(601) Jesus’s birth- Luke versus Matthew
Only two of the four gospels, Luke and Matthew, tell the story of Jesus’s birth, which in its own right is suspicious given that his entry into the world should have been a central part of his history as well as an important ingredient establishing his divine credentials. But that aside, and to make matters worse, there is virtually no agreement between the birth accounts in Luke and Matthew.
The following summaries are taken from:
It’s obvious that neither Luke or Matthew had access to the others’ account while writing their own account. Matthew clearly has Joseph and Mary residing in Bethlehem, where Jesus is born, they flee to Egypt, are afraid to return home to Bethlehem, and so migrate 120 miles north to Nazareth. Luke has Joseph and Mary residing in Nazareth, traveling to Bethlehem by governmental decree, then after a few weeks, returning home to Nazareth. Both agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth- but everything else is different and irreconcilable.
One or both of these stories is false. Christian apologists who have tried to argue around this problem have constructed a story that is even more implausible that what either Luke or Matthew recount. It is obvious that we have two writers, separated by distance and time, creating a nativity story to match a Biblical prophecy (Micah 5:2, that the savior is to be born in Bethlehem) and the conventional wisdom that Jesus was raised in Nazareth, but doing so in completely different ways.
(602) Christian God peddles end-times expectancy
Christianity has from its start instilled the idea that this world is soon coming to an end, such that almost every Christian who has ever lived has believed that there is a good chance that Jesus will return during their lifetime. This has caused many problems and many miseries over the past twenty centuries. The following essay from this website explores this issue:
Since the beginnings of Christianity, the religion and its followers have been obsessed with the end of the world. The world as it is, is seen as faulty and broken, so Christians fervently await a time when Jesus returns in the clouds and fixes everything (after a prolonged period of tribulation which sees most of creation die grisly deaths before facing never ending torture in the afterlife).
In Jesus’ day, Christian adherents believed “The End” would come in their lifetime, and even though this did not happen, each subsequent generation has continued believing along the same lines regardless. Current events of a given time are interpreted as signs of the times. Wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes, pestilences and progress; all of these things are repeatedly held up as signs that the end was upon us, despite the fact that there has never been a time in recorded history when any of those things didn’t occur, making Jesus’ original “prophecy” seem conveniently open-ended, vague and malleable.
Strangely, as each generation comes and goes without the world ending, rather than question the validity of such claims, Christians have actually become more fervent in their anticipation, so much so that many seem to welcome global catastrophes with glee. When 9/11 happened in the US, (followed by the 7/7 bombings here in the UK some years later), Christians were almost pleased about it, because to them, it meant “Jesus was coming soon”. Whenever wars and skirmishes flare up in the Middle East (especially in Israel), the same thing happens. In fact, may Christians would rather see turmoil in the Middle East instead of peace, and consider a would-be peacemaker to be the Antichrist (partly why Obama is so readily demonised by the same fundamentalists who were quick to rally behind Bush’s war efforts). With little to no concern for the lives lost in such tragedies, Christians embrace these things with selfish abandon, excited for the day when they’ll be whisked into the sky by Jesus and given a ringside seat from which they can watch The Tribulation.
My problem with this aspect of Christianity is twofold. For one, it robs young people in particular of any hope for the future. If you’re brought up to believe the world will end in your lifetime (as I was taught), you spend a great deal of time regretting the things you’ll never get a chance to do. Psychologically, it’s a terrible thing to do to a person; it gives them nothing to live for and, with the threats of eternal damnation for “falling away” from the faith, turns life into a grim endurance test, robbing it of any joy or purpose.
Secondly, it completely destroys any sense of compassion for humanity or the planet itself in the mind of the believer. If you think Armageddon is imminent, why do anything to help the environment? Why try to help the poor and needy, especially as Jesus says “The poor you will always have with you”? Also, as mentioned above, when large scale disaster strikes (the Japanese earthquake and tsunami or the attacks in Norway being other recent examples), it’s a reason to be cheerful, a sign the end is near.
As a believer, why contribute anything toward world improvement when you believe your god is going to suddenly blow everything up one day like a child stomping all over a sandcastle? Surely, it’s just easier to rest on your laurels, content that even as the world burns, you’ll be OK because god loves you and you’re going to heaven no matter what. Just sit back, do nothing to make the world a better place and wait for your cosmic daddy to take you away from it all. The world is evil anyway. It and its inhabitants deserve to perish.
In reality, the doomsday doctrine tends to be peddled by older believers who’ve already lived their lives. It fosters an attitude of sheer selfishness in those who want it to happen and utter fear in the young and impressionable (especially given the horrors detailed in Revelation). It forces believers to live for tomorrow and not today, and is just another reason why Christianity is antithetical to progress, encouraging laziness and a dispassionate, socially irresponsible attitude in the heart of the believer.
It is unlikely that a real god would allow this situation to fester over two millenniums. No, a true god would give much better information about the projected future of the planet and the expectations for the people going forward. What we are witnessing here is the result of a human-inspired wish being incorporated into a scripture that is taken literally by gullible people, shaping their thoughts and actions is a way that is damaging to humans and the planet.
(603) Only humans in Heaven?
Christianity is highly focused on human fate to the complete exclusion of other animals. The Bible goes so far as to claim that people were made in the image of God, a claim, by the way, that negates the idea of God being everywhere (a necessary attribute for him to possess his assumed capabilities). But, more to the point, why are animals, especially the more advance ones (chimps, dolphins, etc.), excluded and dismissed by God? Even though they possess impressive intelligence and even though God, in his infinite wisdom, should be able to communicate with them in their own ‘language.’
Will heaven have no dogs, no cats, no pets, or animals of any kind? And if that is so, what a dreary existence it might be! The fact that Christianity focuses so exclusively on humans, with no consideration of other animals is an indication that it was developed by primitive human minds who, at that time, had no idea that other animals had industries, intelligence, languages, and feelings similar to people. They thought that humans were made separate and unique and had no knowledge that we share an evolutionary kinship with all other animals. A god would have known this, and even if he chose not to give these animals souls, he would have instructed his followers to treat them with reverent respect. An attitude of respect for non-human animals is completely missing in the Bible- instead they are used as vessels to receive cast-out demons or else function as blood reservoirs for making ritual sacrifices.
(604) Christianity fails a critical test
It is safe to assume that if an almighty god were to visit and provide us with his infinite wisdom, inspiration, protection, and support, that the world would become a much better place. The following quote by Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), considers this point.
“If cathedrals had been universities, If dungeons of the Inquisition had been laboratories, If Christians had believed in character instead of creed, If they had taken from the bible only that which is GOOD and thrown away the wicked and absurd, If temple domes had been observatories, If priests had been philosophers, If missionaries had taught useful arts instead of bible lore, If astrology had been astronomy, If the black arts had been chemistry, If superstition had been science, If religion had been humanity, The world then would be a heaven filled with love and liberty and joy.”
What can be gleaned from this quote is that Christianity did not make the world a better place- rather, it infected the world with hate, division, strife, discrimination, torture, murder, unnecessary disease, conflict, warfare, hostility, and factionalism. Whatever good it produced was overwhelmed by the above. Why wouldn’t God’s visit to our planet engender a renaissance of love, liberty, and joy- boosting our civilization to a more peaceful, compassionate, and harmonious future? It would. God did not visit us.
(605) Jesus died too quickly on the cross
According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus died six hours after he was erected on the cross. This is highly unlikely based on historical records indicating that most crucifixion victims remained alive for two to four and sometimes as many as nine days. This indicates that the person who wrote this gospel was not knowledgeable about Roman crucifixions or else he wanted to fit the story into a tight narrative to have Jesus die on a Friday and have him resurrect on a Sunday.
If Jesus was God, then this story suggests that he deliberately shortened his misery on the cross because he had the power to do so, even though anyone else would have had to endure the pain and suffering until the bitter and uncontrollable end. If this ‘sacrifice’ was meant to be the ultimate sacrifice to wash away the sins of billions of people, then it would seem that it should have been longer and more painful than a normal crucifixion.
Although it’s possible that Jesus died in only six hours, the comparison of this time frame to the the normal occurrence combined with the likely incentive of the author to make a concise drama strongly hints that this was manufactured rather than actual history.
(606) Route to salvation changed dramatically
It is certain that before Jesus died on the cross, whatever manner God was judging people must have been significantly different than how he was doing it after the crucifixion. It is a general Christian tenet that God will not allow sin to enter Heaven, so anyone living before Jesus must have had their sins forgiven in a manner unlike for Christians living today. That is, for sure, at that time they could not apply faith in Jesus as the means of forgiveness.
So God changed the route to salvation 2000 years ago. Why was that needed if people who lived before Jesus were able to have their sins forgiven without Jesus? That would make it seem that Jesus was not needed. And why would God change his rules of judgment midway through his earthly period of human interaction?
(607) The fictional story of Peter’s denial
The gospel stories of Peter’s denial of Jesus after the arrest have contradictory and fictional elements. The following is taken from:
Jesus had a disciple named Peter, who, having much Christian faith, was a great coward, and denied his leader in his hour of need. Jesus, though previously aware that Peter would be a traitor, yet gave him the keys of thekingdom of Heaven, and told him that whatsoever he bound on earth should be bound in Heaven. Peter was to have denied jesus three times before the cock should crow (Matt. xxvi. 34). The cock crowed before Peter’s second denial (Mark xiv. 68). Commentators urge that the words used do not refer to the crowing of any particular cock, but to a special hour of the morning called “cock-crow” But if the Gospel be true the explanation is false. Peter’s denial becomes the more extraordinary when we remember that he had seen Moses, Jesus, and Ellas talking together, and had heard a voice from a cloud say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” As Peter could thus deny Jesus after having heard God vouch his divinity, and Peter not only escapes punishment but gets the office of gate-keeper to Heaven, how much more should those escape punishment and obtain reward who only deny because they cannot help it, and who have been left without any corroborative evidence of sight or hearing!
The writer of the Gospel of Mark likely inserted the denial episode to set the stage for a dramatic change in the disciples’ courage after they had witnessed the resurrection. In so doing, he set up a logical inconsistency, given the previous miraculous events that the disciples had witnessed, proving God’s divine status. Additionally, it is fairly clear that the disciples were not targets for punishment under Roman law, thus rendering a denial of association unnecessary. Particularly, after the resurrection, there appears to be no scriptural evidence that that the disciples were being hunted down. Rather, they came out of hiding and openly professed their allegiance to Jesus. All of this confirms that the gospels are heavily laded with fiction.
(608) Christianity lacks attributes of reliable history
In the following video, Bart Erhman describes the elements of historical records that allow them to be considered reliable. Christianity fails in each case:
- Contemporary accounts, close to the time of the events
The accounts in the Bible describing the ministry of Jesus were all written at least 40 years later- this cannot be considered contemporary.
2, Lots of them
Actually, there is only one account, the Gospel of Mark, which was then used to formulate the other gospels. The other gospels that were rejected from the canon are at odds with the official doctrine and thus can be dismissed from the count.
3. Independent of one another
As stated in #1, the accounts are highly dependent on each other, with the later gospel writers using the previous ones for subject matter.
4. Consistent with one another
There are major discrepancies among the gospels, including the descriptions of Jesus’s birth, his trial and crucifixion, and his resurrection.
5. Not biased toward the subject
It is clear that the gospel writers were not telling their stories as unbiased historians, but rather as persons who had a preconception of the truth.
And to add one more:
6. Eyewitness accounts
The New Testament lacks any writings that can be considered to be authored by eyewitnesses of Jesus’s ministry. The books attributed to such eyewitnesses are forgeries.
(609) The illogic of God having emotions
Throughout the Bible, God is portrayed as having the full panoply of human emotions, including anger, disgust, regret, love, hatred, guilt, happiness, sadness, and jealousy. This human-like god though is not consistent with his assumed attributes of omniscience and omnipotence. The following is taken from:
A God who knows everything cannot have emotions. The Bible says that God experiences all of the emotions of humans, including anger, sadness, and happiness. We humans experience emotions as a result of new knowledge. A man who had formerly been ignorant of his wife’s infidelity will experience the emotions of anger and sadness only after he has learned what had previously been hidden. In contrast, the omniscient God is ignorant of nothing. Nothing is hidden from him, nothing new may be revealed to him, so there is no gained knowledge to which he may emotively react.
We humans experience anger and frustration when something is wrong which we cannot fix. The perfect, omnipotent God, however, can fix anything. Humans experience longing for things we lack. The perfect God lacks nothing. An omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect God who experiences emotion is impossible.
The people who invented the Jewish god seemed to have lacked imagination. The god they created looked like and had the same emotional characteristics as themselves. To an objective observer, this is a obvious red flag.
(610) External condemnation and forgiveness
Christianity foists the incredibly nonsensical doctrine that a person is condemned because of the actions of another person (Adam eating the forbidden fruit) and is forgiven ALSO by what somebody else did (Jesus dying on the cross).
Where is the personal responsibility in this equation? Any judgment system established by a real god would most assuredly be different. In this hypothetical world overseen by a credible god, a person would be condemned based on his OWN actions and, in like manner, would be forgiven by way of his OWN actions to make amends for the harm he had caused.
(611) Absence of legitimate arguments
One of the ways to examine the truth claim of a religion is to examine the arguments used by defenders of that faith. The following is such an examination. John W. Loftus comments on the points made by a theist, Dr. Randal Rouser. These two men co-wrote the book God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. The following was taken from:
1) If there is no God then life has no meaning. Wrong. No one should ever reject the evidence for a conclusion simply because they dislike the conclusion. If there is no God then we are our own meaning makers. Period. Only after you realize God doesn’t exist will you see this.
2) If there is no God then everything is permitted. Wrong again. The ones doing the permitting are people in their respective societies. Even if Thomas Hobbes is correct that we are at war with everyone else, we must still adopt some kind of reasonable social contract whereby we join together for the common good. If not, a society will collapse into chaos. Since no one desires chaos there are reasonable limits to what any society will permit. By contrast, if God exists there are no limits to what can be permitted when people believe something to be divinely authorized.
3) Science is no substitute for religion. Bogus. If there is one mark of the deluded mind (defined as “believing against the overwhelming evidence”) it’s that somewhere along the line he or she must be ignorant of, or denigrate, or deny science. Religion has given us nothing in comparison to science. Faith-based reasoning processes are notoriously unreliable. They do not help us get at the truth. What do they offer as a substitute for evidence based reasoning processes?
4) God is the best explanation of the whole shebang. Spurious. Believers have always said this, even though science has made great strides in answering this question. God of the gaps arguments like this one have failed so many times in the past it’s quite surprising to see Randal still using it. Something exists. So either something—anything—has always existed, or something—anything—popped into existence out of nothing. Those are the choices. The best explanation for our existence is the simplest one. The theistic hypothesis is that a three-in-one God exists who never had a beginning or a prior moment to choose his own nature, who never learned any new propositions, who cannot think because thinking requires weighing alternatives, who cannot even laugh because nothing takes him by surprise, who created this world with its natural disasters, who doesn’t even benevolently act in the midst of our sufferings. This is no explanation at all. So many questions abound. The scientific hypothesis merely starts with an equilibrium of positive and negative energy along with the laws of physics. Grant this and there is a 60% chance something should exist. Given the fact of evolution there is no need for a God, and there’s no evidence he is involved in this process at all. The main thing scientists have not yet explained is the origin of life. If your theology hangs on that gap then you are betting against everything science has solved so far. And once you allow god explanations into your equations then most any god will do, even an evil one.
5) If there is no God then we don’t know anything. False. If so, chimps don’t know anything either. They don’t know how to get food, or mate or even where to live. Without knowing anything they should’ve died off a long time ago. And yet here they are. They don’t need a god to know these things. Why do we need a god for knowledge? We learn through a process of trial and error. Since we’ve survived as a human species, we have acquired reliable knowledge about our world. Period.
6) Love exists only if God exists. Erroneous. This is an empty rhetorical claim devoid of any content at all. Believers have always said this even during the Inquisition and witch-hunts. Randal should look at the evidence of the history of the church. He should consider the other primates who exhibit characteristics of love. He should also take seriously the evidence in the Bible that God is not love either, for he will squash you like a bug if you don’t obey him, which isn’t descriptive of love, much less parental love, or perfect love at all. It’s descriptive of a despotic king, of which Yahweh was modeled after.
7) Everybody has faith. Misguided. This may be true for most people, but it’s the problem, not the solution. Faith is a cognitive bias causing people to overestimate any confirming evidence and to underestimate any disconfirming evidence. Faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities. [When I say this I’m not saying Randal is irrational, only that faith is irrational.] Reasonable people think exclusively in terms of probabilities based on objective sufficient evidence along with sound reasoning about the evidence.
8) Objective beauty exists therefore God exists. Foolish. There is nothing objectively beautiful or ugly in the world. There is just raw uninterpreted stuff. If we could see and hear the whole electromagnetic and sonic spectra then all we could see or hear would be white noise. How is white noise objectively beautiful? Without any objective beauty there is no argument to the existence of his evangelical God.
9) God best explains the miracles in people’s lives. Silly. Given the number of believers in the world and the number of rare coincidences that could occur in their lives I’m actually surprised there aren’t more miracle claims. Extremely rare coincidences happen. It’s what we would expect given the odds. There are no verifiable supernatural agents behind them. People merely see supernatural agents where there aren’t any because we’ve inherited this propensity from the animal kingdom, who thought they heard predators approaching merely at the random sound of rustling leaves. What we need are clinical studies, which are the best kind of scientific evidence for these claims, and nearly every scientific study done on petitionary prayer has shown it works statistically no better than chance.
10) God raised Jesus from the dead. Not true. No reasonable person today should believe 2nd 3rd 4th handed testimony coming from a lone part of the ancient world as we find in 4th century manuscripts written by pre-scientific superstitious people who doctored up and forged many of these texts. Almost all of our questions go unanswered, the kind of questions we have been able to ask of the rise of Mormonism in the modern world, leading us to reject it. What did the early disciples actually claim to have seen? Did they all tell the same stories? Did any of them recant? All we have is Paul’s first person testimony, and if we’re to believe Acts 26:19, he said his Damascus road conversion was based on nothing more than a vision.
Christians are fond of saying that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, though most atheists disagree. But on the flip side of that equation, absence of legitimate arguments is an argument for absence of legitimacy. Christianity fails on both counts- there is an absence of evidence as well as an absence of legitimate arguments.
(612) The census of the damned
If there ever was a biblical story that reveals the mythical nature of Judeo-Christianity, it is the account of a census conducted by King David that resulted in God executing 70,000 men. God did not want David to conduct the census because, being prideful, he wanted David to think that it was he, God, who delivered David’s battlefield successes, not the great number of soldiers that David commanded. But Satan inspired David to conduct the census anyway.
Chronicles 21: 1-15:
Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.”
But Joab replied, “May the Lord multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord’s subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”
The king’s word, however, overruled Joab; so Joab left and went throughout Israel and then came back to Jerusalem. Joab reported the number of the fighting men to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could handle a sword, including four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah.
But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him. 7This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.
Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
The Lord said to Gad, David’s seer, “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’ ”
So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Take your choice: three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”
David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”
So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.
There are many mythical elements here. First, God is jealous (really?) of the fact that David has so many soldiers that he rightfully believes was a major factor in is military conquests. Second, Satan shows up to incite David to take actions prohibited by God, a throwback to the Garden of Eden. Third, God killed the men with one of the most painful methods possible, a plague, ensuring a long torturous death. Fourth, God lost his cool and almost destroyed Jerusalem before getting himself under control. Fifth, it shows God as being spectacularly unfair and barbaric, to kill innocent men because of the ‘sin’ of their commander.
Now, obviously, this is a fictional story. But what is important is that it portrays the writer’s concept of God. Also, it is telling that this book was incorporated into the Old Testament and remains a part of every bible that Christians use in their worship services. This scripture was available to Jesus, who probably believed it to be factual, and who apparently had no problem with what God did. You will not hear this story being told at Christian churches, or taught in Bible studies, but it’s presence still pollutes the book they hold up as being the exemplary authority on moral values.
(613) Christian god sanctioned polygamy
Most Christians claim that God and the Bible approve of only a narrow definition of marriage- one man and one woman. This is incorrect. It is indisputable that polygamy was sanctioned in the Old Testament and approved by God. The following is from this website:
In Exodus 21:10, a man can marry an infinite amount of women without any limits to how many he can marry.
In 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 14:3, King David had six wives and numerous concubines.
In 1 Kings 11:3, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
In 2 Chronicles 11:21, King Solomon’s son Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines.
In Deuteronomy 21:15 “If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons….”
This is only a small sample of verses endorsing polygamy. There is no verse in the Old Testament prohibiting polygamy, and therefore It cannot be argued that God disapproved of this practice.
In the New Testament, there are also no prohibitions against polygamy except in the forged (written by someone else claiming to be Paul) letter of 1 Timothy, Chapter 3, where bishops and deacons were prohibited from taking more than one wife. But nothing was said about anyone else.
Also, it is enlightening that the father of all Protestant religions, Martin Luther made the following comment:
“I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter.” (De Wette II, 459, ibid., pp. 329-330.)
Martin Luther once advised an inhabitant of Orlamunde to take a second wife, in addition to the one then living. Luther also reluctantly approved of a bigamous marriage in the case of Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who was united to a secondary wife, Margarethe von der Saale, on March 4, 1540. Since this advice was given in a confessional, Luther refused to acknowledge his part in sanctioning the marriage.
There are verses in the gospels where Jesus appears to sanction monogamous marriage, such as Matthew 19: 4-6:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
However, this phrasing does not preclude the man from taking additional wives, just that whoever he marries should not be separated by anyone. Even if you take a liberal interpretation and say that this does proscribe polygamy, then you must concede that God changed his mind, and this brings about two other problems. First, God is not supposed to change what is right and wrong, and, second, a change in doctrine should be spelled out definitively, not offered as a ‘hint’ as we see here.
So, what to make of this? It is quite evident that marriage customs and laws presented in the Bible are merely a reflection of the changing social customs of the times. The Bible does not reflect one consistent marriage doctrine that would be expected to be promulgated by a true god.
(614) Early Christians did not believe in literal resurrection
New scholarship into the origins of Christianity has revealed a strong possibility that the resurrection of Jesus was originally thought to be figurative, not a factual physical event. Richard C. Miller has authored a book entitled Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity. The following review (by John Loftus) of this book is taken from this website:
This book offers an original interpretation of the origin and early reception of the most fundamental claim of Christianity: Jesus’ resurrection. Richard Miller contends that the earliest Christians would not have considered the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ resurrection to be literal or historical, but instead would have recognized this narrative as an instance of the trope of divine translation, common within the Hellenistic and Roman mythic traditions. Given this framework, Miller argues, early Christians would have understood the resurrection story as fictitious rather than historical in nature. By drawing connections between the Gospels and ancient Greek and Roman literature, Miller makes the case that the narratives of the resurrection and ascension of Christ applied extensive and unmistakable structural and symbolic language common to Mediterranean “translation fables,” stock story patterns derived particularly from the archetypal myths of Heracles and Romulus. In the course of his argument, the author applies a critical lens to the referential and mimetic nature of the Gospel stories, and suggests that adapting the “translation fable” trope to accounts of Jesus’ resurrection functioned to exalt him to the level of the heroes, demigods, and emperors of the Hellenistic and Roman world. Miller’s contentions have significant implications for New Testament scholarship and will provoke discussion among scholars of early Christianity and Classical studies.
From the full review (by M. David Litwa):
A major and controversial claim of Miller’s study is that the gospel narratives were not intended to be read as history. They were written as and meant to be read as fables. Miller argues for this thesis in a sophisticated way. The canonical gospels (including Luke), he points out, lack the major narrative cues of Greek historiography. There is “no visible weighing of the sources, no apology for the all-too-common occurrence of the supernatural, no endeavor to distinguish such accounts and conventions from analogous fictive narratives in classical literature … no transparent sense of authorship (or even readership) or origin.”
Reading the Bible based on the historical standards of modern times is a mistake. The Bible was not written as a factual news account, but rather as an allegory communicating spiritual messages and values. Christians typically read it today as if it was written by modern news correspondents who are trained to be unbiased, objective, and factual. None of those attributes were constraints on the Biblical writers.
(615) The James Randi Challenge
The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge was an offer by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) to pay out one million U.S. dollars to anyone who can demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria. A version of the challenge was first issued in 1964, and over a thousand people have applied to take it since then, but none have yet been successful.
This ‘contest’ was a scientific experiment to determine if there are any supernatural elements existing in our world, such that a person tapping into these elements could consistently and measurably override any physical or probability laws. If any person could do this, it would indicate that supernatural forces are present in the world. The fact that not a single person was able to achieve the criteria needed to prove paranormal ability is significant evidence that the world is restricted to natural and probabilistic phenomena.
This is not the result that would be expected if Christianity is true, with its god, angels, devils, and demons, and it’s historical claims of persons capable of prophecy. If these entities were present, it would seem that somebody would be able to gain knowledge from a supernatural source and be capable of demonstrating paranormal abilities. The failure of anyone to achieve this objective is evidence for a reality devoid of any metaphysical forces.
(616) The Bible is not clear on doctrine
The Bible, supposedly ‘written’ by an infinitely intelligent god should exhibit a clearly defined doctrine and position on issues affecting our everyday lives. But:
- It doesn’t clarify whether God is a trinity of three persons
- It doesn’t even define the Holy Spirit
- It doesn’t state for sure if the communion wafer is a symbol or the actual body of Christ
- It doesn’t consistently establish if Jesus was divine
- It doesn’t state for sure whether slavery is OK
- It doesn’t establish if tithing is a requirement
- It doesn’t specify what marital arrangements are acceptable to god- polygamy is OK or not?
- It doesn’t establish whether baptism should be performed on babies or held over for a later age
- It doesn’t consistently state whether salvation is purely a gift of faith or if actions are needed as well
- It doesn’t clarify the sequence of events surrounding the second coming of Jesus
- It gives contradictory statements as to whether the laws of the Old Testament still apply
- It doesn’t define the nature of Jesus’s mother, whether she was just a vessel or something more
- It fails to establish if abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage is acceptable to God
- It gives inconsistent rules about the role of women in the church
This degree of confusion cannot be the result of a book authored and arranged by a god. However, it is fully consistent with a book written by many persons, working mostly independently, and of which none were inspired by a supernatural being.
(617) A real god wouldn’t make petty rules
One sign that the Christian god is not real is the long list of petty rules that he made for his chosen people, the Jews, that are prominently displayed in the Old Testament. Here’s a sampling:
- Don’t eat pork (Leviticus 11:7-8)
- Don’t eat fat (Leviticus 3:17)
- Don’t lie about virginity (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)
- Don’t mix meat with dairy (Exodus 23:19)
- Don’t wear clothing made of more than one kind of cloth (Leviticus 19:19)
- Don’t touch the carcass of a pig (Deuteronomy 14:8)
- Don’t dress across gender lines (Deuteronomy 22:5)
- Don’t cut the hair on the side of your head (Leviticus 19:27)
- Don’t plant more than one kind of seed in a field (Leviticus 19:19)
- Don’t perform ANY work on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14)
- Don’t be a male who is uncircumcised (Genesis 17:14)
- Don’t speak in church if you are a woman (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)
These are the types of rules that would be created by anal-retentive men, but they’re not the issues that would concern the creator of the universe. The long litany of petty rules that have no bearing on a person’s character or have any effect on the well-being of other people is persuasive evidence that the Christian god is imaginary.
(618) Improved morality fails to spread outward from Judea
Imagine you are a god witnessing all of the civilizations that exist in the world. You observe that immorality is rampant in almost all quarters of the planet, so you decide to descend as a normal human to teach them how to behave. You choose a certain area and people- there and only there will you intervene. Being infinite in your knowledge, you understand the mechanics of optimal morality, and that is what you intend to impart. Once you have done this, your chosen people will possess the best morality doctrine of any civilization on earth, and this enhanced morality will slowly be shared and move as a wave to the benefit of other areas not directly touched by your visit.
What this is getting at is that if God actually selected the Jews as his chosen people, then it would be expected that a renaissance of human morality would have originated in the Middle East and then spread throughout the world. This clearly didn’t happen. The morality of the Jews living in those times was no better than any other society. They didn’t provide the world with new philosophies or new ideas, or offer creative solutions to society’s problems. In fact, most of these advancements occurred elsewhere and independent from and often in opposition to the Christian god’s closest followers. How could God not have failed to make this happen?
(619) Jesus wears too many hats
The Jesus described in the Bible appears to be an amalgam of interpretations held by various people who came to be his followers in the First Century. But what emerges from this is a not a unique individual who is rooted firmly in authentic history. The following is taken from:
Price [American New Testament scholar and former Baptist pastor Robert McNair Price] points out “(w)hat one Jesus reconstruction leaves aside, the next one takes up and makes its cornerstone. Jesus simply wears too many hats in the Gospels—exorcist, healer, king, prophet, sage, rabbi, demigod, and so on. The Jesus Christ of the New Testament is a composite figure (…) The historical Jesus (if there was one) might well have been a messianic king, or a progressive Pharisee, or a Galilean shaman, or a magus, or a Hellenistic sage. But he cannot very well have been all of them at the same time.”
Price believes that Christianity is a historicized synthesis of mainly Egyptian, Jewish, and Greek mythologies.
So it seems that as the first few decades passed after Jesus lived, assuming he was a unique individual, many different beliefs and interpretations developed about his characteristics, ministry, and doctrinal positions. Most of these were shoehorned into the first gospel by Mark, and later into Luke, Matthew, and John. What emerged was a mythical figure loosely based on, though totally unrecognizable to, the real man.
(620) Modern ethics versus Biblical ethics
If God intervened in human affairs and directed and dictated the composition of the Bible, we would expect the Bible to hold the highest ethical ideals and remain the foundation of modern law and customs. Here is a comparison for consideration:
|Regulated slavery is permissible||Slavery is prohibited|
|OK to beat children||Not OK to beat children|
|Husband is head over wife||Husband and wife are 50/50 team|
|Animals have no special rights||Animals must be treated humanely|
|Homosexuals are to be punished||Homosexuals are to be accepted|
|Suffering has spiritual value||Suffering should always be relieved|
|Poverty is unavoidable||Poverty not accepted as inevitable|
|Shun nonbelievers||Accept people of all faiths|
|Divorcee remarriage is adultery||Remarriage after divorce is OK|
|One race is superior to the others||All races are equal|
|Ritual sacrifice is palliative||Ritual sacrifice is barbaric|
|Circumcision is necessary||Circumcision is unnecessary|
|Multiple wives/concubines OK||Marriage is between two persons|
|Guilt transfers from guilty to the innocent||Guilt remains with the guilty|
|Illness the result of sin||Illness the result of pathogens|
What can be deduced from this comparison is that the Bible pathetically lags the ethics that have been developed over the past 2000 years, leaving anyone with an objective mind to wonder how God could have failed to communicate the highest ideals of the human condition.
(621) Lack of recording of paranormal phenomena
Just 30 years ago, very few people carried with them equipment capable of taking photographs, video, or sound recording. Today, almost everyone has this capability in the highly portable smart phones that they carry almost wherever they go. So unlike in 1858, when St. Bernadette allegedly saw and heard the Virgin Mary speak to her, anyone today witnessing a similar event would easily be able to record it in some way.
If all of this unusual activity was happening so often before the technology boom, then it should still be happening today, and today we should be awash in verifiable video and photographs of all sorts of paranormal activity being caused by demons or angels, or visitations from saints or other holy figures. There should exist a catalog of evidence providing scientific proof to even the staunchest skeptics that there indeed exists an alternate, supernatural component to our world. And this would provide significant evidence for Christianity.
This has not happened. Whatever is out there in this vein is easily shown to be fraudulent, consisting of a single video that has been doctored. Instead, we should have multiple videos taken by groups of people, not allied with each other, observing a single supernatural event, such that these videos could be used to construct a 3D image of the supposed figure or phenomena. The lack of anything of this nature speaks to the improbability that any of the past claimed visitations by holy figures actually happened. Or else, we have to assume that these saintly figures have become camera shy.
(622) The Didache- the canary in the mine
The Didache is a brief early Christian treatise dated by most scholars to the mid to late first century. The first line of this treatise is “Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles (or Nations) by the Twelve Apostles.
It is unlikely that the Didache was actually written by the apostles, but what makes it important is that it is a window into the beliefs of the very early Christians, before it was contaminated by the theological distortions engineered by Paul and other Christian leaders. The Didache was likely written before the gospels and before the letters of Paul were circulated to the Christians who created this document. The following is taken from:
The most remarkable thing about the Didache is that there is nothing in this document that corresponds to Paul’s “gospel”―no divinity of Jesus, no atoning through his body and blood, and no mention of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In the Didache Jesus is the one who has brought the knowledge of life and faith, but there is no emphasis whatsoever upon the figure of Jesus apart from his message. Sacrifice and forgiveness of sins in the Didache come through good deeds and a consecrated life.
What this tells us is that the first Christians did not view Jesus as being divine, but rather as a messenger sent by God to set the stage for the final judgment of souls. It reflects the crucial fact that these early Christians did not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. The emphasis was on the message, not the person of Jesus.
The Didache was originally considered canonical (to be part of the Bible), but was later scraped. It is likely that the evolving myth that Jesus was divine shone a light on the Didache as being not in agreement with this emerging doctrine, and therefore it was left out of the Bible. However, to anyone attempting to reconstruct the true history of Christianity, it is vital piece of evidence that belief in Jesus’s divine status and resurrection was not based on the direct observance of historical events, but rather was a later development fueled by myth and legend.
(623) The Myth of the Transfiguration
One of the most impressive miracles reported in the gospels is that of the transfiguration, where Jesus met Moses and Elijah on a mountain and was audibly endorsed by God the Father. Here is the text from Mark 9: 2-10:
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
This is one of the most recognizable examples of mythology in the gospels, for it is a transparent effort to repeat another mythological event told in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 34, where Moses ascends a mountain to receive the Ten Commandments and returns with a radiant face. The author of Mark was attempting to paint Jesus as the new Moses.
This episode was repeated in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, but notably and significantly, not in the Gospel of John. The failure of John to mention what was an occurrence on a par with Jesus’s resurrection in terms of establishing his divine pedigree is highly revealing. This is especially embarrassing to Christians who naively claim that the Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John, considering that the transfiguration stories in Mark, Luke, and Matthew all claim that John was a witness to this miracle. If, by long chance, he was the author, his deletion of this story would be strong evidence that it didn’t happen.
The phantasmagorical aspects of this story combined with the author’s attempt to tie it to Moses is certain proof that it is a mythological story. In this case, the author’s agenda trumped genuine history.
(624) Jesus committed the sin of suicide
If Jesus was God as claimed by nearly all Christians, then he had the power to avoid being arrested and crucified. Therefore his crucifixion was a suicide, which is a sin according to Christian doctrine. Not only did Jesus not take actions fully within his capability to avoid being killed, he even predicted his death on multiple occasions, indicating that his suicide was premeditated.
Essentially, what Jesus did is equivalent to somebody brandishing a gun and threatening police so they can be shot- suicide by cops, as it were. Keep in mind that this allegation is aimed only at the Christian concept of Jesus. Secular historians believe that Jesus never predicted his death and did not seek nor expect his crucifixion.
Christians will claim that Jesus could be excused for failing to take actions to protect his life because it was a cosmic necessity for him to die so that sins could be forgiven. But if this is the case, then Christians should not blame either the Romans or the Jews for Jesus’s death- it was Jesus himself who is to “blame.”
(625) Jesus’s 651-word soliloquy
In the 13th Chapter of Mark, verses 5 to 37, Jesus is quoted to deliver a 651-word uninterrupted monologue, discussing the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the end of times. The author of Mark never met Jesus, was writing approximately 40 years after Jesus allegedly gave this speech, and was writing in Greek instead of the language that Jesus spoke, Aramaic.
Every word that is recorded in the gospels, and especially anything attributed to a quote by Jesus, is taken as sacrosanct by Christians and is used to formulate immutable doctrines, that is, for all times. The author of Mark, who undoubtedly did not have this speech available to him from a reliable source, almost assuredly made up major parts of it, just as would any writer of fiction. So, this means that contemporary Christians are basing their beliefs on the imagination of a 1st Century man.
