. The interesting bit is how it grew.

The pressure on Christian apologists is becoming more intense- not only do they need to convince us that a man named Jesus was supernatural and the son on the living God, but also that this man  was ever even a real person. How could Yahweh have left humanity in such a state of confusion?

(4719) Gospel of John origins

The strangely out-of-place Gospel of John has confounded Christian theologians, who, although pleased with its content, are also challenged to explain why it is so different from the other three gospels. It is instructive to dive into the likely situation under which this gospel was created. The following was taken from:


Sometime around the end of the first century CE, someone drafted (most of) the Gospel of John we know today. We don’t know much about this author, except that he was educated, probably male, and that he spoke Greek.

There’s good evidence this writer drew on a variety of materials at his disposal when constructing his gospel—perhaps oral traditions or a written source like the hypothetical “Signs Source.” Over the past decade, an increasing number of scholars have concluded that the author probably knew one or more Synoptic gospels as well (at least Mark, but possibly also Matthew and/or Luke). But our author was also creative, inventing large amounts of his material (dialogues, scenes, individual details, etc.).

The gospel he produced has various seams and gaps (aporias). These may reflect the difficulty the author faced reconciling his various sources, or they may indicate that he wrote his text over an extended period of time in several passes, writing, rewriting, editing, and reediting a draft until he forgot to tie up loose ends (“editorial fatigue”).

So why did this author write a gospel? As John 20:31 suggests, he wrote to persuade his readers that they can receive “eternal life” now—an experience he compares to a spiritual resurrection (e.g., 3.36; 5.24-25). The idea of a spiritual resurrection was a controversial one in early Christianity. It appears in two forgeries in Paul’s name (Col. 3.1-3Eph. 2.1-7), but it’s condemned in other works (2 Tim. 2.17-18; possibly 1 Cor. 15.12). Our author hoped to advance the idea by placing it on the lips of Jesus—a technique later used by the authors of Thomas, Mary, and Judas.

We don’t know where this author lived, though his text contains some possible clues. For instance, he seems to know the geography of Jerusalem (5:2) and he’s also aware that some Christians were being expelled from synagogues (16:2). (Just because a “Johannine Christianity” didn’t exist doesn’t mean we can’t make educated guesses about the author’s actual social context from the same details.) It’s certainly safe to assume that our author was connected to a Christian house-church, but we have no way of knowing how typical his views were within that church. Perhaps his ideas were held only by a smaller circle within the church. Or perhaps these views were unique to him—shaped by his private reading or his contact with other educated elites. Given how controversial his views were, it’s entirely possible his views were the focus of debate in his social circles (near or far, friends or family, church, or other groups).

We can’t assume that this author first introduced his text to his local congregation. As it stands, ancient forgeries could surface in a variety of locations and ways. Our author could have sent his gospel under false pretenses to one or more individuals able to copy it in a distant city, perhaps claiming he found it in a library or was given it as a gift (see the case of Salvian and Timothei ad Ecclesiam). Or he could have deposited his text in a literary collection or library and waited for it to be discovered (this is probably how the false letters of Plato first emerged).

What does seem clear is that our author envisioned a primarily gentile audience for his work, at least at first. Why else would he feel a need to explain to his readers that “Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans” (4:9)? And why else would he gloss “the Passover” as a “festival of the Jews” (6:4)? And yet, he probably assumed his text would circulate even beyond this audience, through secondary copying and sharing. Mark, a template for his project, was already in wide circulation, as were Matthew and Luke. To ensure his gospel would compete with these gospels—none of which claims to have been written by an eyewitness (see, e.g., Luke 1:1–3)—our author presented his text as the memoir of a disciple of Jesus.

The author’s strategy worked. Ancient readers bought the idea that the “disciple whom Jesus loved” was a real person, and the text became popular with a growing number of readers.

Many Christians use the Gospel of John as the basis of their theological belief and are blissfully unaware that it conflicts fatally with the other three gospels. Certainly this fact is not dwelled upon by pastors and priests, who are incentivized to avoid any discussion of biblical textual conflicts. But anyone attempting to uncover the truth about Jesus, assuming he was a real person, realizes that the first step in doing so is to put the Gospel of John in the trash can.

(4720) Genesis de-certifies the Bible

The Bible starts out positing some highly improbable events that have failed to stand the test of time and the march of science. Doing so pollutes everything that comes afterward, leaving the entire book in a state of uncertainty. The following was taken from:


The first book of the bible is Genesis, and it tells us a creation story. Christians are split in what to make of this, with Fundamentalist types saying it should be taken as literal, historical truth, while non-fundamentalist types will say it’s a metaphor or moral story designed to teach us about God. The fundamentalist view has two major events which conflict with science, first the age of the Earth, which they calculate by counting back the people’s ages in the bible until you get to Adam around 6000 years ago. The second is the claim of a global flood, being survived by a single family in a wooden boat filled with the animals of the world. To believe both things you must outright deny science in almost every field. This in turn can lead to conspiracy minded thinking, as it really would need the entire scientific community to work together to hide this claim.

Young Earth Creationists (YEC) attempt to say the Earth is young and that all life was created in an instant by God. This means they need to deny evolution, abiogenesis, the age of the universe, the age of the Earth, radiometric dating, and a host of other established facts. For example, when we look at the age of the Earth there are numerous ways to determine what it is, including the 26 different radiometric dating methods, coral growth rates, ice core samples, sediment layering, erosion rates, glacial movement speeds, tectonic plate movement speed, mountain range growth, the volume of biomass in the Earth’s history and the fossil record. This means that YEC proponents don’t just have to deny a single conflicting piece of evidence, but dozens upon dozens of facts that don’t align with this worldview.

The global flood idea falls into a very similar pattern, in that science says a global flood never happened and the story as written is impossible, so the global flood proponent is forced to argue that all science is wrong. How did Noah collect the wood, stop it from rotting for a century, then collect all the animals from different continents, keep them alive in harsh conditions, store enough food and water, then release them all without the carnivores wiping out the herbivores, then have them all return to their original habitats? Where did the water come from and go to considering there is not enough water on Earth to cover the highest mountains? How did species reduced to 2 members survive via inbreeding when we know that would cause sterility within a couple of generations? How did they look after arctic and desert animals at the same time? How did a fully wooden boat, prior to metal reinforcing, survive the greatest storm ever? How did the pyramids stay dry or the numerous cave paintings survive?

The list of questions such a story raises are almost unending, with the believers fall back being “God did it with magic”. For many, once you’ve laid a hundred miracles on top of each other, all which are not mentioned in the bible, solely to plug all the gaping holes in the story, then credulity is stretched thin.

Science doesn’t just give the conclusion, but explains how and why that conclusion was reached, allowing others to repeat the tests and build upon the knowledge gained. So, when a YEC says radiometric dating doesn’t work, we can look to the science to explain how it does and why we know it is reliable. One easy test is with trees, where we can clearly see the age via the growth rings. If we use carbon dating and the results match the growth rings, then we can be confident that the result is accurate. Repeat that test a thousand times with accurate results each time and you have a whole body of results proving the conclusion. It is this level of confidence that the YEC must argue against, claiming that while thousands of calibration tests have been done, they are all wrong. This is ideology over facts.

Fundamentalists will say if you can’t read the bible straight as written, then how can you trust anything it says? While this idea is an attempt to push people to follow a literal interpretation, it can in reverse leave people agreeing that the bible is untrustworthy. If it’s all metaphor and parables, then can we say anything claimed to have been said by God or Jesus is true? Is salvation a thing they care about or was that just a moral story? Did the resurrection happen or was that just a story to teach us about God’s mind? The failure of Genesis to clearly match the world we see, leaves doubt that any of it is true.

It would seem that if God intended the Bible to be a roadmap guiding humans to a joyous afterlife that he would have realized the eventual growth of science and technology and would have ensured that the Bible would be free of easily-debunked fables. On the other hand, it if was solely the creation of humans, it would contain evidence of the ignorance that pervaded their time and place.

(4721) Gospel of John editing error

Most Christians assume that God guided the process of authoring and editing the Bible, employing the assumption that an omnipotent being would be expected to produce an error-free message to humankind, especially considering that their eternal destiny depends in part on the accuracy of the text.

But, unfortunately…there are errors. One of the most interesting ones occurs in the 18th chapter of the Gospel of John, where editorial fatigue (or other) resulted in a sequencing mistake. Starting in Verse 12, Jesus is first taken to the high priest’s (Caiaphas) father-in law (Annas). Then starting in Verse 18, we see Jesus being questioned by Caiaphas. But then in Verse 24, Annas sends Jesus to Caiaphas, clearly out of sequence. Here are the verses in question:

John 18:12-14

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

(verses 15-18 discuss Peter’s denial)

John 18:19-24

Meanwhile, the high priest (editor’s note- the high priest is Caiaphas) questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Although this is admittedly trivial, it is a good example of an indisputable error. Biblical inerrant claimants will struggle to find a creative way out of this hole. Usually, they will say that Jesus was brought back to Annas after being interrogated by Caiaphas and then that Annas sent him back to Caiaphas a second time, with supporting text being left out. Apologetics as such is pitiful.

(4722) Seeing the big picture

Christianity was born in a time of scientific ignorance, such that the idea that the universe was created 6000 years ago (4000 at that time) seemed plausible. But now, when one tries to marry this belief with what we have learned through centuries of advancement, we are left with a theology that makes sense only to those who are inculcated beyond any honest exercise of objective thinking. The following was taken from:


The oldest known single-celled fossils on Earth are 3.5 billion years old. Mammals first appeared about 200 million years ago. The last common ancestor for all modern apes (including humans) existed about 13 million years ago with anatomically modern man emerging within the last 300,000 years.

Another 298,000 years would pass before a small, local blood-cult would co-opt the culturally predominant deity of the region, itself an aggregate of the older patron gods that came before. 350 years later, an imperial government would declare that all people within a specific geopolitical territory must believe in the same god or be exiled – at best. And now, after 1,500 years of crusades, conquests and the countless executions of “heretics,” a billion people wake up early every Sunday morning to prepare, with giddy anticipation, for an ever-imminent, planet destroying apocalypse that they are helping to create – but hoping to avoid.

At what point in our evolution and by what mutation, mechanism or environmental pressure did we develop an immaterial and eternal “soul,” presumably excluded from all other living organisms that have ever existed?

Was it when now-extinct Homo erectus began cooking with fire 1,000,000 years ago or hunting with spears 500,000 years ago? Is it when now-extinct Neanderthal began making jewelry or burying their dead 100,000 years ago? Is it when we began expressing ourselves with art 60,000 years ago or music 40,000 years ago? Or maybe it was when we started making pottery 18,000 years ago, or when we began planting grain or building temples to long-forgotten pagan gods 10,000 years ago.

Some might even suggest that we finally started to emerge from the stone age when written language was introduced just 5,600 years ago. While others would maintain that identifying a “rational” human being in our era may be the hardest thing of all, especially when we consider the comment sections of many popular websites.

Or perhaps that unique “spark” of human consciousness that has us believing we are special enough to outlast the physical Universe may, in part, be due to a mutation of our mandible that would have weakened our jaw (compared to that of other primates) but increased the size of our cranium, allowing for a larger prefrontal cortex.

Our weakened bite encouraged us to cook our meat making it easier to digest, thus providing the energy required for powering bigger brains and triggering a feed-back loop from which human consciousness, as if on a dimmer-switch, emerged over time – each experience building from the last.

This culminated relatively recently with the ability to attach abstract symbols to ideas with enough permanence and detail (language) to effectively be transferred to, and improved upon, by subsequent generations.

After all this, it is proclaimed that all humanity is born in disgrace and deserving of eternal torture by way of an ancient curse. But believing in the significance of a vicarious blood sacrifice and conceding our lives to “mysterious ways” guarantees pain-free, conspicuously opulent immortality.

Personally, I would rather not be spoken to that way.

If a cryptozoological creature – seemingly confabulated from a persistent mythology that is enforced through child indoctrination – actually exists, and it’s of the sort that promises eternal torture of its own design for those of us not easily taken in by extraordinary claims, perhaps for the good of humanity, instead of worshiping it, we should be seeking to destroy it.

There is no way that Christianity could have been born in today’s world. It would be emphatically and instantly dismissed as being incompatible with what we know about our world. It persists today only because it is being fueled by the (fading) momentum of an earlier time when human knowledge was a mere whisper of what it is today.

(4723) The problem with indoctrination

Most people are raised in a certain faith, told that it is true, and told that other faiths are false, and all of this is presented without evidence and without encouragement to explore other faiths to see for yourself why yours is the correct one, and the others are false. What this means is that virtually nobody has the ability to address religion from a purely objective viewpoint- most everyone is biased by default. Even when one breaks away from the indoctrination, and becomes an atheist, there is still the idea that the religion they were brought up in is the one most likely to be true, however improbable. The following was taken from:


Indoctrination is to be taught what is true, with the belief formed due to the authority of the teacher rather than the truth of the claim. Everybody has this in their lives, as children we are made to believe our parents and elders know more than us, so believing what they tell us is the best way to keep us safe. If our parents teach us about Zeus, Odin, Krishna, or Allah, then our young minds will accept without question that these facts are true. It is only once we get older and understand the world, can we potentially spot errors in our thinking. However, by this point our worldview is well cemented, and effects such as confirmation bias and sunk cost come in to reinforce the ideas while competing ideas are discarded without consideration.

Regardless of which religion, if any, was correct, the majority of the world must be wrong.

This leads to the question, do you believe what you believe for good reasons, or because it was the belief structure you were raised in? Statistically you are likely to be of the religion which is dominant in your region. If you are born in India, you will likely be a Hindu, born in the middle east and you are likely raised a Muslim, while in the western world Christianity holds sway. Can you honestly say that had you been born elsewhere that you wouldn’t have been a true believer of whatever the cultural norm was? Around 90% of people are the religion they were taught at birth, so while not universal, it is by far the biggest indicator of what someone’s likely belief will be.

Some will say they believe due to feeling God’s presence, or from seeing what they perceive as miracles, and yet people from competing, non-compatible religions will say the exact same things. Once you have been taught to believe in a religion, then you will by default attribute any event in your life to that existing structure. The same event seen by three different people could well be seen by each as proof of each of their own Gods.

If tomorrow all teaching of Christianity ceased and the written records removed, then the religion would cease to exist. Unlike science which could be rediscovered due to matching the real world, there is nothing in religion that you can come to without being taught. God is not revealing Himself and very few believe that there are new holy books being written that should be incorporated into the bible. The only modern church attempting to do so is the Mormons. Believing that Joseph Smith received new books of the bible. While this is considered heresy by most Christians, millions have flocked to the Mormon church and the children of those families are in turn raised with that belief from birth. This does go to show how easy it is to convince huge numbers of people of a lie, and how indoctrinating their children continues the growth of that religion regardless of the majority of the world considering those teachings (obviously) false.

People are absolutely convinced that Allah is the one true God, others are absolutely convinced that Jesus is God, still others that any one of the thousands of Gods that have been recorded throughout history are the real one. We would all agree that 99% of the Gods throughout recorded history were man-made, but the believer needs to say the one they were raised in just happened to be the right one. Out of all the thousands of possibilities you got so lucky, that you are right and everyone else is wrong.

Indoctrination is a powerful drug that hard-wires brain circuits such that reprogramming requires a lot more than a software patch. Credit is given to anyone who overcomes this mind fuck and sees the unfiltered light of free thought, free from the nattering nabobs who scribbled indiscriminately on their immature brains.

(4724) Yahweh 2.0 roll out same as Yahweh 1.0

If Christianity is true, then it is absolutely irrefutable that God started out as a racist and provided his love and assistance only to a small tribe in the Middle East, to the exclusion of all other civilizations of people spread out all over the globe. Those other people were summarily ignored. That is, except for a few of the unlucky surrounding civilizations that he subjected to a campaign of warfare and genocide.

But…also according to Christianity, God changed his mind about 2000 years ago and decided to quit being a racist and instead become the god of all human beings, no matter their ethnicity or where they lived. So, if this is true, WHY WAS THIS ROLL OUT ALSO RESTRICTED TO THE SAME SMALL AREA? Wouldn’t an omnipotent god who intended to offer his mercy, supplication, and promise of a wonderful afterlife have immediately broadcast this good news throughout all corners of the earth? Otherwise, this would be like Google building a new and spectacular AI software and offering it only to some bystanders outside a Walmart shopping center in Poughkeepsie, New York. This simply cannot be believed.

It is understandable that the first version, Yahweh 1.0, would be presented only to the people in the Middle East conclave for which it was designed. But Yahweh 2.0 was for everyone- so why was this roll out the same as 1.0? Why? Because Yahweh and Christianity are nothing more than mythical figments of human imagination.

(4725) The day Chemosh defeated Yahweh

Christians believe that Yahweh is the only god and that he is omnipotent. But there is a scripture that implies not only that Yahweh is not the only god, but that he’s not omnipotent either, since he can be defeated by one of those other gods. The following was taken from:


This story strongly implies that gods other than Yahweh are real. Not only that, these other gods are sometimes more powerful than Yahweh, and they can cause outcomes that go against his will.

This comes from 2 Kings chapter 3. In this Old Testament tale, the vassal kingdom of Moab rebels against its overlord, King Jehoram of Israel. Jehoram allies with King Jehoshaphat of Judah, the other Israelite kingdom, and the king of a loyal vassal state, Edom.

Together, the three kings march to war with Moab. Their campaign begins inauspiciously, as they get lost in the desert and run out of water. They consult the prophet Elisha, who’s traveling with the army, and beg for his help.

Elisha criticizes the kings, saying that their behavior hasn’t been as righteous as it should have been. Nevertheless, he promises that God hasn’t forsaken them. As a sign, he orders them to dig ditches, which miraculously fill with water and save the army from dying of thirst.

Elisha tells them, unambiguously, that this sign shows God will give them victory over Moab:

“This is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand. And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.”

2 Kings 3:18-19

Inspired by this proof of divine favor, the Israelites meet the Moabites in battle. At first, they win in a rout:

“The Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.”

2 Kings 3:24

So far, this story looks set to end up the same way as the other holy genocides of the Old Testament. But then something unexpected happens.

The king of Moab is surrounded. He can’t break the siege, and his armies are losing. With his back to the wall, he resorts to a desperation move: he kills his own son as a human sacrifice to the Moabite deity, Chemosh.

And, bizarrely… it works.

“Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great fury against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.”

2 Kings 3:27

Strengthened by the magic of blood sacrifice, Chemosh seemingly overpowers Yahweh. The Moabites win the battle. Elisha’s prophecy of victory proves false. The Israelites are defeated and depart without conquering Moab.

The Bible itself refutes Christian theology, but, no worries, this scripture will never be read in church and very few Christians will ever become aware of it.

(4726) Human population bottleneck

Assuming Christianity is true and that God was watching our planet and expecting to intervene at some point in history, it seems unlikely that human evolution would have had to traverse an epoch during which humans nearly became extinct. But that did happen, and we came very close to not being here. The following was taken from:


Early human ancestors came close to eradication in a severe evolutionary bottleneck between 800,000 and 900,000 years ago, according to scientists.

A genomics analysis of more than 3,000 living people suggested that our ancestors’ total population plummeted to about 1,280 breeding individuals for about 117,000 years. Scientists believe that an extreme climate event could have led to the bottleneck that came close to wiping out our ancestral line.

“The numbers that emerge from our study correspond to those of species that are currently at risk of extinction,” said Prof Giorgio Manzi, an anthropologist at Sapienza University of Rome and a senior author of the research.

However, Manzi and his colleagues believe that the existential pressures of the bottleneck could have triggered the emergence of a new species, Homo heidelbergensis, which some believe is the shared ancestor of modern humans and our cousins, the Neanderthals and Denisovans. Homo sapiens are thought to have emerged about 300,000 years ago.

“It was lucky [that we survived], but … we know from evolutionary biology that the emergence of a new species can happen in small, isolated populations,” said Manzi.

Prof Chris Stringer, the head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, who was not involved in the research, said: “It’s an extraordinary length of time. It’s remarkable that we did get through at all. For a population of that size, you just need one bad climate event, an epidemic, a volcanic eruption and you’re gone.”

Unless God was playing brinkmanship with his ‘special species,’ it seems much more likely that human evolution traversed through a perilous and indifferent sequence of natural events, with us luckily surviving only by the ‘skin of our teeth.’ This long period of survival fragility fails to validate the assumption of an omnipotent god who was intent on creating individuals in his own image.

(4727) Faith-demeaning quotes

False belief systems, such as Christianity, rely on faith as there exists no compelling evidence to accept their claims. The following is a collection of quotes that expose the insipidity of faith in the exercise of discerning truth versus fiction:


Voltaire: “Faith consists in believing, not what appears to be true, but what appears to our understanding to be false. Only by faith can Asiatics believe in the voyage of Mohammed to the seven planets, the incarnation of the god Fo, or Vishnu, of Xaca, of Brahma, of Sammonocodom, etc. etc. etc.” Philosophical Dictionary (“Foi Faith” p. 208)

Mark Twain defined faith as “believing what you know ain’t true.”

Sam Harris: “Faith is the license religious people give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail.”

In the documentary Religulous, Bill Maher said “Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking.”

Richard Dawkins: “The whole point of religious faith, its strength and chief glory, is that it does not depend on rational justification. The rest of us are expected to defend our prejudices.”

John W. Loftus:

“Faith is an attitude or feeling whereby someone attributes a higher degree of probability to the evidence than what the evidence calls for.”

“Probability is the only thing that matters.”

“Faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities.”

“Reasonable faith is an oxymoron.”

“Show me something has no reasonable probability to it and I won’t believe it.”

“Faith has no method.”

Matt McCormick, from chapter 11, “The ‘F’ Word,” in his book Atheism: and the Case Against Christ:

“To take something on faith or to believe by faith is to believe it despite contrary or inadequate evidence. It is to believe anyway when there’s not enough support from evidence and reason to clear the way.”

“The overcoming of doubts or counter-evidence is the essential feature of faith.”

“If someone’s reaction to my arguments against the resurrection and other religious beliefs is that she has faith, then she is conceding the central point. In effect, she is acknowledging that in order to believe those religious doctrines, one must ignore the inefficiencies in the evidence and believe anyway.”

“If there is sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion, then faith isn’t needed. So to suggest that faith and evidence jointly justify is acknowledging that the evidence by itself isn’t enough, and I will ignore that gap and believe anyway.”

“In fact, the need to invoke faith to bridge the gap affirms the inadequacy of the evidence.”

“In effect, the faith response amounts to, ‘I’m going to believe anyway, despite those objections.’ That’s just dogmatic irrationality, not a serious consideration that the critic must give some further objection to.”

Victor Stenger, from the Preface to his book God and the Folly of Faith:

“Faith is belief in the absence of supportive evidence and even in the light of contrary evidence.”

“Theology is faith-plus reason, with some observation allowed. Science is observation-plus reason, with no faith allowed.”

“Science and religion are fundamentally incompatible because of their unequivocally opposed epistemologies—the separate assumptions they make concerning what we can know about the world.”

“The differences between science and religion are not merely matters of different points of view that might be harmonized with some effort. They are forever irreconcilable.”

David Eller:

“Knowing is not believing.” According to him “knowledge is about reason” while “belief is about faith.” He says, “the two are logically and psychologically utterly different and even incompatible.” (Natural Atheism, p. 133).

Now to help Christians see why skeptics have come to this conclusion all we have to do is insert other religious faiths into these statements. Let me do this for just a few of them:

“Faith is the license Mormons give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail.”

“The Muslim faith means making a virtue out of not thinking.”

“The whole point of the Orthodox Jewish faith, its strength and chief glory, is that it does not depend on rational justification. The rest of us are expected to defend our prejudices.”

“The Scientologist faith is an attitude or feeling whereby someone attributes a higher degree of probability to the evidence than what the evidence calls for.”

“The Hindu faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities.”

“Reasonable faith in Haitian Voodoo is an oxymoron.”

“The overcoming of doubts or counter-evidence is the essential feature of the Shinto faith.”

“In fact, the need to invoke the Baha’i faith to bridge the gap affirms the inadequacy of the evidence.”

“The Santeria faith is belief in the absence of supportive evidence and even in the light of contrary evidence.”

Perhaps it might seem clearer now to Christian philosophers who think such a view is philosophically naïve. Christians reject the faiths of other religions precisely because they are faith-based. They just do not understand that their own religion or sect within it shares that same foundation.

It is telling when a person supports their beliefs using the same validation method that they criticize when they conclude that others have the wrong idea. Christianity has insufficient evidence backing up its claims. This is all one needs to dismiss it summarily, pending the potential receipt of evidence arriving in the future that might change this situation.

(4728) Childhood experience impacts adult religious beliefs

If Christianity is true, and if it is fair, the success of obtaining heaven should be mostly within the conscious control of every human being. It is well known that the place of one’s birth has a large influence on the religion that one will pursue throughout their lives. Also, another factor, mostly beyond the control of the individual, is the experience of their childhood years. As it turns out, this effect in very strong. To reward or punish anyone who is either lucky or unlucky as a consequence of their childhood would not be fair, and thus neither is Christianity.

The following was taken from Google Co-pilot:

Childhood experiences significantly influence adult religious beliefs. Let’s explore this connection:

    1. Family Influence:
    2. Attachment Theory:
    3. Positive vs. Negative Experiences:
      • Positive religious experiences during childhood (feeling loved, secure, and connected) tend to foster a positive view of religion in adulthood.
      • Conversely, negative experiences (such as rigid dogma, fear-based teachings, or traumatic events) may lead to questioning or rejection of religious beliefs.
    4. Long-Term Impact:
    5. Variability:
      • While childhood experiences matter, individuals respond differently.
      • Some may embrace or deepen their religious beliefs, while others may explore alternative paths or become spiritual but not religious.