Christian apologists run around this problem by invoking magic- they claim that the Holy Spirit inspired and, in fact, dictated this speech to Mark, and did so in a manner verbatim to the way Jesus delivered it. Aside from the improbability of this explanation, it is easily refuted by pointing out the numerous contradictions in the gospels as firm counter-evidence. The Holy Spirit, if actually doing this, would not have made these mistakes.
(626) Psychosis formed the basis of religious belief
During the time that Christianity and other religions evolved there was a complete lack of understanding of the scientific basis of human psychosis, or psychotic episodes, such as were manifest, for example, in epilepsy, waking dreams, visions, revelations, schizophrenia, hearing voices, hallucinations, catatonia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and delirium. Persons affected by these afflictions were either thought to be infiltrated by evil spirits or else they were being enlightened by divine beings, angels, saints, or gods, and receiving revelations.
With everyone in those times lacking a scientific understanding of these phenomena, the experiences of these episodes were recounted and passed along as windows into the unseen world, and they formed much of the basis of belief in supernatural agents. These erroneous ideas coalesced to form the basis of various religious faiths. It is highly likely that Christianity’s most influential architect, Paul, was a victim of a psychotic event on the road to Damascus that caused him to view Christianity though a different, innovative, and quite controversial lens.
The same types of psychosis occurring today is rightfully seen as being restricted to the brains of those affected, and not evidence of an unseen, supernatural, behind-the-scenes world. This is to say, if the people of the First Century had known what we know today, Christianity likely would have never originated.
(627) Misinterpreting Jesus’s terminology
Much has been assumed when Christians read of Jesus referring to himself as the ‘Son of Man’ or the ‘Son of God’ or his many statements about forgiving sins. But these terms as they were used by Jews in the First Century did not mean what they are taken to mean today. The following is taken from:
Jesus does say many things that are easily taken out of context—millennia later. The term “Son of Man” was a colloquial expression at the time which meant “I, myself.” The term “Son of God” meant simply a holy man. “Your sins are forgiven you,” was something priests would say, and it meant simply, “I stand witness before God that you have repented”—a practice that should be not at all unfamiliar to anyone who has heard of the sacrament of confession or attended a healing by faith. Are these priests and ministers claiming to be God? No. But they are standing as representatives of God—and the Jesus character saw himself as doing exactly the same.
Recalibrating the meaning of this terminology implies rather convincingly that Jesus never claimed to be God. The closest he comes to doing so in the final and least reliable gospel, John. But what we can be assured of is that if Jesus actually claimed to be God, this proclamation would have been prominently documented in all of the gospels. It would have been just as important as documenting the crucifixion and the resurrection. That this assertion is missing in the first three gospels is compelling evidence that Jesus never claimed to be God, and that, in fact, Jesus was not God- rather, it was a myth that evolved over time.
(628) The absurdity of God’s ‘production’
Any attempt to shoehorn Christianity into the fabric of reality inevitably runs into insurmountable problems. The following is an essay written by commentor ‘Stevel Knievel’ on this website:
As any seasoned religious skeptic knows, a “successful” religion is one that can make claims about God and the universe which never contradict reality in any way. For example, Christianity, a religion which asserts that; God exists but is invisible, works always behind the scenes, requires that people believe in Him before He’ll reveal himself, will reveal himself in a way which can never be verified factually, will be revealed in whatever subjectively interpreted way the believer personally decides He’s revealing Himself, is a Deity concerned with people believing in Him without factual evidence (as if A God would ever have such a bizarre criteria for relating to a human being), will only be “seen” after one’s death, doesn’t interfere in human affairs in any kind of obvious, verifiable way, etc., etc. What’s happening in this country- which the author of this article is unintentionally articulating quite marvelously- is that Christianity is starting to be doubted because of the dawning sense many are having that the Biblical explanation for God (and specifically his “plan” for the course of human history) doesn’t quite “fit” the reality we find ourselves in. It doesn’t quite seem to make sense that God has this “drama” He’s wanting to play out until the end times, the apocalypse, the second coming, etc., in light of the immense suffering and hardship human life is experiencing on the planet. In other words, a God who places His elaborate “production” above alleviating human suffering or at least having that “production” conclude sooner than later, has many people doubting not just his priorities, but also his compassion and very existence. So they’re leaving the faith.
Christianity is stuck in a static theology that is being progressively overshadowed by an evolving ethos, making it look more and more irrelevant and inauthentic. In effect, civilization is leaving Christianity behind and moving toward a more enlightened, more compassionate, and more believable ideology.
(629) Conversions from Christian to atheist
Whenever an atheist mentions that many Christians are converting to atheism, Christians will counter with stories of atheists who have became Christians. But this is a false equivalency. If Christianity is true, then dedicated followers have a supernatural source reinforcing their beliefs, making apostasy unlikely. However, if atheism is true, atheists have no such agency supporting their belief, making conversion less problematic.
Here is a list of former Christian leaders who have recently become outspoken atheists:
- Jerry DeWitt: former pastor, now director of The Clergy Project
- John Loftus: former pastor, now author and blogger
- Seth Andrews: former Christian radio broadcaster, now atheist podcaster & author
- Dan Barker: former evangelical musician, now co-director of Freedom from Religion Foundation
- Michael Shermer: former evangelical Christian, now skeptic and author
The following article discusses the recent decline of Christianity is the United States:
It is significant that a large number of pastors and evangelical Christians have departed from their faith. As an analogy, suppose there are two groups of people, one believing in evolution and one believing in creationism. Given that new evidence supporting evolution is accumulating every year, is it more likely that evolutionists would become creationists or that creationists would become evolutionists? The growing evidence for evolution is analogous to the supernatural agency that Christians would enjoy if Christianity was true. Not only are conversions from Christian to atheist outnumbering the reverse conversions, but each of these individual conversions is more significant with respect to the relative probability of the truth of these two belief systems.
(630) The Adam bomb
Many scientifically-literate Christians hold on to their faith while admitting to the truth of biological evolution. This is actually an untenable position. The New Testament scriptures reveal that Christianity is dependent on the Adam and Eve story, not biological evolution, being the literal truth.
In Luke 3:38, Jesus’s genealogy is traced back to Adam. If evolution is true, then Adam would have had a father as well.
In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus is alleged to have made the following statement:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
In this verse, Jesus is showing that he believed in the initial creation story, including the first man, Adam, as a literal historical figure.
In Romans 5: 12-14, we read:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
This verse indicates that sin entered the world through the actions of Adam.
In 1 Corinthians 15:22, Paul makes this statement:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
This is an unambiguous statement that ties the sacrifice of Jesus to the sin of Adam. If Adam did not exist, the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection is significantly diminished.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45, Paul makes this statement:
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
This verse cements Christian theology to a historical Adam, and directly ties Jesus (the last Adam) to this figure.
In 1 Timothy 2:13-14, we read:
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
Here, a doctrine of men possessing hierarchy over women is shown to be a consequence of a literal belief in the events discussed in Genesis concerning the Garden of Eden.
In Jude 1:14, we read:
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones.
This is yet another reference to Adam as if he actually lived and was the first human being.
What should be gleaned from this discussion is that one of the foundations that Christianity rests upon is the assumption of the literal truth of the Garden of Eve story and the creation of Adam as the first human. For those who accept the overwhelming evidence for biological evolution, this foundational pillar is removed and Christianity suffers a serious blow to its authenticity.
(631) Chronology: Resurrection to Ascension
In the Book of Acts 1:3, we read:
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
This verse offers a definite statement that Jesus stayed around for 40 days after the resurrection and before his ascension. This immediately raises a question of whether Jesus was susceptible to being taken back to the cross as it would have been hard to keep his appearances (to greater than 500 people on one occasion) from becoming known to his Roman prosecutors. The scriptures give no clue as to whether this was an ongoing concern.
It is instructive to go through the gospels in the order that they were written:
In the Gospel of Mark (the earliest of the gospels), forgoing the forged ending after Verse 16:8), the only mention of a resurrection is that the tomb was empty. There is nothing that speaks of Jesus tarrying for 40 days, and this is highly suspicious, given the extraordinary theological significance of that time period.
In the Gospel of Matthew, there is no description of an ascension, just a short sermon that Jesus delivered to his disciples. Once again, it is strange to have ended the book so abruptly and without referencing what must have been a lot of important events that would have happened in the ensuing 40 days.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus makes a confusing incognito appearance to two travelers on the Road to Emmaus, then appears to the his disciples, exhorts them, eats a fish, then leads them to Bethany where he lifts off to heaven. The entire episode appears to have happened within one or two days.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and then to the disciples, apparently on the first day after the resurrection. Then, one week later, he appears to the doubting Thomas. Then we go to Chapter 21, which was added after the fact, where Jesus reinstates Peter as the head of his ‘church.’
What can be seen from this is that the time period from the resurrection to the ascension as described in the gospels changes over time as the legend began to be refined, as follows:
Mark: no ascension
Matthew: one day
Luke: one or two days
John: a little over one week
Acts: 40 days
[A growing number of scholars consider Acts as being written in the period 110 to 120 CE, making it more recent than any of the gospels]
As time went by, scriptures had Jesus staying around for a longer period of time. What should be obvious is that the very first gospel, Mark, the one used by Luke and Matthew as a template, should have had the most detailed and reliable account of a post-resurrection Jesus, and it is completely silent. After that, the legend grew and the time gap finally became the currently accepted doctrine of a 40-day period. This is a classic example of mythmaking.
(632) ‘Talking’ to God
Christians often claim that they can talk to God and actually hear his reply, not as an audibly recordible voice, but as an inner silent presence. This, they believe, is evidence that their God is real. The problem with this assertion is that what they are experiencing is not unique to their faith. Followers of other faiths report the same scenario. One example is provided at this website:
From theNaseem e Dawat, by the Islamic thinker Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad:
Our Ever Living and All Sustaining God talks to me like one person to another. I ask Him something and supplicate Him and He answers in words full of power. If this should happen a thousand times, He does not fail to answer. In His words, He discloses wonderful hidden matters and displays scenes of extraordinary powers till He makes it clear that He alone is the One Who should be called God. He accepts prayers and intimates their acceptance. He resolves great difficulties and through repeated supplications, revives those who are sick unto death. He discloses all these designs in advance through His word which relate to future events. He proves that He is the God of heaven and earth. (p. 82)
People who follow Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and all other theistic faiths make the claim of being able to communicate with their god or gods. This strongly implies that all people who are experiencing a dialogue with a god are instead participating is a self-made illusion. They are, in effect, talking to themselves, and hearing replies that correspond to their innate preferences. Christians who claim that they are having a relationship with God are actually having a relationship with themselves.
(633) Resurrection not a unique occurrence
Christians often state that the truth of the Christian religion relies on the historical resurrection of Jesus. The problem is that, according to the Bible, being raised from the dead was not an unusual occurrence and normally did not carry any theological importance. Here is a list of people raised from the dead as documented in the Bible:
- the son of Zarephath’s widow (1 Kings 17:17-24)
- the son of the great Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:35)
- dead man who comes to life when touching Elisha’s bones (Kings 13:21)
- the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:13-15)
- Jairus’s daughter (Matthew 9:25)
- Lazarus (John 11:43-44)
- Many saints resurrected at Jesus’s crucifixion (Matthew 27:52-53)
- Jesus (Matthew 28:5-7)
- Female disciple Tabitha (Acts 9:36-42)
- Paul (Acts 14:19-20)
- Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12)
Since resurrection was a rather banal occurrence in Biblical times, it seems strange that Jesus’s resurrection is held up as being so unusually significant and unique- precisely because it wasn’t. It was just one of many resurrections, and singling it out as being momentous and spectacular is a little like calling the latest solar eclipse the greatest historical event in the Earth’s history. The Bible errs in failing to make Jesus the only person to be raised from the dead.
(634) Thou shalt not kill…or murder?
The Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13) is one that has the authors of various versions of the Bible wrapped around the axle. Does it say “do not kill” or “do not murder?’ The following is the way it reads in each version:
“You shall not murder.
“You must not murder.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not murder.
Thou shalt not kill.
Do not murder.
“You are not to commit murder.
“You shall not murder.
Thou shalt not murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
“You shall not murder.
Thou shalt not murder.
You shall not kill.
You shall not kill.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt do no murder.
Thou shalt not kill.
“You shall not murder.
‘Thou dost not murder.
It is certain that there is a big difference between killing and murder, yet over the centuries Biblical scholars cannot agree on which of these two concepts was God’s intent. God is supposedly not the author of confusion, but in this case, that is exactly what happened.
(635) Making up prophecies
The gospel writers were challenged by the fact that nearly all scriptural Jews rejected Jesus as being the Messiah, so they desperately tried to find Old Testament prophecies to confirm this fact. In all of these cases, the prophecies were taken out of context. But the author of the Book of Matthew took this process one step further- he made up some prophecies that didn’t exist. Here are two examples:
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.”
This prophecy does not appear in the Book of Jeremiah or anywhere else in the Bible.
For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel; AND THEY GAVE THEM FOR THE POTTER’S FIELD, AS THE LORD DIRECTED ME.”
This prophecy also does not appear in the Book of Jeremiah or anywhere else in the Bible.
The very fact that gospel writers had to misrepresent and even make up Old Testament prophecies to prove their point about Jesus is a strong indicator that their ‘theory’ about Jesus was not factual. If Jesus had been the Jewish Messiah, the scriptures would have aligned and fulfilled themselves and the Jews would have accepted him wholesale.
(636) Christians have no freedom
Christianity claims that God created us and wants us to worship him. But he has also created a judgment system that leaves us with no viable choice. He says “worship me, or I will punish you.” This is no different than a master telling his slave, “Do as I instruct, or else you will be lashed.” Thus, the analogy is complete- Christians are slaves to their god. They must comply or face severe punishment. They have no choice or voice in this matter.
This reduces the significance of a Christian’s submission to God, as the primary motivation is to avoid punishment, not an actual expression of love or feeling of worship. Similarly the slave butters up his master, saying lies about his admiration for him, all in an effort to avoid being beaten.
This is where Christianity fails a logical test. A real god would not be so vain as to make the critical assessment of a person’s value the degree to which they worship him. Rather, he would assess the person’s character, deeds, and humanity as a measure of his righteousness.
(637) God’s method for curing leprosy
We should expect the Holy Bible to contain great wisdom from the infinitely intelligent, all-knowing god, so whatever we can glean from its pages, we should take heed, and use this wisdom to solve our problems- one of which is leprosy, or other skin diseases. Luckily, the Bible contains the means of curing this affliction:
The Lord said to Moses, “These are the regulations for any diseased person at the time of their ceremonial cleansing, when they are brought to the priest: The priest is to go outside the camp and examine them. If they have been healed of their defiling skin disease, the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed. Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the defiling disease, and then pronounce them clean. After that, he is to release the live bird in the open fields.
No one today, except perhaps some crazy fundamentalists, would attempt to cure leprosy using this method. Why is that? Because we understand the underlying cause of the affliction and further realize that magical ceremonies will do nothing to alleviate the problem.
Most Christians will dismiss this portion of their Bible, simply ignoring it, but not realize at the same time that they are tacitly admitting that their God never gave this prescription in the first place- for if he did, he would be peddling a hocus-pocus scam. So what is actually being admitted is that this ‘cure’ was made up by superstitious and badly-misinformed men and that this nonsense somehow made it into the Bible they carry around all of the time. They would have to acknowledge that God allowed this embarrassment to his intelligence to be documented for all future generations. That is why they don’t think about it. It is easier to remain blissfully unaware.
(638) Unjust punishment is a blessing
The following piece of divine brilliance is located in the New Testament:
1 Peter 2:18-21
Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
The first problem with this scripture is that it condones slavery, which we should all know that a real god would condemn. But it goes much further and says that being beaten for doing nothing wrong is something that God would appreciate. All this does is to encourage slaves, and presumably non-slaves as well, to accept unjustified rough treatment without complaint or defense. It also gives tacit license to slave owners as well as others in positions of authority to mistreat their underlings.
So the real question is how could such an immoral, unethical, misguided, barbaric, unreasonable, absurd, cruel, inhuman, and uncivilized scripture make it into the Holy Bible? Much less in the supposedly more sensible and humane New Testament? The answer is simple- a god had nothing to do with it.
(639) Confusion over applicability of the Old Testament
According to Christianity, God made a set of laws for his chosen people, the Jews. Beyond that, there is considerable controversy. Do these laws still apply today? If so, do they only apply to Jews, and not Christians? There are Christians who will vigorously debate both sides of these two questions. This has to make an objective observer wonder- how could God have allowed such confusion to exist over such a critical question?
Here are two gospel scriptures that seem to say that the Old Testament laws still apply today:
The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one pronunciation mark of the law to fail.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
The meaning of ‘jot’ and ‘tittle’ is explained in this excerpt from the following website:
The “Jot” is the Hebrew word “Yodh” which is the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is also the smallest letter. It’s European or English equivalent is the letter “Y” as in the English term Yahweh or in Hebrew YHVH since there were no vowel’s used in the ancient script.
The word “jot” itself is an English transliteration of “iota” which is the 9th letter of the Greek alphabet. “Iota,” in turn, is the nearest Greek equivalent for the Hebrew yodh.
The “tittle” is the small decorative spur or point on the upper edge of the yodh. If you can imagine a tiny letter with a slightly visible decorative mark.
Tittle is used by Greek grammarians of the accents and diacritical points. It means the little lines or projections by which the Hebrew letters differ from each other. One example would be the difference between the letter L and I. The difference is only one small mark. We use phrases like “the dotting of the i, and the crossing of the t,” and “every iota.”
It is interesting that the Jewish scribes who copied the MT (Massoretic Text) of the Hebrew Bible scrolls paid the greatest attention to the minutiae of detail and such marks attached to each consonant throughout the entire text. They even numbered every letter, word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, section, and scroll to insure that the total equalled that of the text being copied before allowing it to enter the holy synagogue.
The meaning of the passage is very clear. Not even the smallest letter or even its decorative spur will ever disappear from the “God Breathed” Word until all is fulfilled. In fact when heaven and earth are replaced by a new heaven and earth, the Word of the Lord will have accomplished its purpose and will be fulfilled in every detail even to the very letter.
It is difficult to believe that Jesus would make this statement, and yet consider it to be applicable only to followers of the Jewish faith when he must have realized that his future ‘followers’ would almost unanimously be Gentiles. The other question is how can Christians claim to be followers of Jesus if they ignore this very clear doctrinal statement? It seems obvious that all Christians are still subject to the ‘Law’ in its entirety. Thus, most Christians are honoring convenience over scriptural command, and this is a fatal contradiction for the faith.
(640) Letter to a believer
Dan Barker wrote a letter to a believer that shines a bright light on the absurdities of Christianity. He is an American atheist activist who served as a Christian and musician for 19 years but left Christianity in 1984. Barker, along with his wife Annie Laurie Gaylor, is the current co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He has written numerous articles for Freethought Today, an American freethought newspaper. He is the author of several books including Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist.
Here is the letter:
You expect me to believe Jesus was born of a virgin impregnated by a ghost? Do you believe all the crazy tales of ancient religions? Julius Caesar was reportedly born of a virgin; Roman historian Seutonius said Augustus bodily rose to heaven when he died; and Buddha was supposedly born speaking. You don’t believe all that, do you? Why do you expect me to swallow the fables of Christianity?
I find it incredible that you ask me to believe that the earth was created in six literal days; women come from a man’s rib; a snake, a donkey, and a burning bush spoke human language; the entire world was flooded, covering the mountains to drown evil; all animal species, millions of them, rode on one boat; language variations stem from the tower of Babel; Moses had a magic wand; the Nile turned to blood; a stick turned into a snake; witches, wizards, and sorcerers really exist; food rained from the sky for 40 years; people were cured by the sight of a brass serpent; the sun stood still to help Joshua win a battle, and it went backward for King Hezekiah; men survived unaided in a fiery furnace; a detached hand floated in the air and wrote on a wall; men followed a star which directed them to a particular house; Jesus walked on water unaided; fish and bread magically multiplied to feed the hungry; water instantly turned into wine; mental illness is caused by demons; a “devil” with wings exists who causes evil; people were healed by stepping into a pool agitated by angels; disembodied voiced spoke from the sky; Jesus vanished and later materialized from thin air; people were healed by Peter’s shadow; angels broke people out of jail; a fiery lake of eternal torment awaits unbelievers under the earth … while there is life-after-death in a city which is 1,500 miles cubed, with mansions and food, for Christians only.
If you believe these stories, then you are the one with the problem, not me. These myths violate natural law, contradict science, and fail to correspond with reality or logic. If you can’t see that, then you can’t separate truth from fantasy. It doesn’t matter how many people accept delusions inflicted by “holy” men; a widely held lie is still a lie. If you are so gullible, then you are like the child who believes the older brother who says there is a monster in the hallway. But there is nothing to be afraid of; go turn on the light and look for yourself.
If Christianity were simply untrue I would not be too concerned. Santa is untrue, but it is a harmless myth which people outgrow. But Christianity, besides being false, is also abhorrent. It amazes me that you claim to love the god of the bible, a hateful, arrogant, sexist, cruel being who can’t tolerate criticism. I would not want to live in the same neighborhood with such a creature!
The biblical god is a macho male warrior. Though he said “Thou shalt not kill,” he ordered death for all opposition, wholesale drowning and mass exterminations; punishes offspring to the fourth generation (Ex. 20:5); ordered pregnant women and children to be ripped up (Hos. 13:16); demands animal and human blood to appease his angry vanity; is partial to one race of people; judges women to be inferior to men; is a sadist who created a hell to torture unbelievers; created evil (Is. 45:7); discriminated against the handicapped (Lev. 21:18-23); ordered virgins to be kept as spoils of war (Num. 31:15-18, Deut. 21:11-14); spread dung on people’s faces (Mal. 2:3); sent bears to devour 42 children who teased a prophet (II Kings 2:23-24); punishes people with snakes, dogs, dragons, drunkenness, swords, arrows, axes, fire, famine, and infanticide; and said fathers should eat their sons (Ez. 5:10). Is that nice? Would you want to live next door to such a person?
And Jesus is a chip off the old block. He said, “I and my father are one,” and he upheld “every jot and tittle” of the Old Testament law. Mt. 5:18 He preached the same old judgment: vengeance and death, wrath and distress, hell and torture for all nonconformists. He believed in demons, angels and spirits. He never denounced the subjugation of slaves or women. Women were excluded as disciples and as guests at his heavenly table. Except for hell he introduced nothing new to ethics or philosophy. He was disrespectful of his mother and brothers; he said we should hate our parents and desert our families. Mt. 10:35-36, Lk. 14:26 (So much for “Christian family life.”) He denounced anger, but was often angry himself. Mt. 5:22, Mk. 3:5 He called people “fools” (Mt. 23:17,19), “serpents,” and “white sepulchers,” though he warned that such language puts you in danger of hellfire. Mt. 5:22 He said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Mt. 10:34 (So much for “Peace on Earth.”) He irrationally cursed and withered a fig tree for being barren out of season. Mt. 21:19 He mandated burning unbelievers. Jn. 15:6 (The Church has complied with relish.) He stole a horse. Lk. 19:30-33 He told people to cut off hands, feet, eyes and sexual organs. Mt. 5:29-30, 19:12 You want me to accept Jesus, but I think I’ll pick my own friend, thank you.
One of Jesus’s many contradictions was saying good works should be seen, and not seen. Mt. 5:16, 6:1-4 One of his mistakes was saying that the mustard plant has the smallest seed. Mt. 13:31-32 The writers of Matthew and Luke could not even get his genealogy straight, contradicting the Old Testament, and giving Jesus two discrepant lines through Joseph, his non-father!
I also find Christianity to be morally repugnant. The concepts of original sin, depravity, substitutionary forgiveness, intolerance, eternal punishment, and humble worship are all beneath the dignity of intelligent human beings and conflict with the values of kindness and reason. They are barbaric ideas for primitive cultures cowering in fear and ignorance.
Finally, Christianity is harmful. More people have been killed in the name of a god than for any other reason. The Church has a shameful, bloody history of Crusades, Inquisitions, witch-burnings, heresy trials, American colonial intolerance, disrespect of indigenous traditions (such as American Indians), support of slavery, and oppression of women. Modern “fruits” of religion include the Jonestown massacre, the callous fraud of “faith healers,” recent wars and ethnic cleansing, and fighting in Northern Ireland. Religion also poses a danger to mental health, damaging self-respect, personal responsibility, and clarity of thought.
Do you see why I do not respect the biblical message? It is an insulting bag of nonsense. You have every right to torment yourself with such insanity — but leave me out of it. I have better things to do with my life.
(641) The assumption that God is good
Christianity as well as other religions begin with two assumptions- there is a god or gods, and the god or gods are good. Lost is this effort is the possilbility that a god exists, but the ‘he’ is not good. The following discussion of this point is provided at this website:
If there were a God, we would have a few choices regarding the basic facts about him. To begin with, would this God be a “him?” Probably not. This being would most likely represent the entire spectrum from male to female and everything in between, or possibly something else entirely. Who knows? Of greater importance, though, is this question: Is this God involved in the doings of the Universe he created, or did he create it and then step away from it, choosing to be distant and detached? If we go with the latter, the idea of trying to discuss this God becomes moot. Why? Because you would have no idea what this God was like; any discussion would be pure speculation. If we go with the former, that this God is involved with the Universe he created, then we must ask if his intentions are good or bad. If they are bad, if he is actually an evil God who creates things simply to enjoy the ensuing anguish, then we are all fucked anyway and there is little more to discuss other than basic survival and possible tactics of opposition. However, if he is a good God with good intentions, what then?
The problem with theism is this: the believers decide ahead of time that this God is good.After having decided this, they then go out and reconcile the reality around them to their perceptions of God’s goodness. And since reality doesn’t reconcile quite so easily, new beliefs, like flying buttresses holding up an unsteady wall, must enter the picture, beliefs like free will, the doctrine of sin, the depravity of humanity, the benefits of suffering, and so on. The believer begins with a belief: that God exists and that he is good. Then, when looking at the world around him, a world which screams from all sides that God couldn’t possibly be good, the believer uses his faith to reconcile that which should not and does not reconcile on its own. The terrible reality of suffering in this Universe is then explained away, cataloged into tidy little compartments of theological ideas which do wonders for the conscience of these believers but do nothing for the rest of us who demand better answers.
The a priori assumption that any god that exists must be good is a fatal problem with all religions. It overlooks the possibility that the god is limited and doesn’t know that we exist, that the god knows we exist, but chooses not to interfere, or that the god chooses to interfere, but does so in a malicious way. It’s even possible that the god is malicious but makes a show of being virtuous.
(642) The problem with the Fifth Commandment
The Fifth Commandment is presented in Exodus 20:12
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Although on the surface this sounds like a sensible rule, it actually lacks the depth of wisdom expected of a celestial deity. The following is taken from:
“Honor thy father and thy mother” is the fifth commandment, and it is, of course, an extension of the authoritarian rationale behind the first four. Honor cannot be bestowed automatically by an honest intellect. Intellectually honest people can honor only those who, in their opinion, warrant their honor. The biologic fact of fatherhood and motherhood does not in and of itself warrant honor. Until very recently parenthood was not a matter of choice. It still is a mandatory, not optional, happening for many of the world’s people. Why should any child be commanded to honor, without further basis, parents who became parents by accident–who didn’t even plan to have a child? All of us know children who have been abused, beaten or neglected by their parents. What is the basis for honor there? How does the daughter honor a father who sexually molests her? “Honor only those who merit your honor” would be a more appropriate teaching, and if that includes your parents, great! “Honor your children” would have been a compassionate commandment.
This commandment has been used by inferior parents who abuse their children physically and emotionally to demand the honor they feel is mandated by God. And It gives them a license to act in less than honorable ways towards their children. It gives them a scriptural basis to blackmail their children into submission- “obey or be sent to Hell for disobeying God’s command!”
As stated in the excerpt above, the commandment to “honor your children” would have been much more effective as it would mollify the parents’ treatment of their children as well as engender a reciprocal and justified honoring of the parents by their well-treated children.
(643) Closer to being the Jewish Messiah than Jesus
There are several things we know about the Jewish Messiah- he would come once, not twice, and he would establish an earthly kingdom based in Jerusalem. Jesus failed on both counts and thus was rejected by the Jews. A century later, someone came along who came much closer to fulfilling the messianic criteria, as discussed in the following excerpt:
Jews do not believe that Jesus was the mashiach. Assuming that he existed, and assuming that the Christian scriptures are accurate in describing him (both matters that are debatable), he simply did not fulfill the mission of the mashiach as it is described in the biblical passages cited above. Jesus did not do any of the things that the scriptures said the messiah would do.
On the contrary, another Jew born about a century later came far closer to fulfilling the messianic ideal than Jesus did. His name was Shimeon ben Kosiba, known as Bar Kokhba (son of a star), and he was a charismatic, brilliant, but brutal warlord. Rabbi Akiba, one of the greatest scholars in Jewish history, believed that Bar Kokhba was the mashiach. Bar Kokhba fought a war against the Roman Empire, catching the Tenth Legion by surprise and retaking Jerusalem. He resumed sacrifices at the site of the Temple and made plans to rebuild the Temple. He established a provisional government and began to issue coins in its name. This is what the Jewish people were looking for in a mashiach; Jesus clearly does not fit into this mold. Ultimately, however, the Roman Empire crushed his revolt and killed Bar Kokhba. After his death, all acknowledged that he was not the mashiach.
(644) Evidence against a soul- split brain patients
Christian theology asserts that humans have an immaterial soul that overlays our physical bodies, and that provides a uniqueness or sense of “I” that is immutable and not subject to physical defects. This is termed dualism. However, research conducted on split-brain patients provides convincing evidence that this hypothetical soul does not exist. The following except is taken from the following website that shows videos and describes research conducted by VS Ramachandran:
Many of our readers – especially among the regulars at Uncommon Descent – are substance dualists. That is, they believe that each of us has an immaterial mind or soul that constitutes our true self, and that the body, including the brain, is merely a vehicle “inhabited” and controlled by the mind or soul.
Even stronger evidence against the dualist position is provided by split-brain patients. There is a procedure, the corpus callosotomy, that disconnects the two hemispheres so that epileptic seizures cannot spread from one to the other. The hemispheres are only disconnected; neither is removed. This operation contains the seizures, dramatically improving the patient’s quality of life, but it also severs the path through which the hemispheres normally communicate. The results are fascinating, and they’re not very friendly to the dualist position:
In experiments with split-brain patients, it’s possible to pass information to one hemisphere but not the other. The left hemisphere literally doesn’t know what the right hemisphere knows, and vice-versa.
If there were a single, immaterial mind, it would know what both hemispheres know. Clearly, this doesn’t happen. As a dualist, how do you explain this? Surely the immaterial mind doesn’t split in two at the moment the corpus callosum is cut, does it?
The left hemisphere controls the right half of the body, and vice-versa. When the connection between the two is cut, this results in bizarre behaviors indicating the presence of two “wills” in the same skull.
One patient was seen to pick up a cigarette with her right hand and place it in her mouth. Her left hand plucked it out and threw it away before the right hand could light it.
In another case, a man attacked his wife with one arm while defending her with the other.
If a single immaterial mind were running the show, this would not happen. How do you explain this within the dualist framework?
(645) Irrational condemnation
According to the Bible, Jesus was travelling around preaching a somewhat altered form of Judaism, one that conflicted conspicuously with the doctrine promoted by the most formidable leaders of the faith, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. So, it was inevitable that some would reject his message, just like any Christian today would reject a self-assigned prophet advancing a novel form of Christianity. Given this, it is important to acknowledge how Jesus reportedly reacted to those who rejected his message:
Luke 10: 8-15
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.
The story described here, and also in Matthew 11:21, shows Jesus reacting in exactly the manner expected of a street corner evangelist if he was being ignored or rejected. It completely ignores the sensible human tendency to be skeptical of claims presented without compelling evidence. This episode exposes Jesus as a frustrated human, and not a god as claimed by Christians.
(646) God controls whether people believe in Jesus
In John 6:61-66, we read about how God the Father controls who is able to come to Jesus (this comes directly after Jesus introduced the cannibalistic requirement to eat his flesh and drink his blood):
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Note the bolded quote. It indicates that salvation is based on the choice God makes whether or not to enable someone to come to Jesus. This would appear to eliminate free will and introduce an unfair system where God arbitrarily chooses who will be saved. It would seem (in the final verse) that the disciples who turned back and no longer followed Jesus were the smart ones.
(647) Three views of the Eucharist
The story of the last supper is central to Christian doctrine. During this meal, Jesus is alleged to have served bread and wine to his disciples and introduced a mysterious concept that the bread was his body and the wine was his blood. He commanded them to do this in remembrance of him. Here is the scripture in Mark:
Mark 14: 22-25
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
A similar story is told in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, but, curiously, not in John. Nevertheless, it is clear that this ritual was very important to Jesus. But now comes the problem- there are three diametrically opposed positions held by major groups of Christians on the substance and characteristics of this tradition. The following is taken from:
When it comes to the Eucharist, which most Protestants call ‘The Lord’s Supper,” or “Communion,” the Roman Catholic Church holds to the doctrine of transubstantiation—the idea that the edible ritual elements used during the mass literally become the body and blood of Christ. Dr. Svigel explains:
“At the moment that the priest says, ‘This is my body,’ the invisible, unperceivable essence that…you couldn’t see (with) an electron microscope, (is) there in a miracle. It contains the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. And that becomes the spiritual and physical nourishment. As you partake of it, it becomes part of you, transforms you, and makes you more and more righteous.”
In contrast, some Protestants, like Lutherans, hold to perspective called consubstantiation, where Jesus’ body and blood are seen as coexisting with the bread and the wine. Martin Luther likened this to the idea of a red-hot iron in a fire—united, but not changed. Dr. Bock says:
“I like to call it ‘the over, under, around and through’ view. Jesus Christ surrounds the elements. He’s spiritually present, but he’s not in the elements themselves; the elements don’t become the body and blood of Christ.”
Still, other Protestants hold to the memorial view—the idea that you’re commemorating Jesus’ death. In this understanding, the elements are symbols which remain ontologically unaffected by the ritual.
If Jesus introduced this core tradition into his future church and the Holy Spirit, along with Jesus and the Father, were concerned about it being properly characterized for posterity, how could there be such a massive disagreement among Christians? On the other hand, If all of this was simply made up and had no connection to supernatural beings, then this degree of disagreement and confusion is expected.
(648) Original sin doctrine missing in Old Testament
The doctrine of original sin, the idea that Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden was passed on to all humanity, is central to most Christian denominations. In scripture, it is best described in Romans 5: 12-19:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
The concept of original sin is not presented in the Old Testament and remains heretical to most Jews. This is extremely revealing- if God meant to convey the idea that Adam’s sin was to be borne by every person who came after him, it seems that it would have been prominently documented in the Old Testament. Instead, all that is implied is that his sin consigned everyone to a physical death, but not that they were born into a condemned state needing some sort of remedial action to save them. The Jews were certain to consider that Adam’s sin remained with Adam and that each person was judged according to their own actions.
So the question is.. why did Christianity invent this absurd and illogical doctrine? One that for centuries avowed the awful idea that dead un-baptized babies went to Hell? Apparently, it was done to provide a theological framework to underscore the necessity for Jesus’s death and resurrection. Without Adam’s transgression being passed to posterity, it seemed illogical to early Christians that anyone would need to be saved through the blood of Jesus- they were used to the Jewish idea that you were judged according to your own works, not that you would expect any outside agency to be punished in your stead.
(649) Trend in belief of scientists
The following chart shows the results of a survey of scientists who belong to the distinguished National Academy of Scientists. It includes scientists of all stripes, including biologists, astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, etc.
Belief in personal God 1914 1933 1998 Personal belief 27.7 15.0 7.0 Personal disbelief 52.7 68.0 72.2 Doubt or agnosticism 20.9 17.0 20.8
This data shows a correlation between the accumulation of knowledge over a century of scientific discoveries, as well as an increase and refinement of knowledge, and the religious beliefs of the scientists leading this wave of discovery.
The question must be asked: If Christianity, or another religion, is true, why wouldn’t this chart show the reverse- why wouldn’t a greater knowledge of science lead to a greater acknowledgement of the existence of a personal god. On the other hand, if Christianity and other faiths are just myths, then an accumulation of scientific knowledge would be expected to result in exactly what happened.
(650) Why a book-based religion eventually fails
Christianity, and many other religions, are stuck on a book. A book that can’t be added to, subtracted from, or changed in any way. It leads its followers to assume that what is right and wrong never changes, despite all of the advancements of knowledge and experience over centuries and centuries of human history.
In Christianity’s case, the book that defines and confines its doctrine was written from about 1450 BC to around 100 CE. Nothing written in the past 1900 years has been added to it. But the world has changed dramatically over that time.
Christianity teaches that homosexuality is a sin, but if ongoing research continues to reveal that homosexuality is not a choice, is the Christian position still tenable?
Christianity teaches that men have authority over women, but if ongoing research and historical experience shows that women have talents equivalent to men, is the Christian position still tenable?
Christianity teaches (through its scriptural silence and traditional treatment) that animals other than humans have no divinely-inspired rights, but if ongoing science shows that animals have thoughts, feelings, intelligences, and capabilities similar to humans, is the Christian position still tenable?
Christianity teaches that premarital sex is prohibited, but if ongoing research indicates that those who engage in premarital sex wait longer to marry and tend to have more successful marriages than those who remain chaste, is the Christian position still tenable?
What these examples show is that a religion based on a book that can’t be amended will eventually become obsolete. It will not change with the times as it should to accommodate changes in society and the increase in knowledge as civilization ages. This is why Christianity and most other religions are failures. A true religion, one based on a real, living god, would surely not look like this. It would change with the times and receive unambiguous messages from its god constantly updating doctrine to coincide with new knowledge and changing conditions.
(651) The fire-breathing dragon
Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was a science communicator of astronomy and other natural sciences. He proposed the following analogy that exposes the fallacy of making claims without evidence:
“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”
“Where’s the dragon?” you ask.
“Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”
You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.
“Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floats in the air.”
Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.
“Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”
You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.
“Good idea, but she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.”
And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.
Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.
This is a perfectly logical analog to those who claim the existence of a personal god. Whatever test you propose to elicit evidence of the existence of this god will be met with the same inane rationalizations of how the test cannot or will not work. Further they will claim that the demand for a test is a misguided effort that would have the deleterious effect of destroying the virtue of having faith. It should be evident that the probability that the god of Christianity exists is equivalent to that of the fire-breathing dragon.
(652) Demon possession not recognized by legal system
Christianity unquestionably claims that demons exist and that they inhabit people and can make them act in ways that defies their volition, i.e., causes them to do bad things. It is definitely true that Jesus believed in demons, as a major part of his ministry was to expel them from those who were afflicted. There are over 30 verses in the gospels where Jesus has an encounter with a demon.
Most court systems in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and other such countries are dominated by Christians from the judge to the jury to the lawyers to the defendants. If these people actually believe in Christianity and take notice of what Jesus did during his earthly mission, why is demon possession never considered a valid extenuating circumstance in a criminal trial?
The answer is obvious. There is no credible evidence for demon possession. Notwithstanding that some exorcists still exist in the Catholic Church and several other denominations, the world, collectively, has come to realize that demons are imaginary beings, and if someone commits a crime, it is the person himself who merits the blame, not an imaginary figure inhabiting his body. The ‘devil made me do it’ is not a credible excuse.
This blatant contradiction between the civil court systems that are being run predominantly by Christians and Christian scripture is a powerful statement that even Christians understand that their belief system is flawed- that Jesus Christ, who was allegedly God himself, believed in supernatural beings that they categorically reject out of hand.
(653) Characteristics of a cult
In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, we read:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.
[Belial is a term occurring in the Hebrew Bible which later became personified as the Devil in Jewish and Christian texts]
In these verses, Paul is telling the Corinthian Christians that they should not associate with non-believers. There are two possible reasons for this injunction and neither one is good. First, he may be concerned that they may be influenced by ideas of unbelievers and leave the church. Second, he may be concerned that family pressure could cause some to place family relationships above the needs of the church. In other works, Paul’s warning has the effect of breaking up families where some but not all members are believers.
This is a quintessential technique of cults- to separate new members from their family, friends, and anyone with an alternative belief system. If Christianity was true, you would advise the complete opposite- go forth among the non-believers, showing your new found power and presence and shine your light so that others will be impressed and want to join as well. The need to separate believers from non-believers indicates that the evidence for your beliefs is shaky and does not hold up well in open examination.
(654) Rejection of socialism
Early Christians practiced a form of socialism as is described in Acts 4:32-37:
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
To drive the point home further, in Acts 5:1-11, God slays a married couple, Ananias and Sapphira, because they refused to donate their entire proceeds into the collective reserve. This seems to establish that God endorsed a socialistic standard for the distribution of resources, and that he condemned the stockpiling of personal wealth (As Jesus is famously alleged to have alluded to: it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God- Matthew 19:24).
Modern Christianity has not only not followed the economic examples of the early Church, but it has gone the extra step to vilify the practices of socialism, while tying it to the evils of atheism. Instead, Christians have embraced capitalism as being the godly standard, and that possession of personal wealth is a sign of God’s blessing.
(655) Bible typos
The Bible has been copied and translated so many times, it is inevitable that many mistakes would have been made, that is, assuming it to be a project handled by imperfect humans, and not a god-controlled, and thus perfect, endeavor.
And that is what happened. There were many mistakes made. At the following, 10 of the most embarrassing typos are documented:
- “Sin on more” — This obvious one comes from a 1716 edition of the King James version and 8,000 copies were released before the error was noticed.
- “Let the children first be killed” — Wrong. From Mark 7:27, “Let the children first be filled” seems more in line with Christian charity.
- “If the latter husband ate her” — From the so-called “Cannibal’s Bible” dated 1682, it was supposed to read, “If the latter husband hate her.” The less said about this, the better.
- “To remain” — In an 1805 Bible, instructions to the printer on the placement of a comma — it was supposed to stay — became part of Galatians 4:29. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit to remain, even so it is now.”
- “Owl husband” — It is well known from Leviticus that interspecies relations were frowned upon in the Bible, and the 1944 King James version that read “in the same way submit yourselves to your owl husbands” was meant to read “own husbands.”
- “Holy ghost” — A mistranslation from Greek of the word “pneuma” — meaning breath or spirit — had believers expelling ghosts when they exhaled.
- “Peace on Earth and good will toward men” — That is what the King James version says an angel told shepherds on a hill near Bethlehem. According to the earlier Greek version, God was a bit more choosy about his friends and the angel reportedly said, “peace on Earth to people he favours.”
- “Out of thy lions” — An 1804 edition substituted “lions” for “loins” and even if they had spellcheck back then, it wouldn’t have caught it. It happens to the best of us.
- “Jesus” — According to the earlier Greek version, His name was more likely “Joshua” or the Hebrew “Yeshua,” and it would take a miracle of Biblical proportions to recall all the “Jesus” merchandise.
- “Printers have persecuted me” — One would believe this was God complaining about all the typos, but a 1612 Bible was meant to read: “Princes have persecuted me.”
These were mistakes all made in the past 400 years, and they don’t begin to reflect the millions of others that have been made, not only in the past 400 years, but going all the way back to the original writings. This points out two important issues:
– The Bible copying and translating efforts are not being controlled by a supernatural being, or god, who is ensuring that the process is being handled to perfection. Although the errors mentioned above were eventually corrected, many others were passed over without notice.
– The copious evidence of copying and translation errors is like the tip of an iceberg, indicating that under the surface likely exist 10 times as many errors that for one reason or another have gone undiscovered. Undoubtedly, many of these occurred early in the First and Second Centuries, before the time that we have any manuscripts with which to compare.
From this, we can assume that the Bible is of indiscernible accuracy as it relates to the initial writings. So even if we make the implausible assumption that the original authors were inspired by God, we still don’t have the exact sense of what they wrote.
(656) Contemporary miracles vanish in face of examination
There are many miracle stories attached to the Christian faith, including those documented in the Bible, in other Christian writings, in historical tradition, and in anecdotal accounts. Generally, these alleged miracles cannot be examined scientifically because of their antiquity and remoteness, and so they can only believed or dismissed on the basis of faith.
However, claims of contemporary miracles offer a reasonable chance to be analyzed and judged to be either true or false. This is the case where the realm of science meets the domain of religious faith. And this is where a major problem develops for Christianity and other miracle-based religions. Every recent claim that has made for the occurrence of a miracle that is, by its nature, falsifiable by rigorous examination, has indeed been proven false. No scientific analysis has ever documented the legitimacy of any miracle. Such an occurrence would rock the world of science and become a news story that would dominate headlines for weeks.
Given that science has been able to repudiate any miracle claims that it has ever examined, it is exceedingly likely that the miracles documented in the Bible and early pre-scientific times would also have been determined false if they had been subject to current-day scientific methods. This simply means that the false claims of miracles today implies that the miracle claims of the Bible age are also false.
Christians will claim that the ‘age of miracles’ ended around the end of the First Century, and that’s why we don’t see them today. This is not consistent with scripture, of course:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Also, when examining a question such as this, using the principle of Occam’s Razor (taking the simplest explanation as being the most plausible), the question must be asked- is it more likely that miracles ceased in contradiction to scripture, or that people made false claims of miracles 2000 years ago just as they do today?
(657) The Popemobile
No image better reveals of the failure of the Christian god to protect one of his most important ambassadors than the vehicle used to transport the Pope during parade reviews. It is called the Popemobile and sports bulletproof glass and a bomb-resistant undercarriage.
This specialized vehicle was created in response to several assassination attempts on the Pope. What it says loud and clear is that the Christian god cannot be counted on to protect the Pope, regardless of how many prayers are offered. And if he can’t protect the Pope, how can he be relied upon to protect anyone else? To an objective eye, the image above is all one needs to acknowledge that the Christian concept of an all-seeing, all-powerful, prayer-answering god is a fairly-tale illusion.
(658) Christians accepted disease as divine punishment
For many centuries during the Middle Ages, Christians believed that disease was a form of punishment sent by God for sinful behavior, such that effort to alleviate the suffering was viewed as irreverent meddling with God’s will. The following is taken from:
Since disease-causing demons were God’s punishment for sin, it was clearly a pious duty to accept that punishment. To minimise it or seek to avoid it would be further sin. This attitude led to a form of fatalism still widespread in the East and once common in Western Christendom too. If God wants a person to suffer or die, it is plainly blasphemous for that person to try to avoid their fate. Since the victims of plague were destined to die by God’s decree, the disease could not really be contagious in any conventional sense, and there was no point in taking precautions against catching it.
Many thousands of devout Christians thus suffered avoidable death and suffering. For example, during the Black Death in Britain in 1665, pious Christians declined to take precautions for the protection of their families, claiming that they did not wish to pervert God’s will. As Daniel Defoe noted, places where this fatalistic attitude was common suffered significantly higher mortality rates than elsewhere. Well into the twentieth century, devout Christians relied on Psalm 91, which they said clearly confirmed that God would protect them from pestilence and other evils
The devout were held to be immune from epidemics, whatever the evidence might be. To be inoculated against disease was to doubt God’s word, and therefore plainly sinful. So it was that many of the devout, and their trusting children, died unnecessarily in epidemics following the advice, or the orders, of their religious leaders.
When a belief system instills behavior contrary to science and logic, and results in unnecessary suffering and death, it can be safely assumed that the belief system was not created by a divine being.
(659) Money contaminates Christianity
The root essence of Christianity as spelled out in the Bible is one of asceticism, the abrogation of earthly possessions in favor of spiritual treasures. But Christianity has morphed into a completely different animal, one that is driven by money, power, and possessions. The following taken from this website lists the net worth of the 15 wealthiest Christian evangelists:
Eddie Long $5,000,000 – $15,000,000 +
Randy & Paula White $10,000,000 – ?
Ed Young $11,000,000 – ?
Joyce Meyer $25,000,000 – ?
TD Jakes $18,000,000 – $150,000,000 +
Robert Tilton $100,000,000 +
Paul & Jan Crouch $100,000,000 +
Peter Popoff $100,000,000 +
Creflo Dollar $100,000,000 +
Benny Hinn $45,000,000 +
Chris Oyakhilome $50,000,000 +
Joel Osteen $55,000,000 +
Bishop David Oyedepo $150,000,000 +
Edir Macedo $1,100,000,000 +
Kenneth Copeland $1,200,000,000 +
The question that must be asked is how did this situation develop if God had any influence on the situation? A lot of this money was contributed by earnest believers, thinking that they were donating to a charitable cause, but instead they were just enriching these millionaires. Some of the people listed above are probably true believers in Christianity, but others are probably just doing it for the power and wealth it provides.
Nevertheless, if God actually set up a religion based on the virtues of being poor and eschewing earthly possessions, would he have allowed it become a gold mine for predator preachers fleecing innocent believers? Wouldn’t he have intervened in some way to shut down this improper flow of money and the image that Christianity is intrinsically aligned with wealth. Probably yes. But if Christianity is just a man-made invention, and people tend to be gullible, would this situation be expected? Definitely yes.
(660) The illogical application of forgiveness
Christianity teaches that God is willing to forgive sins if a person accepts Jesus as his savior. However, it also teaches that this acceptance must occur during the lifetime of that person. Once dead, there is no more forgiveness.
So the question is this: Why wouldn’t God forgive someone who determines, for sincere and conscientious reasons, that the fundamental doctrine of Christianity is not true? Why is this ‘sin’ so bad that God will send this person to the eternal suffering of Hell? Why wouldn’t God allow this person to accept Jesus after death?
God will forgive murderers, rapists, extortioners, bribers, thieves, and abusers, but he won’t forgive a person who evaluates the evidence and concludes that Christianity is untrue. How is that moral virtue?
(661) Paul’s foolish command concerning hair
It is a fundamental axiom of Christianity that the letters Paul wrote and that were later incorporated into the New Testament were inspired by God. This means that the messages embedded in these letters were endorsed by God. After all, the predominantly-held doctrine of being saved by faith, not works, is exclusively contained within Paul’s epistles.
In 1 Corinthians 11:4-15, Paul wrote this:
Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
Christians cannot reasonably deny that God (through Paul) commanded women of this time to either cover or shave their heads. However, few will deny that this injunction no longer applies. And therein lies a big problem. Although many Christians glibly dismiss most of the irrational and senseless rules in the Old Testament, what is written here is in the New Testament, written by God’s chosen ambassador and the principal architect of modern Christianity. If this rule, one that shamelessly debases women by the way, no longer applies, then what other rules contained in Paul’s letters can be likewise dismissed? It raises a host of issues, including why did God change something that must have been important to him at that time? Alternately, if God still wants it this way, why don’t Christian women still follow this rule?
(663) No one can enter Heaven?
Consider these verses from Deuteronomy 23:1-8:
No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord. If a person is illegitimate by birth, neither he nor his descendants for ten generations may be admitted to the assembly of the LORD. No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you. However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them as long as you live. Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.
Christians will generally dismiss this unmitigated nonsense by saying it’s in the Old Testament- (that is, the scriptures that Jesus defended down to the jot and tittle). And yes, it was not inspired by a god. Clearly, these verses were written by an unenlightened and extremely superstitious man.
The focus for this discussion in on the second verse:
If a person is illegitimate by birth, neither he nor his descendants for ten generations may be admitted to the assembly of the LORD.
This is yet another Biblical example of how people of that time thought that it was perfectly acceptable to punish people for the sins of their ancestors. We realize today that no god worth his station would be this cruel. But what is interesting about this particular injunction is that it likely captures every person who has ever lived. Going back 10 generations along either the male or female line, it is very likely that everyone has an ancestor who was born out of wedlock. This would imply that every person is excluded from the Lord’s assembly, which by extension of the Christian spin that modified the Jewish faith, means that Heaven is off limits as well.
(663) The most absurd belief of Christianity
Christianity has actually convinced people that the just ‘punishment’ for living an average human life is an eternity of suffering. This is presented as what you deserve if you live a good life, doing your best, though, unavoidably, making a few mistakes along the way. But overall, you treat others kindly, pay your taxes, follow the laws, love and be loved, give to charities, help others, and try with all your might to be a good husband, wife, father, or mother. For doing just that, according to Christianity, God will send you to Hell. That is the default judgment. This is exactly what Christians MUST think is fair, or else they have no business following the faith.
Sure, they will say, yes, but you rejected the way out of this situation. But that is stupid- you can only reject that which you know to be true, and Christianity doesn’t even come close to demonstrating its truth.
(664) Presuppositional apologetics
The primary method used by defenders of the Christian religion is termed presuppositional apologetics. This method of argumentation starts with an assumption that what you are trying to demonstrate is true, and then showing that other possible truths are less likely to be true. This is in contrast to the scientific method where you start on neutral ground and objectively evaluate the evidence to see where it seems to point.
Creation science uses this method to argue against evolution. That is, it starts with the conclusion that creationism is true, and then finds flaws in evolutionary theories. Thus it presents the illusion that creationism is more likely to be true, but this all takes place while ignoring the mountain of evidence showing creationism to be false.
What should be understood is that presuppositional apologetics would not be used for any concept that is otherwise adequately supported by objective evidence. The widespread use of this system to defend Christianity is a very strong indication that Christianity is untrue.
(665) The Bible repeats previous literature
It is well established that many of the stories in the Bible, including the creation, the worldwide flood, the virgin birth, walking on water, and the resurrection, are very similar to stories that were written down hundreds of years before they appeared in the Bible. The classic example is the Epic of Gilgamesh that is mirrored almost to a tee in the Book of Genesis. There are two possible explanations for this circumstance, as explained at the following website:
- The religious explanation is that while the other stories were very much the same as those in the Bible, they are all false. But when they occur in the Bible (despite it being much the same content), this time the stories are true. One explanation of the resemblances to the earlier myths is that Satan created them to lead people astray from the true Messiah that would come much later. So essentially, an ultra-powerful and evil being (Created by God) influenced humanity to create deceptive stories — thousands of years before the real version — so that people wouldn’t believe the real thing when they saw it.
- The alternative explanation is that the nature of storytelling during the period was such that central themes propagated through time. This combined with the natural tendency to have certain repeating elements in human stories, and the fact that the Bible stories came after the other ones, explains the similarities to previous myths. And since the stories of worldwide floods, virgin births, and people rising from the dead that the Bible is based on were false to begin with (which everyone agrees on) — they are also false in the Bible. In short, the Bible is simply another iteration of the same themes that came long before it.
(666) Gospel authors were not eyewitnesses
Any written historical account gains credibility if the authors actually witnessed the events they describe. Otherwise, the accuracy is greatly diminished and is subject to hearsay distortion. In current times, being an eyewitness is not intrinsically important because there exist means of indirect verification, such as videos and verified eyewitness accounts that can be used by a non-eyewitness to achieve a stamp of authenticity similar to an eyewitness. But at the times that the gospels were written, these methods were not available, and most all information was being passed by word of mouth.
At the following website, a list of 8 reasons describes why scholars do not believe that the gospel authors were eyewitnesses (this list was originally compiled by author Bart Ehrman):
1. The authors of the Gospels do not claim to be eyewitnesses or colleagues of eyewitnesses. Surely, if they were eyewitnesses or colleagues of eyewitnesses, they would have stated this in order to add credibility to their accounts.
2. The Gospels are written in third rather than first person. Surely, an eyewitness would have written in first person.
3. There are many contradictions, hundreds of them. in the Gospels, and it is unlikely that eyewitnesses would disagree on so many details. One can go to the “Apologetics Press” website and quickly find over 100 such Gospel contradictions. The writers of this “Apologetics Press” website explain such contradictions as being eyewitness accounts from different viewpoints or accounts that provide “additional” details, but I think there are just way too many contradictions to harmonize them all away. What happened to the divine editor? I think a more likely explanation for these contradictions is that stories about Jesus changed during the period of oral transmission and then different Gospel authors wrote different details using these different oral traditions. Often the gist of these oral stories contained kernels of truth, but the incidental details got markedly changed during the oral transmission. Can you imagine, for example, trying to write the Sermon on the Mount three or more decades after the sermon was given when there were no written notes of the sermon? I guess one could claim that God gave the author of The Gospel According to Matthew the text of the Sermon on the Mount, but the Gospel author does not make this claim and, surely, it would have been a claim worth mentioning.
4. In Acts, James and Peter are described as being illiterate. Indeed, almost everyone living in first century Galilee was illiterate and mostly spoke Aramaic not New Testament Koine Greek. Hence, it is very unlikely that there were any eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus who could write New Testament Koine Greek.
5. As I have described previously, since Paul did not quote the Gospels, they were probably written after his death and, hence, after the deaths of eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus.
6. All of the Gospels are titled with “According to …” which sounds like a title given not by an eyewitness, but by a later scribe or editor.
7. The author of The Gospel According to Matthew, when writing about Matthew, the tax collector, gives no clue that he is writing about himself. Likewise, the author of The Gospel According to John, when writing about the Apostle John, gives no clue that he is writing about himself.
8. An early reference to the Gospels is when they are quoted by Justin Martyr during the middle of the second century, but he does not refer to the Gospels by name. It is not until the end of the second century that an author, namely Irenaeus, refers to the Gospels by the names Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Hence, the Gospels were probably written by unknown authors who wrote Koine Greek and the names Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were then ascribed to them about a century after they were written.
The lack of an account written by an eyewitness is a major factor affecting the authenticity of Christianity. It seems improbable that this situation would exist, especially if a motivated, inspiring god was involved in the process.
(667) The zombie apocalypse
In Matthew 27: 51-53, the author of the gospel of Matthew claims that the following happened at the moment of Jesus’s death on the cross:
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
It’s unlikely that any of this happened, given that no other gospel writer nor any historian living in Jerusalem at that time mentions any of these events.
But what is most revealing is that Matthew leaves open a highly compelling question: What happened to the zombie saints who were raised? This would have been one of the most remarkable events in human history and it demands further explanation as well as closure. Were the saints raised in bodily form (as it appears to say), or did they appear only as angels? After appearing to ‘many people’ did they go back into their graves, ascend to heaven, or stay alive as normal humans only to die a second time?
These questions are rhetorical because every levelheaded person realizes that this story is fiction. But what is not dismissable is the fact that the inclusion of fiction into the gospel (good news) is a compelling reason that nothing in Matthew’s gospel, and, by extension, the other gospels, can be taken at face value. It leaves anyone committed to discovering the truth of what happened shaking their heads and more or less giving up.
(668) 10 motivations to forge the Bible
When a prosecutor lays out a case in court, he presents evidence pertinent to the crime, but he can greatly strengthen his case by also showing that the perpetrator had a motive for his illicit actions. So, when scholars claim that First Century Christian writers committed the ‘crime’ of forging portions of the Bible, their case is strengthened by stating some of the reasons why these men would want to do this. Bart D. Ehrman, in his book “Jesus, Interrupted,” listed 10 such reasons, as follows:
1. To make a profit
2. To oppose an enemy
3. To oppose a particular point of view
4. To defend one’s own tradition as
5. Out of humility? It is commonly argued
by scholars of the New Testament that
members of certain philosophical
schools would write treatises in the
name of their master-teacher and sign
his name to their own work as a
gesture of humility, since one’s own
thoughts are simply the extension of
what the master himself said.
6. Out of love for an authority figure
7. To see if you could get away with it
8. To supplement the tradition
9. To counter other forgeries
10. To provide authority for one’s own
It is well known that at least 6 of the epistles ascribed to Paul are forgeries and should not have been placed in the Bible. Also, the names of some of the apostles were forged onto the gospels and certain epistles. Other forgeries that certainly existed cannot be positively ascertained, but it is well established that forgery was a common practice at that time. It leaves very few hard facts for historians to reconstruct what really happened.
(669) Various early Christianities
One marker of a legitimate religion would be that it had a cohesive structure right from the start, given that it would have been a divinely-inspired enterprise. A man-made enterprise, on the other hand, would be typically marked by a plethora of various factions, each with a different concept or approach. The following is taken from this website:
As described by [Bart] Ehrman, in Lost Christianities, early Christians were quite diverse and included Ebionites, Marcionites, proto-Orthodox Christians and several types of Gnostics. These groups differed with regard to their beliefs about whether or not Christians need to be Jewish and obey Jewish laws. They also differed about their beliefs concerning whether Jesus was human or divine or both. Finally, they differed regarding what books they considered to be scriptural. During the fourth century, under the influence of Constantine, much of this diversity was ironed out.
Here is another take on this subject:
We tend to think of the success of Christianity in the second and third centuries just on the eve on really when it becomes the prominent religion in the Roman Empire as if it were just one form of religiosity, when in fact the opposite is true. Christianity was extremely diverse during this period, and we probably ought to think of it as a kind of regional diversity; that is, the Christianity of Rome was different than Christianity in North Africa in certain ways, and that was different from what we find in Egypt, and that different from what we find in Syria or back in Palestine. We have, in effect, different brands of Christianity living often side by side, even in the same city. So, it’s a great deal of diversity.
At one point in Rome,… Justin Martyr has his Christian school in one part of the city, and the gnostic teacher Valentinus is in another school in Rome, and another so-called heretic by the name of Marcion is also in Rome just down the street somewhere. All of these along side of the official papal tradition that developed as part of St. Peter’s See in Rome, all there together. So, even within one city, we can have great diversity.
Now, what’s significant about this diversity is the fact that each form of Christian tradition tended to tell the story of Jesus in different ways. The image of Jesus for Justin Martyr is rather different than that that we see for Valentinus or Marcion or others as well. And this is especially true even in other parts of the empire. This is where we start to see a kind of proliferation of gospels … all over the empire, and by the third and early fourth century [more] than you can actually count, and certainly more than you can easily read within a bible.
This is just what would be expected if Christianity was a movement started by humans with no divine influence or calibration. A religion formulated by a god would have had a much more unified early history. It would not take 300+ years to straighten out its doctrine.
(670) If there was a god,…
It is instructive to step back and look at the big picture. Christianity makes the gargantuan claim not only that a god exists, but that this god is intimately involved in the personal lives of every person. Once this assertion is made, it becomes the duty of a reasonably skeptical person to test this extraordinary hypothesis. The best way to do this is to imagine what the world would be like if this hypothetical god actually exists. The following is a compilation of such an effort, taken from this website:
If there was a God, you’d know it. “Belief” wouldn’t have anything to do with it.
If there was a God, you’d see his fingerprint everywhere; there would be no room for doubt.
If there was a God, his revelation to humanity would be clear, unambiguous, and available to anyone at any time.
If there was a God, reality would make sense.
If there was a God, all who ask for help would receive it, with no conditions or caveats.
If there was a God, those who pray for peace on Earth would receive it.
If there was a God, he would be free; anyone could come to him at any time without having to do this or say that or believe this.
If there was a God, you would receive answers when you ask for them.
If there was a God, miracles would be happening everywhere, every day, for all to see.
If there was a God, no one would go hungry.
If there was a God, there would be no such thing as fear.
If there was a God, nothing could possibly be arbitrary.
If there was a God, and you knew it, you would stop hurting.
(671) Christianity provokes marital rape
It is a tragic consequence of Christian doctrine that some men take their scriptural license to retain authority over their wives as an invitation to force them into non-consensual sex. One of the scriptures promoting this attitude is Ephesians 5:22-24:
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Emphasis is provided on the final word. This can understandably be taken by a husband as a license for unilaterally initiating sex with his unwilling wife. A recent example is documented at this website:
Keep in mind, there is nothing in the Bible to counteract this interpretation of the cited scripture. There is no blanket prohibition against a husband forcing sex on his wife. So the husband has no explicit scriptural restraint, but rather has at least tacit scriptural authority to abuse his wife in this manner.
This is evidence that we are not dealing with the inspired words of a god. If that were the case, Ephesians 5:22-24, would likely read something like this:
Husbands and wives, submit to each other in all things, acting as a single entity glorifying God, by expressing love and respect, and treating each other as they wish to be treated. The husband and the wife are equal partners in all matters, one is not greater than the other, and together they are more than the sum of each one separately.
Christian apologists might take the unusual tactic of claiming that Ephesians (and Colossians, which has a similar scripture (3:18)) was not written by Paul, as most Biblical scholars now agree. But this raises another thorny question- how did an unauthentic epistle get included in the Bible? Either way, Christianity is faced with a problem. The easiest solution is also one that would likely never be attempted- remove these two books from the Bible.
(672) Author of Acts confuses sacarii and the Egyptian
In Acts 21:37-39, we read:
As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?”
“Do you speak Greek?” he replied. “Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the wilderness some time ago?”
Paul answered, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.”
Historians believe that the author of Acts used as a reference a historical account of Josephus, as follows:
|“These deeds of the robbers filled the city with all sorts of impiety. And now conjurers anddeceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would show them manifest wonders and signs that would be performed by the providence of God. And those that were deceived suffered the pain of their folly, for Felix brought them back and punished them. At this time there came out of Egypt to Jerusalem a man who said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the mountain called the Mount of Olives, which lay a distance of five furlongs from the city. He said that he would show them that at his command the walls of Jerusalem would fall down, through which he promised that he would procure them an entrance into the city. Now when Felix was informed of this he ordered his soldiers to take up their weapons, and with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem he attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He slew four hundred of them and took two hundred alive. But the Egyptian himself escaped from the fight and did not appear any more. And again the robbers stirred up the people to make war with the Romans.”|
|Jewish Antiquities 20.8.5-6 (War 2.13.5-6 )|
As can be seen, the band of robbers, called sacarii, were not the same as the Egyptian who led followers to the Mount of Olives, but the author of Acts mistakenly conflated the two stories into one.
The following is taken from:
In Acts 21:38, a Roman asks Paul if he was ‘the Egyptian‘ who led a band of ‘sicarii‘ (literally: ‘dagger-men’) into the desert. In both The Jewish Wars and Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus talks about Jewish nationalist rebels called sicarii directly prior to talking about The Egyptian leading some followers to the Mount of Olives. Richard Pervo believes that this demonstrates that Luke used Josephus as a source and mistakenly thought that the sicarii were followers of The Egyptian.
It is revealing that a mistake like this found its way into the Acts of the Apostles, and it lends doubt on the historicity of the entire book. It proves that the book was the work of a fallible human, and not the inspired product of a god.
(673) God’s money lost to fix an avoidable problem
If one is to believe in Christianity, you have two choices. One is the idea that God takes a hands-off approach to the administration of the various Christian denominations and allows them to go on their own in either a positive or negative direction. The other is that God, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, gets involved, answers prayers, and guides church leaders to implement affairs consistent with God’s ideal plan. Most Christians will pick the second method as being the one most consistent with their idea of God. The idea of a passive god seems to run counter to what the Bible teaches.
However, there is current-day evidence proving beyond reasonable doubt that God, if he exists, is nothing more than a passive bystander. And it is this: $4,000,000,000 being spent by the Catholic Church to pay for litigation involving child rape by priests and other church employees. Imagine what could have been done with that money to help the poor and downtrodden, that is, to help those people that were the focus of Jesus’s ministry. The following website discusses the research that determined the extent of this depravity:
So, a Christian is left with a god who passively allowed the transfer of $4 billion from a good cause to instead repair an avoidable malfeasance. The atheist, on the other hand, has no need to construct a rationalization- this is exactly what is to be expected from an organization being run by men, and only by men.
(674) The growing mythicist movement
Scholarship in the area of Christian history has never been pursued more intently than in the past few decades. It would be expected that as more minds study more ancient documents that a better picture of early Christianity would emerge, and a fuller understanding of what really happened would eventually coalesce around a consensus position.
What we are seeing is a growing cadre of historians falling into the mythicist column- those who believe Jesus was not a real person, or else was a fictional construct using bits and pieces of stories about the large number of itinerant Jewish preachers of the time. This list now includes Frank Zindler, John M. Allegro, Godfrey Higgins, Robert M. Price, Salomon Reinach, Samuel Lublinski, Charles-François Dupuis, Allard Pierson, Rudolf Steck, Arthur Drews, Prosper Alfaric, Georges Ory, Tom Harpur, Michael Martin, John Mackinnon Robertson, Alvar Ellegård, David Fitzgerald, Richard Carrier, René Salm, Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy, Barbara Walker, Michael Martin, D.M. Murdock, Thomas Brodie, Earl Doherty, Thomas L. Thompson, Bruno Bauer, and Aaron Ra. [note- this is based on review of available written materials and not based on the self-identification of each individual]
The following website explains one the major reasons for this shift in opinion- the fact that 126 contemporary historians failed to mention anything about Jesus:
As more resources are expended to unravel mysteries, the process eventually converges on the truth, and the direction of this project is toward an understanding that Jesus was not the historical figure assumed by most Christians.
(675) Atheist children are more generous and tolerant
Christianity would predict that a child raised in a faithful family would be more generous and tolerant than a child raised in a non-religious family. This would be explained as the result of learning about Jesus and his teachings about charity and taking care of others, as well as the work of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, an atheist child would be expected to be more selfish, having no incentive to behave well since there would be no possibility of an after-life reward.
A study conducted by Dr Jean Decety at the University of Chicago found just the opposite to be true. The children raised in non-religious homes were more generous and tolerant.
(676) Women cannot exert authority over men
In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, we read:
Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly.
Christians cannot use their typical ‘that’s in the Old Testament’ excuse for this verse. It is in the New Testament and either the Bible is the word of God or it is not. This verse can be taken to claim that God prohibits women from teaching men, or being their boss, or being a political leader, including head of state. There are very few Christians who believe or follow this verse.
The most widely used rationalization is that this command only applied to the place and time of its author, but does not apply today. The first question is how does one know this? The second question is how do you know what else doesn’t currently apply?
Another rationalization is that 1 Timothy is a forged letter- it was not written by Paul as it purports. Most scholars now agree to this. But if that is the case, how did a counterfeit letter make it into the Bible- don’t Christians claim that the Holy Spirit inspired the selection of biblical books in the 4th Century?
The only logical explanation for this verse is that it was written by a mysogynistic man, who fraudulently claimed to be Paul, and that a mistake was made by placing this letter in the Bible. In all, it is a rather embarrassing indictment of a faith that claims to be guided by the unchanging morality of a omniscient diety, and that further asserts that the Bible is a divinely-inspired book.
(677) God requires the spilling of blood to forgive
Christianity is scripturally stangled by the barbaric idea that bloodletting is God’s preferred and actually only means of forgiving sins. It is neatly summarized in Hebrews 9:18-22:
That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
There is no way out of this for Christians. They must admit that the god of the universe actually requires that, without the painful act of spilling blood, he will not forgive sins. This barbaric proposition spans both testaments of the Bible. Why is it that humans can forgive others with a simple, painless act of kindness, but God requires an act of violence to do the same?
(678) God sends most people to Hell
Christians like to portray Jesus as being a merciful, compassionate god, but the scriptures make it clear that he is intent on sending most people to the everlasting torment of Hell. Here are two scriptures backing up this point:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them,“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
So, to be a faithful Christian, you have to believe that God has set up a system that will send most of his creation to a place of torment, and only reward a few people with eternal bliss. This is not the construct of a compassionate god, but rather the evil design of a sadistic psychopath. Anyone with a grain of reason can see that this represents nothing more than the fictionalized scare tactics of ruthless, opportunistic men.
(679) God’s obsession with menstruation
The following scripture claims to be a direct command from God, spoken to Moses and Aaron:
“ 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.”
Here is a good link further describing what the Bible says about menstruation:
It is inconceivable that God could have attitudes toward normal feminine biology that would be disgustingly backwards when compared to contemporary mores. But, to be a Christian, you must accept this fact or concede that this part of the Bible is in error. Of course, the exceedingly more likely explanation is that this piece of garbage was written by an intellectually-challenged misogynist.
(680) God’s receding territory
Christians often claim that science is inherently limited and cannot explain everything in the universe, often pointing to uncertainties surrounding the origin of the universe or the beginning of life (abiogenesis). At these junctures, they assert the handiwork of God is evident. However, what they don’t acknowledge is that eclipses, tides, earthquakes, lightning, and thunder were at one time also seen as indisputable signs of a supernatural being.
Neil deGrasse Tyson summed up this thought perfectly: “If that’s where you’re going to put your God, in this world, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance.”
Indeed, the domain of God has become very small, as it now is possible to explain, using only natural laws and physical processes, the entire history of the universe from the moment of the Big Bang to the present day, with only the original birth of life remaining somewhat unexplained. And as Tyson alluded, even this pocket of scientific ignorance is receding as compelling theories about the beginning of life and what if anything existed before the Big Bang are being developed. It appears likely that within a few decades, there will be nothing left to attribute to God. God will become not only someone you can’t see or hear, but also someone who has done precisely nothing.