In summary, childhood experiences significantly influence adult religious beliefs, but individual responses vary. Recognizing this impact helps us understand the complex interplay between upbringing, personal choices, and spiritual issues.

Christianity is like a race where some people are placed a few miles from the finish line while others are hundreds of miles away, and then giving out awards for those who first cross the finish line. It is unfair by design and by practice. What could have made it fair? Say that ANYONE WHO LEADS A GOOD LIFE GOES TO HEAVEN…Period. Of course, that would have taken power out of the hands of Christianity’s designers, so that very sensible platitude wasn’t adopted.

(4729) Changing face of God

It is telling that whenever God was imagined by his worshipers that he appeared in a way consistent with what he was doing at the time. Young for energetic exploits, old when he divulged sagacious guidance. The following was taken from Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s book God: An Anatomy:

The changing face of the biblical God inevitably raised questions for early Jewish scholars. Had their ancestors encountered God as a beautiful youth, a fearsome warrior, or a wise old man? For many rabbis, the answer lay hidden in plain sight in their holy scrolls. In the Pesiqta de-Rab Kahana, a collection of midrashic traditions dated to the third to fifth centuries CE, these old scriptural proofs were laid bare. Alluding to key biblical verses (including those describing the beautiful male lover in the ‘Solomonic’ Song of Songs and the Ancient of Days in the book of Daniel), the midrash explains how God could appear in many modes and yet remain unchangingly constant:

. . . the Holy One, blessed may he be, appeared to them in the Sea like a warrior conducting a war; he revealed himself to them at Sinai, like a scribe who teaches the Torah, and he appeared to them in the time of Daniel like an old man who teaches the Torah; he appeared to them in the time of Solomon [like] a young man. The Holy One, blessed may he be, said to them: It is not that you deserved to see me in different forms, but it is I who was in the Sea, it is I who was at Sinai, [for] ‘I am the Lord thy God’.

For these rabbis, God was able to change his appearance at will – but not because he was like those shape-shifters of Greek and Roman myth, nor because he was a polymorphic phantasm like Jesus, whose own followers had struggled to recognize him after his miraculous resurrection. Rather, the rabbis argued, the aesthetics of God’s form were innately bound to the specifics of his revelatory performance. When he fought to liberate his people from Egypt, he was a youthful warrior; when he instructed his people in the Torah on Sinai, he was a wise old teacher.

Imagining god as having different faces according to what he was doing at the time is a good sign that this god was nothing more than a product of human imagination, such that whatever picture they had in their mind, God had an appearance appropriate to the situation. This indicates that this god resided only in their minds.

(4730) God, blood, and modern morals

Judeo-Christianity promoted an infatuation with the alleged magical powers of blood, such that it could be used to wash away a person’s or a nation’s transgressions. But one thing that casts a negative light on this practice is that it involved the butchering of an innocent animal- not for food or clothing, but for ritual- which is now considered unconscionable with respect to modern morality. The following was taken from:


Blood is an important part of life and seen throughout history as a source of life and power. Medically people have tried leeches and bleeding to remove bad blood, human and animal sacrifice has been used to spill blood to please various Gods and even our language has developed to consider the heart the source of emotions and various phrases like “make your blood boil” or “there’s bad blood between them” being common.

This was no different back in ancient days, where blood sacrifices were common and in Christianity’s case was topped off by Jesus being the ultimate blood sacrifice. However, looking back at what was considered normal and described as pleasing to God is quite horrific to our modern morals. Imagine this scene playing out in a modern church service, Exodus 29:

“You shall slaughter the bull before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger; and you shall pour out all the blood at the base of the altar. You shall take all the fat that covers the entrails and the lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them and offer them up in smoke on the altar. But the flesh of the bull and its hide and its refuse, you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering. You shall also take the one ram… and you shall slaughter the ram and shall take its blood and sprinkle it around on the altar. Then you shall cut the ram into its pieces, and wash its entrails and its legs, and put them with its pieces and its head. You shall offer up in smoke the whole ram on the altar; it is a burnt offering to the Lord: it is a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the Lord.”

Blood-soaked priests carrying freshly butchered entrails to burn for the pleasing aroma, while pools of blood are poured on the base of the altar. This is more akin to a Hollywood’s movie example of a Satanic ritual than something an all-loving God should request.

But it wasn’t just the innocent animals slaughtered in blood soaked rituals, but the priests themselves were blessed by blood “You shall slaughter the ram and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the lobes of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet, and sprinkle the rest of the blood around on the altar. Then you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments and on his sons and on his sons’ garments with him; so he and his garments shall be consecrated, as well as his sons and his sons’ garments with him”. Because nothing says a trustworthy priest like a guy with blood dripping from his ear, thumbs and toes while his clothes are splashed with fresh blood and a further burning of entrails can begin. Perhaps our modern priests just aren’t consecrated in the correct way anymore? Would it matter to God if the blood was on the wrong ear or big toe? Does the smearing of blood have to be done in such specific ways to make the magic work?

The very first thing that it is claimed Noah did upon arriving on dry ground was to slaughter an animal and offer it as a burnt sacrifice to God. Considering his lack of animals to start with, this may well have wiped out a species. These kinds of sacrificial rituals are done because the bible says the aroma is pleasing to the Lord “Present as an aroma pleasing to the Lord a food offering consisting of a burnt offering of thirteen young bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect”, and yet we have to wonder why the all-powerful God needs or wants such bloodshed and butchery? I’m unsure how a vegan, let alone anyone in the western world, can read such verses and not be horrified?

All this so the sins that you have done could be forgiven by killing an innocent animal. I looked upon a lady with lust, sorry sheep you’ll have to die now.

It is also worth mentioning blood in regard to a woman’s monthly period. In modern days we look at this as a natural event and understand it is a refreshing in preparation for future pregnancy. Back in ancient days it was often seen in much more negative ways. Leviticus 15 says “When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Anyone who touches her bed will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. Anyone who touches anything she sits on will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, they will be unclean till evening. If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.” Setting the example that women are impure and anything they touch is as well.

In the OT it was said that women on their period could not enter a temple. Another way to force inequality between the sexes, to blame people for things outside of their control and to make women ashamed of their bodies natural processes. This would be bad enough coming from ancient men who didn’t know better, but once you try to claim this negativity comes from an all-loving God, it conflicts with human decency.

A blood-addicted god is either one that doesn’t exist, or one that should not be worshiped. Christians, make your choice.

(4731) The persistence of gullibility

The more one studies the past, the more one realizes that humans are not reliable detectors of reality, and, in fact, are quite easily duped. The number of religions is a testament to this fact. Gullibility runs deep and far in the annals of human history. The following was taken from:


Humans are bad at determining reality. We have limited senses, limited views and imperfect minds. Our memory, even short term, can be horribly wrong, while long term we struggle to remember even important details of events. The Mandela effect is an example of how groups of people can all be convinced that something was different historically to how we can show it to be. Some Mandela effect proponents will even refuse to believe that they are wrong, instead claiming that the universe has changed around them. We see thousands of people being defrauded by scam artists, falling into cults or believing crazy ideas like reptile overlords or a flat earth. It almost doesn’t matter what crazy idea is floated; it seems thousands will accept it as true.

We have people like Ron Hubbard starting Scientology, Joseph Smith starting Mormonism or Sai Baba convincing millions that he had supernatural powers. While outsiders can look at these people and the religions they formed and be surprised anyone accepts such clearly made-up stories, we also have to admit that millions of people are absolutely convinced these things are true. Then in reverse fail to apply the same skepticism to our own beliefs.

Some of our inability to apply skepticism to our own worldview are phycological effects such as confirmation bias (that we instinctively think things that agree with us are more likely than those that disagree), sunk cost (if we’ve invested time, money or resources into an idea, we will fight against anything that may show that it was a waste), cognitive dissonance (holding two contradictory ideas at the same time by never comparing your beliefs to each other) or Dunning-Kruger (the instinct that we are better than we really are and failure to recognize our own limitations).

In the case of religion, proponents will invariably believe that all other religions are wrong. They have to be for the selected religion to be true. But then within that religion they will in turn believe that their particular sect or denomination is the correct one and will rally against the ones who have corrupted their message or been led astray. This has happened in Islam, with Sunni and Shiite Muslims disagreeing, it has happened between the numerous schools of Hinduism, and it has happened between the various groups of Christians. The Christian will point to the Mormon’s as heretics, the Mormons will point to the JWs as lost, while the JW’s point at the Scientologists and laugh. Everyone is right, and everyone is sure everyone else is wrong.

Now consider that in the light of human gullibility. If we as a species are terrible at telling what is real from what is fantasy, and with imperfect brains and terrible memories, then why should we be looking at any of these man-made stories and putting faith in them? We know charismatic preachers from any cult, religion or any con artist can convince the general population to follow their view. Are we arrogant enough to think we are special and such things will only affect others and never us? Is the Dunning-Kruger effect applied to our own cognition of reality?

The scientific method was designed to take the human out of the conclusion, or at least to highlight the bias so that others can peer review and repeat your tests. The data is tested, the tests are, wherever possible, done blind with controls. The tests are repeated, and the results are shown to be falsifiable. It is this recognition of our own shortcomings that allows us to work to plug those gaps. It is this humble understanding that makes this appeal to so many people.

For those who have left religion, whether that be ex-Muslim, ex-Christian or whatever, there is the humbling experience of realizing your worldview is wrong. It is admitting that you held belief for poor reasons, whether that was how you were raised, confirmation bias to what you were taught or simply no self-reflection on what and why. In many cases you will hear people who have changed worldviews be a lot humbler with their claims, happy to say, “I don’t know” or “I can’t be sure”, as they recognize the errors that being absolutely convinced of something without good evidence can lead to. The deconstruction of religion involves a lot of self-reflection, consideration of what evidence a view has and why the same levels of skepticism aren’t being applied equally to all claims.

The ease by which large groups of people can become convinced of the truth of miracle-working persons is a warning sign to anyone attempting to follow any faith tradition. The odds are stacked against any of them being true- and this applies to Jesus in spades.

(4732) Yahweh looked down… and commanded

To be a (semi-educated) Christian you have to believe that Yahweh, the one and only god of the universe, looked down upon the earth about 150,000 years after humans had evolved, chose a small tribe of people as his ‘chosen ones,’ and then noticed they were doing a lot of things that HE DID NOT LIKE, so he gave them over 600 commandments and threatened them with death if they should ever break even one of them. A person has to be completely detached from reality to believe this. The following was taken from:


Yahweh looked upon the Israelites, saw they they were eating shellfish and pork, wearing clothes of divers fabrics, worshiping golden idols, gathering firewood on the sabbath, offering the wrong sorts of sacrifices, leaving their children’s genitals intact, coveting their neighbors’ slaves, and raping people, and thought to himself “Golly Gee Whiz, I’ve got to do something about this!”

So he commanded them to stop eating shellfish and pork, to stop wearing clothes made of mixed fibers, to stop making graven images, to stop working on the sabbath, to perform ritual animal sacrifices in a very tediously specific way, to mutilate their sons’ penises, to stop being jealous of how many people their neighbors own, AND THOU SHALT OBEY MY COMMANDMENTS, OR I SHALL STRIKE DOWN UPON THEE WITH GREAT VENGEANCE AND FURIOUS ANGER, AND YOU WILL KNOW THAT MY NAME IS THE LORD.

The concept of God taking perfectly benign activities and turning them into grievous ‘sins’ is preposterous at its core. How any of this makes sense to anyone is a mystery. Yet, there are billions of people following this fantasy, all the way to the grave, wasting time, money, and energy chasing a mirage. Humanity will someday escape this mental prison, and it cannot happen too soon.

(4733) Ten reasons the Bible is not inspired by a perfect god

A good, perfect god, as imagined by Christians, would have ensured that the book he inspired for humans to learn about him would be both good and perfect. The following lists 10 ways in which this expectation was not met:


Below are ten reasons why it is objectively impossible to view the Bible as being inspired by a good and perfect God, assuming of course that we define the words ‘good’ and ‘perfect’ the same way they are used in everyday life.

1. The New Testament manuscripts contain more differences than it has words:

Bart Ehrman, a former evangelical and fundamentalist, who graduated from Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College before obtaining his Masters in Divinity and PhD at Princeton Theological Seminary and now one of the world’s most respected New Testament scholars, cites a fact that has been documented by many other scholars that the New Testament manuscripts have more variants than there are words in the New Testament…well over 200,000 of them. Some scholars now count closer to 400,000 of them.

While most do not affect any doctrine, there are some that make a big difference in how it is interpreted. Dr. Ehrman explains many of these in detail in his sixth New York Times bestselling book, Misquoting Jesus, the Story Behind who Changed the Bible and Why.