(681) Deifying mortal humans is commonplace
The fact that Christians came to believe that Jesus was God is not by any stretch an unusual development. It was commonplace and remains such even to this day. The following is taken from:
Even without formal appointments ordinary people have spontaneously judged great leaders to have turned into gods. Zoroaster never claimed divinity for himself, but some of his followers were keen to accord it to him. Siddhartha Guatama became immortal as a divine Buddha. In Asia there are still communities that worship Ghengis Khan, and around the Mediterranean there are said to be those who worship Alexander the Great. Some leaders achieved godhead even while still gracing us here on Earth in human form. Egyptian Pharaohs were gods. Chinese and Japanese emperors were gods, and some Japanese still regard their living emperor as a god. Successive Tibetan Dalai Lamas are still in theory God-kings, as are a few remaining Asian kings such as those of Nepal and Thailand (though the King of Nepal’s divinity has come into question since a massacre of the Nepalese royal family in 2001, and then the creation of a Nepalese republic in 2009). Rastafarians regard the late Emperor Haile Selassi of Ethiopia as a god. European monarchs no longer claim divinity, but many of them trace their lineage back to Odin.
(682) Paul, the miracle worker?
There is a fatal mismatch between the Paul discussed in the Book of Acts and the Paul who wrote letters to Christian churches. The following is taken from:
Acts presents Paul as a miracle worker. The performance of miracles forms a major part of Paul’s apostleship. He was supposed to have made a blind man see again (Acts 13:6-12), to have enabled a cripple to walk (Acts 14:8-10) and to have raised a young man from the dead (Acts 20:7-2). Even his handkerchief had miraculous powers (Acts 19:12)! His miraculous powers also enabled him to survive stoning unscathed, although those who stoned him thought he was dead (Acts 14:19-20) and to survive what would have been a lethal snakebite (Acts 28:3-6).
Yet we find very little of such claims of miracles in the authentic epistles. In his own statements about this Paul used vague terms like “signs of the Apostle” (II Corinthians 12:12), “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Corinthians 2:4) and “the power of signs and wonders” (Romans 15:18-19). Paul’s tone in these remarks were generally defensive, showing us that these were made in defense against some accusations of his opponents. In II Corinthians (chapters 10-12) for instance, he was defending against the critiques of his presence and public speaking skills (10:7-11), of his status as an apostle (11:7-15) and that he was granted no vision (12:1-10). Within this context then, the criticism which forced Paul into verse 12:12 must be that he had performed few and unimpressive miracles.
It is inconceivable that Paul, who in all other ways touts his impressive resume, would fail to discuss his miraculous feats in the epistles that he wrote. What this tells us, in no uncertain terms, is that the Book of Acts is a highly fictionalized version of history. It cannot be used to construct even a sketchy picture of early Christianity. It simply is a story book filled with magic and imagination.
(683) God, the baby killer
In 2 Samuel 12:13-18, we read:
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
On the seventh day the child died.
This scripture says that the Lord sent Nathan to give this message to David. There simply can be no justification for what the ‘Lord’ allegedly did- to kill an innocent baby while letting the guilty one go unscathed. If a Christian carries a Bible and holds it up as the paragon of virtue, he should be aware that this story is contained in that book. This goes beyond any measure of barbarity to an unspeakable and unfathomable atrocity. Every Christian must admit that they are worshiping the god who did this.
(684) God’s paradox
Christianity teaches that God is the veritable embodiment of love, and that he wants a personal relationship with all of humanity. He knows that we are in extreme danger of dying and going to Hell if we don’t come to know, love, and believe in him. Furthermore, he doesn’t want any of us to perish but for all of us to come to know him, repent. and receive the blessing of an eternal life in paradise.
But despite all of this, he remains hidden from view, doesn’t speak to us, and places us in a setting that makes it appear as if he doesn’t exist.
There is no logical way to reconcile the two paragraphs above. If God exists, then much of what is stated in the first paragraph is wrong, implying that much of what Christians believe about their god is also untrue.
(685) Religions have not developed in two places independently
If God is real, then it would be expected that he would inspire people in many areas across the globe. What this means is that we would expect to see the same religion, the one that is real, to develop independently in various places. For example, Columbus encountering Christian islanders in the Caribbean in 1492. This has never happened. Every religion, including Christianity, has originated at a specific place and time. This is the stamp of a human-created enterprise.
(686) The double-edge sword of miracles
Christians often cite the miracles Jesus allegedly performed as proof that he was God. Furthermore, many of them will express belief in contemporary miracles, particularly miraculous healings, as further evidence of God’s existence and continued presence.
However, this presents a problem that very few of them have ever considered. Suppose there was a drug company that discovered a foolproof cure for cancer, but only distributed their new drug to a select group of recipients. They refused to mass produce the product and held tightly to its patented protection. At the end of the first year, they proclaimed that they had cured 150 people of their previously terminal cancer cases. Meanwhile, millions of others died of what now would be treatable tumors. Would public opinion be positive for this company- that they had saved 150 people, or would it be negative, for the millions they dismissed?
If God actually cures a few people of their afflictions using his magical powers, but disregards millions of others, he is in the same boat as the hypothetical company. He should be seen in a negative light, for letting so many people suffer and die when he had the power all along to save them.
So, ironically, the Christian concept of a loving and benevolent god would be better served if there were no claims of miraculous healings. A god who loves us but has no power to heal us would merit a higher mantle of morality, than one who has the power to help everyone but only does so for a select few.
But this leads to another problem- that ‘better’ god would be a limited deity, and one that is not consistent with the Bible. So, Christianity has boxed itself into a corner- it would be in a stronger position today if it had never claimed any miraculous healings but instead admitted that its God does not have the capability to physically heal.
Christian theology demands the assumption that God is in control of all aspects of the universe. This implies that he is capable of manipulating the weather at will.
Now, in a world with such a god, what sort of weather patterns would be expected to occur? Certainly, there should a hint that many meteorological processes are not chaotic, with some evidence of order and predictability. Extreme weather would be very rare, both of the violent variety, such as tornadoes, and of the persistent variety, such as droughts.
What we observe is the complete opposite of this. The weather is clearly not being controlled in any fashion. So Christianity must deal with the logical disconnect of a god who is intimately involved in the trivial aspects of every person’s life while completely leaving the weather to blind chance.
(688) The real ‘rock’ was Paul, not Peter
In Matthew 16:13-20, we read:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
According to this scripture, Peter was hand selected by Jesus to be his representative on earth after Jesus left for Heaven. But Peter contributed nothing to Christian theology or the Bible. Bible scholars have determined that the books entitled 1 Peter and 2 Peter were not written by Peter.
From this webpage:
The authorship of 1 Peter has traditionally been attributed to the Apostle Peter because it bears his name and identifies him as its author (1:1). Although the text identifies Peter as its author the language, dating, style, and structure of this letter has led many scholars to conclude that this letter is pseudonymous. Many scholars are convinced that Peter was not the author of this letter because the author had to have a formal education in rhetoric/philosophy and an advanced knowledge of the Greek language.
Graham Stanton rejects Petrine authorship because 1 Peter was most likely written during the reign of Domitian in AD 81, which is when he believes widespread Christian persecution began, which is long after the death of Peter.
On the other hand, the New Testament contains seven authentic epistles written by Paul, and these letters form a very significant basis of Christian theology. This is a critical problem for Christianity. The man who allegedly spent anywhere from one to three years with Jesus, witnessing the miracles, hearing the sermons. conversing every day with Jesus about his doctrine, and who was proclaimed the ‘rock’ upon which the church will be built, contributes nothing to Christianity, but a man who never met Jesus, who claimed to have seen a vision, establishes the lion’s share of the theology. It appears that the real ‘rock’ upon which the Church was built was a self-proclaimed prophet who saw a vision and heard voices.
(689) The sending out of the Seventy-Two
In Luke 10:1-16, we read:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.
“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
This story has much to consider. First, the unlikelihood that Jesus would recruit 72 people and send them out to 36 different cities to preach some message that could not have been formulated at that time. Jesus had yet to die, and Judaism was still an intact and monolithic religion in the area. It appears that the author of Luke committed an anachronistic gaffe by projecting a theological situation that existed at the time of his authorship, around 80 AD, when the acceptance of Jesus’s sacrifice had become, according to Christianity, the only path to salvation, to a time before Jesus was crucified, whereas the only message of that time was to become more compliant to the Jewish religion.
More to the point, though, is the audacity of condemning an entire city because they failed to acquiesce to a message from two visitors. In today’s world, it would be similar to a city’s residents not accepting an invitation from two Mormon missionaries to join their faith, and then having the entire city sent to Hell.
Bertrand Russell commented on this idea:
Then you come to moral questions. There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching — an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance find that attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him; and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to take the line of indignation. You probably all remember the sorts of things that Socrates was saying when he was dying, and the sort of things that he generally did say to people who did not agree with him.
A precise way to measure the authenticity of a belief system is to observe the degree to which it produces a coherent, or internally consistent, set of thoughts and ideas. Any belief system that requires a lot of rationalization is suspect, at best. The following is taken from:
I submit that for a well-educated, reasonable person in the 21st century who can see the expansion of naturalistic explanations of the world into every corner of our lives—genetics, disease, physics, biology, psychology, sociology, and so on—atheism is a more coherent belief (and belief structure) than theism. This is so not because there is a single, definitive geometric style proof of the proposition, but because an atheistic, naturalistic, non-magical, non-supernatural worldview has more potential to achieve a higher degree of logical and probabilistic consistency, better internal connections, fewer anomalous beliefs, and a better incorporation of empirical experience. And that amounts to the most important and substantial sort of proof that humanity has ever had in its long, slow process of maturation.
Thus, atheism is a more completely developed and enlightened system of belief because it is consistent with all manner of evidence and does not require a process of rationalization to account for evidence that appears contradictory to its underlying concept. Christianity fails on this point in many significant ways.
(691) The Jesus Sharpshooter fallacy
Most Christians hold a illogical idea about the supposed consistency of the Bible throughout its myriad books. The following is taken from:
The Texas Sharpshooter gets his rifle and fires a round at the side of a barn. Then he goes over, draws a big circle around the bullet hole and proudly announces that he’s a perfect marksman.
It has become very common for Christians to proclaim the virtues of the Bible. It’s a singular, coherence narrative, they say. Or they are awestruck by the seeming consistency between the different Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life (they aren’t very consistent, but we’ll leave that alone for the moment.) They marvel that Jesus was the culmination of lots of Old Testament prophecies about a savior. They say, “How else could so many people over so many centuries come to agree about so much and have such an integrated view about what God is?” The book itself, it seems, is evidence enough that the book itself is profoundly accurate.
What the modern believer often fails to realize is that they are at the receiving end of a very long, complicated historical Sharpshooter fallacy. From the time of Jesus until about 250 A.D., hundreds of early Christian writings came into existence and began to circulate among early followers. These documents told a wide range of stories about Jesus, God, and the early history of Christianity. In some Jesus was not resurrected from the dead; he was only a man. In others, the course of events is very different than that told in the four Gospels. Intense debates and analysis resulted.
By sometime in the mid 200s, those debates were being won by a sect of followers who had settled on the 27 book canon of the New Testament that we have today. Part of what was on their minds, it seems, were questions about consistency, plausibility, coherence with other older texts, and unification. That is, when these 2nd and 3rd century Christians were sifting through all of these hundreds of documents they made a deliberate effort to settle on one story. They consciously excluded the stories that did not seem to fit with the favored view, they even ruled some texts heretical. In short, they took a very large set of diverse writings and carved the version of the New Testament that we have out of them. That’s why you haven’t been reading the stories in Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of the Twelve, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of the Basilides, Gospel of Mathias, Acts of Andrew, Acts of Paul, Acts of John, and the Epistle to the Laodiceans. And That’s why you probably haven’t heard of Marcionism, gnosticism, the antitactici, Montanism, and other apocryphal writings, especially the ones that do not tell the same stories about Jesus.
It’s ironic that although there are a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible, most Christians have no concept of this fact. But even the consistencies that do exist must be viewed skeptically because of the cherry-picking method that was used to compile the Bible.
(692) Let your light shine…. no wait!
There is an indisputable and crucial contradiction in the Book of Matthew. Here is Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
And here is Matthew 6:1-4:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
There is no way to reconcile these two verses, placed in the same book, only one chapter apart. What is a Christian to do? If Jesus actually made these two pronouncements, then it must be presumed that he was a confused preacher who was not thinking cogently. Much more likely is that the author of Matthew used two oral or written scraps of highly questionable material, and in so doing, failed to notice the discrepancy. Either way, this incongruity is seriously problematic for Christianity.
(693) Pre-loading belief
It is a well-known fact that most people follow the religion taught to them in childhood, and they most often hold to that belief throughout all of their lives. This is often cited as a reason to be skeptical about the truth of any belief system that is primarily based on childhood indoctrination. How this mechanism works is expertly described at this website:
In The Non-Existence of God, Nicholas Everitt says, “the right way for the open-minded enquirer to approach the question of God’s existence is to look for grounds or reasons or evidence for thinking that God does exist, then to do the same for thinking that he does not exist, and finally to perform a metaphorical subtraction of one from the other. This will then yield the net grounds, or the grounds all-things-considered, for believing that God does or does not exist.”
One thing that humans are highly prone to do regarding matters of cognitive and emotional importance is to form a view, often before considering the evidence, and then backfill that conclusion with reasons, evidence, and arguments that corroborate it. That is, it is quite common for us to form our important beliefs in precisely the opposite manner that Everitt suggests. We believe, then we gather our evidence. We leave off before seriously considering evidence that would disconfirm the cherished view. When we do encounter negative evidence, we scrutinize it with abnormal levels of skepticism and hold it to inconsistently high levels of proof. We take a liberal and forgiving view of the sources of evidence that support the conclusions we favor. We have a powerful disposition towards confirmation of conclusions that we arrived at before we considered the evidence. We blur and sift the evidence in our favor by confusing the difference between propositions that support a favored conclusion with ones that are merely consistent with it.
Understanding this phenomenon is critical to evaluating claims that the persistence of belief in Christianity, or any other religion, is evidence for its authenticity. Evidence refuting Christianity is massively substantial and much more readily available than ever before, but it fails to penetrate the minds of most Christians because it cannot overcome the filtering biases that were set in childhood. Thus, the fact that Christian belief remains dominant is no indication of its truth, but rather it’s a reflection of how our brains evolved to enhance survival by ensuring a cohesion of community beliefs.
(694) Jesus, the terrorist
Islamic radicals are killing and torturing people because of their beliefs. In identical fashion, Jesus has promised to throw people into a lake of fire because of their beliefs. How is this different? Isn’t Jesus a terrorist, too?
(695) What Jesus believed
Christianity can only be true if the scriptures accurately document Jesus’s words AND if Jesus’s words reflect beliefs that are becoming of a divine personage. If we assume the first premise to be true, we can evaluate the second by examining scripture to see what Jesus believed. The following list is taken from:
Jesus believed he was preaching to a “wicked and adulterous generation.” He believed that adultery was committed whenever a man even “looked at a woman with lust,” and that anyone who married a divorced spouse was “guilty of adultery.” His deﬁnition of “adultery” must have included the majority of his, and every, adult and adolescent generation.
Jesus, according to his personal account of meetings with the “Devil” in the desert, believed the Earth is ﬂat. We know this because, according to him, he “was shown all the kingdoms on earth” from the top of one mountain. This would have been possible only if the Earth was ﬂat, then. (Strangely, the ﬁrst thing noticed about the Earth from Space is that it’s round. And yet scriptural writers never mention this.)
Jesus believed that the Pharisees had trumpets blown to announce when they were giving aid to the poor. There are zero accounts of this happening. Was he being sarcastic? Or did someone tell him this was true, and he believed it? Hmm…
Jesus believed that a loaf of broken bread was his physical body, and a cup of wine his blood, even as he physically looked at both of them.
Jesus sincerely believed the myth of Noah and the Flood, a ﬂood which never happened. If it had, irrefutable scientific evidence would confirm it all over the Earth. There isn’t any.
Jesus believed that John the Baptist was the “greatest man born,” thus excluding himself.
Jesus believed he should not be called “good,” since, he said, “No one is good but God.”
Jesus believed that no one should make any plans for the future because God the father would provide, just as he did for the birds and plants, for example.
Jesus believed in polygamy. Jesus straightforwardly tells a parable about ten virgins lined up to marry a groom, only ﬁve of whom were found worthy. He believed in acceptance of such a marriage, otherwise he would’ve said differently. (No exclusive monogamy of one man, one woman, there.)
Jesus believed that stars will fall through space and onto the Earth. Trillions of stars exist light-years away from Earth. Stars cannot fall. Any single star approaching the planet would incinerate it.
Jesus believed that a mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds. This can be proven to be untrue by anyone visiting a market and looking at mustard seeds. We can see that carrot and ﬁg seeds alone are much smaller.
Jesus believed that, just as Jonah was in the belly of a huge ﬁsh three days and three nights, so he would be in the heart of the Earth for “three days and three nights.” Not two days, nor one and one half days, but three whole days, three entire nights.
Jesus believed that slavery was a natural state of affairs. Several of his parables deal with slaves and with their rewards and punishments.
Jesus believed that if the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, he could re-construct it in three days. (Despite what the writers claim, that he was referring to his body, he did say, “this temple,” while standing in front of it.)
Jesus believed that the destruction of Jerusalem itself would leave “not one stone resting on top of another.” Historical reports tell us that whole sections of wall remained.
Jesus believed that whatever his followers prayed for would be granted them, no strings attached, no stipulations, no exemptions, “whatever in my name you ask for,” even to being able to move trees and mountains. “Everything that you ask for in prayer will be given you.” These claims are deﬁnitely not true.
Jesus believed that those who believed in him would be able to drink anything known to be deadly without being affected.
Jesus believed that it was not what went into a man’s mouth that deﬁled him, but what came out of it. We know by our own experiences that tainted food going through the mouth causes a man to vomit it up.
Jesus believed he was driving money exchangers out of the Temple, i.e., his “father’s house,” when in fact, they were outside the temple.
Jesus believed that some dead people, (esp. Lazarus, odorously dead for days), were “only sleeping.”
On the cross, Jesus believed that the heavenly father he constantly preached about as one who cared intensely for his human children, especially his only son, had “forsaken” him as he was dying in agony. Did he also believe that after he died, he himself would not be dead, but only “sleeping?”
Jesus believed that he was living in the generation that would see the end of the world; that it was “near.” He often told his followers it would happen in their lifetimes.
Jesus believed that the meek would “inherit” the earth, even as he said it would end “soon.” It’s over two thousand years later, and the world’s still here. Jesus didn’t believe this century would come.
Jesus believed that unless a seed died in the ground, a new plant would not grow from it. We know the difference between “die” and “germinate.” Many a seed germinates; those that die, well, they die. In his parable of the sower, he talks about seeds that fall on areas where they cannot germinate. He compares those conditions to the “word of God” falling on individual humans who are created by that God, who are by their natures rejecting those words. They are as naturally predisposed to “rejecting the word” as rocks, parched ground, and pools are in “rejecting” the seeds.
Jesus believed that you should pluck out your eye or chop off your hand, or scrotum, or other bodily parts, in the event they “offend” you. He believed, therefore, that bodily parts can act as if they possess wills of their own, uncontrollable by the will of the person.
Jesus believed that a ﬁg tree should produce its fruit out of season just because he wanted it to.
Jesus believed that anyone who does not accept him will be condemned to eternal torture and “everlasting ﬁre” as a punishment. Jesus did not believe in empathy or compassion for those who do not or cannot accept him.
As was stated earlier, two things must be true for Christianity to be true:
1) The scriptures must accurately document what Jesus said, and
2) The statements of Jesus must reflect a belief system befitting a divine personage
The problem for Christianity is that neither of these premises is true. For sure, it is highly unlikely that the gospels could accurately cite Jesus’s words, given that they were written by non-eyewitnesses decades after Jesus died. And even if his words are accurately documented, it is clear, based on what Jesus believed, that he could not have been anything more than a regular person, just like other men of his time, limited in knowledge, insight, and foresight.
(696) Morality changes over time
Christianity is tied to the concept that morality is a fixed entity, set in stone by an almighty god who has defined now and forever what is right and what is wrong. They will hold up the 10 Commandments as the best expression of that truth, while the Bible in its entirety makes up the remainder of God’s definition of morality.
Because the Bible is an aging document that has not changed in over a thousand years, and will not change in the future, Christian morality is stuck in time. It has no room for growth, change, or refinement. Many Christian authors offer interpretations of the Bible that might comport to a changing society, but the bedrock morality will always default back to the words in the Bible. Christianity has penned itself in a corner by essentially worshipping its foundational books, claiming that they are directly inspired by god, and leaving no room for any additional writings to assume a similar imprimatur.
But, in the real world, we can see that morality and right and wrong do change with time:
- 50 years ago, Bill Cosby told jokes about retarded people in ‘special class’ and sold millions of albums while receiving no condemnation. Anyone doing that today would be condemned.
- 100 years ago, a woman wearing a bikini on a beach would have been considered immoral, but not at all today.
- Just 20 years ago, Sea World showcased Orca whales at their parks to no opposition, today they are receiving boycotts for the same.
- The NIH has announced that it will no longer experiment on chimpanzees, something that was not an issue just a few years ago.
- 50 years ago, buildings did not have to account for handicapped people, whereas today it is mandated to provide ramps, elevators, and dedicated parking access.
- 50 years ago, it was mainstream to disparage gays and lesbians, but today that attitude is considered gauche and insensitive.
- 100 years ago, capital punishment was univerally accepted, but today it has all but disappeared from advanced societies.
- 100 years ago, mixed-race relationships and marriages were condemned as being immoral, but today they are accepted.
- 150 years ago, slavery was an accepted morale practice in many parts of the world, whereas today, it is condemned.
- 100 years ago, it was widely accepted that women were second-class citizens, without the right to vote, adjudicate legal agreements, receive equal pay, or receive equal education. Today, in most of the advanced world, these same restrictions would be seen as being highly immoral.
- 100 years ago, the use of torture was seen as a useful technique for intelligence gathering, but that was changed by the issuance of the Geneva Convention that condemned this practice as a violation of human rights.
This list points out that just in the past 150 years, there have been substantial changes in what society as a whole considers to be moral. If Christians claim that morality is fixed by God and is never changing, then they must explain why God did not establish these more modern, refined, and enlightened ethics in the first place. Why did humans have to struggle with these issues and modify their behavior many centuries after Jesus came to visit us? Why didn’t God/Jesus establish modern-day morality back in Biblical times?
This brings us to the crux of the matter- any religion based on a book is a failed proposition. It is a dead faith, because it cannot change with the times. It is stuck in the past, saddled by the mores, customs, and traditions of our distant ancestors. A true religion must be dynamic, with revelation continuing constantly, and with a god-source who communicates unambiguously and in real time. Despite claims to the contrary, it is evident that nothing like this exists at the current time.
(697) Early Christian view of the universe
The Hebrew prophets, Jesus, the disciples, Paul, and the rest of the people who developed Christianity and authored/edited the Bible had this view of the universe:
We live in a modern world where we have long ago abandoned this archaic view of the universe, as well as many other outdated, superstitious, and illogical ideas. However, Christians continue to hang on every word that these primitive tribesmen said and wrote, as if, despite their extraordinarily narrow and inaccurate concept of the world, somehow they had the wisdom to transfer immutable truths dozens of generations into the future. This would be like basing your investment strategy on a book written by an 18th Century economist, or designing your health strategy on a 5th Century book that lists bloodletting as a means of controlling excessive menstruation.
(698) Paul contradicts Jesus
We know that Paul never met Jesus and just claimed to see him in a vision. We also know that Paul never had access to any of the gospel books, and therefore had very little knowledge of Jesus’s ministry. And, so what Paul could not know is that he would make a statement in one of his canonized epistles that would that would flatly and unequivocally contradict the words of Jesus as documented in the Gospel of Matthew.
In Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus says:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
In Galatians 3: 23-25, Paul writes:
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
It is easy to connect the dots on this- Jesus would call Paul out as being least in the kingdom of heaven. If a Christian reads these two verses side by side, which is he to believe- the words of Jesus or the words of Paul? Most Christians would agree that the words of Jesus carry more weight. But that creates two critical problems- virtually no Christians follow or would be willing to follow Jewish Law, and it would be an admission that Paul, the architect of modern Christianity, was completely wrong on a fundamental doctrinal issue. If, on the other hand, he says Paul is right and Jesus is wrong, then it spawns another huge theological crisis, and attempting to solve it by saying Jesus was misquoted opens a Pandora’s box for any skeptic to ask, “Where else was Jesus misquoted?”
(699) Jesus approved of polygamy
In Matthew 25:1-13, we read the parable of the ten virgins:
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Now, it is obvious that this parable is not focused on the endorsement of polygamy, but rather is a warning for the faithful to remain prepared for the end times. However, the choice of imagery is undeniably a tacit acknowledgement that it is acceptable for a man to marry ten women. Clearly, if Jesus disapproved of this practice, he would have used a different analogy.
Perhaps Jesus consciously avoided criticizing conventional mores, but certainly, if he was God, he would have known that the practice of polygamy would eventually be condemned as a violation of human rights. This is analogous to his failure to denounce slavery or the persecution of homosexuals, among other atrocities advocated by the scriptures. Given that polygamy was practiced by David, Solomon, Abraham, Gideon, Moses, and many other Old Testament prophets, and that Jesus made no objection to the practice, but actually indirectly endorsed it, it is difficult for any scriptural Christian to claim that polygamy is in any way repudiated by Christian doctrine.
(700) Christian sensitivity indicates fragile belief
During the holiday season, many Christians object to greeters who say “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.” It is one of many manifestation of their insecurity. They use the terms “war on Christmas” and “war on Christianity” despite enjoying a numerical super-majority. An affront on their faith is seen as being disrespectful, though they feel free to criticize and belittle any opposing belief system. They don’t seem to understand that saying “Merry Christmas” is being somewhat insensitive to Muslims and Jews, for example, and, certainly, they would be incensed if someone greeted them with “Happy Hanukkah.”
This type of hyper-sensitivity can only exist within the framework of a fragile belief system, one that is highly dependent on faith as opposed to solid evidence. To give a counter example, people who believe in evolution are not in the least bit upset when a creationist spouts their nonsense because the evolutionist is standing on a mountain of scientific evidence supporting his claim. Christians do not have that luxury and most are in a continual state of cognitive dissonance as new discoveries and events are constantly challenging their beliefs.
(701) Parable of the ten minas
The parable of the ten minas is told in Luke 19:11-27. A nobleman who traveled to a distant land, who was to be made king, gave one mina (a form of money) each to ten of his servants before leaving for a period of time. He expected that his servants would make more money by investing the mina appropriately. The nobleman was also informed that some of his subjects did not want him to be king.
Upon his return, he was pleased that some of his servants made more money with their mina, but he was upset that one servant sequestered the money so that it didn’t earn any interest. He ordered this servant’s mina to be given to the one who had made 10 minas with his mina.
Then, this parable ends with the following (Luke19:26-27):
“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’ ”
This is where things get ugly. First, the idea that people of wealth should get more while impoverished people should be stripped of their possessions is anathema to any sense of compassion and empathy. Why would Jesus pronounce such a cruel and heartless idea? This scripture has been used by conservative politicians to justify giving tax breaks to wealthy people while diminishing public assistance to the poor. Second, why would Jesus end the parable by not only having the king’s dissenters killed, but having them killed in front of him as a cruel and barbaric spectacle?
Those who tout the Bible as a paragon of virtue have not fully considered the repercussions of this parable. It is obvious that it presents concepts that do not come from the mind of an infinitely wise and compassionate god.
(702) The shrinking number of recited verses
As humans have become more civilized, compassionate, and sensitive, the number of Biblical verses that are being recited in church services has been diminishing. The following is taken from:
Unless Christians read the Bible for themselves they are unlikely to hear any but the same few passages over and over again each Sunday. These passages are generally the most inspiring and sympathetic to be found in the Bible. The vast majority of the text is quite different. Much of it seriously offends modern Christian sensibilities: God directing the killing of helpless prisoners or innocent babies, arranging for concubines to be fruitful, punishing people for other people’s wrongdoing, or promising to starve parents until they have to eat their own babies. Nor do churchgoers hear much about God’s shortcomings, such as that failure to prevail against an enemy equipped with iron chariots. In recent years some New Testament stories have been taken off the annual reading rota as well. Churchgoers do not hear nearly as much as they used to about people burning in Hell for eternity, nor about St Paul blinding people , nor about the sudden deaths of those who failed to live up to St Peter’s expectations.
A true religion founded by a celestial deity would become more, not less, relevant over time, as its undiscovered wisdom and insights would be discovered and celebrated as civilization moves toward a more perfect structure. On the other hand, a theology created by crass, superstitious men would find its overall acceptance to be diminishing over time- exactly what we are now seeing with the Bible.
(703) The existence of agnostics
When asked their beliefs regarding religion, many people report that they are agnostic- not really sure whether there is a god, or, if there is a god, the nature or message of that god. Unbeknownst to these people, their acknowledgement is powerful evidence that there is no god, or at least the type of God described by Christianity. The following is taken from:
The agnostic concludes that neither the evidence for or against God is compelling. So the one thing that they think is reasonable to conclude is that the world is ambiguous concerning God. Is that fact consistent with the existence of God?Would an all powerful, all good, and all knowing being deliberately devise a world in which the evidence for God’s existence is obfuscated to the point that a reasonable person cannot form a clear view about it? That seems implausible.Such a being would certainly have the power to make the evidence clearer one way or the other. It would know how to make the world unambiguous with regard to its own existence. And presumably, if it was all good, or loved humanity, it wouldn’t leave them dangling in the wind, searching for answers but not finding them, depriving them of thing they want the most. So the agnostic has to reconcile the fact that they think the evidence is insufficient with God. God wouldn’t leave the evidential situation inconclusive. So if the evidential situation is inconclusive, then there is no God. The agnostic believes that the evidential situation is inconclusive. Therefore the agnostic should conclude that there is no God.
(704) God condones gratuitous suffering
Most Christians assume that their omni-benevolent god does not allow suffering to occur unless it has some positive value. In other words, he should have compelling reasons to reduce, if not eliminate, purposeless suffering. The following is taken from:
An infinitely powerful, knowledgeable, and good being would not tolerate the existence of any truly gratuitous or pointless evil. So the believer can’t be satisfied merely with the possibility that there could be a God and that that God could possiblyhave optimized every instance of suffering in the universe. In order to be reasonable in believing that there is such a being, the believer’s sum evidence must indicate that in fact, there has never been a single instance of gratuitous sufferingor an instance of suffering that could have been reduced, eliminated or altered in any way without making the world a worse place.
The irony here is that on a daily basis, we all operate with the view that there are countless instances of suffering that should be eliminated, reduced, or altered in order to make the world a better place. We see homeless people on the street that need help, there are countless people suffering from war, disease, famine, and starvation. There are animals that need to be protected. The examples of suffering that we ordinarily take to be gratuitous are countless.
This suggests the bizarre but theologically defensible idea that any effort undertaken by humans to reduce human and animalian suffering is working counter to God’s plan. It’s either that or the equally unsavory idea that humans are more humane than God. Either way, the concept of the Christian god fails a critical test of logic.
(705) Jesus kills children for the sins of the mother
In the following scriptural passage, Jesus, through his inspired author, is alleged to give a message to the church in Thyatira, where he threatens to kill the children of a sinful woman named Jezebel.
To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
This is obviously fictional and nothing more than the confused uttering of the writer, but it continues a biblical theme of punishing the children of sinful people, as if that is an ethical practice. To the people of that time, it was, but to an actual god, it most certainly would not be. That is, unless Christians are willing to concede that contemporary humans are more merciful and decent than God.
(706) Jesus followers were all dead when first gospel is written
One of the means to test the veracity of an ancient book is to determine if the people who witnessed the alleged events described in the book were still alive when the book was written. This would serve three purposes- first, it would inhibit the author from making up false stories, knowing that it would likely meet with public discredit, second, it would provide the author with some first-hand eyewitness accounts to verify the factual details, and third, it would provide for living testimonies analogous to contemporary book reviews, thus providing the book credibility to those who did not witness the alleged events. Unfortunately for Christianity, it is unlikely that any of Jesus’s followers or eyewitnesses remained alive when the first gospel, Mark, was written. The following is taken from:
Even if the texts supported the notion that the apostles wrote them, consider the low life expectancy of humans in the first century. According to the religious scholar, J.D. Crossan, “the life expectancy of Jewish males in the Jewish state was then twenty-nine years.” [Crossan] Some people think this age appears deceptive because of the high infant mortally rates at birth. However, at birth the inhabitants of the Roman Empire had an even lower life expectancy of around twenty-five years. According to Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the early third century C.E., the average life expectancy at birth came even lower to around twenty-one. [Potter] Of course these ages represent averages and some people lived after the age of 30, but how many?
According to the historian Richard Carrier: “We have reason to believe that only 4% of the population at any given time was over 50 years old; over age 70, less than 2%. And that is under normal circumstances. But the Gospels were written after two very devastating abnormal events: the Jewish War and the Neronian Persecution, both of which would have, combined, greatly reduced the life expectancy of exactly those people who were eye-witnesses to the teachings of Jesus. And it just so happens that these sorts of people are curiously missing from the historical record precisely when the Gospels began to be circulated.” [Carrier] Even if they lived to those unlikely ages, consider the mental and physical toll (especially during the 1st century) which would have likely reduced their memory and capability to write. Moreover, those small percentages of people who lived past 50 years were usually wealthy people (aristocrats, politicians, land and slave owners, etc.).
However, the Gospels suggest that the followers of Jesus lived poorly, and this would further reduce the chances for a long life span. Although the New Testament does not provide the ages of the disciples, most Christians think their ages came to around 20-30 years old. Jesus’ birth would have to have occurred before Herod’s death at 4 B.C.E. So if Jesus’ birth occurred in the year 4 B.C.E., that would put the age of the disciples, at the time of the writing of the first gospel, at around age 60-70 and the last gospel at around age 90-100! Based on just life expectancies alone, that would make the probability unlikely they lived during the writing of the first gospel, and extremely unlikely any of them lived during the writing of the last gospel (and I have used only the most conservative numbers).
What this means is that when the gospels were written the field was cleared of anyone who had the ability to state with certainty that anything documented about Jesus was false. This allowed the authors a measure of poetic license such that they could make up fictional stories with impunity. The lack of living witnesses at the time the gospels were written is a strike against their authenticity.
(707) Christianity is becoming obsolete
What is often missed is that Christianity developed in a time and place where knowledge was extremely limited and when various and conflicting religious faiths developed to cover up the holes of ignorance. However, those holes no longer exist, so what we receive today from Christianity is backward, ignorant, outdated, unscientific, barbaric, and illogical compared to the architecture of modern society. The following is taken from:
The way the human brain works is by trying to make sense of the environment around it. When it can’t explain something, it makes something up until it can figure out what’s actually going on. The bible was written in an age where people knew very little about anything, therefore this book was written to try and explain why things are the way they are in the world around us. Now that we actually understand what things actually are, and why natural events take place, books like the bible, and other superstitions are not needed any more to put our minds at ease. Therefore, the idea of God is just a coping mechanism.
“What could possibly go wrong if you live your life following ancient laws written in dead languages by ignorant, racist, sexist, superstitious barbarians who believed everything they could not explain in the world was magic?”
The separation between the Bible and modern society is growing wider every day, especially with the increasing sensitivity to women’s equality issues, gay rights, the ethical treatment of animals, and the explosion of scientific discoveries involving evolution, cosmology, and genetics (among others). Simply put, Christianity is becoming obsolete.
(708) Jesus foments strife in self-serving way
In Matthew 5:11-12, we read:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This is a very unfortunate scripture that has caused much strife and suffering over the ages. Whether Jesus actually said this is not really important, it’s that it made it into the gospel and is seen by Christians as being the true word of God.
First, this is a self-serving, cult-building effort at retaining converts who will inevitably be challenged by the outsiders who can clearly see the folly that has captured a new convert. The more outrageous the belief, the more likely you will get insulted and persecuted by sane bystanders. Thus Jesus is pre-conditioning his followers to take opposition as a positive rather than negative sign of the validity of his message.