If it was the intention for a perfect, all-knowing God to inspire a perfect book so that His creatures would have His word and instructions, it would be of little value unless He made sure all copies of it were also correctly copied. Surely, one should expect that a perfect God would have his word made available to every creature that is 100% accurate and not have over 200,000 variants in the copies.

2. It declares many erroneous things about basic facts and the reality of proven science:

If basic facts about how the earth came to be and how it operates were mistaken by the authors of the Bible, a perfect God certainly could not have inspired them to write the things they did.

Despite what the Bible tells us in Joshua 10:12–14, the sun did not stand still nor did the earth stop rotating. Physics is clear; if the earth ever stopped spinning for even a second, all people, animals, rocks, topsoil, trees, buildings, and so on, would be swept away into the atmosphere. In addition, there is no recorded history anywhere in the world about areas having a long day or long night.

Adam and Eve never existed. The fossil record, DNA, and other sciences all prove how human sapiens came to be. And it was long after our sun and many stars existed, and long after many species of plants and animals lived and became extinct, despite the chronology seen in Genesis.

When was Eve created? Genesis 1:24–27 says it was at the same time that Adam was (on the sixth day) but Genesis 2:18–23 says it was after Adam and the animals were created in order to find a better companion for Adam.

Despite the Bible saying otherwise, there is no need to explain that rain and snow are not released through windows in the sky, or that two and a half million people outran the Egyptian army, or that Solomon was the wisest man on earth, or that Lot was righteous (see reason #4). And of course, everybody except a Biblical author knows that bats are not birds nor is leprosy cured by sprinkling the blood of birds seven times throughout the house (Leviticus 14:49–53).

3. The food chain and innocent helpless animals:

In Genesis 1 we hear God say several times that His creation was good.

But how is it possible for a good God to create the animal kingdom, millions of various creatures, most of whom must kill and eat each other in order to stay alive. Innocent animals who must live in constant fear and then die a painful death, whether by disease, starvation, drought or torn apart piece by piece while being eaten alive, unless they are killed and eaten by humans first.

All He had to do was make them with solar cells in ears or with any other energy producing device that a smart God could easily have designed or just spoke into existence. These creatures are totally innocent, and their near universal suffering serves no purpose in a world created by a good God. Solomon was even honored in 1 Kings 8:63 for killing 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep as a sacrifice to God while dedicating the new temple.

Apologists often say it was because Eve ate the apple. If that satisfies you, then go out and enjoy watching them suffer a painful and slow death while praising God for the wonderful and “good” world he created. Do not forget to enjoy watching the mourning and painful grief that many will visibly show when they see their child or parent dead or dying. After all, it would be your God’s doing. As an aside, could it be that how we evolved, explains our history of cruelty and racist tribalism?

4. Immoral to the extreme…just a couple examples of many:

Lot offered his two daughters to a group of sex seeking men to do to them whatever they wished (Genesis 19:8). Later, he impregnated both daughters, but the Bible of course blames the girls, and accuses them of conspiring to get their father drunk so that they could rape him to become pregnant. (Genesis 19:30–36). In the New Testament 2 Peter 2:7 says that he, their father was righteous.

Deuteronomy 21:10–13”When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her (that means to rape her) and be her husband and she shall be your wife.” (Rape and kidnapping were not only approved by the Bible, but they were expressly authorized as part of God’s Law)

Deuteronomy 22:28–29 mandates that if a young virgin is raped, she must marry the rapist if he pays her father 50 shekels of silver.

Yes, those above and many other similar immoral events and laws are right from the “good book” itself.

If right and wrong means anything, can anyone truly call the Bible a good book?

5. Defies reasonable logic:

Ever since Homo sapiens organized into groups, they created thousands of Gods who they worshiped and sacrificed to with utmost devotion. Their worship was generally based on superstitions and fear of the unknown. Other times, the common people were just conned by a person seeking power, control, and/or money. There was never any evidence for their faith, except maybe a little fake magic trick now and then, or a leader’s superior understanding of how things work; yet thousands of Gods were believed by the masses to be real and true. Yes, THOUSANDS of them were really and truly believed to be Gods! Believed by smart, normal, and ordinary people.

If there was in fact, one good God who was actually real who had all power and who loved his or her creatures, why did he or she never intervene in the thousands of deceptions taking place during the thousands of years that their creatures were being fooled? Christians claim that He finally did, 2000 years ago. Yet billions of people before and after never got a word from him. Would an all-powerful God who loved his creatures and desired them to know him, just refuse to or not know how to communicate with them?

Is there any difference between that and a person who beats an untrained dog for not knowing what the words “sit” or “fetch” mean?

6. Numerous contradictions:

There are literally hundreds of clear contradictions in the Bible and only apologists and their followers try to explain them away. Just a few examples that show the impossibility of a perfect God inspiring this book follows. (To be perfect is to be without error or mistake).

When was the empty tomb first discovered by Mary Magdalene? It was after sunrise according to Mark 16:2but John 20:1 said it was still dark. Worse yet, John even tells us she saw that the stone had already been removed while it was dark but in Mark, we see her going to the tomb after the sun came up wondering who would move the stone for her to get in. Any attempt to reconcile this will only dig their hole deeper.

1 Kings 7:15–22 says that the two pillars at the temple were 18 cubits high. However, 2 Chronicles 3:15–17 disagrees and say they were 35 cubits high.

Has anyone ever seen God? Saying no are John 1:181 Timothy 6:16 and 1 John 4:12. Saying yes are Genesis 32:30 and Exodus 33:11.

How is a person saved? Just a few of over two dozen ways the Bible gives are: Paul says in Galatians 2:16 & Romans 3:20 that it is by faith alone. James 2:21–24 states that it is by works. Acts 2:21 & Romans 10:13 say to just call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved. However, Matthew 7:21 states that not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Matthew 25:34–46 teaches that heaven is obtained only by helping the poor and needy and without doing those things one is eternally condemned. Romans 8:29–30 & Romans 9:15–16 clearly states that salvation is only the result of election and predestination by God, regardless of what anyone does. Many more “roads to salvation” are documented in the above link.

The “perfect and good God” has admitted He made a mistake in Genesis 6:6 so he decided to drown everyone except eight, including all the pregnant women, babies, toddlers, and animals. Elsewhere in 1 Samuel 15:29 and Numbers 23:19 His word declares that He never changes His mind or repents about anything.

A careful reading of Genesis 11:26 & 32 and that of Genesis 12:4 and Acts 7:4 will show that Abram was only 75 years old after he had already lived 135 years. You really must read the fine print if you are going to stake your life on this book.

7. Not a good God by any definition:

Dan Barker was an evangelical and fundamentalist pastor for almost 20 years and who also composed many songs, some of which are still sung in churches today. His book Godless (without a God) is his autobiography explaining how he lost his faith with many chapters explaining why. His latest book, God, the Most Unpleasant Character in all of Fiction, quotes word for word over a thousand verses (all quoted in full) that describes certain attributes of the God of the Bible. He gives each attribute a separate and sizable chapter. Just a few chapters are Blood Thirsty, Ethnic Cleanser, Infanticidal, Aborticidal, and Misogynistic. The book contains 300 pages of word for word “inspired scripture” for anyone who wants to know the full story. Most of the passages are obviously ignored by Christian preachers and authors who only dwell on a few of the nicer stories and verses. I stole a couple of his chapter titles in the paragraph which follows below.

Just like most Christians, most Muslims are Muslims because they believed their loving parents who taught them it was true. The same for Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Zeus, Osiris, Baal, Diana, Apollo, the many Egyptian Pharaohs, who were believed to have divine attributes, and thousands more. To condemn a person with eternal torture for the sin of obeying and respecting the teachings of their loving and caring parents is not anything a good God or even an evil person would think was fair. Given the fact that almost none of them had a Bible (despite its dozens of contradictory ways one must be saved by and its 200,000 plus variants), I rest my case. It would make him nothing but a merciless, sadomasochistic, unforgiving, unjust, and a capriciously malevolent monster.

Thomas Jefferson had the same thoughts when he wrote his “adoptive son” and secretary who was also a career diplomat William Short on August 4, 1820. In his letter (see it here) he writes referring to the God of the Bible as “a terrible character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.” His evidence was solely based on the scriptures themselves.

8. Broken promises:

John 14:13–14 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Matthew 16:28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” If true, some people are now 2000 years old.

John 16:23–24 And on that day, you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

Matthew 18:19–20 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” If true, why is there still cancer and malaria?

Luke 12:6–7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Yet every year 600,000,000 birds are killed by colliding with window glass and another two billion are killed by cats. Those figures are just in the United States.

There are many people who are always claiming that God has healed them…but never has an amputee ever grown a new arm or a new leg. Explanations such as natural remissions which occur quite frequently, or the placebo effect are seldom ever considered. It seems the most miracles he is credited of performing by his faithful followers are finding lost car keys, giving goosebumps and healing headaches.

9. Is unabashed child abuse:

Religious Trauma Syndrome is a real psychological and serious problem with millions of children and even adults.

Untold thousands of children suffer nightmares and/or depression believing that their dead alcoholic father or best friend whose loving parents taught them another religion is burning in hell.

Parents do not own their children. They have a duty to help their children grow and to think and make good decisions by using critical thinking skills. Sadly, many parents and Christian organizations promote instruction and indoctrination that is absolutely the same as brain washing…the same way they would build a robot; to program it to think and act only in the way the “builder” decides.

Many innocent children are punished for asking questions and are told that to doubt is a serious sin. Many thousands are kicked out of the house and some have all support denied for the sole reason that their logical working brain sought answers and explanations to things that were not clear or did not seem to make logical sense to them.

To believe the Bible literally, is the same as concluding most of human history, science discoveries, biology, physics, geology, astrophysics and others are all frauds. Such blind faith stunts their intellectual and social growth and prevents the necessary skill of critical thinking to develop. That is why many cult members and followers of crazy conspiracy theories are those who were indoctrinated to accept things on blind faith. In essence, they were taught that obtaining and weighing evidence was not important. Many were taught that that was downright dangerous…that it could destroy their faith. It is no coincidence that the majority of climate deniers, flat-earthers, and QAnon followers also espouse strong religious views. Sadly, they lack the skill to think critically.

For a deeper understanding of this neglected problem, please explore the many resources at Recovering from Religion and Journey Free. Qualified therapists can be found at the Secular Therapist Project.

10. Absurdities beyond any logical basis:

In order to cure and remove leprosy, Leviticus 14:49–53 says “to cleanse the house then, he shall take two birds, cedar wood, a scarlet string, and hyssop, and he shall slaughter the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water. Then he shall take the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet string, with the live bird, and dip them in the blood of the slaughtered bird as well as in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. So he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and with the running water, along with the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet string. However, he shall let the live bird go free outside the city into the open field. So he shall make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.”

Numbers 22:21–30 is about a talking donkey. Surely, an all-powerful God could very easily make a donkey or snake to talk (remember Mr. Ed)? That is not the issue. The absurdity is the two-way discussion that the donkey had with his master, Balaam. Read it and decide for yourself if it has the least bit of plausibility. Balaam speaks to the donkey exactly as he would another person…shows no surprise or shock that he is talking to an animal.

Only the most ignorant man could write, in Leviticus 12:1–5 and say that the mother is unclean for seven days and must be segregated for 33 days whenever she has a baby boy or is unclean for 14 days and must be segregated for 66 days whenever her baby is a girl. And millions of people say that every word of the Bible is inspired by an all-knowing and perfect God.

Believing anything without evidence, is not only foolish but it is dangerous. Thousands of Gods and religions have once existed, most of which have now completely vanished, and all were based on blind faith, wishful thinking, superstitious or childhood indoctrination…yet most had fervent believers willing to die (and many did) for their non-existing God. It’s one thing to think that a God may have started the universe, but it’s another thing to ignore the many flaws of the Bible and still claim that it contains no errors and was inspired by a “good” and “perfect” all-knowing God.

The evidence is in and it is overwhelming! To suggest that faith without evidence (blind faith) somehow supersedes or is more credible than scientific facts or obvious and logical realities, that has been proven over and over again is not reasonable. It is pure and simple, utter nonsense for adults to continue in such thinking and to refuse to use the wonderful brain that evolution has developed.

If one is to imagine what the Bible would look like if Yahweh and Jesus existed as actual omnipotent gods, who would have been aware of everything in the universe, and who could easily have seen into the future…well… it would look a LOT different from the one gathering dust on peoples’ nightstands. It would be an amazing foresighted explanation of hitherto unknown facts, a gorgeously crafted guide for human relations, inspiring tolerance and love for all, and DEFINITELY not threatening torture for ANYONE. The Bible fails these tests and, based on the 10 faults explained above, it cannot be the product of any god, much less the one imagined by Christians.