Second, it is a subtle invitation for Christ’s follower to provoke non-believers in whatever way so that they can be persecuted. It produces a quasi-masochistic attitude where believers look for opportunities to invoke conflict, harassment, and maltreatment, so they can capture a greater heavenly reward. It therefore tends to diminish an attitude of tolerance and peace-keeping while encouraging a search for provocation.
Third, it is an admission that what is being taught and believed does not stand up well to evidence, thus producing the expectation that it will be forcefully resisted by non-believers.
Fourth, in a back-handed way, it seems to punish people who quietly practice their faith and thus face no opposition from others.
If Jesus was actually a god and his religion was the one true way, it would not face an expectation of such opposition because its truth would be convincing and self-revealing. In that case, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to make this statement.
(709) Jesus’s greatest theological contribution
Almost none of the the feel-good, inspiring things that Jesus is alleged to have said were original- they were already part of a philosophical pastiche of previous faiths or ideological traditions. In fact, many of them, including the “let he who is without sin” story, were added to scripture long after the fact and were obviously not spoken by Jesus.
But there is one thing we can state with confidence- if Jesus actually existed, it is almost certain that he was the first preacher to fully establish the existence of an eternal place of torture and punishment- Hell. Prior to Jesus, the type of hell that he preached was not known – it was not part of conventional knowledge. Some notions of an innocuous, ephemeral afterlife existed, but nothing like the eternal torment promised by Jesus for anyone who disagreed with him. This is the legacy of a man Christians claim was the all-knowing, all-loving god?
(710) Scriptural bundling
The Bible was written by many different men, each with a different writing style, different level of education, different agenda, and different level of access to information. Given this reality, it can be expected that many of the details of the events they describe will be scattered and diffuse, not the tight unity that would reflect a singular source of inspiration- that is, had God actually inspired the Bible. As a result of this, biblical editors were challenged to try to corral the disparate parts into a cohesive whole. They did this by the process of bundling. The following is taken from:
Another selective technique is that of bundling. This can be used to remove embarrassing superfluities. We have already seen the 16 or more named apostles in the New Testament being converted into the canonical Twelve by making out that some of them had two or more names. Two or three different women were rolled together to give us the familiar Mary Magdalene. Very different places such as Sheol, Gehenna, Abaddon, Hades and Tarsus can all be rolled together to produce Hell. Many Jewish gods can be fused together to provide a single God, and many other supernatural beings combined to give a single Satan.
To be clear- bundling would not have been needed if the Bible was the inspired product of a single-source supernatural deity. Therefore, this is just another reminder that the Bible is a man-made product.
(711) Bayes Theorem
The concept that Jesus was a unique historical figure was widely assumed a few decades ago, but that is changing rapidly as many religious historians are beginning to doubt this assumption. An historian has recently used mathematical statistics to demonstrate that Jesus was probably a mythical figure.
In his books On The Historicity Of Jesus and his previous book Proving History: Bayes Theorem And The Quest For The Historical Jesus, Dr. Richard Carrier explains how mathematics and probability statistics show that the existence of a historical Jesus is almost certainly false.
Dr. Carrier, who has a PhD from Columbia University in ancient history, specializes in the intellectual history of Greece and Rome, particularly ancient philosophy, religion, and science, with emphasis on the origins of Christianity and the use and progress of science under the Roman empire. He is also a published expert in the modern philosophy of naturalism as a worldview.
As it is explained in this book review about what Carrier has effectively demonstrated:
“Writing with thoroughness and clarity, the author explains Bayes’s Theorem in terms that are easily understandable to professional historians and laypeople alike, employing nothing more than well-known primary school math. He then explores precisely how the theorem can be applied to history and addresses numerous challenges to and criticisms of its use in testing or justifying the conclusions that historians make about the important persons and events of the past. The traditional and established methods of historians are analyzed using the theorem, as well as all the major “historicity criteria” employed in the latest quest to establish the historicity of Jesus. The author demonstrates not only the deficiencies of these approaches but also ways to rehabilitate them using Bayes’s Theorem.”
In his books, when he is not bombarding us with overwhelming and undeniable peer-reviewed evidence, Carrier uses Bayes Theorem to compare basic mythicism compared to basic historicity.
The statistics overwhelmingly show that basic historicity loses by a landslide to basic mythicism.
Here is a link to a Bayesian calculator:
(712) The three conditions needed to disbelieve something
Christians are fond of claiming that you cannot disprove God, as if that somehow makes God’s existence more probable than not. This is an illogical premise. What is more revealing is to examine the conditions necessary for someone to objectively disbelieve the existence of God, or anything else for that matter. The following is taken from:
Why don’t you believe in Santa? The Tooth Fairy? Bigfoot? the Loch Ness Monster? Alien visitors? Gefjun the Norwegian Goddess of Agriculture? Sobek, the Egyptian Crocodile God?
It’s frequently charged to the atheist, “you can’t prove a negative,” as if to suggest that under no circumstances is it reasonable to think that something doesn’t exist. But clearly there are a lot of things that you reasonably disbelieve in. And we can say a several things about their similarities and form a principle.
In First Philosophy (1966), Michael Scriven introduced the idea, and then Michael Martin expanded on it in Atheism: A Philosophical Justification. Here’s the idea behind their Santa principle.
In general, you can’t be justified in thinking that some X doesn’t exist unless you have looked. If you haven’t considered the available evidence and reflected on the sources or areas where evidence for the thing’s existence would occur if it was real, then it would be premature to conclude that there isn’t one.
Of course, once you have looked in all the likely places, or explored the relevant concepts, principles, and ideas, if you find evidence in favor of X’s existence, then you should accept that it is real, all other things being equal. So in order to conclude that there is no X the available evidence has to be inadequate in support of it.
But what if the X that we are seeking isn’t the sort of thing that would be manifest by evidence? If it is not the sort of thing that shows itself, then searching in all the right places and then not finding anything wouldn’t be sufficient to justify concluding that it isn’t real.
So the principle that Scriven and Martin give, with a few revisions of my own, is:
A person is justified in believing that X does not exist if all of these conditions are met:
- The area where evidence would appear, if there were any, has been comprehensively examined, and
- All of the available evidence that X exists is inadequate, and
- X is the sort of entity that, if X exists, then it would show.
In the first case, we have examined the world quite thoroughly, covering all of the landmasses and oceans. We have examined everything from the smallest atom to almost the end of the observable universe. So this represents a satisfactorily comprehensive search for evidence of a supernatural being.
In the second case, nothing YET has been observed that seems to demand an explanation outside of the operation of the normal, repeatable forces of nature.
In the third case, the god worshiped by Christians is the type of entity that would almost certainly leave traces of his existence in conspicuous places. The same could be said for Santa Claus, the tooth ferry, and countless other mythical creatures.
So, the test for whether it is logical to disbelieve in the existence of a god, and especially the type of God posited by Christianity, is met. Given the current state of knowledge, atheism is the best model of reality.
(713) The simplest explanation for hard questions is usually right
The Bible raises many hard questions, such as it advocacy for slavery and misogyny, its scientifically improbable stories, its barbaric affront to human rights, its incessant killing, and the empty promise of the effectiveness of prayers. When confronted with these issues, Christian apologists require a lot text to construct a counter-argument. But, for an atheist, the response is remarkable succinct. The following is taken from:
It would take a Christian thousands, if not millions of words to answer the Bible’s hard questions, but a skeptic can explain every single one of those questions in just four words, “The Bible is mythology.” You can find evidence of it on every page of the Bible, and it answers all of the Bible’s hard questions completely, succinctly, elegant, and in a way the conforms to humanity’s collective scientific understanding of the observable universe. Christians have to spend thousands of words on their explanations because they have to reverse engineer their way around evidence that conflicts with their preconceived conclusion. The smarter the Christian, the better mental gymnastics they can do.
Imagine the difficulty someone would encounter trying to explain why a big monster living in Scotland’s Loch Ness could avoid being positively identified over the many decades he is assumed to have existed. Compare that to the statement: “The Loch Ness Monster is mythical.” Usually the simpler explanation is the one that is correct.
(714) Major problems with the Tenth Commandment
The Tenth Commandment is written in Exodus 20:17:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
First off, it is a commandment that is not humanly possible to obey as it conflicts with every persons’ instinctual reality. It was probably written to protect the assets of the wealthy from the poor. Other issues are discussed at this website:
This is the tenth commandment in the famous Ten Commandments. It approves of slavery and places women in a list of property less valuable than a house but more valuable than a donkey. The all perfect, all loving creator of humanity would never write a rule like this. Only a primitive human being trying justify their preexisting cultural standards would ever write a law as shameful as this.
Despite all of this, Christians revere this and the other nine commandments as the end all statement on morality. To others who can see it for what it is, it is a window revealing beyond doubt the mythical nature of the Hebrew god.
(715) A forgery doomed women’s ordination
Consider these verses from 1 Corinthians 14:33-37:
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?
37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.
Now, from the same letter, 1 Corinthians 11:5:
But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.
Note that there is a contradiction. In Chapter 11, Paul is acknowledging that women can pray and prophecy, while in Chapter 14, he is saying the opposite. The answer to this problem is that a forgery has taken place. The following is taken from:
1 Corinthians 14:34-35: This is a curious passage. It appears to prohibit all talking by women during services. But it contradicts verse 11:5, in which St. Paul states that women can actively pray and prophesy during services. It is obvious to some theologians that verses 14:33b to 36 are a later addition, added by an unknown counterfeiter* with little talent at forgery.*
Bible scholar, Hans Conzelmann, comments on these three and a half verses: “Moreover, there are peculiarities of linguistic usage, and of thought. [within them].” If they are removed, then Verse 33a merges well with Verse 37 in a seamless transition.
Since they were a later forgery*, they do not fulfill the basic requirement to be considered inerrant: they were not in the original manuscript written by Paul. This is a very important passage, because much many denominations opposition to female ordination is based on these verses.
It is absurd to think that a forger writing perhaps 1900 years ago could still be affecting the ecclesiastical rights of women in the current times. But it happened. This forgery was detectable because it contradicts another part of the same letter, but there are undoubtedly others that cannot be rooted out. God must have done a miserable job of honing the Bible if this sort of malarkey went unchecked.
(716) The de-conversion experience
Christians often offer as evidence for their god the emotional experience they feel as they are committing to the faith. But the feeling of being released from a counterfeit faith is often even more profound. The following is a quote from Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899):
When I became convinced that the universe was natural, that all the ghosts and gods were myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles turned to dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space.
I was free to think. Free to express my thoughts, free to live in my own ideal. Free to live for myself and those I loved. Free to use all my faculties, all my senses. Free to spread imagination’s wings, free to investigate, to guess, and dream and hope. Free to judge and determine for myself. Free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the inspired books that savages have produced, and the barbarous legends of the past. Free from sanctified mistakes and “holy” lies. Free from the fear of eternal pain, free from the winged monsters of the night. Free from devils, ghosts and gods. For the first time I was free.
There were no prohibited places in all of the realm of thought. No error, no space where fancy could not spread her painted wings. No chains for my limbs. No lashes for my back. No flames for my flesh. No Master’s frown or threat, no following in another’s steps. No need to bow or cringe or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free; I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds.
My heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heros, the thinkers who gave their lives for liberty of hand and brain, for the freedom of labor and thought to those who fell on the fierce fields of war. To those who died in dungeons, bound in chains, to those by fire consumed, to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then, I vowed to grasp the torch that they held, and hold it high, That light might conquer darkness still.
It is very unlikely that a person abandoning a faith position associated with an omnipotent deity, the type assumed by Christianity, would experience anything other than bewilderment and discomfort. On the other hand, becoming released from a fictitious, stultifying, oppressive, and fraudulent religion would engender exactly what Mr. Ingersoll has described.
((717) Christianity was suspiciously designed to spread fast
Christianity contains elements in its dogma and practices that seem specifically designed to allow rapid growth. The following is taken from:
There is an incentive to join (Heaven) which also motivates you to convert loved ones, so you can be together with them after death.
There is a deterrent to leaving (Hell) which also motivates you to convert loved ones (and anybody else depending on how altruistic you are) in order to save them from eternal torment. This also disinclines you to seriously entertain doubts, for fear of going to Hell/not being reunited with loved ones in Heaven.
There is something to supply a sense of urgency to drive evangelism (the world is ending soon, Christ will return once the gospel has reached the entire world)
There is something which sabotages critical thought, which might otherwise cause apostasy (Satan fabricates evidence contrary to Christianity in order to lead you astray, trust in God and lean not on your own understanding, walk by faith not by sight, only fools trust in themselves, there is a way that looks right to a man but leads to death, etc.)
Preferentially targets for conversion people who are not in a position to critically evaluate Christianity. Either children (Sunday schools, youth groups, pushes for teacher led prayer) or adults in desperate situations (prison ministries, third world missions)
This has all the earmarks of a human enterprise designed from the start to gather as many followers as possible. And it has been effective in doing so, but it also provides evidence that a deliberate effort was made by humans, and not a god, to quickly corral people into a new and fledgling faith.
(718) The folly of trying to marry Genesis with science
Many Christians are educated to the extent that they know the Earth is much older that 10,000 years, but, nevertheless, they are reluctant to admit that the opening passages of the Bible are in error. So they say that a day in God’s world is much longer than in our world, so everything is OK, right? No, it’s not. The following is taken from:
According to the Bible, if you accept its literal interpretation, the earth is only about 7,000 years old. Because the earth is 4.5 billion years old, and conflicts with the Bible’s account of creation only taking 6 days, some Christians claim that a day back then was much longer, something like a million years. This is considered a “God day”. So in actuality, God created the universe in 6 million years. This sorry explanation creates many different problems. If a “God day” is a million years long, and God supposedly created man on the 6th day, that would mean that the 6th day hasn’t ended yet. Counting back the generations to Adam and Eve, only 7,000 years have passed, meaning we still have over 990,000 years left before the 6th day ends. How could God have rested on the 7th day, since the 7th day hasn’t even gotten here? Confused yet? What about the Christian’s argument that time to God is not as long as it seems to us? They say that 2,000 years to God is merely a nanosecond. If you take the “God day” concept as equaling a million years, then 2,000 years to God would really be…let’s see…2,000 years x 365 days = 730,000 days. 730,000 days x 1 million = 730 billion years. Well 730 billion years is much longer than a nanosecond.
So how long is a “God day”, or a “God minute”, or a “God second”? Well they are as long as Christians claim they are, in order for them to fit into their belief system. Sometimes a “God day” is a million years, sometimes it’s a billion, and in some cases it’s only a second long.
Stretching the Biblical length of a day does not work out. It’s time for scientifically literate Christians to admit that Genesis is nothing more than a fairy tale, much like most of the other parts of the Bible.
(719) The Bible promotes pedophilia
In Numbers, Chapter 31, the ‘Lord’ commands Moses to ‘take vengeance on the Midianites.’ After the battle, Moses is angry because his men have allowed all of the women, girls, and boys to live, that is, they only killed the men.
Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.
“Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. 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.
Not much can be said about this passage as it condemns itself to the basest manifestation of humanity. This gem of a story is contained in every Bible that Christians carry to church, and it’s in that same book that they hold up when they rebuke gay people for their ‘immorality.’ If this universally ignored scripture was ever read in a church. it would likely frighten the boys who would see that God is OK with having them killed, and the girls as well, as God must also be OK with men taking favors with their bodies. The Bible- the paragon of virtue and morality? Not.
(720) Toxic Christianity- Independent Fundamental Baptists
There is a branch of Baptist churches, called Independent Fundamental Baptist, or just Independent Baptist. Members of Independent Baptist churches comprised two and a half percent of the United States adult population according to a 2008 survey. According to the same survey, they represent between ten and fifteen percent of adults who consider themselves Baptist. They also operate many schools, including Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Independent Baptists take extreme views on many social issues that are troubling to most civilized people, but what is scary, and what should concern conventional Christians, is that everything they believe is backed up by the Bible. The following is taken from:
Some of the beliefs and practices characteristic of Independent Fundamental Baptists are:
→ The King James Version is the only true Word of God; all other translations of the Bible are the work of the devil. Meant to be taken literally, the KJV is inspired, inerrant, infallible, and the supreme and final authority in all things. It is therefore literally true that, for instance, God created the world in six 24-hour days; Satan is real, the enemy of God, and the instigator of all false religions; the theory of evolution is unscriptural and therefore without merit; and hell is a real place where all who die without having accepted Christ as their Savior suffer consciously being roasted alive for eternity.
→ Each IFB church is wholly autonomous and free from any outside governance. Its pastor is divinely appointed and accountable to no earthly authority. He speaks for God, and God alone may judge him. To question the sovereignty of the pastor is to disturb God’s order and invite upon oneself separation from the church, and therefore from the very source of salvation and hope.
→ Men alone are suited to be the head of home and church.
→ For a woman to be pleasing to God she must always and in all things remain perfectly submissive, first to her father and then to her husband. The primary function of a woman is to have children, who then become her “mission field.”
→ It is sinful for a woman to dress in any way that might cause a man to “spiritually stumble” by having a lustful thought.
→ Human life begins at conception. Every abortion, without exception, is murder.
→ Homosexuals are evil perverts who despise God and should be kept away from society generally and children especially. There is no appreciable moral distinction between homosexuality and bestiality, incest, child molestation or rape.
→ Black people bear the “mark of Cain,” and so are cursed.
→ Christians are called to remain steadfastly separate from the world and its sinful practices and temptations, such as movies, dancing, and any music with an addictive rock beat.
→ Educating children at home or in IFB K-12 schools is necessary in order to protect them from the knowledge and ways of a fallen and corrupt world.
IFBs also generally believe that the will of a child must be broken before it ever has a chance to develop: a fussing or crying baby is exerting its selfish will. That will needs to be eliminated, since wherever human will is God’s will cannot be.
By way of justifying infant “training” and the continued “submission of the will” of children, IFB parents point to these lines in The Book of Proverbs:
- Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. (Pr 23:14)
- The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. (Pr 29:15)
- Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Pr 22:15)
- He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [early on; speedily]. (Pr 13:24)
- Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Pr 19:18)
- The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil. (Pr 20:30)
To Train Up a Child, by fundamentalist Christian minister Michael Pearl and his wife Debi, is very popular within the IFB. This guide to “consistently rewarding every transgression with a switching” has sold over 670,000 copies. Here are some quotes from the book:
These truths [of this book] are . . . the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules, the same technique God uses to train his children.
If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.
If God’s love is expressed by the “whippings” He gives, then can we not love our children enough to chasten them unto holiness? I have heard a rebellious teenager say, “If they only loved me enough to whip me.”
But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up. For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.
She then administers [to a three-year-old] about ten slow, patient licks on his bare legs. He cries in pain. If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, then she will wait a moment and again lecture him and again spank him. When it is obvious he is totally broken, she will hand him the rag and very calmly say, “Johnny, clean up your mess.”
On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again.
One particularly painful experience of nursing mothers is the biting baby. My wife did not waste time finding a cure. When the baby bit, she pulled hair (an alternative has to be sought for baldheaded babies).
Select your instrument according to the child’s size. For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.
This is not a direct indictment of Christianity but it most certainly is an indirect one. That such callous, insensitive, cruel, and harsh ideas could be spawned from a literal interpretation of the Bible is a symptom of a belief system that likely has no connection to an infinite, wise, and benevolent deity.
(721) Matthew mangles prophecy
In Matthew 27:5-10, there is a discussion of what is to be done with the blood money paid to Judas for betraying Jesus:
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”
There are two problems with this- the prophecy is not contained anywhere in Jeremiah, but rather it is to be found in Zechariah, and what is discussed in Zechariah has nothing to do with dispensing money paid to a traitor.
Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord.
I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.
Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel.
This was just a miserably-handled fishing expedition by the author of Matthew to artificially authenticate Jesus as the Jewish messiah. If such had been the real case, this sort of subterfuge would have been unnecessary.
(722) Jesus an effect, not a cause, of Christianity
As more is learned about the development of Christianity, it is becoming clear that the figure of Jesus was constructed as a means to compete with neighboring religions that had attributes that were more attractive than classical Judaism. The following is taken from:
Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons. They include a cynic philosopher, charismatic Hasid, liberal Pharisee, conservative rabbi, Zealot revolutionary, and nonviolent pacifist to borrow from a much longer list assembled by Price. In his words (pp. 15-16), “The historical Jesus (if there was one) might well have been a messianic king, or a progressive Pharisee, or a Galilean shaman, or a magus, or a Hellenistic sage. But he cannot very well have been all of them at the same time.” John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar grumbles that “the stunning diversity is an academic embarrassment.”
For David Fitzgerald, these issues and more lead to a conclusion that he finds inescapable:
Jesus appears to be an effect, not a cause, of Christianity. Paul and the rest of the first generation of Christians searched the Septuagint translation of Hebrew scriptures to create a Mystery Faith for the Jews, complete with pagan rituals like a Lord’s Supper, Gnostic terms in his letters, and a personal savior god to rival those in their neighbors’ longstanding Egyptian, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman traditions.
Thus, Christianity appears to have been a movement within the Jewish community to develop a more competitive religious faith, using many of the attributes of the neighboring religions. It failed to capture the bulk of the Jews, but later it was fully embraced by the Roman Empire and become the dominant world religion.
(723) When did Jesus acquire his omnipotence?
Jesus was born as an infant baby and presumably went through the typical stages of maturation, learning to walk, and learning to talk. But Christianity teaches that he has always existed, so becoming an infant would have required a sacrifice of his powers for a period of time. That is, unless one assumes he had all of these powers at birth and just played the role of infant for effect to make it look like he was a typical human.
But if that was not the case, then when did he acquire his full powers as a god and did it happen suddenly or gradually? There are problems with either assumption- that of being a half-god or else suddenly going from fully human to fully god in the blink of an eye. What can be gleaned from this discussion is that if a god decided to take on a human form and visit the Earth, it is highly unlikely that he would have entered this existence as an infant, but rather as a fully formed man.
(724) The war against Christianity…by Christians
There are many Christians groups that have evaluated other Christian groups to be misguided, if not engaged in blasphemy. This, of course, leads one to wonder how this situation could have developed from a religious faith that is supposedly guided by god, a son, and a supernatural inspiration source, the Holy Spirit. The following is taken from;
The Mormons say that they are the only true church and all the other churches are false because Jesus and angels spoke to their leader. Today Mormons forbid their members from reading any religious book that is not personally approved by their church leadership via a special process called “correlation.”
The Roman Catholic Church says about all the other churches of Christendom they are in error; are divided on questions of doctrine; are given over to leaders who are not true shepherds; and doomed to damnation as heretics!
The Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist and other Protestant churches say the Roman Catholic Church is pagan; idolatrous; anti-scripture; in error; or of satanic origin!
Baptists say that the “infant sprinklers,” they have no remission of sins, and are “damned!”
Seventh Day Adventists say the Sunday consecrators have changed the true Sabbath for the pagan “day of the Sun” and are therefore condemned!
The Sunday keeping churches say about the Adventists that it was founded by a false prophetess (Mrs. White) and that she and her followers are “damned”!
The Unitarians say the followers of the trinity are idol worshippers; that the trinity is a pagan, idolatrous concept, taken over from other religions.
Trinitarians say the Unitarians are condemned by the literal teachings of the “New testament” because they do not take the ‘new testament’ literally.
Jehovah’s Witness’ claim that all other churches and sects are apostates; demonic; agents of Babylon―Rome and Satan etc.!
Other churches say “Jehovah”s Witnesses” movement was founded by false prophets (Russel and Rutherford); that it mistranslates and misinterprets scripture just to prove its own erroneous doctrines!
The Christadelphians proclaim that all other Christians are in error: that they do not understand the true meaning of the “Bible”; they believe in fallacy; and are not “true believers”!
The Pentecostal groups say all other churches are spiritually dead!
Other churches say the “Pentecostals” are possessed by “lying spirits” and are under the influence of mass hysteria!
To be real, this is the story of a faith developed by humans only. if God had actually intervened in human affairs, sent his son to be sacrificed, and sent the Holy Spirit to inspire and align followers post-Jesus, there would be only one denomination of Christianity precisely aligned to the correct dogma.
(725) Matthew altered to support the concept of the Trinity
In Matthew 28:18-19, we read:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
This is fairly clear. When baptizing, one is to invoke all three figures of the divine trinity. But in the Book of Acts, in every situation, baptism is performed strictly in the name of Jesus:
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
What is important to note is that the events in the Book of Acts occurred after the statement made by Jesus in Matthew, but the Book of Acts was written before the Book of Matthew. It is difficult to believe that if Jesus had expressly commanded his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that they would subsequently perform their baptisms in the name of Jesus only.
What is far more plausible is that verses 18 and 19 in Matthew 28 were manipulated at a later date to support an evolving concept that there were three personages, or a trinity, within the makeup of God. This opens the possibility that other manipulations were made as Christian dogma evolved over time.
(726) Christianity’s mistreatment of children
One of the best tests of the veracity of a belief system that claims a direct connection to a supernatural deity is the attitudes it engenders toward the most vulnerable people in the world- the children. It is near certain that a religion started by an omni-benevolent god would model a paradigm of compassion, grace, and empathy toward children, perhaps spawning traditions that would lead to a worldwide improvement in child welfare. For Christianity, this was NOT the case. The following is taken from:
In the past the Christian Church condoned all manner of evil done to children. It tried and executed them for witchcraft and for other offences. It saw nothing wrong in beating them frequently and severely for minor wrongdoing — even for other people’s wrongdoing. It terrified them with stories of Hell. It allowed them to contract arranged marriages. It failed to speak out against child labour because it saw nothing at all wrong in the practice. For many centuries the Church opposed the education of poor children, except in the few cases where boys could be drawn into its own service. Girls were denied education altogether. In punishing children for sins they had not committed, there seems to have been almost no concept of fairness or rights. Thus, the Church made much of the concept of bastardy:
Bastardy, or illegitimacy, was a condition imposed upon a child by the canon law as a punishment for the sin of the parents who conceived it by illicit connection. By a legal fiction, a child born out of wedlock was no one’s child, filius nullius1.
The only entry requirement for Eton College, when it was founded in 1441 was that the boys should not be illegitimate. The reasoning was that illegitimacy was a bar to a career in the Church which is what was planned for the boys. The idea of punishing children for the acts of their parents could easily be justified on scriptural grounds:
…I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; Exodus 20:5
(727) Eternal damnation of apostates
This is one of the reasons why Christianity cannot be the unique and succinct creation of an all-powerful deity. In Hebrews 6:4-6, in no uncertain terms, Paul (or more likely somebody posing as Paul) claims that anyone who has tasted the fruits of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but then leaves the fold, cannot return or be saved again. It completely abrogates the typical Protestant line of “once saved, always saved.”
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
The following is taken from:
No matter how explicit the text, Churches feel free to adopt teachings directly contrary to it. For example Hebrews 6:4-6 says quite clearly that God will not forgive apostates, but the mainstream Churches knew better and accepted them back into the fold. Not only that, but these same Churches actually persecuted as heretics a third century sect, the Novatians, whose heresy was to agree with the Bible about the readmission of apostates.
Of course, one of the reasons for Paul? to have written such an ill-conceived statement was to frighten any converts away from de-converting. But it is interesting that no current Christian Church follows these verses. All of them will gladly welcome back apostates and consider them to be members in good standing, without any permanent stain on their souls. To be fair, they have scripture to back up this position, such as the parable of the prodigal son, but, still it is revealing that the most clear Biblical statement on the issue is exactly contrary to their practice. For obvious reasons, Hebrews 6:4-6 is never read in any Christian Church.
(728) Medical world fails to find link between demons and disease
The Bible is replete with stories of people afflicted with disease or ailments that were attributed to the person being possessed by a demon. It is clear that Jesus understood this to be true, and it was a major part of his ministry to cast out demons to heal the aggrieved victims.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified more than 1500 diseases and conditions, as listed at this website:
Every one of these diseases and conditions have been found to have an organic cause of some nature. There is no affliction, either physical or psychological, that appears to have a cause outside the common, normal, natural world that would otherwise require consideration of a supernatural agency, such as a demon. If the Bible stories are true, this is an impossible outcome.
(729) Vatican compromise reveals flaw in Christian dogma
The Vatican recently capitulated on the question of salvation for the Jews. The following is taken from:
Catholics are called to witness to their faith in Jesus before all people, including Jews, but the Catholic Church “neither conducts nor supports” any institutional missionary initiative directed toward Jews, says a new document from a Vatican commission.
How God will save the Jews if they do not explicitly believe in Christ is “an unfathomable divine mystery,” but one which must be affirmed since Catholics believe that God is faithful to his promises and therefore never revoked his covenant with the Jewish people, it says.
This seems like a charitable and humane gesture, but it flies in the face of the following scriptures:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
The Vatican’s retreat on this issue exposes a critical flaw in Christian theology- placing redemptive reward on belief in a single figure as opposed to a persons’ character, actions, attitude, and integrity. Even so, the leniency is only extended to Jews who maintain allegiance to the Torah and its laws, which today is a small minority.
Christianity has always been plagued with a logical problem involving the eternal fate of moral people who fail to accept Christ as their savior, and this move by the Vatican is a first public admission of that problem. Likely, it will be extended at some time in the future to include others, but it so doing, it will dilute and muddy the core Christian doctrine of exclusivity. This all could have been avoided if Jesus had said that a person will be judged according to the manner in which they lead their lives- a humane and compassionate doctrine that would have been accepted universally.
(730) Mark’s gospel is based on Homeric Epics
It is well known by Biblical scholars that the Gospel of Mark predates the other gospels and was used extensively by the authors of Matthew and Luke, and to a lesser extent by the author of John. Therefore, the authenticity of the entire suite of the gospels rests heavily on the veracity of Mark. And this is where Christianity has a major problem.
Dennis R. MacDonald, of Yale University, wrote a book entitled “The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark.” This book shows that the Gospel of Mark has the appearance of being a work of fiction patterned after the Homeric tales of The Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer wrote these fictional tales around 800 B.C. or earlier, and thus they were well known at the time of Mark’s authorship as being the quintessential works of epic fiction. It seems as though Mark used many of the literary devices used by Homer in fashioning his story of the life of Jesus.
At this website, Dr. Richard Carrier wrote a review of MacDonalds’s book:
Here are few quotes from that review:
This is an incredible book that must be read by everyone with an interest in Christianity. MacDonald’s shocking thesis is that the Gospel of Mark is a deliberate and conscious anti-epic, an inversion of the Greek “Bible” of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, which in a sense “updates” and Judaizes the outdated heroic values presented by Homer, in the figure of a new hero, Jesus (whose name, of course, means “Savior”). When I first heard of this I assumed it would be yet another intriguing but only barely defensible search for parallels, stretching the evidence a little too far-tantalizing, but inconclusive. What I found was exactly the opposite. MacDonald’s case is thorough, and though many of his points are not as conclusive as he makes them out to be, when taken as a cumulative whole the evidence is so abundant and clear it cannot be denied. And being a skeptic to the thick, I would never say this lightly. Several scholars who reviewed or commented on it have said this book will revolutionize the field of Gospel studies and profoundly affect our understanding of the origins of Christianity, and though I had taken this for hype, after reading the book I now echo that very sentiment myself.
It is interesting that the character of Odysseus in the Odyssey is also a carpenter and that he employs the same strategy as Jesus did to hide his identity. This affords the story the element of irony as those they encounter are unaware of who they are. In Mark’s account this allows for the literary irony of chief priests arguing with Jesus not being aware that he is the son of God.
More from the review:
“Once the evangelist linked the sufferings of Jesus to those of Odysseus, he found in the epic a reservoir of landscapes, characterizations, type-scenes, and plot devices useful for crafting his narrative” (p. 19). Of course, all throughout MacDonald points out coinciding parallels with the Old Testament and other Jewish literature, but even these parallels have been molded according to a Homeric model in every case he examines. Consider two of the many mysteries MacDonald’s theory explains, and these are even among the weakest parallels that he identifies in the book:
- Why do the chief priests need Judas to identify Jesus in order to arrest him? This makes absolutely no sense, since many of their number had debated him in person, and his face, after a triumphal entry and a violent tirade in the temple square, could hardly have been more public. But MacDonald’s theory that Judas is a type of Melanthius solves this puzzle: Melanthius is the servant who betrays Odysseus and even fetches arms for the suitors to fight Odysseus-just as Judas brings armed guards to arrest Jesus-and since none of the suitors knew Odysseus, it required Melanthius to finally identify him. MacDonald also develops several points of comparison between the suitors and the Jewish authorities. Thus, this theme of “recognition” stayed in the story even at the cost of self-contradiction. Of note is the fact that Homer names Melanthius with a literary point in mind: for his name means “The Black One,” whereas Mark seems to be maligning the Jews by associating Melanthius with Judas, whose name is simply “Judah,” i.e. the kingdom of the Jews, after which the Jews as a people, and the region of Judaea, were named.
- Why does Pilate agree to free a prisoner as if it were a tradition to do so? Such a practice could hardly have been approved by Rome, since any popular rebel leader who happened to be in custody during the festival would always escape justice. And given Pilate’s reputation for callous ruthlessness and disregard for Jewish interests, it is most implausible to have him participating in such a self-defeating tradition-a tradition for which there is no other evidence of any kind, not even a precedent or similar practice elsewhere. But if Barabbas is understood as the type of Irus, Odysseus’ panhandling competitor in the hall of the suitors, the story makes sense as a clever fiction. Both Irus and Barabbas were scoundrels, both were competing with the story’s hero for the attention of the enemy (the suitors in one case, the Jews in the other), and both are symbolic of the enemy’s culpability.
Of course, Barabbas means “son of the father,” and thus is an obvious pun on Christ himself. He also represents the violent revolutionary, as opposed to the very different kind of savior in Jesus (the real “Savior”). On the other hand, Irus was a nickname derived from a goddess (Iris), and MacDonald fails to point out that her name means “rainbow,” which to Mark would have meant the sign from God that there would never again be a flood (Ge. 9:12-13). Moreover, Irus’ real name was Arnaeus, “the Lamb.” What more perfect model for Mark? The Jews thus choose the wrong “son of the father” who represents the Old Covenant (symbolized by the rainbow, and represented by the ideal of the military messiah freeing Israel), as well as the scapegoat (the lamb) sent off, bearing the people’s sins into the wilderness, while its twin is sacrificed (Lev. 16:8-10, 23:27-32, Heb. 8-9). MacDonald’s own analysis is actually confirmed by this additional parallel that he missed, and that is impressive.
MacDonald goes on to develop many similar points that not only scream of Homer being on Mark’s mind, but also explain strange features of Mark. The list is surprisingly long:
Why did Jesus, who nevertheless taught openly and performed miracles everywhere, try to keep everything a secret? Why did Jesus stay asleep in a boat during a deadly storm? Why did Jesus drown two thousand pigs? Why does Mark invent a false story about John the Baptist’s execution, one that implicates women? Why are the disciples surprised that Jesus can multiply food even when they had already seen him do it before? Why does Jesus curse a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season? How does Mark know what Jesus said when he was alone at Gethsemane? What is the meaning of the mysterious naked boy at Jesus’ arrest? Why does Jesus, knowing full well God’s plan, still ask why God forsook him on the cross? Why does Mark never once mention Mary Magdalene, or the other two women at the crucifixion, or even Joseph of Arimathea, until after Jesus has died? Why is the temple veil specifically torn “top to bottom” at Jesus’ death? Why is Joseph of Arimathea able to procure the body of a convict so soon from Pilate? Why do we never hear of Joseph of Arimathea again? Why does Jesus die so quickly? Why do the women go to anoint Jesus after he is buried? Why do they go at dawn, rather than the previous night when the Sabbath had already ended?
All these mysteries are explained by the same, single thesis. This is a sign of a good theory. With one theoretical concept, not only countless parallels are identified, but numerous oddities are explained. That is very unlikely to be due to chance. And there is evidence of so many plausible connections, that even though any one of them could perhaps with effort be argued away, the fact that there are so many more makes it increasingly unlikely that MacDonald is seeing an illusion. Finally, his entire theory is plausible within the context of what we can deduce to have been Mark’s cultural and educational background.
This is a extremely critical hypothesis, that, if true, undermines the historicity of everything presented in the gospels and leaves contemporary scholars uncertain about almost any detail of Jesus’s life. It is clear that Paul was unaware of almost every aspect of Jesus’s life, at least how it is portrayed in the gospels. But that might simply be because all of the details were fictional and were developed after he wrote his epistles.