(4734) Violence suffered by women

Christianity is libel for the violence it fomented on women. If ever there was a certain indication of Yahweh’s non-existence, or else his non-caring attitude, or his inability to control his followers, it is the way women were treated who were thought to be under the spell of demons- or being witches. This dark chapter in Christianity’s past is a fatal blow to its legitimacy. The following, referencing Helen Ellerbe’s book, The Dark Side of Christian History, was taken from:


In her eighth chapter, Ellerbe describes the violence suffered by women who were accused of being witches. There were two factors that helped fuel the witch hunts.

(1) The deeply embedded misogyny of so many theologians. She points out:

“The thirteen century St. Thomas Aquinas suggested that God had made a mistake in creating woman: ‘nothing [deficient] or defective should have been produced in the first establishment of things; so women ought not to have been produced then.’ And Lutherans at Wittenberg debated whether women were really human beings at all.” (p. 115)

(2) Destructive superstitions that are so obvious in the Bible. There’s that famous text in Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” but the gospels too provided fuel for the hysteria; Jesus had to defeat demons who recognized him because they both had come from the spiritual realm. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24) But the most dramatic story is found in Mark 5, in which demons tormenting a deranged man beg Jesus to transfer them to a herd of swine—and Jesus obliged, by uttering a magic spell, presumably—upon which the 2,000 swine ran off a cliff into the sea. Educated readers today should protest, “What a load of nonsense!”

Before demon superstition was destroyed by the modern understanding of how the world works, naturally witches were considered a real thing—and they had to be dealt with.

Ellerbe describes the methods followed:

“The process of formally persecuting witches followed the harshest inquisitional procedure. Once accused of witchcraft, it was virtually impossible to escape conviction. After cross-examination, the victim’s body was examined for the witch’s mark.” She quotes historian Walter Nigg: “She was stripped naked and the executioner shaved off all her body hair in order to seek in hidden places of the body the signs which the devil imprinted on his cohorts. Warts, freckles, and birthmarks were considered certain tokens of amorous relations with Satan.” (p. 123)

What a stain on the Christian religion! How can we not blame the very defective Bible? Had it been inspired by a wise, caring, competent deity, it would have included books devoted to proper hygiene—including an explanation of germs and how diseases spread—and books debunking harmful superstitions about angels and demons. The Bible could have given us a big head start in understanding how the world and the cosmos work: but no, that is missing.

Hence, cruelties abounded, as Ellerbe points out:

“Witch hunts were neither small in scope nor implemented by a few aberrant individuals; the persecution of witches was the official policy of both the Catholic and Protestant Churches…The vast number of people brutalized and killed, as well as the impact on the common perception of God, make the witch hunts one of the darkest chapters in human history.” (pp. 137 & 138)

No religion that engaged in witch hunts can be considered to be legitimate. Clearly Christianity was invented and run by human beings with no connection to any supernatural beings.

(4735) Jesus didn’t want to start a new religion

The gospels supply clues that Jesus was looking to refine the Jewish faith, but had no intention to create a new one. And some scriptures were manipulated to make it appear otherwise. The following was taken from:


It stands to reason that if Jesus had really wanted to create a new religion, such an important matter would have received broad coverage in all the Gospels.

Three of the four Gospels are silent on the subject of instructions regarding a new religion; however, in Matthew, chapter 16; Mark, chapter 8; and Luke, chapter 9, there is the same reference to Jesus asking his disciples, “Who do the crowds say I am?” But it is only in Matthew that there is an additional comment made by Jesus to Peter after his response, “Thou art the Christ.”

Matthew says that Jesus responded, “You are Peter and on this rock [the name of Peter in Hebrew is the rock] I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18).

We need to be very suspicious of any statement appearing only in one place and not corroborated by any of the other Gospels, or by any of the numerous other documents not chosen in the final selection that constitutes the Bible.

Many scholars see the above verse in Matthew as a likely addition for the purpose of giving legitimacy to the creation of a separate church and implying that Christianity stems from a specific order from Jesus himself.

The discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, another apostle sometimes referred to as the Twin, revealed that Thomas, and not Peter, responded correctly to the question of Jesus concerning his identity as Christ.

Tampering with the Gospel of Matthew would not be overly surprising when one learns more about the events that unfolded during the first four hundred years following the Ascension.

The choice of Peter as leader of an alleged new religion is also questionable in view of the fact that Peter was a very orthodox Hebrew and, therefore, would not be motivated to go contrary to the core of Judaism, which a new religion clearly would have forced upon him.

Peter’s actions and his initial stand in opposition to Paul’s mission to the Gentiles, further demonstrates that he did not see his role as the leader of a new religion.

The last verse of Luke’s gospel indicates that after the Ascension, the disciples “returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the Temple, praising God” (Luke 24:52–53).

Why would they go back to the Hebrew temple if their master’s intention was that they launch a new religion? This must lead us to conclude that this episode of Peter, allegedly appointed as leader of a new (Christian) church, is a flagrant example of the tampering with Scriptures that clearly occurred.

The Christian religion is standing on a weak foundation that has very little historical or scriptural support from the synoptic gospels. This lends support to the idea that Paul was the principal reason why the faith broke away from Judaism. Jesus, assuming he was a real person, likely had no idea that a new religion would be formed around his ministry, and likely would have been repulsed by the same.

(4736) Antisemitism and Christianity’s problem

If Christianity is true, then it should have followed that practically all Jewish people would have recognized Jesus as God’s son and adopted the New Covenant. That is, how could God’s people have misinterpreted God’s Grand Plan? The fact that the Jews didn’t go along with this plan became a problem for Christianity- and it led to feelings of hatred toward the Jews. So, in effect, antisemitism is a consequence of the falsehood of Christianity. The following was taken from:


Antisemitism through the ages is a collection of hateful prejudices untainted by fact. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t reasons why it arose.

At the root of these is a theological rivalry. Both Christianity and Islam present themselves as the fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures, as new covenants which replace the old. The continued existence of Jewish people is problematic for this, because if these newer religions can’t convince the original recipients of the covenant, it casts doubt on their legitimacy. Small wonder that both Christian and Muslim states have persecuted Jews and even sought to kill them when they refused to convert.

There are also political dimensions to antisemitism. When Christianity was a young new religion struggling for survival, Christians couldn’t go around proclaiming that their founder had been executed by the Roman authorities as a criminal. That would have been a surefire way to get the Romans to stomp them out. Instead, they put the blame on fractious, rebellious Jews who demanded Jesus’ death despite Roman reluctance.

This scapegoating continued down to the Middle Ages. Theocratic Christian kingdoms banned Jews from owning land, assuming this would keep them poor and powerless. Instead, they took up moneylending, and they turned out to be to be good at it.

They thrived in spite of a Christian world that wanted them to fail. What’s more, they were the only way for Christian rulers to get cash they desperately needed. (Christians couldn’t make loans to each other, because of a religious belief against lending at interest.) This uncomfortable cognitive dissonance—Christians both depended on the Jews, and also resented them for it—is a powerful accelerant for hatred.

Christianity is false because its foundation (Judaism) does not support it. This is the same situation with Mormonism and its foundation (Christianity). Both are illegitimate offshoots of the main stem- and both are false to the nth degree.

(4737) Christianity’s vulnerable dependence on faith

In the end, Christianity is nothing more than a disparagement of reason, and a glorification of faith. This theme has been reinforced through scripture and in the writings of esteemed Christian luminaries. When you have no facts, and what you are selling is dubious at its core, faith is all you have to push the product. The following was taken from:


According to Paul in Colossians 2:8, “See no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” Jesus purportedly said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (Luke 10:21). Paul wrote, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:18–25).

Tertullian (160–220 CE) asked: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” In words reminiscent of Søren Kierkegaard, Tertullian wrote of the incarnation of Jesus by saying, “Just because it is absurd, it is to be believed . . . it is certain because it is impossible.” Martin Luther called reason “the Devil’s Whore.” As such, reason “can do nothing but slander and harm all that God says and does.” Immanuel Kant said that he “found it necessary to deny knowledge of God…in order to find a place for faith.” (Critique of Pure Reason, bxxx). William Lane Craig agrees with this viewpoint. He argues that “reason is a tool to help us better understand our faith. Should faith and reason conflict, it is reason that must submit to faith, not vice versa.”

The world has changed dramatically since the early days of Christianity, and the exercise of reason has supplanted the use of faith in the workings of practically every human endeavor. In fact, almost all Christians live their lives by learning facts and using reason to navigate all challenges. Faith overpowers reason only on Sunday mornings. What this means is that Christianity is swimming upstream in its effort to remain relevant, and it can survive only if (by some miracle) new and substantial evidence emerges to support its claims.

(4738) Effect of Christian faith on followers

One way to evaluate the truth of a faith system is to measure the effect it has on its adherents. In the case described below it can be seen that Christianity, taken to its extreme, has bizarre and deleterious implications on peoples’ behavior. The following was taken from:


I thought back to my own upbringing and what I was taught to believe. I was homeschooled after 2nd grade, so I didn’t get the “Christian School” indoctrination, but they MORE than made up for it!

I decided to compile a list of some of the rather bizarre ideas and beliefs my parents had, and taught to me growing up.

There are definitely more, but these were common themes.

    • No secular music. Unless it’s oldies.
    • Anything with a rock beat (a “penta” beat, according to my dad) summons Satan. I was made to watch a cheesy documentary called “Hell’s Bells” several times. They did loosen up a bit and eventually let me listen to Christian rock, though that was against their better judgement.
    • Dad heard Satan in our fireplace once. That was a fun night.
    • I attended what was essentially an exorcism one night, also fun.
    • I will never forget the night Dad decided we should all go out to the river for a baptism during a thunderstorm. Good times. I was baptized a LOT growing up.
    • When I started back-talking in my teen years, they brought in a preacher to cleanse the demons from my room.
    • Church, whenever the doors are open
    • About those churches. They must be rowdy, loud and “spiritual” with lots of speaking in tongues, jumping up and down and a preacher who yells a lot.
    • Evolution is a lie. Dinosaurs may have existed but they lived with humans. Also, the earth is definitely only 6,000 years old.
    • Freemasonry is evil, and is tied to the Illuminati, which essentially controls all government.
    • The Boy Scouts are the training ground for future Freemasons
    • Martial Arts are Satanic, as is anything to do with “eastern mysticism”.
    • Ditto for yoga
    • Earth Day is evil. It’s Satan’s way to get us to worship Mother Earth instead of God. In second grade, before they started homeschooling me, I was made to sit out Earth Day activities at school, and they threw away the tree I brought home I was supposed to plant.
    • Ditto for environmentalism and the EPA
    • The KJV version of the Bible is the only accurate one.
    • Aliens are real, but they are actually angels and demons.
    • The pyramids were built by these aliens ala Ancient Aliens
    • Crop circles are messages from these aliens.
    • The Waco incident was the government attacking religion.
    • The Ruby Ridge incident was the government attacking religion.
    • The Oklahoma City bombing was an inside job; Timothy McVeigh was a scapegoat.
    • Nostradamus knew everything.
    • Biblical numerology was big with my dad. He had white boards and notebooks, and was always doing these calculations to connect the Bible with current events.
    • The EU is evil. They would say hooray for Brexit, I guess?
    • Christmas and Easter are pagan holidays, so no Christmas trees or Easter egg hunting.
    • No Halloween because…Satan.
    • No Valentine’s Day – it’s too closely associated with false gods.
    • Abortion is evil, obviously.
    • Ditto for homosexuality
    • Magic is witchcraft and should be avoided at all costs. This includes books and TV about witchcraft
    • D&D is also witchcraft.
    • Oprah is evil
    • Robin Williams was evil
    • Disney is evil
    • Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers? Evil.
    • Janet Reno? A tool of Satan.
    • Scary movies and books are evil
    • Horoscopes and astrology are evil
    • Faith healing is real
    • TV evangelists are awesome. We went to several televangelist rallies, and lots of gospel concerts.
    • Catholicism is evil
    • Jehovah’s Witnesses are evil
    • Mormons are evil
    • Democrats in general? Extra evil. My mom actually threatened to unalive herself when Bill Clinton was elected in 1992.
    • Blow jobs are a sin. Guess that goes a lot with Clinton being evil.
    • Premarital sex is a sin
    • Cursing is a sin
    • Back talking your parents is a sin
    • Tattoos are a sin
    • Consuming alcohol is a sin. We never went to restaurants that served alcohol. Side note, my parents owned a bar when I was five.
    • Smoking cigarettes is pretty much ok
    • Divorce is ok
    • We should study and observe Judaism because Jesus was Jewish. This includes observing Shabbat instead of church on Sundays. Bacon is cool though.
    • On the Messianic Judaism thing – my dad was really into this. My aunt even made him a high priest costume, and he had his own tallit and everything. Jews for Jesus FTW!
    • Non-spiritual (holy roller) churches are blinded by Satan.
    • Public school is evil. Thus, I was homeschooled, where I learned lots of Bible stuff and zero about evolution. All history was also very whitewashed and straightwashed.
    • College education should be avoided because Satan.
    • The world is definitely going to end at any moment, right after “The Rapture”.
    • Y2K was definitely going to kick start the apocalypse.
    • Go to the doctor if you are really sick, but if at all possible, lean on alternative medicine. Also, hot dogs cause autism. (We still ate them though)

If you followed all these beliefs and avoided all the Satan-y stuff, were a born-again Christian and prayed really hard, you might not go to hell.

Precisely because it is false, anti-logic, anti-science, and pro-didactic, Christianity is a demonstrably false belief system producing a ‘cancer’ that has metastasized to billions of human minds throughout the past twenty centuries, resulting in nut cases as described above. Even the milder cases are tragic, preventing a reasoned, scientifically-accurate, benign, and tolerant approach to life.

(4739) Mark’s fake exorcism story references a genocide

In Mark, Chapter 5, Jesus is seen to cast out demons from a ‘possessed’ person and send them into a herd of pigs who then rush to the sea and drown. Casting aside the absolute absurdity of such an event, scholars have conjectured that the author wrote this fictional tale as a reference to a genocide that occurred in the same region, perpetrated by a Roman legion, in approximately 70 CE. (The author naming the head demon ‘Legion’ was not by accident.) The following was taken from:


The story of the exorcism of ‘Legion’ in Mark 5:1 says that Jesus went into the “land of the Gerasenes”, about 9 kilometers from the Sea of Galilee which is inappropriately located for the story that follows. In this story, Jesus casts ‘Legion’ into about two thousand pigs, killing them when they run straight into the sea and drown. Even allowing for the possibility of exorcism, the story is impossible because nine kilometers is too far for pigs to run. However, Nicholas Elder provides the explanation of both ‘Legion’ and the choice of Gerasa as the location for this dramatic miracle, in Mark at the Borderland of Orality and Textuality. He says:

Vespasian’s military actions in Gerasa in the years preceding 70 CE will have made the city culturally significant for Mark’s audience. In J.W. 4.487–489, Josephus recounts that Vespasian sent Lucius Annius to Gerasa with a party of horsemen and many infantrymen. Lucius and his “legions” killed one thousand young men, took their families captive, plundered the city, and left it in flames.

This is another indication that Mark was likely written around 70 CE.

The author of Matthew’s Gospel realized the area described by Mark was too improbable and altered “the region of the Gerasenes” (τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν) to “the region of the Gadarenes” (τὴν χώραν τῶν Γαδαρηνῶν), providing a slightly more plausible location. The KJV Bible also changes Mark’s Gospel to reflect what Matthew says, but this does not reflect the original.

It is well-established that the Gospel of Mark contains mostly fictional stories that had historical allusions and/or double meanings. The structure of his narrative was formulaic to the extent that it had little resemblance to the flow of natural history. In this case, Mark was sending a veiled message to the Romans to remind them of their savagery.

(4740) Bible fails to define objective morality

Christians claim that objective morality exists and that their religion defines it. This is not true. All it takes to refute this claim is to observe the moral judgments being made by various Christian sects. They are all over the place. The following was taken from:


Whether objective morality exists or not is irrelevant because Christians subjectively choose what they wish to believe.

We can see this by just examining three claims:

    1. There is a single god, from which Objective Morality stems
    2. Jesus Christ is the only way into Heaven
    3. The Bible is the Word of God, and the New Testament is the scripture from which moral doctrines are sourced

From here Christianity makes several competing claims:

    1. The Orthodox Church’s understanding of original sin differs from the Catholic doctrine. The Orthodox tradition does not emphasize the guilt of original sin being passed down through generations but rather the consequences of the first sin, such as death and inclination to sin. Whereas the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, which is uniquely Catholic.
    2. Contraception is immoral per Catholicism AND Contraception is not immoral per Protestants
    3. Blood transfusions are immoral and forbidden per Jehovah’s Witnesses AND the opposite for everyone else
    4. Drinking coffee (and hot drinks in general) is immoral according to Mormons, the rest of Christendom disagrees.
    5. The Bible was once used to support slavery, or rather, it always has enabled and supported slavery; but it is now morally condemned by modern Christians.
    6. The Gay and all manners of sexual diversity has been long condemned throughout Christian history; but in more recent times, liberal Christians, eg Lutherans and Anglicans have supported same sex marriages.
    7. Ordaining women as priests is forbidden by most Christian denominations but accepted in others.
    8. The Orthodox Church allows for divorce, whereas the Catholic Church expressly forbids it.

Whether or not each religion is accurately reflecting the wishes of god or not is irrelevant to my argument since there is no objective framework to ensure that the Bible is being interpreted correctly. The many differences between each Church and the denominations within them are living religions, with no one being able to gain say or deny the other conclusively.

The net result is that Christians cannot have any claim to an objectively moral religion, since within it there are significant unresolved differences. These differences essential boil down to subjective interpretations that are subjectively chosen by individual Christians as they subjectively determine which denomination fits their personal beliefs. So there’s nothing objective at all within Christian morality as a whole.

Contrast with other objective systems such as math where there is zero disagreements as to what is true or not. Or science, which couches its results carefully with boundaries and margins of error, which are open to being peer reviewed, reproduced and confirmed. Even when there are disagreements or paradigm shifts that change the landscape of scientific knowledge, the trajectory is towards a single truth.

So on what basis can Christians claim to be objectively moral?

If God intended Christianity to define objective morality, he would have ensured that the Bible contained enough information to reliably define it. It would contain verses similar to the following:

No one is condemned by original sin, but only the sin that one commits.

No form of contraception is permitted, God is the arbiter of reproduction.

Blood from one can never be injected into another.

The consumption of hot drinks is not prohibited.

It is never acceptable for one person to own another person. All people must be free from such bondage. No man can be a master and own slaves.

Marriage is between two people who love each other. Period.

The priesthood is not limited to men, but can be inclusive of women.

Divorce is permissible given sufficient grounds in each case.

These kinds of definitive statements would appear in the Bible if it’s intent was to publish guidelines of an objective morality. Clearly, based on the disparate views of various Christian sects, the Bible does not define morality in any sense that can be considered objective, well-defined, or non-controversial.

(4741) Over-predicting the end times

For twenty centuries, Christians have been persistent in believing that they are living in the end times, and that Jesus will return ‘any day’ to rapture his chosen. It is instructive to hear voices from the distant past illuminating this same theme. As an example, the English historian and critic of religion Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) wrote the following in his book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776:

In the primitive church the influence of truth was very powerfully strengthened by an opinion which, however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity, has not been found agreeable to experience. It was universally believed that the end of the world, and the kingdom of heaven, were at hand. The near approach of this wonderful event had been predicted by the apostles; the tradition of it was preserved by their earliest disciples, and those who understood in their literal sense the discourses of Christ himself were obliged to expect the second and glorious coming of the Son of Man in the clouds, before that generation was totally extinguished which had beheld his humble condition upon earth, and which might still be witness of the calamities of the Jews under Vespasian or Hadrian. The revolution of seventeen centuries has instructed us not to press too closely the mysterious language of prophecy and revelation; but as long as, for wise purposes, this error was permitted to subsist in the church, it was productive of the most salutary effects on the faith and practice of Christians, who lived in the awful expectation of that moment when the globe itself, and all the various race of mankind, should tremble at the appearance of their divine Judge.

Two hundred and fifty years after Gibbon wrote this passage, nothing has changed. And while Gibbon might have thought that the (erroneous) belief in the eminent staging of the world’s denouement was producing some positive effects on Christians, it, by far and away, has produced an over-abundance of negative effects- namely (1) dis-incentive to make plans for a distant future, (2) lack of interest in preserving the earth’s ecology, (3) acceptance of damnation for some as a just punishment, (4) insensitivity to the potential short-changing of the earthly lives of young people (no chance to marry, have careers, sire children), (5) lack of interest in exploring ways to improve the living conditions of impoverished people given the ‘short’ time remaining, (6) dis-interest in science and related discoveries, (7) instilling an us-versus-them mentality, and (8) in extreme cases, selling or giving everything away (still happening today) only to find out the end did not come as predicted.

A real god would not have led people to believe that the end was near when it clearly was not. If Christianity is true, then Yahweh is to be blamed for creating false expectations along with the problems it has created. Or else Yahweh died before he could orchestrate the end. Either way, Christianity has a problem.

(4742) Apologists fail to rescue the Bible on slavery

A major thorn in the side of Christian apologists is the fact that the Bible appears (or rather does) endorse the practice of slavery, making it seem like God has morals deficient to those of most everyone today. Apologists give it a good try, but ultimately fail- the Bible is a product of its time, and during the time it was written, slavery was considered moral. So it appears that Yahweh was also a product of the time (not a timeless all-knowing deity who could see into the future and know that slavery would not stand the test of time). The following was taken from:


In the modern western world, most people would have no problem saying slavery in all its forms is evil. This is a non-controversial position to take, but one which runs counter to the laws of the bible. Due to this, apologists have had to find ways to justify slavery and condone the laws laid out in the bible. Really, at the point that your worldview puts you in the position of having to justify slavery, it should make you question that worldview.

The most common way this is done is by trying to claim that the slavery in the bible is purely indentured servitude, that is an employment contract where the person is temporarily put under the ownership of the person owed a debt so that the servant can work off that debt. The apologists will often try to paint this as a happy time of sunshine and rainbows, saying it could well be volunteer and the best thing for the servants.

This line of argumentation ignores several glaring problems, firstly the bible outlines multiple types of slavery, including sex slaves, prisoners of war, chattel and indentured servitude. Secondly indentured servitude was often just as harsh as chattel slavery, with the owner having full rights to do whatever they deem necessary to work off that debt. This would often mean men would be sent to work in mines, quarries, row ships or plow fields, while women would usually be forced into prostitution. Indentured servitude was also not usually volunteer, with a failure to pay your debts meaning it could well be a court ordered punishment for your failure to pay. And thirdly, indentured servitude is banned by all western nations and by the UN as a form of slavery, so when we say we believe all forms of slavery is wrong, that includes indentured servitude.

Probably the clearest indication of the bibles support of slavery is the famous Exodus 21:20

“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”

Clearly stating that a slave owner will receive no punishment for beating a slave as they are legal property. A couple of verses later it does clarify that you cannot permanently disfigure them “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.”, so you may beat them black and blue, give them a good whipping, as long as you don’t permanently damage them. It is hard to take Christianity’s claims that everyone has intrinsic value as we are all made in the image of God, while the bible gives us laws which are horrific by modern standards.

Sex slavery is more often avoided completely by apologists, or at best will get a “you aren’t reading the context”. However, a straightforward reading of the bible is clear and matches what was the norm in those ancient times.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 “When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.”

The thing missing from this marriage is consent. Consent is a sadly recent development in human history, with women historically being given or sold to whoever their father’s decide for them. They would have no choice in partner, no option to refuse and would be required to have sex with whoever was put in charge of them, saying no was not an option. This common view is highlighted in this bible passage, where the woman is forced to marry the soldier who killed her family, someone who she would never willingly wish to be with. It even clarifies that you cannot sell her as you have dishonored her, meaning taken her virginity and therefore made her undesirable to anyone else.

The bible clearly says to take virgin girls as plunder of war,
Numbers 31:17-18 “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.”

Apologists will try to say this is saving the young ones from execution, so is a mercy, but it is clear that age is not the deciding factor as the little boys are to be killed. The verse states that it is their virgin status which saves them. Sex is the deciding factor.

Some apologists will point to the passage Exodus 21:16-“Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession” as a sign that God doesn’t like people taking slaves. However, the legal term kidnapping was to illegally take someone, especially an Israelite, against the law. It did not apply to legal slaves purchased from the nations around, taken in war or given that status by the courts. It is worth noting that in the American Southern states kidnapping was always illegal while the practice of slavery was ongoing. This is not unusual and not a reason to think that slavery was looked upon negatively.

Apologists will say it was Christians who ended slavery, ignoring the fact it was Christians who traded slaves, owned slaves and were the law makers who made it legal. Christianity ruled the world for a thousand years and never got around to banning slavery, it wasn’t until after the enlightenment era that societies morals were changing towards our modern standards that Christianity began claiming those changes were theirs all along.

Christians must accept the fact that Yahweh was OK with slavery, perhaps thinking he was powerless to end it, so he just ‘went with the flow.’ It is a pity to see human beings sacrifice their integrity for a fleeting chance at immortality.

(4743) Strange rules in the Bible

It is inconceivable that an omnipotent god would express the level of pettiness that Yahweh exhibits throughout the Bible. Yet, humans, on their own, doing the same is fully expected. The following lists some of the most egregious examples of this- a sample of the strange rules that, for some equally strange reason, Yahweh thought was important:


If you offer a sacrifice of grain or meat to god, the grain must be in the form of fine flower and have oil seasons added to it and the meat should be salted. (Leviticus 2:1 and 2:13)

– who knew god was a galloping gourmet??