(731) Christianity is a caged bear…for now
The following excerpt is a good description of Christianity over its 2000 year history, how it started as a meek, innocuous faith that did little harm, but then gained tremendous power, becoming brutal, cruel, and inhumane, and then once losing influence in an increasingly secular world. But like the caged bear, it yearns to go free again to spread its rigid doctrine over the world and into everybody’s life.
For the first three centuries the Church was relatively powerless and did little harm. It taught brotherhood, tolerance, peace, love, justice, mercy, and so on, to the extent of encouraging Christian soldiers to desert the Imperial armies. For the next 1,500 years it was extremely powerful and harmful throughout Europe. It caused division, persecution, war, hatred, and injustice, and practised the most spectacular viciousness and brutality. The Church, in its numerous guises, has a less than enviable record on a wide range of social issues. It has befriended and supported totalitarian, authoritarian, and extreme right-wing regimes. It has abused its power and opposed legal, political and educational reform. It has also opposed liberties and human rights. It has opposed science and rational medicine and taught a wide range of nonsense, insisting that illness was caused by evil spirits, witchcraft and sin. For many centuries the Church maintained its position by a combination of fraud and terror, opposing advances in learning and suppressing the truth. Where Christian dogma has been strongest, so has poverty, misery and ignorance. Christian Churches were wholly responsible for the deaths of millions whose only crime was to dissent from their current version of orthodoxy.
In its heyday the Christian Churches practiced routine persecution. They tortured, mutilated, branded, dismembered and killed as a matter of course. They condemned to death any who questioned their dogmas. They burned Jews, heretics, apostates and pagans in large numbers. They imagined enemies everywhere and had them exterminated. Among their countless victims were women whose chief crimes seem to have been living alone, looking old, keeping pets, and knowing something about herbs and midwifery. Christians even persecuted their fellow believers. It is sobering to reflect that over almost 2000 years Christians have never been persecuted by any of their supposed enemies as viciously as they have been persecuted by fellow Christians.
Over the last 200 years the Churches have been losing power and have become relatively harmless again in proportion to their diminishing influence outside the USA. They have sought to obliterate the evidence of their behavior, substituting sympathetic histories with their members as heroes. In this they have been largely successful. Most people in the developed world, even non-Christians, have a largely positive view of Christianity and its historical record.
Once again Churches preach brotherhood, tolerance, peace, love, justice and mercy. One is reminded of a dangerous recidivist criminal. When in custody he is mild, reasonable, plausible and friendly. But as soon as he is at liberty he commits the same crimes again and again. At the moment he is in the custody of secular society, but he is looking forward to his next parole. At all times and in all parts of the world, mainstream Churches have oppressed people exactly to the extent that they have been able to. This pattern could continue in the future. There is no reason to doubt that it will.
It is interesting to see that Christianity is returning to the restricted status it held in the first few centuries, having less and less influence on society. One of the best indications of this is the sanctioning of gay marriage in a growing number of countries. The fundamental truth is that the world fares better when Christianity has less power, and that is one of the best indicators that it is NOT the creation of an almighty god.
(732) God discriminates against people with afflictions
In Leviticus 21:16-23, we read:
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.
Does it seem strange that an all-loving god would penalize people because they had handicaps or genetic issues? Does it seem strange that almost every decent person today would find God’s attitude unacceptable? Well, it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to realize that this set of statements did not come from the mind of an all-powerful god, but rather a Bronze Age man reflecting the mores of his time. It should serve as an embarrassment to all Christians who feel compelled to carry around and revere a book that contains this piece of unmitigated nonsense.
(733) Paul’s absurd advice about marriage
In 1 Corinthians 7:25-31, Paul gives advice about marriage that clearly shows his biases and failed prophetic insight:
Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
This scripture is never read in Christian churches. Why? Because it shows Paul as being a false prophet, proclaiming erroneously that the world is on the verge of ending and that prosaic things like marriage and sex should therefore be avoided. What else could he mean when he says “From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not”? He’s telling married couples to avoid sex and thus avoid having a child which would burden them during the coming tribulation. There can be no doubt that Paul was a false prophet who was not in any way connected to a divine supernatural being. This is a major problem for Christianity because the bulk of its theology was created by this charlatan.
(734) Galaxy collision belies a designer
Scientists have determined that the Milky Way galaxy, the one in which our solar system resides, will eventually collide with an even larger galaxy, Andromeda. The following is taken from:
The Andromeda Galaxy is approaching the Milky Way at about 110 kilometers per second (68 mi/s). It has been measured approaching relative to our Sun at around 300 kilometers per second (190 mi/s) as the Sun orbits around the center of our galaxy at a speed of approximately 225 kilometers per second (140 mi/s). This makes Andromeda one of the few blueshifted galaxies that we observe. Andromeda’s tangential or side-ways velocity with respect to the Milky Way is relatively much smaller than the approaching velocity and therefore it is expected to directly collide with the Milky Way in about 4 billion years. A likely outcome of the collision is that the galaxies will merge to form a giant elliptical galaxy or perhaps even a large disk galaxy. Such events are frequent among the galaxies in galaxy groups. The fate of the Earth and the Solar System in the event of a collision is currently unknown. Before the galaxies merge, there is a small chance that the Solar System could be ejected from the Milky Way or join M31 (Andromeda).
This is where Christianity gets in trouble. It is based on the assumption that God created and designed the universe, and therefore it should exhibit the prominent hallmarks of an intelligent design. To have two large galaxies on a collision course is not the product of an intelligent design, but rather suggests the random chaotic nature of a universe that is not under the conscious control of a supreme being.
As a consequence of the scientific advancements of the past few centuries and the astronomical accumulation of knowledge, the world view associated with Christianity has become increasingly antiquated, obsolete, and, for all purposes, extinct.
(735) God inflicts the practice of cannibalism
God became angry and jealous that the people of Topheth and the Valley of Ben Hinnom began to worship a different god, Baal, so he commanded his people to do the following:
This is what the Lord says: “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. There proclaim the words I tell you, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what theLord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
“ ‘In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who want to kill them, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds and the wild animals. I will devastate this city and make it an object of horror and scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them.’
What is significant here other than the sheer nonsense that a god would entangle himself in such barbaric retribution, is that the practice of cannibalism is being ‘enforced’ on the targets of God’s wrath by removing their food supply. In effect, God is tacitly condoning the practice of eating human flesh as a means to survive a a famine, or at least he has no issue in forcing people into making that horrible decision. Keep in mind it would be quite easy for God to mercifully kill these people rather than torture them with starvation.
This is another of the scriptures that are ignored by Christians and never read in any church. Why? Because it is absolute proof that the Bible is the insidious contrivance of cruel, unenlightened men.
(736) “Give up the Bible”- John Wesley
The posthumous voice of John Wesley, ((1703-1791) the founder of the evangelical movement known as Methodism), tells us that it is time to give up the Bible. The following is taken from:
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Exodus 22:18
Some things in the Bible are hard to understand. But this isn’t one of them.
The meaning of Exodus 22:18 is clear and simple: kill witches. Kill them whenever and wherever you find them. It is your sacred duty, a direct command from God.
But Christians don’t kill witches anymore, do they? Is that because they no longer believe in witches or in the Bible, or both?
John Wesley said that “the giving up of witchcraft is, in effect, the giving up of the Bible.“
And he was right about that.
It’s time for us all to give up on the Bible. Killing witches was never a good idea, and a good God would never inspire the words of Exodus 22:18.
John Wesley was bemoaning the fact that many Christians of his day were professing a disbelief in witches, which to him rendered the Bible to be fictional, and not the word of God. He stated that he had never seen a murder or a witch but believed both to be real based on credible witnesses.
The Biblical-based belief in witches resulted in the senseless punishment and execution of thousands of women, but, fortunately we have reached a time where belief in witches has been almost universally eradicated. And so, according to the formula left to us by this great theologian, we have also reached a time where we should abandon our belief in the Bible.
(737) God fails to make foolish the wisdom of the world
In 1 Corinthians 1:19-20, Paul states:
For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
Here is a just a short list of some of the things that were accomplished by the ‘wisdom of the world,’ that God has made ‘foolish.’
- Panama Canal
- Hoover Dam
- Landing on the Moon
- Artificial satellites
- Theory of Relativity
- Polio vaccine
- Open-heart surgery
- Eradicating smallpox
- Nuclear power
- Cell phone communication
Paul’s statement of almost 2000 years ago is now seen in a new light. God clearly has failed to ‘frustrate’ the intelligence of the intelligent, and he has failed to make foolish the wisdom of this world. In fact, in contrast, the wisdom of this world has frustrated and made foolish the tenets of the Christian faith. Sorry God, you lost.
(738) An improbable visit to the tomb
In Mark and Luke, it is stated that, after the Sabbath (Saturday), the women walked to Jesus’s tomb with spices in an effort to anoint the body.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
There is a major problem with this story. The body had already been treated with spices and wrapped in a linen cloth. There was no need or tradition for a deceased body to be unwrapped, re-treated with spices, and then re-wrapped. The following is taken from:
Concerning the statement that the women “brought spices” on Sunday morning after observing the burial by Joseph of Arimathea, Hendrickx states that, “the embalming of a body was apparently not in accordance with contemporary custom, since there is not a single example available.” If what the women were understood to be doing was not embalming, what was it? There was no such thing as a second anointing. The body was washed and anointed before the body was placed in the tomb or grave. Not only is this Jewish custom for burial, but it is also common sense that a body would be cleansed of sweat or blood before being wrapped in the cloth (usually white). Again, there is no example available for people going to a corpse after it was buried, removing the shroud, and anointing the corpse for a second time (since it would have been already washed/anointed before). This would make absolutely no sense; it would not occur to anyone, especially not in a Jewish culture, to anoint the body after it had been buried properly (and Craig does agree that there is no indication of improper burial). Craig states in his essay, “what the women were probably doing is precisely that described in the Mishnah, namely the use of aromatic oils and perfumes that could be rubbed on or simply poured over the body.” However, this obscures the fact that this was done prior to burial. Hans van Campenhausen writes, “The desire to anoint, ‘on the third day’, a dead body already buried and wrapped in linen cloths, is, however it be explained, not in accordance with any custom known to us…” It comes as little surprise then that Matthew and John, who are usually thought to have more knowledge of things Jewish, do not state that the women came to anoint the body on Sunday morning.
It is evident that Mark and Luke did not understand Jewish burial customs and made an error in the story they made up about Jesus’s resurrection. This is another reason that the gospels cannot be relied upon for historical accuracy.
(739) The cumulative effect of prayer is zilch
Prayers have been addressed to the Christian god for almost 2000 years and so, given the promises that Jesus made about answering these prayers, we should be able to see the long-term effects of God’s holy mercy and promises kept. But it’s not there. The following is an excerpt from an essay on:
So where is this God? Where is the God of the parking spaces and the greeting cards when 150 human beings are being senselessly butchered in the name of religion? Where is the net result of 2.4 billion prayers? Where is the result of 2,000 years worth of prayer? If this God existed and deigned to answer prayer, this planet would be completely different. But look around. Look for those answers. There are none.
We are on our own, people. There is no God out there. It’s time to finally come to terms with that, as a species. It’s time to stop praying and start taking matters into our own hands. The only ones who can save the humans are the humans. We must be our own salvation…
Everytime I think of Paris I get so fucking angry. Religion did this. What is ISIS if not religion out of control? Religion has been killing humans ever since humans had religion.
Enough is enough.
So get your head out of your own ass. This ain’t no fuckin’ fairy tale. We are on our own…
The author of this piece is the proverbial boy stating that the emperor is naked, while everyone else is pretending to see his glorious garments. The evidence is irrefutable- 2000 years of prayers should have made a big difference, and the world would be a very different place if Christianity or any other religion was true. The sooner we realize we are on our own, the better chance we will have to make the world a decent place to live.
(740) Atheists going to Heaven?
In recent statements (December 2015), Pope Francis intimated that atheists who follow their conscience can still go to Heaven even though they do not accept Jesus as their savior. Now, to be honest, this does not provide a shred of relief to atheists, seeing that they are certain that Heaven is an imaginary place, but it does offer some solace for Christian family members who no longer need to fear their non-believing loved ones will be sent to Hell.
The following is taken from:
In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.
Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
But the bigger story here is that the most prominent Christian leader of the world has made a capitulation regarding the conventional dogma of the faith, nullifying, for instance John 14:6:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
If atheists, or for that matter, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’is, and Buddhists can go to heaven by being true to their sincerely-held beliefs, then why did Jesus have die on the cross? The Pope’s statement is a tacit admission that there is a critical flaw in Christian doctrine, such that the only effective way to repair it is to dismantle the fundamental premise- that eternal life can only be achieved through acceptance of Jesus’s sacrifice.
The Pope has essentially gutted Christianity as it has been understood for 20 centuries and created a new religion where God saves every person who is faithful to what they believe to be true. Actually that is a much better religion!
(741) Paul’s gospel based on revelation, not witnesses or facts
In a world replete with self-proclaimed and obviously delusional prophets who insist that they have received direct revelations from God (for example, David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Marshall Applewhite), another in this list is the principal architect of Christian doctrine- the self-anointed Apostle Paul. He admits his gospel is based solely on revelation.
I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Paul never saw Jesus and did not gain knowledge of him through any of Jesus’s apostles or the eyewitnesses to Jesus’s ministry. This would be similar to someone writing a book explaining the thoughts and ideas of U.S. President John F. Kennedy without doing any research or talking to people who knew the president. It introduces a high degree of uncertainty to the legitimacy of his preaching, given that his claim of direct revelation might simply have been based on self delusion.
This is crucial vulnerability for Christianity- it’s doctrine relies almost entirely on a person who never met the Lord, who didn’t research the topic, and who didn’t interview the followers and eyewitnesses of Jesus’s ministry. Furthermore, this highly dubious revelation became the framework for the gospels that were written several decades later- meaning the whole length and breadth of Christianity hangs, for the most part, on the veracity of one man’s self-proclaimed vision of Jesus.
(742) Christianity surrenders too much ground
If Christianity was established by the real god of the universe, it would have been buttressed by an infinite intelligence and would have stood the test of time, not needing at any time to compromise or change its position on any canonical or social issue. However, we have witnessed many such changes that were more or less forced on the church by scientific and social progress. For example:
- It is having to surrender the idea of an historical Garden of Eden, based on evolutionary science.
- Likewise, it is having to admit that the creation story in Genesis, along with the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to Egypt are myths.
- It had to change its position on slavery as modern society came to uniformly reject it.
- It has had to amend the idea the people deserves eternal torture for failing to believe, instead substituting ‘separation’ or ‘annihilation.’
- It is having to give up the concept that homosexuality is an abomination based on societal attitudinal changes and scientific research.
- It is changing its position on women’s rights and women’s ordination to positions of ecclesiastic leadership.
- It has almost universally given up the idea that only members of a certain denomination can access entry into Heaven.
- It is beginning to shift away from the idea that Jesus is the only pathway to salvation.
- It had to admit that witches are not real and apologize for the discrimination, torture, and execution of innocent women.
- It had to backpedal on its condemnation of scientists who developed theories that contradicted Christian dogma, such as Galileo.
- It is in the process of changing its attitudes to abortion, contraception, and euthanasia.
- It is having to admit that several letters in the New Testament formerly attributed to Paul are actually forgeries.
- It has had to admit that the Crusades and the Inquisition were atrocities not sanctioned by God.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it serves to demonstrate that Christianity is built on shifting sand, not bedrock, and this is a strong signal that it is a human-created project, not divinely inspired, and therefore must be constantly modified as civilization matures.
(743) Omnipresent god acted as if he was in just one location
Christians believe that God is omnipresent or that he occupies, monitors, and controls each square centimeter of the universe- that is, he is also omnipotent. But in Biblical times, he seemed to be located only in the Middle East, in the company of this chosen people, the Hebrews.
At the same time he was chiseling the Ten Commandments, killing scores of men, women, and children of the Hebrew enemies, dying on the cross and resurrecting, he was ALSO in and among the Aborigines of Australia, the tribes of North and South America, the civilizations in Europe, China, and Japan, and the people of Africa. He was materially present in all of these locations but remained totally silent, allowing these societies to continue to worship their false gods and religions.
This god who supposedly wants everyone to know him and have a chance for eternal life, just sat around watching these people continue in their meaningless and ineffective traditions and belief systems. Imagine how much more credibility Christianity would have had if Columbus had encountered Christian cultures in the Caribbean. Instead, what history reveals is a local phenomenon that slowly spread outward, precisely aligned to how a human-centered enterprise would be expected to perform.
(744) Christians are afraid to read the Bible
Christian leaders notoriously avoid telling their congregants to read the Bible, especially the Old Testament. They would rather feed their followers the sanitized, feel-good, scriptures and preach their personal ideas of what the Bible says. It is often said that the best way to convert a Christian to atheism is to get him to read the Bible cover to cover. The following is taken from:
I got into a conversation with a Christian recently and he told me not to bother reading the Bible. He just wanted me to read the four Gospels. He told me that was all I needed to know in order to understand Jesus and be saved. I recommended to him that he should read the entire Bible cover-to-cover… if he could stomach it.
This is another example of Christians hating their own holy book. Back in the day, unless you were a religious leader, you weren’t even allowed to read the Bible because the fear was that people would be turned off to Christianity after reading it. The religious leaders would claim that without special knowledge the average Joe wouldn’t understand it properly.
Now, every Christian has at least one Bible. They sleep with it under their pillows, quote random passages, and talk about how awesome it is, however few of them have actually taken the time to read the whole thing cover-to-cover. The ones that do often have a religious leader next to them telling them what each passage “really” means because it couldn’t possibly mean what it actually says. That would be crazy talk.
The Bible is a long and tediously boring series of books full of tribalism, hate, tyranny, and genocide. It is full of obvious contradictions, plot holes, ridiculous stories, and made up histories. Anyone can justify anything with Bible as their guide. The best book to convince believers to reject religion has always been the Bible.
This is why religious believers don’t really want people to read the Bible and why they don’t read it themselves. They want to believe but they are afraid that reading would mean not believing. So instead they go around pretending to read the Bible. They listen to what their religious leaders tell them the book says and then they get a verse or two that they can show others as a way to prove that they read it even when they didn’t.
This is an extremely significant point. If Christianity was true, it is virtually certain the the Bible would be nothing short of a phenomenally successful book for promoting faith in its authenticity. Christian leaders would be begging people to read it in its entirety. This is not happening. To be brutally honest, the Bible is the best evidence that Christianity is not true.
(745) Imprecatory Psalms
There are 150 Psalms, or prayers, in the Bible, that roughly correlate to the time of King David. They provide a window into the psychological state of the Jewish nation of this time, and thus provide evidence to authenticate or refute the claim that the Jews were actually the chosen people of God. What tilts the scale to the negative of this question is that many of the Psalms are imprecations, or calls for evil to be visited on outsiders.
The following is taken from:
Imprecatory Psalms, contained within the Book of Psalms of the Hebrew Bible (תנ”ך), are those that invoke judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God. Major Imprecatory Psalms include Psalm 69 and Psalm 109, while Psalms 5, 6, 11, 12, 35, 37, 40, 52, 54, 56, 58, 69, 79, 83, 137, 139, and 143 are also considered imprecatory (link to full text of Psalms). As a sample, Psalm 69:24 states toward God, “Pour out Your indignation on them, and let Your burning anger overtake them” and Psalm 137:9, which declares “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”
More on this subject:
If you want to ﬁnd ancient curses, go to the psalms. You’ll be surprised at how many of them are pleas for revenge and punishment on those who are making life difﬁcult for the pray-er, (apologists call those curses “imprecations”). And a lot of them reveal that the righteous ones are envious, jealous, and angry, because of the obvious good fortune of the un-righteous. And boy are they angry, because things are supposed to be just the opposite.
The key to interpreting the abundant number of imprecations in the Psalms is contained in the final sentence above- “things are supposed to be just the opposite.” The Jewish claim to have God on their side, that they were the chosen people, is a fundamental pillar upon which Christianity stands. If represented by a house, the first floor is the Jewish faith and second floor is the Christian faith. Remove the first floor and the second comes crashing to the ground. The curses, pleas, and anger of the Psalms indicates rather strongly that God was not on the side of the Jews, and that the first floor of Christianity is rotten.
(746) Miraculously resurrected horses
That Christianity rests on the authenticity of the Old Testament is indisputable, and a very obvious discrepancy in the Old Testament is discussed at this website:
When the Israelites were captive in Egypt, God sent a series of plagues on the Egyptians to encourage Pharaoh to free them. The fifth plague was directed against the Egyptians’ livestock, including their horses, but did it kill them all or not?
In the account of the fifth plague, it is clearly stated that all of the horses died:
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, the hand of the Lord will strike with a deadly pestilence your livestock in the field: the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing shall die of all that belongs to the Israelites.”‘ The Lord set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” And on the next day the Lord did so; all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but of the livestock of the Israelites not one died. [Exodus 9:1-6, NRSV]
Several plagues later, Pharaoh lets the Israelites go, but then changes his mind and pursues them. What is surprising, given the effects of the fifth plague, is that he pursues them with horses:
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, ‘What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?’ So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pihahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. [Exodus 14:5-9, NRSV]
So, after God killed all of Pharaoh’s horses, somehow a few days later he has enough horses to propel 600 chariots in pursuit of the Israelites. This was a colossal error made by the person who created this story. It provides a clue that the entire narrative of the Exodus is fictional, a concept, based on various types of evidence, that has been embraced by a growing number of Biblical scholars. And that is trouble for Christianity, despite its ever-increasing campaign to distance itself from the Old Testament.
(747) Praying is illogical
Christians are taught that God has a plan for every person’s life and, at the same time, encourages people to pray to God for things that they want to happen. This is illogical, as presented by this quote from George Carlin:
Trillions and trillions of prayers every day asking and begging and pleading for favors. ´Do this´ ´Gimme that´ ´I want a new car´ ´I want a better job´. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday. And I say fine, pray for anything you want. Pray for anything. But…what about the divine plan? Remember that? The divine plan. Long time ago god made a divine plan. Gave it a lot of thought. Decided it was a good plan. Put it into practice.
And for billion and billions of years the divine plan has been doing just fine. Now you come along and pray for something. Well, suppose the thing you want isn’t in god’s divine plan. What do you want him to do? Change his plan? Just for you? Doesn’t it seem a little arrogant? It’s a divine plan. What’s the use of being god if every run-down schmuck with a two dollar prayer book can come along and fuck up your plan?
And here’s something else, another problem you might have; suppose your prayers aren’t answered. What do you say? ´Well it’s god’s will. God’s will be done.´ Fine, but if it gods will and he’s going to do whatever he wants to anyway; why the fuck bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me. Couldn’t you just skip the praying part and get right to his will?”
Prayer is a large part of Christianity and yet it doesn’t make sense for a human being to ask an infinitely intelligent being to make a change to the way he has arranged things. Thus prayer has two strikes- first, by all scientific evidence it doesn’t have any effect, and second, it’s logically futile.
(748) Jesus displays un-godlike anger and disdain
Christians are often fond of using the phrase, ‘What would Jesus do?” The answer to that question can only be found by studying the gospels. There is a story in Luke that must leave these Christians scratching their heads. The following is taken from:
One such instance saw Jesus invited to a dinner party at the home of a Pharisee (Luke 11:37–54). The host asked Christ a simple question: Why don’t you wash your hands before eating? (Ceremonial washing was the custom among observant Jews in those days. Since Jesus advertised himself as a rabbi, this would have been expected.)
If I were Jesus, I would probably have answered, “First, let me thank you for inviting me to dinner. That lamb smells delicious. Now, I’ll answer your good question with one of my own: which is more important: to clean the inside of the cup, or the outside?” Such a cordial reply would have led to an evening of good conversation and healthy debate.
But Jesus didn’t even try to be nice. He not only bit the hand that fed him; he practically tore it off. “You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness,” he roared. From there Christ amped up his rhetoric, ridiculing the Pharisees’ legalism and self-importance. He then descended to name-calling, labeling his hosts “unmarked graves” (Luke 11:44). He concluded his diatribe by blaming their forefathers for murdering the prophets and apostles.
Whew. It seems to be a bit of an overreaction to an honest question about religious hygiene. And this is how Jesus treated someone who had invited him to dinner. I can’t remember the last party I attended in which a guest leveled murder charges against his hosts and their ancestors.
So I challenge you to answer this question: if we are supposed to be imitators of Christ, how on earth are we supposed to imitate this? Is Jesus giving us a green light to blast our opponents? To call people names? To nurse ancient grudges?
In this instance, Jesus displays behavior that is unbecoming of a god, but thoroughly consistent with a regular person who is upset that so many people are rejecting his message. This scripture provides a window into the real man Jesus and solid evidence that he was not the god that Christians claim.
(749) Morality is not tied to religion
It is often given as evidence for God that humans would be immoral creatures if not for divine influence. This would seem to apply only to those people who are worshiping the’real’ god, not those who follow a fictional one. But if you assume that the ‘real’ god imparts morality to everyone regardless of who they worship, including those who don’t believe in any god, then the case is made that religious belief is not associated with morality- and any study of human behavior finds that Christians are no more moral than any other religious group or even nonbelievers, for that matter.
To make the case even more strongly, it has been discovered that many types of animals display moral behavior that is obviously completely separate from any religious belief. The following is taken from:
Scientists studying animal behavior believe they have growing evidence that species ranging from mice to primates are governed by moral codes of conduct in the same way as humans.
Until recently, humans were thought to be the only species to experience complex emotions and have a sense of morality.
But Prof Marc Bekoff, an ecologist at University of Colorado, Boulder, believes that morals are “hard-wired” into the brains of all mammals and provide the “social glue” that allow often aggressive and competitive animals to live together in groups.
He has compiled evidence from around the world that shows how different species of animals appear to have an innate sense of fairness, display empathy and help other animals that are in distress.
His conclusions will provide ammunition for animal welfare groups pushing to have animals treated more humanely, but some experts are sceptical about the extent to which animals can experience complex emotions and social responsibility.
Prof Bekoff, who presents his case in a new book Wild Justice, said: “The belief that humans have morality and animals don’t is a long-standing assumption, but there is a growing amount of evidence that is showing us that this simply cannot be the case.
“Just as in humans, the moral nuances of a particular culture or group will be different from another, but they are certainly there. Moral codes are species specific, so they can be difficult to compare with each other or with humans.”
Prof Bekoff believes morals developed in animals to help regulate behaviour in social groups of animals such as wolves and primates.
He claims that these rules help to control fighting within the group and encourage co-operative behaviour.
Recent neurology work has also revealed that distantly related mammals such as whales and dolphins have the same structures in their brains that are thought to be responsible for empathy in humans.
Other findings have also suggested that some animals may even be capable of showing empathy with the suffering of other species.
Prof Bekoff, who co-wrote the book with moral philosopher Jessica Pierce, also from the University of Colorado, added: “There are cases of dolphins helping humans to escape from sharks and elephants that have helped antelope escape from enclosures.
“While it is difficult to know for certain that there is cross species empathy, it is hard to argue against it.”
His ideas have met with some controversy in the scientific community, but many admit it is difficult to argue that animals do not share many of the psychological qualities previously only attributed to humans.
The fact that morality is the apparent consequence of natural evolutionary processes and not a product of divine guidance is evidence against the concept of an overseeing divine counselor, which is also evidence against Christianity.
(750) Christianity survived by stifling integration
There are thousands of gods that are no longer being worshiped, and the main reason for a god’s demise is the allowance the god provides for integrating and associating with other cultures and other beliefs. The successful gods, the ones that remain in favor today, including the Christian god, were the ones that were jealous and exclusive and threatened its followers with severe punishment if they associated with outsiders or deigned to worship another god or, in any other sense, fell away from the fold. The following is taken from:
The religions that were too malleable, too easily accommodating to changing circumstances, too prone to compromise, have disappeared in the folds of history. Numerous gods have failed, precisely because their supporters too easily blended in with other cultures.
Religion is not the root of all evil, but it is divisive and polarizing, it breeds mutual distrust and Us-vs-Them thinking. The most successful gods, on the cultural level, are precisely the gods that don’t make any compromises, that close ranks and close minds, that demonize the outgroup and resist outside influences. Increasingly, these are the gods that we must reckon with today. The others languish or rot in their graves. And that is why religion indeed forms a stumbling block to integration.
A god who is nice, broad-minded, accommodating, and lenient stands no chance to survive the test of time because inevitably its followers will associate with people of other faiths and fall away. It’s gods like Yahweh, who is a demanding sociopath, who bullies, coerces, and constrains its worshipers, that goes on for the long haul. Thus the irony- the good gods die, the bad gods live.
(751) Memories reside in brain cells, don’t survive death
The only thing that gives us a sense of identity, or “I,” is our ability to remember events that occurred in the past. If all our memory was erased, we would be left in a confused and puzzled state. So, to believe in an afterlife, we must find some evidence that our memories can survive the loss of our brain cells after death.
Unfortunately, the evidence points to the fact that our memories are totally dependent on the function of specific brain cells that will undeniably not survive our death. The following is taken from:
Our fond or fearful memories — that first kiss or a bump in the night — leave memory traces that we may conjure up in the remembrance of things past, complete with time, place and all the sensations of the experience. Neuroscientists call these traces memory engrams.
But are engrams conceptual, or are they a physical network of neurons in the brain? In a new MIT study, researchers usedoptogenetics to show that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and that simply activating a tiny fraction of brain cells can recall an entire memory — explaining, for example, how Marcel Proust could recapitulate his childhood from the aroma of a once-beloved madeleine cookie.
“We demonstrate that behavior based on high-level cognition, such as the expression of a specific memory, can be generated in a mammal by highly specific physical activation of a specific small subpopulation of brain cells, in this case by light,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT and lead author of the study reported online today in the journal Nature. “This is the rigorously designed 21st-century test of Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield’s early-1900s accidental observation suggesting that mind is based on matter.”
The visionaries who created Christianity and other religions that promise a life after death had no knowledge of how our memories are stored or that they are generated by and only by physical structures in the brain. To them, minds were immaterial and powered by a spiritual force.
To sustain a belief in an afterlife, a Christian must now assume that God reassembles the neural structures of our brains as they existed at some time before we died, presumably at the moment of our death, so that no final memory would be excluded. This measurably adds to the improbability of Christianity’s promise of an afterlife.
(752) Jesus ignorant of astronomy
In Matthew 24:29-31, Jesus discusses the end times:
“Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky,and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
The sun will be darkened- by what, a solar eclipse? That would only last a few minutes. A dark sun would actually be an impossible event for at least many billions of years. The moon will not give its light- the moon does not give a light, it is a dark body that merely reflects light. The stars will fall from the sky- Jesus apparently thought, like all others of his time, that the stars were tiny points of light affixed to a celestial dome that was very close to the earth.
All the peoples of the earth will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. Jesus believed the earth was flat so everyone could see him when he returned. He also believed Heaven was among the clouds, but, of course, we have been up to and above the clouds and have not observed Heaven.
He will send his angels with a trumpet call and gather his elect from the four winds. Angels have not been observed since Biblical times, and the belief in them is associated with extreme gullibility. The ‘four winds’ is code for the four corners of the flat earth.
(753) Christianity promotes suffering
Christianity has had a long love affair with pain and suffering, as if the endurance of such agony is a positive and palliative endeavor. Job is the poster child for pain as a way to display faith and Jesus was the ultimate example of redemptive suffering.
In 1 Peter 4:1, the idea is cemented into scripture:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.
Mother Teresa notoriously viewed suffering as a cathartic and redemptive virtue. There is the famous story where she told an agonized woman wracked with pain that she should be happy because she was feeling the kisses of Jesus, to which the woman replied, “Tell Jesus to stop.”
And it doesn’t stop. Today, many hospitals are being taken over by Catholic organizations which are continuing to advance the idea that suffering is faith-promoting. The following is taken from:
One place this clash of values is playing out is in hospitals and outpatient clinics across the U.S. that have been absorbed by Catholic healthcare corporations. The mergers leave no non-Catholic care option in many communities—as, for example, in seven Washington counties where all hospitals are now Catholic owned or managed. By design, merger contracts between secular and Catholic health care systems often require that once secular institutions become subject to the “Ethical and Religious Directives” of the Catholic bishops. Despite support for palliative care, these religious directives promote suffering over patient choice in dying:
Catholic health care institutions may never condone or participate in [death with dignity] in any way. . . . Patients experiencing suffering that cannot be alleviated should be helped to appreciate the Christian understanding of redemptive suffering.
Although hospital systems vary in terms of how forcefully they apply the Directives, in theory strict adherence is non-negotiable; and the aim of the bishops is to move Catholic-owned institutions toward more rigorous enforcement:
Catholic health care services must adopt these directives as policy, require adherence to them within the institution as a condition of medical privileges and employment, and provide appropriate instruction regarding the Directives for administration, medical and nursing staff, and other personnel.
Watchdog groups like CatholicWatch.org and MergerWatch.org warn that—thanks to increasingly bold religious freedom claims by Catholic institutions—unsuspecting Americans may find themselves, like Mother Teresa’s patient, experiencing the kiss of Jesus as they wait for the end.
The Christian view of pain and suffering is mired in Medieval culture and customs that the secular world has rightly rejected. Euthanasia is compassionately offered to every animal but is somehow denied to people because of anachronistic religious dogma. Yes, this is a hint that Christianity is not the emanation of a benevolent god.
(754) Test for an unfaithful wife
The Bible states that God informed Moses how to test if a wife has been unfaithful to her husband, Numbers 5:11-22:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.
“ ‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”
“ ‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”
Can anyone actually believe that an omnipotent god would get involved in such an archaic ritualistic trial procedure when that same God is supposedly all-knowing and routinely ‘talks’ to the prophets? Any person reading this passage who is thinking objectively can see that this nonsense was made up by an ignorant, sexist, and superstitious man who was trying to pass this off as being the enlightened revelation of an almighty deity. Most Christians are completely unaware of this scripture, and their pastors and preachers want to keep it that way.
(755) Evolution of Judeo-Christian polytheism
The Christian god, Yahweh, stands in the middle of a polytheistic junction fed from previous Hebrew gods and leading to the three Christian gods of the Trinity. The following is taken from:
“The original god of Israel was El.” (Smith, 2002, p. 32)
“The original Israelites were mostly Canaanites … and the original God of Israel was El, as the name Israel indicates. El was a high god of the Canaanite pantheon; Asherah was his consort.” (Doorly, 1997, p. 28)
“But surely Israel was characterized by a distinct religion, long before the monarchy – think of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, much less Moses. For decades the idea of religious distinctiveness in early Israel has steadily eroded. Yahweh, it seems, is not the original God of Israel, but a latecomer, arriving from, of all places, Edom, and generally identified with the south: not only Edom but Midian, Paran, Seir, and Sinai (Judges 5:4; Habakkuk 3:3; Psalm 68:8, 17). The original God of Israel was El, not Yahweh, as is evident in the patriarchal narratives: the name Isra-el means “El rules,” not “Yahweh rules” – that would be Isra-yahu.” (Bellah, 2011, p. 287)
“In the earliest phase of Israelite religion it would seem that religion was predominantly a matter of the family or the clan. The settlers of the central hill country lived in self-contained and largely self-sufficient communities … Family religion was focused on the god of the settlement. This god was the patron of the leading family and, by extension, of the local clan and the settlement. Allegiance to the clan god was concomitant with membership of the clan. The clan god was commonly a god of the Canaanite pantheon, El and Baal being the most commonly worshipped.” (van der Toorn, 1996, p. 254)
The history delineating the evolution of gods in the Judeo-Christian tradition shouts to an educated person that this was a human-conceived construction, not what otherwise would have been the seminal manifestation of a true supernatural deity. When gods evolve, it is a sure sign that contact with a real god has not been achieved.
(756) The graveyard of gods
Christians and other religious people do not see that they are worshiping mortal gods, gods that will certainly not stand the test of time, but will fade into oblivion and certain death years from now. How do we know this? Because it has already happened to hundreds of gods in the past. Gods that were worshiped just as fervently as Christians worship Yahweh, and gods that inspired the torture and murder of nonbelievers- now dead and gone themselves. The following is taken from:
Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) wrote the Memorial Service for dead gods:
Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a day when Jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter today? And what of Huitzilopochtli? In one year – and it is no more than five hundred years ago – fifty thousand youths and maidens were slain in sacrifice to him. Today, if he is remembered at all, it is only by some vagrant savage in the depths of the Mexican forest.