Don’t let cattle graze with other kinds of Cattle (Leviticus 19:19)

Don’t have a variety of crops on the same field. (Leviticus 19:19)

Don’t wear clothes made of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19)

Don’t cut your hair nor shave. (Leviticus 19:27)

Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed. (Leviticus 20:9)

If a man cheats on his wife, or vise versa, both the man and the woman must die. (Leviticus 20:10)

If a man or woman has sex with an animal, both human and animal must be killed. (Leviticus 20:15-16)

If a man has sex with a woman on her period, they are both to be “cut off from their people” (Leviticus 20:18)

Psychics, wizards, witches and so on are to be stoned to death. (Leviticus 20:27)

If a priest’s daughter is a whore, she is to be burnt at the stake. (Leviticus 21:9)

People who have flat noses, or are blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God (Leviticus 21:17-18)

Anyone who curses or blasphemes God, should be stoned to death by the community. (Leviticus 24:14-16)

How’s about the book of Deutoronomy?

Anyone who dreams or prophesies anything that is against God, or anyone who tries to turn you from God, is to be put to death. (Deuteronomy 13:5)

If anyone, even your own family suggests worshiping another God, kill them. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)

If you find out a city worships a different god, destroy the city and kill all of it’s inhabitants… even the animals. (Deuteronomy 13:12-15)

Kill anyone with a different religion. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7)

How’s about some rules for women? The old testament often views women as subservient, less than human. Exodus specifically sees them as the property of their fathers, having the ownership transferred to the husbands upon marriage, often requiring a ‘dowry’ to purchase the woman.

Women are not allowed to wear the clothing of men (or the other way around for that matter – Deuteronomy 22:5)

Of course there were other rules about modesty, not showing any excessive skin and even covering their faces. They were to be subservient to their husbands and not speak unless given permission from their husbands, not be seen in public without their husbands.

As shown in the prior comment, there are numerous rules throughout that require putting them to death even if merely the victim of someone else’s wrong doing.

Many suggest sections of the Old testament speak of rape and even gang rape of women regularly, albeit cryptically (Genesis 19:8 for example) Men with wives would often times keep multiple concubines in the earlier books of the old testament.

What about giving birth? Leviticus 12:1-5 “If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days…But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks…” I assume ‘unclean’ refers to how long her husband has to wait to rape her again?

Adultery as defined by the Old Testament was a crime against the man in a marriage. A married man could visit prostitutes or keep concubines, but his wife could not lay down with another man lest her and the man be put to death.

Women worthy of marriage had to be virgins before marriage. If they weren’t they would be put to death. Men had no such requirement nor any way to prove it one way or the other.

The modesty rules for women are also in the New Testament so even if you argue that the new overrides the old, sorry! (Timothy 2:9-10, 1 Peter 3:2-5, 1 Corinthians 11:4-7)

1st Peter 3:1 and 3:5 tells women to be submissive to their husbands. 3:3 says they should not style or braid their hair or wear any adornments (jewelry) or fancy clothing. I would also presume that wording to include the wearing of make-up and coloring of hair in that context. 1st Timothy 2:9 repeats this sentiment in the same fashion.

1st Timothy 2:12 again covers the submission of women and goes on to say they should remain silent, never teach or hold any authority over men. They should just be silent.

The comments in 1st Corinthians 11:4-7 are in the context of prayer and worship but say that women should cover their heads. To do otherwise is a dishonor that is akin to shaving their heads, and a shaven head should be covered.

Would a god really be concerned about how you cut your hair, or whether you shirt was made from multiple fabrics? Of course not. But humans, inventing a god and wanting to exert control over other people, would have incentive to create these types of ridiculous rules. And that is what we observe in the Bible. Throughout, it has the markings of a human-created project.

(4774) Ancient deities jealously guarded their knowledge

The biblical story of creation in Genesis is an example of ancient beliefs that gods were jealous of humans attaining enough knowledge to challenge their superiority. Thus, God forbids Adam and Eve to eat (learn from) the Tree of Knowledge. The following is an excerpt from John Collins’ book Introduction to the Hebrew Bible:

In the Atrahasis story, humanity was created to do agricultural work for the gods. In Genesis the first human being is also charged with keeping the garden of God, but the task does not appear very onerous. The Creator provides for the growth of “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” Luxuriant divine gardens often appear in ancient Near Eastern literature. The most celebrated example is the land of Dilmun, which is described in the Sumerian myth called “Enki and Ninhursag” (see sidebar on p. 71).

We encounter similar imagery in the book of Isaiah in the context of the restoration of an Edenic state in the messianic age. These gardens are often the source of life-giving waters that refresh the earth. This is also the case in Genesis, where a river that flows out of Eden is said to be the source of four rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates, the great rivers of Mesopotamia.

Two trees are singled out in this garden: the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (The precise meaning of “the knowledge of good and evil” is disputed. It may mean “universal knowledge,” or it may mean the power of discernment between good and evil—cf. Isa 7:15-16, which refers to the age by which a child knows how to choose the good and reject the evil.) Symmetry would lead us to expect that if one tree is the tree of life, the corresponding one should be the tree of death, and sure enough, Adam is told that if he eats of it he shall die. The tree is not introduced to Adam under the negative name of death, however, but in its attractive aspect as the tree of knowledge. The plot of the story hinges on the idea that God does not want humanity to eat from the tree of knowledge. The idea that gods jealously guard their superiority over humanity is widespread in the ancient world. It is also found in the Greek myth of Prometheus, the hero who was condemned to torture because he stole fire from the gods to benefit humankind. It should be noted, however, that Adam is not initially forbidden to eat from the tree of life.

The Bible reflects the perceptions of pre-scientific humans who didn’t know where the sun went at night. They viewed their gods with fear and deference, afraid to learn too much lest these gods would strike them down for desiring to attain a godlike status for themselves. These people would have been horrified by the current progress in creating artificial intelligence that in many ways has already exceeded the abilities of human minds.

(4745) Having four gospels was a mistake

Based on several degrees of superstition, the forefathers of Christianity settled on the concept of having four gospels, conceding that there would be some disagreements among them. It is easy to see why Christianity would be better off if they had picked only one, given that the inconsistencies among the four are not resolvable. This leaves the entire enterprise open to refutation. The following was taken from:


The church father Irenaeus had a raging boner theological affinity for the number four. Straight from the horse’s mouth, his tome Against Heresies, book III, chapter XI:

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh.

From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sits upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit. As also David says, when entreating His manifestation, You that sits between the cherubim, shine forth. For the cherubim, too, were four-faced, and their faces were images of the dispensation of the Son of God.

He then summarizes each gospel by mapping them to the four animals from Revelation (lion, ox, human, eagle)—implying that differences in the gospels are due to their describing different aspects of Jesus’s mission. He then finishes this section by appealing to the fact that—checks notes—animals walk on four legs!?

Such, then, as was the course followed by the Son of God, so was also the form of the living creatures; and such as was the form of the living creatures, so was also the character of the Gospel. For the living creatures are quadriform, and the Gospel is quadriform, as is also the course followed by the Lord. For this reason were four principal covenants given to the human race: one, prior to the deluge, under Adam; the second, that after the deluge, under Noah; the third, the giving of the law, under Moses; the fourth, that which renovates man, and sums up all things in itself by means of the Gospel, raising and bearing men upon its wings into the heavenly kingdom.

Okay. My first sentence was tongue in cheek. There is a practical reason why Irenaeus wants people to read all four together. Here’s an explanation from our favorite scholar, Bart Ehrman:

In a striking passage in Against Heresies III.XI, Irenaeus indicates that there are problems even with these four Gospels, to wit, that some heretical groups take the teachings of just one of the Gospels and pushes them to an untenable extreme, thereby distorting the truth that emerges when when one considers all four of the Gospels as a unit. And so, he says, heretical Jewish Christians use only the Gospel of Matthew; those who “separate Jesus from the Christ” (this would be some kind of Gnostic) use only Mark; the followers of Marcion use only Luke; and the Valentinian Gnostics use only the Gospel of John.

For Irenaeus, all four Gospels must be read, and read together. Otherwise one gets a skewed understanding of who Christ really was.

Irenaeus was an optimist, thinking that reading all four gospels would somehow cause one’s perception of Jesus to gel into one harmonious whole. This, of course, is not the case. Each gospel presents a different Jesus (especially John) and perplexes historians to decide which, if any, is more accurate, and further, to decide if Jesus was an actual person. How on earth this could be the finished product of an omnipotent god’s message to humanity is unanswerable. If God intended for these four gospels to be placed in his Bible, then God failed miserably… unless his intent was to create confusion, disagreement, factions, and ultimately violence among various groups who emphasized one gospel over the others.

(4746) Layers of biblical evil

Too many Christians treat the Bible in an implausibly reverent way while failing to read its contents in a conscious and objective manner. If they did, they would be able to unfold the layers of evil that lie within. The following was taken from:


I recently read an article whose purpose was to refute claims that the bible condemns homosexuality [here]. It seems to me the real argument should be at a much broader level, like, “Why should anyone put stock in an ancient document of questionable origins translated multiple times in multiple ways, and sufficiently obtuse that contradictory interpretations of its text can ‘reasonably’ be made?” Arguing about what the bible does or doesn’t condemn strikes me as entirely pointless. Nevertheless, the referenced article does, incidentally, provide clear evidence of how screwed up the bible, and the religions for which it serves as the definitive source, truly are.

The author examines several texts frequently put forth as proof of biblical condemnation of homosexuality. The first two addressed are the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18 and 19) and a story from Judges 19. The author explains how each story is really about hospitality and not homosexuality. The two stories, however, share another chilling and repugnant element. In Genesis, a mob demands that two visitors (men who turn out in the story to be angels in disguise) be sent out by their host so that the mob can rape them. To protect his visitors, the host makes a counteroffer: “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them.” [Genesis 19:8] Now there is a good host, a fine, upstanding individual, and an exemplary parent!

A similar scenario plays out in Judges. A stranger takes a man and his concubine in for the night. Here again, a mob forms, demanding that the man be sent out so that they can rape him, and, as in Genesis, the host tries to appease them: “Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish.” [Judges 19:24] The mob refuses, so the guest sends out his concubine, whom they rape until she collapses and dies. Once again, virtue personified!

In both cases, it is the mob that is condemned in the bible. The counter-offers in both cases are, or so it would appear, perfectly acceptable. The message: “hospitality” is much more important in the bible than the well-being of women (of course, in the bible, many things are more important than the well-being of women).

But, someone might say, what choice did the fathers have? They had to do something to protect their (male) guests. To which the simple and obvious answer is: if protecting the (male) guests was so important, then the fathers should have offered THEMSELVES, not their daughters.

Admittedly, the despicable willingness to sacrifice the daughters and concubine was not related to the point of the article, but I can’t fathom how any moral person could quote those passages without expressing revulsion at such behavior. This is an example of the mental and ethical contortions anyone who considers themselves “good” and “moral” must go through to embrace the bible and its religions.

The use of questionable bible passages by conservative Christians to condemn homosexuality is abhorrent. Trying to prove that the bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality, or anything else, isn’t wrong, but *is* silly. The whole bible, from the first word to the last word, should be rejected. Both testaments are full of stories like those discussed above, that make one point while at the same time demonstrating and implicitly condoning indefensible conduct or attitudes.

I don’t believe any book should be banned. However, for those who claim to be intent on “protecting children” by banning books, I suggest they look at their own favorite. In terms of the potential to warp and damage young minds, or the offering of objectively repugnant examples of conduct, the bible has to rank at or near the top.

You would think that an infinitely intelligent creator god could have done a better job of fashioning his message to humanity. Any human today could write a much better ‘bible’ than Yahweh did as he ‘inspired’ his authors twenty centuries ago. It almost seems as if the Bible was written by men confined to their own time and place, without help from any supernatural beings.

(4747) Gospel trouble spots

The most ardent Christians are those who either don’t read the gospels carefully or who don’t give careful attention to what they are reading. In the following, David Madison elucidates some of the trouble spots that are obvious to any one possessing a free and open mind:


I suspect most devout believers adore their Jesus, as he is portrayed in stained glass, great art, hymns (e.g., What a Friend We Have in Jesus)—and, of course, how is he lovingly described from the pulpit. Thus they skip careful study of the gospels. Years ago, when I was a pastor, it was a tiny minority of the congregation that attended my Bible study classes. When folks do study the gospels carefully/critically, they may notice things that seem farfetched. How many of us have heard the voice of god booming from the sky? That seems a mark of fantasy literature. In Mark, the first gospel written, this is how Jesus’ baptism is described (1:10-11): “And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.’”