Huitzilopochtli, like many other gods, had no human father; his mother was a virtuous widow; he was born of an apparently innocent flirtation that she carried on with the sun. When he frowned, his father, the sun, stood still. When he roared with rage, earthquakes engulfed whole cities. When he thirsted he was watered with ten thousand gallons of human blood. But today Huitzilopochtli is as magnificently forgotten as Allen G. Thurman. Once the peer of Allah, Buddha, and Wotan, he is now the peer of General Coxey, Richmond P. Hobson, Nan Patterson, Alton B. Parker, Adelina Patti, General Weyler, and Tom Sharkey.
Speaking of Huitzilopochtli recalls his brother, Tezcatilpoca. Tezcatilpoca was almost as powerful: He consumed twenty-five thousand virgins a year. Lead me to his tomb: I would weep, and hang a couronne des perles. But who knows where it is? Or where the grave of Quetzalcoatl is? Or Tialoc? Or Chalchihuitlicue? Or Xiehtecutli? Or Centeotl, that sweet one? Or Tlazolteotl, the goddess of love? Or Mictlan? Or Ixtlilton? Or Omacatl? Or Yacatecutli? Or Mixcoatl? Or Xipe? Or all the host of Tzitzimitles? Where are their bones? Where is the willow on which they hung their harps? In what forlorn and unheard of hell do they await the resurrection morn? Who enjoys their residuary estates? Or that of Dis, whom Caesar found to be the chief god of the Celts? Or that of Tarves, the bull? Or that of Moccos, the pig? Or that of Epona, the mare? Or that of Mullo, the celestial jack-ass? There was a time when the Irish revered all these gods as violently as they now hate the English. But today even the drunkest Irishman laughs at them.
But they have company in oblivion: The hell of dead gods is as crowded as the Presbyterian hell for babies. Damona is there, and Esus, and Drunemeton, and Silvana, and Dervones, and Adsalluta, and Deva, and Belisama, and Axona, and Vintios, and Taranuous, and Sulis, and Cocidius, and Adsmerius, and Dumiatis, and Caletos, and Moccus, and Ollovidius, and Albiorix, and Leucitius, and Vitucadrus, and Ogmios, and Uxellimus, and Borvo, and Grannos, and Mogons. All mighty gods in their day, worshiped by millions, full of demands and impositions, able to bind and loose – all gods of the first class, not dilettanti.
Men labored for generations to build vast temples to them – temples with stones as large as hay-wagons. The business of interpreting their whims occupied thousands of priests, wizards, archdeacons, evangelists, haruspices, bishops, archbishops. To doubt them was to die, usually at the stake. Armies took to the field to defend them against infidels: Villages were burned, women and children were butchered, cattle were driven off. Yet in the end they all withered and died, and today there is none so poor to do them reverence. Worse, the very tombs in which they lie are lost, and so even a respectful stranger is debarred from paying them the slightest and politest homage.
Christians do not realize that their god will join this long list of deceased gods, and the process of Yahweh’s death has already begun- a death predetermined by the simple fact that he doesn’t actually exist- that is, except in the minds of shallow-thinking people.
(757) Moses did not write the Pentateuch
Much of the legitimacy of Judeo-Christianity rests on the authenticity of the Pentateuch, the five opening books of the Old Testament. The conventional wisdom of the faithful is that these books were all written by Moses, and thus have a historically dependable imprimatur. However, modern scriptural scholarship has shown that Moses did not write these books, which were instead the creation of four different authors. The following is taken from:
Contrary to the Bible’s claims in Deuteronomy 31:24-26 and John 5:46-47, Moses (c. thirteenth century BCE) did not write Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy (Jones, 2005). These books are a collection of four subsequent sources (Harris, 2010):
- The Yahwist source (J): written c. 950 BCE
- The Elohist source (E): written c. 850 BCE
- The Deuteronomist (D): written c. 650 BCE
- The Priestly source (P): written c. 500 BCE
“Most contemporary scholars accept the view that the final work of editing the various sources into their present form must have been done sometime between the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BCE and the career of the priest, Ezra (c. 450-398 BCE), depicted in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah as imposing the laws of the Torah of Moses upon the Judean community” (Jones, 2005, p. 9234).
There is much uncertainty as to whether Moses was an actual person, but the fact that the history surrounding him and the other early prophets was written by four anonymous authors, writing centuries after the supposed events occurred, lends much ammunition for skeptical analysis, including, of course, that much of the material in these books reveals a pettiness and barbarism entirely unbecoming of an almighty deity. Also, note the irony- four anonymous authors also wrote the ‘history’ of Jesus.
(758) Proof Jesus was just a man
The arguments surrounding the divinity of Jesus rest on scripture and the manner in which the Christian faith played out over time. Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), in the quote below, captured the essence of why we can confidently state that Jesus, assuming he was an historical figure, was nothing more than regular human being:
If Christ was in fact God, he knew all the future.
Before him like a panorama moved the history yet to be. He knew how his words would be interpreted. He knew what crimes, what horrors, what infamies, would be committed in his name. He knew that the hungry flames of persecution would climb around the limbs of countless martyrs. He knew that thousands and thousands of brave men and women would languish in dungeons in darkness, filled with pain. He knew that his church would invent and use instruments of torture; that his followers would appeal to whip and fagot, to chain and rack. He saw the horizon of the future lurid with the flames of the auto-da-fê. He knew what creeds would spring like poisonous fungi from every text. He saw the ignorant sects waging war against each other. He saw thousands of men, under the orders of priests, building prisons for their fellow-men. He saw thousands of scaffolds dripping with the best and bravest blood. He saw his followers using the instruments of pain. He heard the groans—saw the faces white with agony. He heard the shrieks and sobs and cries of all the moaning, martyred multitudes. He knew that commentaries would be written on his words with swords, to be read by the light of fagots. He knew that the Inquisition would be born of the teachings attributed to him.
He saw the interpolations and falsehoods that hypocrisy would write and tell. He saw all wars that would be waged, and he knew that above these fields of death, these dungeons, these rackings, these burnings, these executions, for a thousand years would float the dripping banner of the cross.
He knew that hypocrisy would be robed and crowned—that cruelty and credulity would rule the world; knew that liberty would perish from the earth; knew that popes and kings in his name would enslave the souls and bodies of men; knew that they would persecute and destroy the discoverers, thinkers and inventors; knew that his church would extinguish reason’s holy light and leave the world without a star.
He saw his disciples extinguishing the eyes of men, flaying them alive, cutting out their tongues, searching for all the nerves of pain.
He knew that in his name his followers would trade in human flesh; that cradles would be robbed and women’s breasts unbabed for gold.
And yet he died with voiceless lips.
Why did he fail to speak? Why did he not tell his disciples, and through them the world: “You shall not burn, imprison and torture in my name. You shall not persecute your fellow-men.”
Why did he not plainly say: “I am the Son of God,” or, “I am God?” Why did he not explain the Trinity? Why did he not tell the mode of baptism that was pleasing to him? Why did he not write a creed? Why did he not break the chains of slaves? Why did he not say that the Old Testament was or was not the inspired word of God? Why did he not write the New Testament himself? Why did he leave his words to ignorance, hypocrisy and chance? Why did he not say something positive, definite and satisfactory about another world? Why did he not turn the tear-stained hope of heaven into the glad knowledge of another life? Why did he not tell us something of the rights of man, of the liberty of hand and brain?
Why did he go dumbly to his death, leaving the world to misery and to doubt?
I will tell you why. He was a man, and did not know.
This is an unsolvable problem for Christianity, which by its own fault, deigned to make Jesus a god, perhaps not realizing at the time that details would eventually emerge belying the credibility of that claim.
(759) Creation Museum ark construction proves Noah is a myth
Ken Ham designed a project to build a to-scale replica of Noah’s Ark as it is described in the Bible, presumably as a way to prove that such a ship could be built and house, feed, and maintain a sampling of all of the creatures that were selected to survive the deluge. Ironically, this project is doing the exact opposite. It is showing that such a ship requires advanced construction materials and equipment, such as gusset plates, bolts, building cranes, pressure treated wood cut to precise dimensions, and steel beam supports.
(760) Wealthier nations are less religious
A survey of 65 countries, conducted by Gallup International and the WI Network of Market Research, based on 63,898 interviews, along with a similar study by the Pew Research Center, has shown that wealthier nations tend to be less religious, with the notable exception of the United States (though that anomaly is quickly evaporating).
This result is counter-intuitive if, as most Christians assert, God awards prosperity to countries that worship him and penalizes those that dishonor him or disbelieve. Further, it would be expected that wealthier people would be more inclined to sense the material assistance of a divine power over those who are moribund in miserable squalor.
But what this really shows is that religion is a crutch for desperate people who need some assurance that a better existence awaits them after death. People of wealth are in a better position and are better able to objectively evaluate the claims of religions and recognize the fraudulent fallacies upon which they are based.
(761) Paul contradicts Jesus
In Matthew 16:27 Jesus states:
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul states:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
To be fair, Ephesians is probably a forgery, not written by Paul, but it is still part of the canon. Also, there is a corroborating scripture in Romans 3:27-28, which is widely accepted as being penned by Paul:
Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
This is not a trivial contradiction because it hits at the heart of Christian doctrine and leaves any sincere follower confused as to whether a person’s deeds are or are not considered in the final assignment to heaven or hell.
The conventional doctrine of being saved by faith is further clouded by the Epistle of James, such as James 2:24:
You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
Let’s be unequivocal about this. If God exists and decided to assign mankind to an afterlife in either a glorious paradise and a dreadful inferno, he would make doubly and triply sure that the criteria for this decision is unmistakably clear. Constrastively, if disparate human minds devised such a theology, then contradictory and ambiguous results would appear, as they do.
(762) It can’t be believed by a thinking person
Christopher Hitchens delivered a knockout blow to Christianity with this quote:
Let’s say that the consensus is that our species, being the higher primates, Homo Sapiens, has been on the planet for at least 100,000 years, maybe more. Francis Collins says maybe 100,000. Richard Dawkins thinks maybe a quarter-of-a-million. I’ll take 100,000. In order to be a Christian, you have to believe that for 98,000 years, our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth, most other people having a life expectancy of about 25 years, dying of their teeth. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, suffering, misery, all of that for 98,000 years.
Heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then 2000 years ago, thinks ‘That’s enough of that. It’s time to intervene,’ and the best way to do this would be by condemning someone to a human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate parts of the Middle East. Don’t lets appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and study evidence and have a civilization. Let’s go to the desert and have another revelation there. This is nonsense. It can’t be believed by a thinking person.
What Hitchens established with this concept is that Christianity only makes sense if you accept the story of Genesis and a 6000-year old universe, but any thinking person, a person who has even a small measure of scientific literacy, knows that the universe is much older and that humans evolved over millions of years from ancient primates. Therefore, Christianity cannot, or at least should not, be accepted by any thinking person.
(763) Hell is logically fictitious
The existence of Hell, described by Jesus as a place of never-ending suffering, can be shown by logic to be false, if, as any Christian would be inclined to agree, that God is just. The logical steps leading to this conclusion are presented at the website:
- All human sin is finite in seriousness.
- It is unjust to punish sins disproportionately to their seriousness.
- To punish sins finite in seriousness with infinite punishment is to punish sins disproportionately to their seriousness.
- Therefore it is unjust to punish sins finite in seriousness with infinite punishment.
- Therefore it is unjust to punish human sin with infinite punishment.
- Hell is infinite punishment.
- Therefore it is unjust to punish human sin with hell.
- God does nothing unjust.
- Therefore God does not punish human sin with hell.
Steps 4, 5, 7, and 9 are unquestionably true (assuming the other steps are also true) as they comport to logical deduction. Therefore, the only way a Christian can argue that Step 9 is false is to assert that at least one of the following steps is also false: 1, 2, 3, 6, or 8.
The problem with this is that none of these steps are controversial. They all make sense and would be accepted by most rational, compassionate, scripturally-literate Christians. Where in this chain of statements does the logic break down? Given the situation, it would seem that the only way for a Christian to challenge the conclusion that God does not eternally punish human sin with Hell is to assert that God can be unjust (#9). Alternately, the Christian can concede that Hell is merely a temporary place of suffering (#6). The former is highly problematic to most Christians and the latter contradicts scripture:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Revelation 20: 10-15
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
(764) Mythological imagery
Part of the means of creating a mythical religion, such as Christianity, it to create imagery that promotes the faith and enhances recruitment of potential followers. The artistic depictions of Jesus is one example of this technique. Below is a standard image of Jesus that is typically presented to Western audiences compared to a more realistic image of a Middle Eastern man who lived 2000 years ago:
There is nothing in scripture suggesting that Jesus looked significantly different than others of his time and place, so it can be reasonably assumed that he looked more like the image on the right. After all, the Romans needed Judas to point him out among his band of followers. It is probable that if Jesus was consistently shown as being similar to the ‘real Jesus’ that Christianity would not have enjoyed the same degree of success, particularly among Caucasian peoples who have racist attitudes against those of Middle Eastern descent.
Images count for a lot, and it is certain that Christian art has been used to present a fraudulent image of Jesus. This serves as a not so subtle reminder that the Jesus that Christians worship is a man enveloped and obscured by centuries of legend and mythology.
(765) The Good Book?
Christians like to refer to the Bible as the ‘Good Book,’ the greatest book ever written, and the ultimate source that teaches us the quintessential model of morality and ethics. This, of course, is complete nonsense.
The Bible is a book of horrors and immorality. It promotes slavery, misogyny, genocide, oppression, murder, ritual sacrifice, injustice, torture, homophobia, rape, inhumanity, infanticide, fire bombing, mauling, castration, dismemberment, child sacrifice, substitutional punishment, incineration, forced cannibalism, evil curses, polygamy, animal cruelty, barbarism, eternal suffering, favoritism, family division, the beating of slaves, inequality of the sexes, and intolerance of other faiths.
Good Book? No! Instead, a solid, indisputable case can be made that we should refer to the Bible as the “Bad Book.” It provides incontrovertible evidence that it has absolutely nothing to do with an almighty god.
(766) Gods became more distant over time
Our earliest ancestors were very familiar with the concept of agency. They would pick a stone and throw it and could see that it took the effort of their arm to make that happen. So whenever they saw lightning or heard thunder, or felt the wind, or rain, or an earthquake, they assumed that some being, or agency, was making that happen. So, initially, we had rain gods and volcano gods and so forth.
However, as we became more scientifically literate and understood the natural causes of these phenomena, the gods moved up to the tops of mountains or to the bottom of the sea where they could not be seen, but they were still capable of manipulating events in the low country. But soon, the mountain tops and seas were explored, and the belief in these gods waned.
Eventually, the gods moved to the sun, the planets, and the stars. The sun god was particularly popular in many cultures because it was so dependable, could be seen, and felt. But this god’s lifetime was shortened by the emerging awareness that the sun, as well as the planets, were natural objects, and not conscious beings.
So, then the gods moved even further away to the point of being outside of space and time, where they are today. This progression is not yet ended, as soon we will come to a greater understanding of the origin of the universe, the emergence of life, and so on, and realize once and for all that we live in a godless world. At that time, the major world religions will shrink to nothingness and the entire world will unite in a common understanding of our existence.
(767) Why God does not show himself
Everybody, whether they be Christian, agnostic , or atheist can agree that God, if he exists, is not doing all he can to prove his existence to humans. In fact, it can be asserted that he has left the world looking just as it would if he didn’t exist. This creates a theological problem, and we are left with three possibilities:
1. God is unable to display his existence
This is a very unlikely reason. If God created the universe and intervened so dramatically in the lives of the Jews and even sent his son to the Earth, it is highly unlikely that he can no longer work any wonders that would unambiguously manifest his existence. This reason can be summarily discarded, with one possible, but very unlikely, exception- God has died or has otherwise lost his power since the time of Jesus. But if this is true, then Christianity becomes irrelevant.
2. God does not exist
Atheists, of course, agree with this reason, but the intent of this discussion is more to discover a reason that would be amenable to Christians, none of whom would agree that God does not exist, excepting those self-labeled Christians who believe that Jesus was a non-supernatural human and who like to follow some of his teachings for humanitarian reasons.
3. God is purposely testing our faith by remaining aloof
This is the only reason that would be agreeable to most Christians. Now, some Christians will argue that God is giving signs of his existence through nature, or the perception that their prayers are being answered, or by inner feelings of his presence, but they must agree that these ‘evidences’ of God are not universally convincing, especially to people who are not skeptically challenged. And no Christian would think that God could not do more to display his existence, or that he couldn’t do more to prove that he is the god of Christianity as opposed to any other religion.
So, we should have universal agreement that God, assuming for the moment that he exists, is purposely restricting his earthly interventions as a test of faith. In other words, he is playing a game with our eternal destiny, while stacking deck against people who are scientifically literate, understandably skeptical, or mired in a false religion. And, he has given us insufficient evidence on where to place our faith in the first place. This should lead any person who is thinking clearly to discard Reason #3 and go with Reason #2- that God does not exist.
(768) Religion perpetuates itself by distorting childrens’ minds
A study has revealed that childhood religious training damages a child’s ability to perceive the difference between reality and fiction. This has far ranging effects on the ability of religions to perpetuate themselves by ensuring that indoctrinated children will likely remain gullible to fictional stories and ideas into adulthood. The following was taken from:
Young children who are exposed to religion have a hard time differentiating between fact and fiction, according to a new study published in the July issue of Cognitive Science.
Researchers presented 5- and 6-year-old children from both public and parochial schools with three different types of stories — religious, fantastical and realistic –- in an effort to gauge how well they could identify narratives with impossible elements as fictional.
The study found that, of the 66 participants, children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school were significantly less able than secular children to identify supernatural elements, such as talking animals, as fictional.
By relating seemingly impossible religious events achieved through divine intervention (e.g., Jesus transforming water into wine) to fictional narratives, religious children would more heavily rely on religion to justify their false categorizations.
“In both studies, [children exposed to religion] were less likely to judge the characters in the fantastical stories as pretend, and in line with this equivocation, they made more appeals to reality and fewer appeals to impossibility than did secular children,” the study concluded.
Refuting previous hypotheses claiming that children are “born believers,” the authors suggest that “religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.”
What this tells us about Christianity, not to rule out other religions, is that it has spread more through childhood mind manipulation than by reasoned analysis and logical cognition. As an example, many Christians report increased faith after hearing of ‘miraculous’ events, such as a weeping statue, that rational people rightly reject. It would appear that much of this credulity is set in motion during childhood. What this also implies is that Christianity would collapse if children, as a whole, were not inculcated with religious beliefs.
(769) Mark plagiarized Psalm 22
The author of Mark’s gospel picked and chose among the various parts of Psalm 22 to construct his story of the crucifixion. Picked and chose because he neglected to select many of the elements of this Psalm that did not relate to a crucifixion story. Written about 1000 years before Jesus, Psalm 22 is the cry of a Davidic king who is under threat of attack. Here are some of the parallels:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
Christians might claim that Psalm 22 was a prophecy of Jesus’s crucifixion, but there are many parts of this Psalm that do not match, such as
Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
Psalm 22 is a cry for help from evil men and wild, attacking animals that threaten the life of the psalmist. It is not a prophecy of Jesus’s crucifixion. The fact that that the author of Mark borrowed elements of this Psalm, which, for sure, he was familiar, is compelling evidence that his portrayal of the crucifixion is a work of fiction. And since the other gospels copied from Mark, their crucifixion accounts are also fiction by default.
(770) A relationship built on a threat
Christians are fond of saying that Christianity is not a religion, but rather a relationship with Jesus. Well, OK, but let’s examine that. The following story reveals what type of relationship we are dealing with:
I want to tell you about a woman named Katrina. She’s cute, kind, intelligent, and has a successful career as the manager of a restaurant. Although she’s enjoyed the single life, she just turned thirty and is thinking about settling down. The problem is, she hasn’t found the right guy.
One day she was helping out the new bartender when a man named John sat down in front of her. He was gorgeous. She didn’t normally flirt with patrons, but it was hard to resist. He was funny, charming, and had a lot in common with her. At one point he hinted that he’d like to get her number, so before he left she grabbed his hand and wrote it down.
Thus began the best relationship she’d ever had. It was like they were made for each other. All those cliches about love, all those cheesy songs–they finally made sense. John was the most thoughtful and compassionate man she’d ever known. After only a few weeks, she felt certain he was the man she would marry.
One evening they had dinner at his house. When she finished eating, Katrina asked him where the bathroom was. “At the end of the hall,” he said. She headed down the hallway and found two doors directly across from each other. She tried the door on the right.
It opened with a creek. A small lamp by the door cast a dim, orange glow across the room. The first thing she noticed was the large, wooden table. It had thick leather straps attached to each corner. Next to it was a smaller table with an assortment of knives–some sharp, some jagged–and a hack saw. The hack saw had blood on it.
She took a few steps into the room. This couldn’t be what it looked like. It had to be some sort of workshop. And then she saw the Polaroids all over the wall. There were hundreds of them, pictures of women, women crying…
Katrina felt her breath getting fast and shallow. She started backing up, but then she bumped into something. It was John. She pushed him away and screamed.
“Whoa, whoa, what’s the matter?” he said, getting his footing. He spoke with a gentle tone and didn’t seem at all concerned that she had found this room.
Katrina blinked. “What do you mean ‘what’s the matter’?” she yelled. “What is this?”
“Oh, this is just my torture chamber. It’s nothing for you to worry about.”
She didn’t know how to respond, didn’t even know what to think. She rushed past him, terrified he would grab her if she didn’t leave right away.
“What’s wrong?” he said as she ran down the hall.
Once there was some distance between them, she stopped and looked back. “You’re a monster!”
“No, you don’t understand. I had to build this room. It’s only for women who reject me.”
Katrina stared at him. She couldn’t believe he was being so flippant about all this. “I’m leaving.” She headed toward the front door.
“Katrina, wait. Don’t go!” She pulled open the door, but stopped when he said, “I love you!”
Tears filled her eyes. They hadn’t said this to each other yet. She turned around and stood in the doorway. “You what?”
He stood there, looking as though he were on the verge of tears himself. “I love you and I would never hurt you. Katrina, I want to marry you. I want us to share our lives together. If you’ll just give me a chance, I’ll make you the happiest woman in the world. And you’ll never have to go in that room again.”
“And if I leave?”
His face turned dark and his voice grew cold. “I love you, but I’m a very jealous man. If you leave, I’ll have no choice but to capture you and torture you… Forever.”
Now I have a question for you: Should Katrina stay with him? Most of you would probably say, “Of course not!” But hang on a second. What if she knew for a fact that if she stayed with him, she would go on to live a happy, wonderful life?
And I’m talking 100% certainty. What if it were a fact of nature that as long as she stays with John, she’ll have the kind of life she’s always hoped for and will never see the torture chamber again?
Still no? I don’t blame you. See, it doesn’t matter that she’ll be safe and happy as long as she stays with him. The fact that he would torture her for leaving is a deal breaker. Why? Because a relationship predicated on the threat of violence is not a healthy relationship.
Although Christianity fits the dictionary definition of religion perfectly, Christians still like to say, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” Okay, but what kind of relationship?
I’ve known Christian women who refer to themselves as the bride of Christ (it’s usually the single ones who do this). But what kind of husband sets his wife on fire for leaving him? Not a good one.
Most Christians think of God as a father figure. But what kind of father tortures his children for running away? Again, not a good one. A truly loving father would rather let his children go than torture them.
If you’re a Christian, you might say these analogies don’t work because they’re about human relationships, and God isn’t human; he’s a god. But I don’t see how that makes it any better. What kind of god throws his people into a lake of fire for not loving him back? I’ll tell you: an evil god.
Some Christians will say I’m looking at it wrong, that salvation is a gift. Why would anyone reject the gift of eternal happiness? But what kind of gift gets you a death sentence if you return it? If your only choice is to accept the gift or go to Hell, then it’s not a gift; it’s a threat. And it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship built on threats.
Another common apologetic is that God has no choice but to send unbelievers to Hell. He can’t be in the presence of souls tarnished with sin, so he’s forced to burn them up in his holy fire. But wait a minute… I thought God was supposed to be omnipotent. If he created the rules that govern the universe, why can’t he change them? If he created everyone’s souls, why can’t he uncreate them rather than send them to Hell? That would at least be somewhat reasonable.
Finally, the most common defense I hear is that God doesn’t send you to Hell; you send yourself to Hell. I’m amazed at how often Christians say this because it’s so easy to dismantle. No one in their right mind would willingly walk into Hell. Rather, they’d have to be dragged into Hell kicking and screaming. And according to Christianity, who is going to drag them there? God.
Saying “you send yourself to Hell” is akin to an abusive husband saying to his battered wife, “Look what you made me do!” A husband who truly loved his wife wouldn’t beat her, and he certainly wouldn’t blame her for it. But this is exactly the kind of relationship Christianity offers: “Love me and obey me… or else.”
Katrina was right to run away. Even if John acted like the perfect husband for the rest of her life, she could never have a healthy relationship with him knowing he would torture her if she tried to leave. The fact that he threatened her makes him a terrible husband, regardless of his behavior.
As I said before, a relationship built on threats is not a good relationship. If God really loved his people, he would persuade them–not threaten them.
This story exposes the fatal flaw of Christian doctrine and why it should be rejected by any reasonable and compassionate person. It is a relationship built upon an ominous threat. But what it actually reveals is that Christianity cannot possibly be a faith represented by a true god, at least not one that would deserve any bestowment of worship.
(771) The silence of Josephus
Josephus was a First Century scholar who was born in Jerusalem in AD 37 and lived to around AD 100. His father was of priestly descent and his mother claimed a royal ancestry, so they were well positioned in the city. His parents were in Jerusalem during the events leading up to Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. And Josephus was born about 5-7 years after these events.
In his historical accounts, Josephus made mention of Jesus in two brief passages of the ‘Antiquities of the Jews,” written in AD 93, both of which are generally regarded as forgeries. But, even if it is conceded that Josephus actually wrote these passages, it is still problematic that he didn’t do so much earlier, and it’s almost certain that he was simply regurgitating what was already written in the gospel (Mark and probably Matthew) accounts by this time.
Keep in mind that if the events of the gospels were true, the residents of Jerusalem would be talking about it for decades later, well into the youth and early adulthood of Josephus, not to mention the repeated recounting that would surely have been provided to him by his parents.
What the gospels claim about Jesus does not describe a normal occurrence, but one that most certainly would have been viewed as being highly historic, if not mysterious and magical. There were evidently at least 500 witnesses living in Jerusalem that saw the resurrected Jesus, and word of this phenomenon would certainly have reached every ear in the city. So by the time Josephus was 10, there were probably at least 400 or so eyewitnesses of Jesus’s resurrection still alive and living in the city. It is highly unlikely that Josephus would not have heard their stories and testimonies.
So, given this, how can it be that Josephus waited until he was 56 before he bothered to write anything about Jesus? This can’t be believed by a thinking person. Christians like to refer to Josephus as proof of Jesus’s life and ministry, but in reality, his history provides convincing evidence to the contrary- that Jesus, assuming he was an actual person, was nothing out the ordinary.
(772) Jesus, Dionysus, Hercules, and Perseus
The following website lists the parallels of Jesus to other gods that have been worshiped over time:
|Mother is a human:|
|Dionysus||– mother Semele is human.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.284).|
|Heracles||– mother Alcmene is human.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.319).|
|Perseus||– mother Danae is human.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.319).|
|Jesus||– mother Mary is human.||(Matthew 1:18-25).|
|Father is a god:|
|Dionysus||– son of the god Zeus.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.284)|
|Heracles||– son of the god Zeus.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.323)|
|Perseus||– son of the god Zeus.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.319)|
|Jesus||– son of the god Yahweh.||(Matthew 3:17).|
|Circumstances of conception/birth are unusual:|
|Dionysus||– Born from Zeus’ thigh after being transferred from Semele.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.270)|
|Heracles||– Zeus extends the night for 3 days to impregnate Alcmene.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.323)|
|Perseus||– Zeus impregnates Danae in a shower of golden rain.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.319)|
|Jesus||– Yahweh sends his Holy Spirit to earth to impregnate Mary.||(Matthew 1:18-25)|
|Attempt is made to kill him as a child:|
|Dionysus||– Hera tries to kill Dionysus as a child.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.285)|
|Heracles||– Hera tries to kill Heracles as a child.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.324)|
|Perseus||– Acrisius tries to kill Perseus as a child.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.319)|
|Jesus||– Herod tries to kill Jesus as a child.||(Matthew 2:16)|
|Conducts superhuman feats:|
|Dionysus||– performs miracles.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.284)|
|Heracles||– defeats the Hydra, completes the Twelve Labors.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, pp.332-333)|
|Perseus||– defeats Medusa and a sea monster, flies through the air.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, pp.320-322)|
|Jesus||– performs miracles.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p.284)|
|Attains a form of immortality:|
|Dionysus||– raised to divine immortality on Olympus.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p. 284)|
|Heracles||– raised by the gods from his funeral pyre to Olympus.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p. 330)|
|Perseus||– raised into a constellation at death.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p. 323)|
|Jesus||– raised to heaven.||(Mark 16:19)|
|Physical evidence in our possession dating to:|
|Dionysus||“his name first appears in ancient Mycenaean inscriptions composed about 1250 B.C.”||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p. 268)|
|Heracles||hard to date when the story first appeared but a vase painting from circa 620 BCE depicts Heracles with Nessus.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p. 330)|
|Perseus||hard to date when the story first appeared but a limestone relief from circa 540 BCE at the temple at Selinus depicts Perseus defeating Medusa.||(Harris & Platzner 2008, p. 321)|
|Jesus||The earliest fragment of the gospels is dated to circa 125 CE.|
This information should be unsettling to Christians, as the particulars of Jesus’s history tend to match similar accounts of other gods that Christians universally view as being fictional. It is not difficult to assume that the same myth-making processes that generated the earlier gods were also employed in developing the stories about Jesus.
(773) Gospel of Mark is full of irony
Irony is defined as a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character. It is a literary technique that is often used in fictional prose, but rarely appears in factual historical accounts unless actual events develop into an ironic situation.
Why this is important is because the Gospel of Mark, the first written account of Jesus’s life. is awash in irony. This suggests rather significantly that much of what appears in this gospel is fictional.
The following is taken from:
While irony is a common literary feature of the Bible, no biblical writer uses irony more thoroughly than Mark. Frequently Mark employs ironic contrasts in order to create a theological impression upon the reader or summon the reader to act in a particular way. Mark is a veritable master of ironic narrative. He piles irony on top of irony, hitting the reader in all kinds of ways at several different levels. Consider the following examples of irony in Mark:4
• In Mark 1:40-45, Jesus cleanses a leper. He tells the leper not to let anyone know, but the leper disobeys and begins to preach openly. Ironically, in a dramatic reversal, because of the man’s disobedience and Jesus’ sudden popularity, Jesus himself has to take on the life of a leper, hiding out in the wilderness and not entering into the cities, so he can avoid the crowds. But in another turn of irony, Jesus’ strategy fails and the crowds come to this “leper” anyway. ·
The much-discussed “Messianic Secret” (found in 1:25, 34, 43-45; 3:12; 5:43; 7:24, 36; 8:26, 30; 9:9, 30-31; 10:48) serves as a foil for several of Mark’s ironic twists. Mark 1:1 “tells the reader exactly what the author’s main thesis is, and as a result, any confusion, secrecy, or misunderstanding about Jesus in the story strikes the reader as ironic because the reader always perceives the incongruity between the confusion about who Jesus is in the story and the relative clarity about who Jesus is in the mind of the storyteller.”
Thus, when we see demons properly identifying Jesus, while his disciples and own family members do not understand who he is, we sense a great deal of irony. As the story goes on, the reader feels less sympathy for those who do not perceive who Jesus is, and the irony of the situation increases. The disciples seem to become more and more blinded, while things become more and more clear for the reader. What “goes over the heads” of the disciples is easy for the intelligent reader to grasp. ·
In light of the “Messianic Secret,” Mark 4:21-22 is ironic. Jesus makes the obvious point that no one lights a lamp in order to hide it away. Yet, when Jesus persistently refuses to let his identity be made public, he seems to be hiding his light. The public teaching of Jesus and his actions simply do not seem to fit, giving rise to an ironic tension that seems to be intentional on the part of Jesus. ·
In Mark 3:1-6, the Pharisees watch Jesus closely to see if he will heal on the Sabbath. Jesus asks them pointedly, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or evil, to save life or to kill?” When they refuse to answer him, Jesus goes ahead and heals the man. Immediately — on the Sabbath — the Pharisees join with the Herodians in plotting Jesus’ destruction. As Camery-Hoggatt explains, this is a dramatic reversal, in which, “For the reader, the Pharisees’ damnation of Jesus is self-damnation.” Apparently, the Pharisees, despite all their scruples about the Sabbath, believe it is lawful to kill on the Sabbath! In terms of Mark’s narrative, the Pharisees certainly do not intend the irony, but the narrator has contextualized their action in such a way that the reader may see the irony in their response to Jesus. ·
Herod is called a king in 6:14, 22, 25, 26, 27. Virtually any contemporary of Mark, familiar with the political situation of Palestine, would be caught off guard by this description. In reality, Herod was no king. The highest title he ever held was that of tetrarch. According to Josephus, Herod was actually deposed by Caligula for asking one too many times for a monarchical title! At best, his so-called kingship is an ironic parody of Jesus’ kingship. Under Herod the people are “like sheep not having a shepherd” (6:34), with the obvious implication that Jesus is the remedy to this problem.
Camery-Hoggatt perceives an ironic style employed in 6:14-29. John the Baptist and Herod are, of course, at opposite ends of the moral spectrum. The story of John’s beheading is quite horrifying, but is told in such an understated, matter-of fact tenor, that one cannot help but notice this tension between text and subtext which creates the story’s underlying dynamic movement. It is this tension that establishes the backdrop of John’s execution, in the process assassinating the character of Herod. The old king has been outfoxed, it appears. He executes John to save face, but in the act exposes his debauchery. The head on the platter is a burlesque of the feast. It is the king’s own head, blood-splattered, ghastly, gagging on the monstrosity he has created. The actual details of John’s execution may have been more horrible than Mark cares to write about. The story is gruesome enough as it stands, and the reader’s reaction is deepened by the rambling, unedifying language in which it is told.
While the disciples have been unable to see who Jesus is, ironically, blind Bartimaeus does (Mark 10:46-52; see also 8:22-26).
• Irony is heavily concentrated in Mark’s passion narrative, sometimes in a layered fashion. All the mockery of Jesus is ironical in terms of Mark’s unfolding story. The soldiers give Jesus a mock coronation in 15:16-20, complete with a robe of purple and crown of thorns. But in doing so, of course, they do not realize that Jesus is indeed being made king as he suffers, a point Mark’s sensitive reader grasps.
• In Mark 14:65, the soldiers mock Jesus as a false prophet. “Prophesy!” they sneer. But, ironically, in the very next scene we find an explicit prophecy of Jesus coming to pass as Peter denies him three times before the cock crows twice.
• The scene in which Peter denies Jesus also has an ironic twist on Peter’s name. The one called “Rock,” who had so confidently declared he was even willing to die with Jesus rather than deny him (14:29-31), crumbles before a lowly slave girl (14:66-72). · Mark informs us that the crowds blaspheme in 15:29. The irony in this is explained by Fowler: “Blasphemy” here may thus carry the ordinary connotation of “verbal abuse” or “ridicule.” Nevertheless, it could also entail much more. Blasphemy par excellence is an offense against God. Should not the reader discern that both senses of the word are appropriate here? Does not the narrator want us to discern that in knowingly blaspheming this dying man, they are unknowingly committing a far more serious blasphemy?
Mark 15:30 may be seen as kind of ironic riddle. The crowds taunt Jesus by calling on him to save himself as he has saved others, to come down from the cross. But Jesus has already taught the only way to save one’s life is to lose it by taking up one’s cross (8:35)! The high priests and scribes get in on the ironic act as well, giving to Jesus a title they believe to be false (15:32). But ironically, at another level, their mockery turns out to be true. From the narrator’s perspective, it is indeed the case that Jesus is “the Christ, the king of Israel.”