When Matthew copied this story from Mark, he made a couple of alterations (3:16-17): “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from the heavens said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’”

Mark’s “heavens torn apart” becomes “the heavens were opened to him” in Matthew, and Mark’s “You are my Son,” becomes “This is my Son” in Matthew. Perhaps Matthew realized that a voice blasting from heaven would be heard by everyone. Even so, many readers today would be skeptical about a voice from the sky. Given the level of tedium encountered in Bible reading in general, binge-watching Disney fantasies or sports seems a better choice.

We encounter the same naivete in Mark 9, the story of Jesus glowing on a mountaintop. There the voice of Jesus’ god comes from a cloud. By the way, this clearly audible divine voice would be a big improvement—in terms of getting clear messages from god to humanity. Why hasn’t this god done it more often, consistently? When Hitler was speaking to a hundred thousand followers at a large stadium, god could have shouted, “Don’t listen to this crazy deranged fool! Get rid of him!” But, of course, that’s the way heroes in fantasy literature go about their business. It has a touch of the ridiculous.

But a much bigger challenge can be found in many Jesus quotes in the gospels, quotes that are out of sync with how our lives work in the contemporary world. Let’s look first at a couple in Mark’s gospel, 10:29-30, where Jesus is responding to Peter, who had pointed out that the disciples had given up everything to follow him:

“Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”

How does this possibly make sense? It makes sense only when we grasp that the gospel writers had a special agenda. Their purpose was to win/retain converts to the early Jesus cult, which was a breakaway Jewish sect. This quote from Mark 10 reeks of cult extremism, actually cult craziness, which is so far removed from how the devout today make their way in the world. Imagine a preacher today urging you to abandon everyone in your family—and your property—for the sake of his “good news.” With the promise that your family and property would be restored a hundredfold (what can that possibly mean?)—and eternal life is thrown into the bargain. It’s not a stretch to say that the original readers of such bizarre texts were not critical thinkers, and we can assume that the authors weren’t either.

Which is illustrated as well by this strange Jesus-script in Mark 16:17-18:

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

This is utterly foreign to how devout Christians live today. Some may believe in demons—but do they claim the power to “cast them out”? Are they talented at healing sick people by touch? Do they go out of their way to pick up snakes, and are they eager to drink poison to prove the power of Jesus’ name? It may be a relief to find out that Mark 16:9-20 is missing from the oldest manuscripts of Mark, that is, it was added later by person/persons unknown. Yet, here was an early Christian author who was sure he was quoting Jesus. But this throws a bright spotlight on the problem of the entire gospel: we have no idea who wrote it, how he came by his supposed “information” about Jesus. Given the levels of fantasy in Mark’s gospel, we can suspect that most of what he wrote came from his imagination.

Now let’s take a close look at a few examples of Jesus-script in Matthew’s gospel. It looks like this author might have been taking a stand against the apostle Paul’s mission to the gentiles, which included dismissal of circumcision. Matthew seems to have wanted to retain the Jewish character to the Jesus sect, hence we find this text, 5:18-19:

“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

It would seem that many of the devout overlook—or divert their eyes from—this text when they seek to distance themselves from the Old Testament. For example, the story of their god’s genocide (Noah and the flood), his killing all the first-born of Egypt, his order for the Israelites to massacre the peoples they found in their way when they entered the promised land. And the many laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy regarding diet and daily life, e.g., killing people who violate the Sabbath. “Oh those are in the Old Testament, and the New Testament is our god’s new revelation.” But the Jesus-script in Matthew 5:18-19 cancels that excuse.

There is also distressing severity in some Jesus-script, to say the least. Do we really need to hear this? —Matthew 5:27-30:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.”

No matter that this may be rationalized as metaphor—anything to take the sharp edge off it—on the face of it we suspect more cult fanaticism. The apostle Paul claimed (Galatians 5:24) that “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Strict promoters of the cult didn’t want their followers distracted by sex. But it’s just a fact of human nature that we become aroused: that amounts to committing adultery? Give me a break. Plucking out eyes, cutting off hands. How does someone who says such things qualify as a great moral teacher?

The severity continues, Matthew 12:36-37:

“I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

And Mark 16:16: “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”  And Matthew 5:22: “…if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.”

What a friend we have in Jesus? These words attributed to him make it hard to believe any such thing.

It’s an uphill battle to get the folks in the pews to read the gospels, let along read them carefully/critically/skeptically. If they did, they would wonder how Jesus—whom they’ve been taught to adore—could possibly have said so many of the things attributed to him. And they might tune into the reality that the gospel authors created a Jesus that suited their propaganda purposes. Richard Carrier has stated this so clearly:

“Each author just makes Jesus say or do whatever they want. They change the story as suits them and neglect to mention they did so. They craft literary artifices and symbolic narratives routinely. They frequently rewrite classical and biblical stories and just insert Jesus into them…the authors of the Gospels clearly had no interest in any actual historical data…These are thus not historians. They are mythographers; novelists; propagandists… We have to stop thinking we can use them as historical sources.” (Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, p. 509)

Figuring out whether Christianity is true is not difficult- all it takes is an open mind and a measure of study, analysis, and thought. Simply addressing the issues above is sufficient by itself to cause one to conclude that, at best, the truth of the Christian religion is vanishingly improbable. It has all of the earmarks of a faith invented by superstitious and ignorant (by modern standards) Bronze Age men, who wished to promote various agendas designed for their personal gain.

(4748) Anti-Semitic interpolation

Consider the following verses:

1 Thessalonians 2:13-17 (verses 14-16 in bold)

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.

It is considered by some scholars that the verses in bold (14-16) are not original to Paul’s letter because the intense theme of anti-Semitism is not consistent with his other writings, and the letter flows smoothly if they are omitted. Also, the ‘wrath of God’ likely refers to the Roman invasion of CE 70, which happened a few years after Paul’s death. The following is an excerpt from the Jewish Annotated New Testament:

This passage (2.14–16) reflects Paul’s perspective on the tension between Jews who did not accept Jesus as messiah and the early followers of Jesus, whether Jews or Gentiles. These verses present a succinct summary of classical Christian anti-Judaism: the Jews killed Jesus, persecuted his followers, and threw them out of the synagogues; they are xenophobic and sinners, and God has rejected and punished them. The harshness of these words raises questions about Paul’s attitude toward his fellow Jews.

Because the Greek word for Jews, “Ioudaioi,” means both “Jews” and “Judeans,” Paul’s wrath may be directed at this geographically limited group. (See essay, “Ioudaios,” p. 524.) Even were this Paul’s intention, neither the Thessalonian Gentile Christians nor later readers would grasp this distinction.

Some scholars argue that these verses are an interpolation: they are not consistent with Paul’s comments about Jews in Romans 9–11 nor are they integral to the leer; were they excised, the narrative flow would not be affected. However, no ancient manuscript excludes these verses, and they fit logically and stylistically into the epistle’s context. Paul elsewhere uses strong language about his opponents consistent with his apocalyptic worldview of the struggle between good and evil (e.g., Gal 5.2–26; 2 Thess 1.5–12). Thus, Pauline authorship of these verses should be presumed.

This passage has implications for the emergence of anti-Judaism in the Christian tradition. If Paul wrote these words, then he is inextricably associated with the promulgation of anti-Judaism, regardless of his intentions. The debate over Pauline authorship does not alter the role these verses have played in forming Christian attitudes towards Jews.

Christianity has a problem either way- if Paul wrote these three verses, then he was inconsistent with his other writings and promoted a theme of hatred toward the Jews, the very people who had enthusiastically followed Jesus. A theme that would eventually lead to the brutal treatment of Jews throughout the ensuing centuries, culminating in the Holocaust. If someone else inserted these verses into Paul’s letter, then we are left to wonder how God would have allowed this to happen. No matter what, this is a turd in Christianity’s soup bowl.

(4749) Zechariah punished but not Mary

In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel informs Zechariah that his wife will bear a son (John the Baptist). Zechariah doubts this because of the age of his wife. Because he doubted the angel, he is punished:

Luke 1:17-20

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

Similarly, six months later, the angel Gabriel visits Mary to announce that she will become pregnant with Jesus, to which Mary doubts the angel because she is a virgin:

Luke 1:34

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

However, even though Mary doubted the angel (just as Zechariah), she was not punished at all. This unexplained difference rides alongside the obvious mythology of the angel visits, the god-designed pregnancies, the virginal birth, and everything that follows. But, taking the storytelling at face value, there seems to be no justification for Zechariah’s punishment, or alternatively the lack of punishment for Mary. The author of Luke likely had no idea that he had created this inconsistency.

(4750) Facing down trinitarians with biblical evidence

Much of Christendom relies on the concept that Jesus is God, or at least one third of God, within the context of a unified trinity of deific beings. But as the following essay explains, those who deny the trinity are on much more solid scriptural ground:


Within Christianity there is a split in how Jesus is viewed. By far the most popular position is the Trinitarians, who believe that Jesus was God, while the other, the Unitarians, believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the chosen one or the son of God but not God himself. Each group will point to the others as misled and, in some cases, claim that being misled in this way makes them not a true Christian. The Trinitarians will say failing to believe in Jesus’s divinity will mean you don’t have faith and in the case of faith only salvation, can lead to failing to reach heaven. While the Unitarians will say God said to have no other God’s before me, so elevating Jesus to be God’s equal is against God’s direct laws.

Some Trinitarian believers will say Jesus had to be God, as that is the only way his sacrifice is worthy of redeeming the world. The sacrifice of just a man, no matter how pure, is not enough to cover the whole worlds sin, while Unitarians will say Jesus made it clear throughout the bible that he didn’t consider himself to be God.

Some examples of Jesus saying he wasn’t God that Unitarians can point to include: Luke 22:42 ““Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” which says they have separate will, Numbers 23:19 “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.” which is repeated in Hosea 11:9 “For I am God, and not a man” says He is not a human, Luke 18:19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good, except God alone.” pointing to God being good but not Jesus or John 14:28 “If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” stating that God is more powerful.

Jesus is seen at the right hand of God rather than on God’s throne, Jesus prays to God while never asking for prayer to himself, Jesus is baptised, yet God would have no need of this, God says over 150 times in the OT that He is God and Jesus never says it even once. Even after Jesus’s death you have bible verses saying Peter and the other 11 disciples spoke to the crowd in Acts 2:22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.”. So even here the disciples are not labelling Jesus as God.

The Jews believe that Jesus was a preacher, but believe he failed to achieve the prophecies claimed of the Messiah. The main reason seems to be that the Messiah was reported as a figure who would ascend David’s throne and rule over the kingdom, that he would destroy God’s enemies and be a great political leader. Jesus never gained those heights, being killed while he was only a preacher of a small sect, so the Jews believe he could not have been the Messiah they are waiting for.

The Muslims view Jesus as a prophet of God, a chosen preacher given powers by God. They hold the Unitarian view, that Jesus was not God but still give respect and devotion to him as one blessed by God.

Often Trinitarians will point to the term Son of God, saying that it can be used in a family way to show relationship, while Unitarians will point to the same term being used for others or even everyone such as Galatians 3:26 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith’ or Romans 8:14 ” For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”. You also have Adam called the Son of God, so unless the claim is that he too was God, then it doesn’t follow that the term means that.

Trinitarians will point to the idea that only God can forgive sin, and Jesus forgave sin showing that he was God. But elsewhere we find others able to do the same, such as John 20:23 where he tells the disciples “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”, angels can forgive sins such as Isaiah 6:6-7 “Then one of the seraphim flew to me…and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” and of course there were many mentions of the priests in the OT performing animal sacrifice with the result of sin being forgiven.

Possibly the most pointed to passage used by Trinitarians to put forward the idea that Jesus was God is the famous “I am” line, John 8:58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”, which is pointed to God saying “I am” in Exodus 3:14. There are several arguments about this passage. Firstly no one was apparently present at this time to record the words, so to claim Jesus ever spoke them is hard to confirm. The chance they were added as a parable to show Jesus in a certain light, rather than being a historic event seems plausible. It is also pointed out that only the latest Gospel, that of John, recounts this event or the words spoken, so it is possible he is attempting to elevate Jesus to new heights, possibly as a sign of changing views over time. It would be expected that the author of John had a copy of the OT in hand, so writing a story to link to the existing Exodus quote would be a simple task.

We also have scholars who say it was a common idea that preachers or chosen individuals could be blessed by God and given the holy name. This imbuing of power was considered a sign of those blessed as a carrier of the divine name. Jesus saying God is within me, I and the father are one, but also that God could be within everyone, could be seen as an indication that he believed he was a blessed name carrier but not the being the name applies to. Having God in your heart wouldn’t make you God, only one with the holy spirit. This can be seen in Exodus 23:20

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him.”

The nature of Jesus should not be ambiguous, that is if there is any truth to Christianity. If Yahweh sent his son to earth and all of this fantasy is actually true, then we expect that his inspired scriptures would definitively define who Jesus was- a part of god, or just a man and prophet. The fact that this question can argued on both sides is a good sign that all of this is just some stuff made up by mortal men.

Follow this link to #4751