Additional examples of Markan irony could be given, but this list is too long as it is. Obviously some of these examples could be debated. But too many of them are clear cut (and too commonly recognized) for us to doubt the deliberate use of irony on Mark’s part. The gospel writer has given us a narrative thick with irony. But what enables us identify irony? How can we move past an intuitive grasp of the ironic to an understanding of the marks of irony and how irony works? How do we know if we have interpreted an ironic text properly? What makes Mark a successful ironist (if indeed he is), where other authors have failed? To these issues we now turn.
Another blatant use of irony is found in the passion sequence of Jesus’s crucifixion. In Mark 8:34, we read:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Later, in Mark 14:27-31, we read:
“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “ ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
Keep in mind that Peter was originally named Simon, and is often referred to as Simon Peter.
Later, after Jesus is arrested, Simon Peter denies that he is a follower of Jesus, as Jesus had predicted. But, during the procession to the crucifixion site, something unusual happens.
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
So, Simon Peter, the apostle upon which Jesus intends to build his church, denies him, while another Simon, Simon of Cyrene, ‘takes up the cross’ of Christ.
The reason why this issue is so important to the question of whether or not Jesus was the supernatural figure described in the gospels is that the Gospel of Mark was the first written account of Jesus’s life and was used by the subsequent gospels as a primary information source. So if Mark is mostly fictional, then the other gospels are mostly fictional as well. The over use of irony in Mark is good evidence that is mostly fictional.
(774) Analytical thinking promotes religious disbelief
A 2012 scientific study of the relationship between analytical thinking and religious disbelief has shown a statistically significant association. The study is described here:
This is the abstract:
Scientific interest in the cognitive underpinnings of religious belief has grown in recent years. However, to date, little experimental research has focused on the cognitive processes that may promote religious disbelief. The present studies apply a dual-process model of cognitive processing to this problem, testing the hypothesis that analytic processing promotes religious disbelief. Individual differences in the tendency to analytically override initially flawed intuitions in reasoning were associated with increased religious disbelief. Four additional experiments provided evidence of causation, as subtle manipulations known to trigger analytic processing also encouraged religious disbelief. Combined, these studies indicate that analytic processing is one factor (presumably among several) that promotes religious disbelief. Although these findings do not speak directly to conversations about the inherent rationality, value, or truth of religious beliefs, they illuminate one cognitive factor that may influence such discussions.
The following is taken from:
Scientific studies actually back up this line of reasoning. Consider a 2012 study published in Science, one of the most prestigious journals in the world. This study found that when people are prompted to use their critical faculties, they become less likely to affirm religious statements. In other words, there’s a causal link between “analytical thinking” and religious disbelief. Perhaps this is why the Republican Party of Texas literally wrote into its 2012 platform that, “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs [that] have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs.” God forbid children start questioning their “fixed beliefs” about religion — or politics.
Higher order thinking skills should promote the ability to separate truth from myth, and if analytical thinking tends to reduce a person’s acceptance of religious claims, this would suggest that those claims are dubious. Christianity, if true, should be accepted preferentially by people who are more intellectually perceptive. But, of course, the opposite is true.
(775) Objective test of prayer reveals there is no god
If prayers are analyzed in an objective manner, even devout Christians would have to agree that they are effectively useless for shaping future events. Belief in prayer only exists in people who view prayer in a subjective manner. The following website explains how prayer can be objectively evaluated:
Believers all around the world claim that their particular god answers petitionary prayers. An answered prayer is a request that is granted while an unanswered one is not, okay? From my experience all that’s going on is something called selective observation, where a believer counts the hits and discounts the misses. Scientific studies have shown that these prayers don’t get answered any better than luck. So if believers really want to know if God answers prayer then here’s what to do:
Keep track, just like the examples in my study sheet (click on it). List the specific prayers you pray. Pray that they are answered within a specific time period–why not? Isn’t that what you want? Keep in mind that you generally will only pray for things you expect can happen too. You do not pray that a mountain is uprooted and planted in the sea. So already your prayer requests are limited since you do not pray for the kinds of things Jesus told you could happen. Why? Because you live in a scientific era. Get. Point The.
Then be brutally honest with the results. No fudging like horoscope readers regularly do. Was the prayer answered exactly as you prayed it, or not? No punting to what believers around the globe do, either. No saying, “well God knows best,” or that “he didn’t give me what I wanted but what I needed.” Then see what happens. See how many times your prayers are answered, and of those prayers that are answered how many of them are truly out of the ordinary? I suspect if you really want to know if God answers prayers you’ll find this an interesting exercise.
Pray for some miracles while you’re at it, like for an amputee to have his limb grow back, or for your God to change a tragic accident the night before so that a carload of kids did not die in that car crash. Hey, why not? If God can foreknow your prayers then he could do that, just as you expect your prayers to be answered that no one was hurt as soon as you hear there has been an accident, even though it already happened.
This procedure is a real-world test of religious claims. If Christianity is true, it should pass this test with flying colors. If Christianity is false, it should fail the test miserably. Christianity fails this test miserably.
(776) Difficult questions for the faithful
Belief in Christianity is a fragile thing for people who think in a logical and critical manner. It is strongest in people who are more intuitive and base much of their reality on feelings. The following website lists several questions that must be difficult for the former group:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. -Hebrews 13:8
1 John 3:8 says, ”The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” What works of the devil did He destroy? Isn’t there as much or more evil in the world now than before Jesus came?
Jesus said that His Father “has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18-19). Why doesn’t Jesus bring about the freeing of the 30 million exploited and powerless captives who are being held in slavery throughout the earth?
The Jews were punished because they rejected and killed Jesus. But what if they hadn’t? The whole doctrine of Redemption through Jesus’ blood would be null and void.
When Jesus said, “Take no thought for the morrow,” (Matthew 6:34) didn’t he realize how many people would take him literally and therefore foolishly make no preparations for the future? Shouldn’t He have qualified that statement?
Why doesn’t Jesus multiply loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:13-21) again to provide food for the 17,000 children all over the planet who die from hunger and starvation each and every day?
Why doesn’t Jesus again say “Peace! Be Still” (Mark 4:39) to the tornados, floods, hurricanes and typhoons that have been devastating the earth God made and killing its inhabitants?
Why doesn’t Jesus extend His healing hand in Haiti to strike down Cholera, which has stricken more than 660,000 people resulting in more than 8,300 deaths in the last few years?
How is it possible that Jesus said “Let the little children to come to me” (Matthew 19:14) and also that the Holy Spirit inspired, “Happy is the one who seizes his infants and dashes them against the rocks.” (Psalm 137:9)?
Any hypothesis that generates these kinds of conundrums, inconsistencies, paradoxes, and downright absurdities demands a very hard and critical look. Christianity overplayed its hand and promised way too much, revealing to those who have structured brains to realize that it is all just a silly myth.
The fatal error was making Jesus a god, having him wildly overstate the power of prayer, and proclaiming the unlimited capabilities of God. It would have been far more digestible if Jesus was just a mortal representative of God, prayer was only claimed to change the inner state of the supplicant, and God was presented as limited in power but still capable of judging souls based on their deeds (not beliefs) in this life.
(777) Instead of petty miracles, Jesus, give us this!
Christians parade out the miracles that Jesus allegedly performed as proof that he was the lord and savior, and most unabashedly, that he was God himself. But these miracles only affected a few individuals twenty centuries ago, and the factual truth of their occurrence is a legitimately debated topic, especially considering that they were documented decades later by anonymous non-eyewitness authors.
Instead of miracles, Jesus, if he was God, could have enlightened the world with his infinite knowledge and, as a result, have alleviated much of the terror, pain, suffering, and death, not to mention the squalid living conditions, that beset so many millions of people who were to live on after he left for the comfortable confines of Heaven.
Further, these gems of knowledge and wisdom would have been far more convincing of his divine status to virtually everyone alive today than the dubious claims of his miracles.
The following is taken from:
In the roughly 12,000 days this self-named Middle Eastern God walked the earth he didn’t once mention bacteria, pasteurization, or the importance of dental hygiene. In the roughly 1,000 sunlit days Jesus was on his ministry, speaking to sets of desperately eager ears, he didn’t once explain the sun, the composition of the atmosphere, clouds, or sooth people’s fears of the terrifying blights of lightning and thunder. In the roughly 1,000 long, long television-free nights Jesus had to say something new or useful, he didn’t once look up and explain to his friends the moon (and the tides), the stars, the planets, our position in the solar system, the galaxy, the nature of gravity, light, radiation, or on a more practical note, dispense the formula for sun block. In the three years of his ministry he didn’t point anyone in the direction of morphine, teach a soul about the nature of asthma, epilepsy, genetics, the periodic table, volcanology, the causes of headaches, muscle cramps, prenatal care, plate tectonics, architecture, evolution, or tell a single living being about the science of corrective-optics. He didn’t mention anything about better, faster, safer forms of transportation, communication technology, math, the metric system, a new swimming technique, scuba diving, blast furnaces, magnetic compasses, quartz watches, wind turbines, the wonders of reinforced concrete, ball bearings, immunization, New Zealand, the physics of flight, thermal dynamics, podiatry, water purification, desalination, stainless steel, umbrellas, telescopes, microscopes, macroeconomics, paper, washing machines, tupperware, bicycles, bras, buttons, refrigeration, or even introduce a single new spice to spruce up otherwise bland Judean recipes. In the 290,000 hours he had to say something new or useful, he made no mention of the link between mosquitos and malaria, representative democracy, or even electricity. Flushable toilets, a technology based on gravity alone, would have saved thousands of lives lost to dysentery and cholera in the time of his alleged ministry, and tens of millions in the two millennia since. In all of the 1,740,000 minutes he had to say something new or marginally useful, Jesus didn’t utter a solitary constructive word about weather stations, a global language like Esperanto, a world map, or even the wonders of vulcanized rubber; a certain showstopper in the age of sandals.
To have spoken of any of these things, things unknown to 1st Century Palestine, would have been remarkable evidence for his existence and claims. Not saying any of it is more than just a little pathetic. Three year ministry and not a single helpful titbit was offered up by this Palestinian rabbi as he moved about on his purported sojourn on the earthy plateau; a journey we’re told that was rather oddly limited to about 90km2 on a 508,000,000km2 planet, and which somehow miraculously missed all political, philosophical, and scientific hotbeds of the day.
Indeed, speaking some 500 years after the Greek atomists (Leucippus and Democritus) first scratched at a greater understanding of the natural world, Jesus failed entirely to say a word or two about the nature of reality, subatomic particles, or fusion which would not only have been useful, eventually, but utterly astonishing to later audiences. 600 years before Jesus spun his sometimes poetic but otherwise quite bland parables, Aesop’s was telling much, much better stories infused with real practical advice. 500 years before Jesus, Confucius’s worldly wisdom (“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”) puts the Palestinian rabbi’s efforts to shame. In all truth, Jesus’ onlymoment of presenting something genuinely useful, something which could be practically applied by people across all cultures and all time, the so-named Golden Rule, was plagiarized. The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in the Mahabharata (8th Century BCE) “The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself,” in Homer’s Odyssey (6th century BCE), “I will be as careful for you as I will be for myself in the same need,” 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was even articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”
Even the much touted Beatitudes delivered at the Sermon on the Mount (the first will be last and the last first) is nothing but a poetic re-hash of the concepts of cosmic justice first articulated by Laozi, Rishabha and Mahavira (Jainism), andSiddhartha Gautama, amongst other mystics and thinkers long, long before.
The thought to be “revolutionary idea” of turning the other cheek is, in fact, an ancient utterance. Lao Tzu, said it this way: I treat those who are good with goodness. And I also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Zhuangzi said it this way: Do good to him who has done you an injury. Rishabha said it this way: My Lord! Others have fallen back in showing compassion to their benefactors as you have shown compassion even to your malefactors. All this is unparalleled. Mahavira said it this way: Man should subvert anger by forgiveness, subdue pride by modesty, overcome hypocrisy with simplicity, and greed by contentment. In Hinduism it’s said this way: A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct. One should never harm the wicked or the good or even criminals meriting death. A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them–for who is without fault? And Siddhartha Gautama said it this way: Conquer anger by love. Conquer evil by good. Conquer the stingy by giving. Conquer the liar by truth.
Even the role Jesus said he was playing, that of messiah, was anything but new. As early as a thousand years before, Zoroaster (who also taught equality irrespective of gender, race, or religion) had spoken of the Saoshyant; the saviour figure who was referred to as the World Renovator and Victorious Benefactor who will defeat “the evil of the progeny of the biped” and establish the Kingdom of Good Thought (righteousness).
This is a powerful indictment of the concept that Jesus was God, because, if he was, then his sense of compassion, morality, and ethics paled in comparison to any reasonable human living today. For instance, it would be like an engineer going to an impoverished backwoods tribe and doing a few card tricks instead of helping them build a water purification system.
(778) Action of one versus prayers of one thousand
Imagine that you are in the company of 1000 devout Christians attending a praise banquet. Suddenly, an olive becomes lodged in your throat and you can no longer breathe. You are suffocating and motion to those around you that you need help.
At this point, you are given a choice. Either you can have the 1000 Christians to begin praying with all their might to their all-powerful and benevolent god to clear your throat of the olive, OR you can have a CPR-qualified nurse come to your aid to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. Which do you pick?
Virtually, everybody, including Christians, atheists, as well as people of other faiths, will chose the second option, for the nurse to come to their aid. But why? Why would the action of one fallible, highly limited (by comparison), human be more effective in this situation than an omnipotent god?
Here are some possibilities:
- God cannot hear and act on a prayer request within the few minutes needed to save the victim.
- God is too busy to try to save one person when scores and hundreds of people are dying simultaneously in other areas of the globe.
- God, by design, purposely lets things happen without interfering.
- God does not exist.
Most Christians will be very reluctant to agree to either of the first two reasons, as that would be admitting that God is limited in his power. Some might reluctantly acquiesce to the third reason, as a way to somehow maintain their faith. But obviously, the most probable reason that everyone chooses the nurse over the prayers is that they tacitly, or even subconsciously, understand that god is an imaginary being and that they can only be helped by an actual, physical agent within the common reality of their existence.
This test is meant to awaken Christians to the truth that resides in the repressed recesses of their brains that, if liberated, would speak out, no shout out, that their belief in God is unfounded. Yes, praying to an imaginary god is less effective than the simple action of a single human being.
(779) Messy pastor successions
When churches select a new pastor, often the process gets bogged down in controversy. This is actually a big problem for the believability of Christianity. The following is taken from:
Why are Senior pastor successions in significant Evangelical churches so messy? Besides our own church, I think of Bethel Church in Evansville, Northwoods Church in Evansville, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, and Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, to name a few. Are church boards really not praying for His direction, is God not giving it, are they not listening, or are they just stubbornly choosing to disregard His leading?
The same question can be asked when the Catholic Church selects a new pope. If all of the cardinals are praying to the same god for guidance, then it would be expected that this god would inspire each of them to vote for the right choice. But this doesn’t happen. There is always controversy and multiple ballots.
If Christianity was true, we would expect to see a big difference between a church picking a new leader versus the similar process when a corporation picks a new CEO. But, in reality, it’s the same. Why? Maybe because there is no god to provide inspiration and voting alignment.
(780) Why do churches use gimmicks to attract congregants?
Places of business skillfully use various stratagems to attract customers, whether it be fancy buildings, special lighting, sales, balloons, free food, or whatever. But a church should be different, because it is selling something that is materially different- a source of power, inspiration, and supplication that is allegedly provided by an infinite, all-knowing, omnipresent, omnipotent deity. It shouldn’t need all of the marketing contraptions of a regular business.
The following is taken from:
If there is authority and power in a relationship with God (Matt 28:18; Acts 1:8; 4:33), why would we need so many “fun” activities and smoke and lights and theatrics and technological “wizardry” to attract people to our churches and the gospel message?
When a church attracts people just like a regular business, it concedes that it is selling nothing more supernatural than televisions, couches, and onions. A church should not have trouble filling its pews; rather, if Christianity was true, it should be figuring out ways to deal with overflowing crowds.
(781) Christianity fails the test of logical game theory
Christians will often say that life has no meaning if you are just going to die and cease to exist. But a case can be made to the contrary. The following is taken from:
My present life on earth seems to offer so many opportunities of beauty and enjoyment. But I get the impression from the Bible that we should really be thinking mostly in terms of the afterlife – where we will be when our physical lives have come to an end on this planet. Is that what God had in mind when we were born – to think of ourselves as orphans hanging out in a bus terminal for + or – 70 years waiting to be taken to our REAL home?
In Christianity, the mortal life that we lead in this existence is nothing but a prelude to our ‘real’ life that will exist in heaven for eternity. It is like the 15-second popcorn commercial before the previews and main feature are shown. It causes some to make sacrifices of fun, experience, knowledge, and intellectual curiosity in an effort to secure a favorable outcome in the afterlife.
This is where Christianity begins to stretch credulity to the breaking point. It makes better sense that, if God has some desire to entertain subordinate companions in an eternal paradise, that he would simple have had us born there in the first place. To have us go through this stressful and often tormenting earthly enterprise makes little sense.
Christians will claim that God sent us to this planet to see if we would chose good or evil so he would know whether to send us to Heaven or Hell. But, since he is all knowing, he would already know what choices we would make. It would be like climbing to the top of a tower and releasing a ball to see if it will drop to the ground. It would be a meaningless effort just to confirm what you already know.
Thus, Christianity fails the test of logical game theory, and that makes it less likely to be true. And given that Christianity and other religions are almost certainly false, it is the non-theists who live much fuller lives, rich with diverse experiences, and with free minds to explore any and all intellectual topics.
(782) Ambiguous end times
There are many verses in the Bible addressing the end of the current age, when Jesus will stop the current flow of life and make some final judgments. Here is a compilation of these verses:
Mark 13:32 – But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Matthew 24:7 – For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Luke 21:11 – And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
Joel 2:28-32 – And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (Read More…)
1 Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Matthew 24:6 – And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Luke 21:25 – And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Revelation 3:3 – Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (Read More…)
Matthew 24:36 – But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Luke 21:36 – Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Daniel 12:4 – But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
The problem is that when these verses are considered in toto, there is not a single, unambiguous description of what will happen. The following is taken from:
Why are statements in the Bible about the events surrounding the return of Christ so ambiguous? They have lent themselves to various interpretation as Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, Amillennialism; Pre-tribulation Rapture, Mid-tribulation Rapture and Post-tribulation Rapture. Why would the Holy Spirit inspire words, thoughts and concepts that are so abstruse and conflicting?
The problem for Christianity is that the Bible is assumed to be (effectively) written by a single author, God, or the Holy Spirit, so it would be expected that the descriptions of the end times would merge to form a indisputable concept of the same. But instead, there are at least 6 ‘theories’ about how it will occur. This is precisely what would be expected if multiple authors, not inspired by any supernatural source, wrote down their idea of how it should happen.
(783) The origin of the idea of God
It is highly probable that the worship of gods by early mankind was not a reaction to any supernatural phenomena, but rather a mis-interpretation of the natural world. This points out that the existence of god worship is very poor evidence that any of these gods exist. The following is taken from:
Where does the idea of God come from? Well, I think we have a very skewed point of view on an awful lot of things, but let’s try and see where our point of view comes from. Imagine early man. Early man is, like everything else, an evolved creature and he finds himself in a world that he’s begun to take a little charge of; he’s begun to be a tool-maker, a changer of his environment with the tools that he’s made and he makes tools, when he does, in order to make changes in his environment.
To give an example of the way man operates compared to other animals, consider speciation, which, as we know, tends to occur when a small group of animals gets separated from the rest of the herd by some geological upheaval, population pressure, food shortage or whatever and finds itself in a new environment with maybe something different going on.
Take a very simple example; maybe a bunch of animals suddenly finds itself in a place where the weather is rather colder. We know that in a few generations those genes which favour a thicker coat will have come to the fore and we’ll come and we’ll find that the animals have now got thicker coats. Early man, who’s a tool maker, doesn’t have to do this: he can inhabit an extraordinarily wide range of habitats on earth, from tundra to the Gobi Desert – he even manages to live in New York for heaven’s sake – and the reason is that when he arrives in a new environment he doesn’t have to wait for several generations; if he arrives in a colder environment and sees an animal that has those genes which favour a thicker coat, he says “I’ll have it off him”. Tools have enabled us to think intentionally, to make things and to do things to create a world that fits us better.
Now imagine an early man surveying his surroundings at the end of a happy day’s tool making. He looks around and he sees a world which pleases him mightily: behind him are mountains with caves in – mountains are great because you can go and hide in the caves and you are out of the rain and the bears can’t get you; in front of him there’s the forest – it’s got nuts and berries and delicious food; there’s a stream going by, which is full of water – water’s delicious to drink, you can float your boats in it and do all sorts of stuff with it; here’s cousin Ug and he’s caught a mammoth – mammoth’s are great, you can eat them, you can wear their coats, you can use their bones to create weapons to catch other mammoths. I mean this is a great world, it’s fantastic. But our early man has a moment to reflect and he thinks to himself, ‘well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in’ and then he asks himself a very treacherous question, a question which is totally meaningless and fallacious, but only comes about because of the nature of the sort of person he is, the sort of person he has evolved into and the sort of person who has thrived because he thinks this particular way.
Man the maker looks at his world and says ‘So who made this then?’ Who made this? – you can see why it’s a treacherous question. Early man thinks, ‘Well, because there’s only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he’s probably male’. And so we have the idea of a god. Then, because when we make things we do it with the intention of doing something with them, early man asks himself , ‘If he made it, what did he make it for?’
Now the real trap springs, because early man is thinking, ‘This world fits me very well. Here are all these things that support me and feed me and look after me; yes, this world fits me nicely’ and he reaches the inescapable conclusion that whoever made it, made it for him.
All of the world’s religions, past and present, owe to some extent their existence on the original ideation of the existence of supernatural beings. When we go back in time to explore how these beliefs were first formed, it becomes evident that they were fundamentally founded in a clueless, ignorant, and incomplete understanding of the natural world. Because of this, all religions have their roots embedded in this naive and uninformed past, and consequently, they should be viewed with a healthy measure of skepticism.
(784) More on the treatment of children
It is highly probable that if an actual god existed he would construct a religious faith that forcefully protects the rights, health, and safety of children. But when we evaluate how the Christian god has treated children, a dismal record emerges. The following is taken from:
Christianity as a whole takes a dim view of children. This is not unusual for the Abrahamic religions but Christianity takes it further. We can benefit from understanding this because 1) our own Christian training can unconsciously impact the way we treat children, 2) our indoctrination can affect the way we view and treat ourselves in the most basic ways, and 3) many people in our culture are impacted by Biblical views of children.
You may object if you have images of Jesus with children in his lap, protecting them and teaching them. But that was a Sunday School picture, and not exactly in the Bible. Jesus words were to allow the children to come to him, for of such were the kingdom of heaven (humble, compliant).
Children in the Bible are most often objects to be owned, controlled, used, and discarded when a problem. They are important for lineage, not for themselves. They are often not mentioned at all and sometimes slaughtered wholesale. Human sacrifice in the Bible happens multiple times, and always with a child.
One of the most horrific stories of the Bible is the story of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice Isaac. He complies (God intervenes), and the story reports no controversy or anguish whatever. God is pleased with Abraham’s obedience. In church we were also taught to be impressed with this obedience – not concerned about Isaac’s therapy bill or how Sarah felt.
In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot offers his daughters to the visitors to rape – again objects to simply use. God still considers Lot righteous and saves him and his family.
Jephthah was a military man who promised God that if he was victorious in battle, he would return home and sacrifice to the Lord the first person who greeted him. It was his daughter, and did he change his mind? No, she was the thing to sacrifice – just part of a deal.
Many people consider the Ten Commandments to be a superior moral guide. Yet there is no mention of children at all. There is no prohibition for child abuse (or for rape). But parents get full billing with the fourth commandment, “Honor thy father and mother, that thy days may be long on the earth.” Not only are you to respect your parents but you get a special reward for doing so (the only commandment with an extra inducement). This commandment is a central tenet of Christian parenting that can lead to authoritarian methods and abuse.
The God of the Bible, Jehovah, uses authoritarian and sometimes arbitrary methods to deal with people, including children. In the flood of Noah’s time, there was no effort to spare innocent children. In Egypt, God “hardened” Pharoah’s heart so he could show his power, and this culminated in slaughtering many thousands of Egyptian babies. The genocides in Canaan included every man, woman, and child, sometimes explicitly (See I Samual 15:3 about the Amalakites). Referring to Israel’s enemies, the psalmist gloated, “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones” (Psalm 137:9).
These are not the directives of the Geneva Convention or the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. They are a far cry from humanistic ideals for parenting or treatment of children. A humanistic view of children is one of innocence. In contrast, a biblical view is one of original sin, even teaching children that they are bad. A goal in humanistic parenting is personal growth and creativity. The primary goal for Christian parents is obedience, illustrated by the verse, “Children obey your parents in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1), a verse that goes on to tell slaves to obey their masters. Guidance for humanistic parents involves a variety of nonviolent methods while a biblical approach is still “spare the rod and spoil the child.” A humanist sees a child as a full and unique human being, not an empty vessel, blank slate, or animal to be trained. Unfortunately the devout parent takes to heart the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). A humanist parent respects knowledge of child development while a religious approach is limited to the Bible.
The Bible’s callousness to children’s welfare is not evidence that the true god of the universe is indifferent to their plight. Rather, it shows that the people who wrote this book were simply reflecting the un-evolved attitudes that existed in their day. If the Bible were being written today, it would be far more sympathetic to children.
(785) Governments assume there is no god
Governments around the world spend lots of money tackling problems ranging from climate change, to cures for cancer, heart disease, AIDS, etc. to even bolder challenges such as cures for paralysis and dementia. None of the leaders of these countries, including those dominated by Christians, have suggested that they are wasting time, effort, and money on these projects on account of the fact that God has offered to answer our earnest prayers and give us what we desire.
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Instead of expending considerable resources on these problems, why not simply take what God has allegedly promised- solutions that are free of charge, just sitting there for the asking? Why not shut down all cancer research and hire thousands of Christians to come together to ask God to cure cancer once and for all?
Why? Because God exists only in the minds of people, not anywhere else in our cold, harsh, indifferent universe. And all of the religious politicians who govern the world manifest this truth every day that they are in session. Observe what they do, and you will see that, despite their pontifications, they are, in fact, functional atheists.
(786) The Book of Daniel is fiction
A strong case against Christianity is that there is an historical and scholarly consensus that the Book Of Daniel is confirmed fiction. This says a lot since the Book Of Daniel is quoted often by Christians because of its claims of end-time prophecies.
As historian and scholar, Dr. Richard Carrier, says in his book On The Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt, Dr. Carrier says:
“Similarly, it’s now the mainstream view that The Book Of Daniel was written in the second century BCE and is a complete fiction, representing the elaborate adventures and speeches of the six-century prophet Daniel as if they were a fact (see sources and discussion in chapter 4, element 7). Historians doubt even the existence of Daniel. But even if he existed, historians are certain The Book Of Daniel does not contain anything he authentically said, or did. Rather, this Daniel, and everything he was supposed to have said and done, was invented to create a historical authority, for a new vision of society, to inspire a new unity and a new moral order against the immoral rule of dominating foreigners. We must accept that the same is at least possible for Jesus.”
So, this is just another confirmed exposure about how 12 chapters in the Old Testament are simply fictional stories that were put into a storybook, with their original intention being nothing more than that (a fictional story book full of fictional stories). The Bible is ostensibly full of fiction, with no evidence of truth other than a few names and places that are irrelevant to the authenticity of the stories.
The following is taken from:
The prophecies of the Book of Daniel have fascinated readers and created controversy for the past two thousand years. Evangelical Christians believe that the prophet Daniel, an official in the courts of Near-Eastern emperors in the sixth century BC, foretold the future of the world from his own time to the end of the age. Actually, the book was written in Palestine in the mid-second century BC by an author who expected God to set up his everlasting kingdom in his own near future, as we read in the mainline commentaries and Bible dictionaries:
Seeing four immense beasts coming up out of the sea, Daniel becomes duly horrified. Now it is Daniel’s turn to seek enlightenment as to the meaning of the vision, as the pagans did of him in the earlier narratives of the book. An angel explains that the lion symbolizes the Babylonian kingdom; the bear, the Median; the leopard, the Persian; and the terrifying monster with the ten horns, the Hellenistic (Seleucid). Three of the horns are uprooted by a small horn which sprouts up and speaks arrogantly (Antiochus IV Epiphanes). The Ancient One, symbol of God, appears in glory and judgment. The four beasts are slain, and finally everlasting dominion is given to “one in human likeness,” symbolizing the holy ones of the Most High, or the faithful Jews who had been devastated by the wicked Antiochus for three and a half years.
The angel Gabriel again appears and reveals that the seventy years are in reality seventy weeks of years upon the completion of which justice will be done and the temple reconsecrated. The accuracy of Gabriel’s mathematics is apparently of little concern, Daniel’s true interest being the last week of years, from the death of Onias III in 171 B.C. to the inauguration of the Kingdom of God in 164, which followed the roughly half week of years during which Antiochus IV abolished sacrifices and defiled the temple by placing on the altar the “appalling abomination” (or “abomination of desolation”).
The failure of his prediction refutes evangelical claims that the Bible is inerrant and prophecy proves its divine inspiration.
The original purpose of the Book of Daniel was to comfort and encourage persecuted Jews during the Maccabean revolt. It all began in December of 167 BC, when the Seleucid emperor Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem with an idol bearing his likeness. He went on to force his Jewish subjects to abandon the Sabbath, circumcision, and food laws, torturing and killing all who opposed him. At this outrage, the Jews revolted under Judas Maccabeus, driving the Seleucid armies out of Palestine and recapturing the Temple. In December of 164 BC, they rededicated the Temple to Jewish worship on the first Hanukkah.
Although the Book of Daniel resides in the Old Testament, which many Christians invalidly dismiss, the fact that is has been confirmed to be a fictional tale written 400 years after the supposed events, with no intervening citations, is a fatal blow to Christianity and the entire scope of all of the Abrahamic religions. Preachers around the world have fashioned millions of sermons around this book- a book of pure fiction, and a book that presents a failed prophecy.
(787) Jesus’s philosophy was neither original nor remarkable
There are many Christian apologists who cite the thoughts and ideas of Jesus as being somehow other-worldly, the utterances that could only come from the mind of God. This is nonsense. Virtually everything he allegedly said was said before, and often said better. The following is taken from:
Indeed, speaking some 500 years after the Greek atomists (Leucippus and Democritus) first scratched at a greater understanding of the natural world, Jesus failed entirely to say a word or two about the nature of reality, subatomic particles, or fusion which would not only have been useful, eventually, but utterly astonishing to later audiences. 600 years before Jesus spun his sometimes poetic but otherwise quite bland parables, Aesop’s was telling much, much better stories infused with real practical advice. 500 years before Jesus, Confucius’s worldly wisdom (“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”) puts the Palestinian rabbi’s efforts to shame. In all truth, Jesus’ only moment of presenting something genuinely useful, something which could be practically applied by people across all cultures and all time, the so-named Golden Rule, was plagiarized. The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in the Mahabharata (8th Century BCE) “The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself,” in Homer’s Odyssey (6th century BCE), “I will be as careful for you as I will be for myself in the same need,” 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was even articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”
Even the much touted Beatitudes delivered at the Sermon on the Mount (the first will be last and the last first) is nothing but a poetic re-hash of the concepts of cosmic justice first articulated by Laozi, Rishabha and Mahavira (Jainism), andSiddhartha Gautama, amongst other mystics and thinkers long, long before.
The thought to be “revolutionary idea” of turning the other cheek is, in fact, an ancient utterance. Lao Tzu, said it this way: I treat those who are good with goodness. And I also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Zhuangzi said it this way: Do good to him who has done you an injury. Rishabha said it this way: My Lord! Others have fallen back in showing compassion to their benefactors as you have shown compassion even to your malefactors. All this is unparalleled. Mahavira said it this way: Man should subvert anger by forgiveness, subdue pride by modesty, overcome hypocrisy with simplicity, and greed by contentment. In Hinduism it’s said this way: A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct. One should never harm the wicked or the good or even criminals meriting death. A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them–for who is without fault? And Siddhartha Gautama said it this way: Conquer anger by love. Conquer evil by good. Conquer the stingy by giving. Conquer the liar by truth.
Even the role Jesus said he was playing, that of messiah, was anything but new. As early as a thousand years before, Zoroaster (who also taught equality irrespective of gender, race, or religion) had spoken of the Saoshyant; the saviour figure who was referred to as the World Renovator and Victorious Benefactor who will defeat “the evil of the progeny of the biped” and establish the Kingdom of Good Thought (righteousness).
What this should tell any thinking person is that the philosophy presented in the gospels is a rehashed version of what already existed during the First Century, and that nothing was added to the collective body of ideas, insights, or ethics that would suggest a contribution from a divine source. This is credible evidence that Jesus was not a god.
(788) Haile Selassie and Rastafarianism
The Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie (1892-1975), who was the emperor from 1930-1974 and the founder of the Rastafarian religion, was an example of someone who history compares in many ways to Jesus, but who also very few Christians give any credibility of being any sort of divine messiah. Even Haile himself insisted that he was not divine in any way.
On the Rastafari movement:
The elevation of Emperor Selassie to godhood proves that someone’s life can be completely misinterpreted by people and with no evidence to support their fantasy. The same process could easily have occurred with Jesus, assuming that he was historical, especially considering that he lived 1900 years earlier in a much more credulous and superstitious time.
As Dr. Richard Carrier writes in his book On The Historicity Of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason To Doubt:
“It’s quite common for historical persons to become surrounded by a vast quantity of myth and legend, and very rapidly, too, especially when they become the object of religious veneration. Thus the fact that this has happened never in itself argues that the person in question didn’t exist. One relatively recent example is the elevation of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie to the status of a god… by people he never asked this favor from and even repeatedly begged to stop. His deification (and continued worship to this day) is the foundation of the modern Rastafarian faith, which claims hundreds of thousands of adherents worldwide.
It’s telling that we know that he professed to his death his own Christian faith and his continual despair at the fact that he had been elevated into a revered divinity so quickly- despite his protests (and one would think if your own god protested your worshiping him, you’d listen- and yet here we are). Myths and legends of him quickly grew- even within his own lifetime, and all the more rapidly in the two decades after his death in 1975. And yet none had any basis in fact. At all. Yet still they remain the central affirmations of a living faith.”
What this proves is that an ordinary man can be interpreted as a “messiah”, a divine being, a supernatural savior, and all without evidence and all the while professing that it’s all a lie and that they actually believe in other gods and another religion devoutly. This brings up the intriguing possibility that Jesus denied his divine status despite those around him proclaiming him to be a god.
In case anyone has not seen The Life Of Brian, this sums it up pretty well.
So here is the bottom line:
– If you don’t believe The Life Of Brian Is real and that Brian was the messiah, then you shouldn’t think that Emperor Selassie was any sort of divine messiah either.
– If you don’t believe that Emperor Selassie was a divine messiah, then you shouldn’t believe that a man named Yeshua (Jesus),assuming he existed, was any sort of divine messiah either.
The Life Of Brian is FALSE
Rastafarianism is FALSE
(789) The Kumaré Film Project
Have you ever thought about doing an experiment to see how easy it would be to start a cult? What would it take and how would you do such a thing? In 2011 film maker Vikram Ghandi did just that by releasing the film he starred in as the key character in his documentary “Kumaré: The True Story Of A False Prophet.”
With clips and details:
When making his movie, the director/actor specifically had Jesus and Buddha on his mind. The more he told people that he was not a guru, or a prophet, the more people thought he was exactly what he said he was not. People lied to themselves and told each other stories about his mystical power, by which they implied his divinity.
There was no evidence that he was divine, or magical, or had any spiritual credentials of any sort, yet in the clip we see people telling themselves and each other that he had these implied characteristics. All the while he assured them he was just a man.
How is this evidence Christianity is false? It is evidence that people invent their own messiahs. It is evidence that even today in modern society, with science, logic, facts, the internet, cameras, cellphones and education around us everywhere, a man who says nothing nevertheless has the potential to deceive millions. Imagine 2000 years ago, if someone either wanted to deceive people, or didn’t even have to deceive anyone because they would simply just deceive themselves about that person.
Just like when a Christian tells you that they know in their heart that Jesus is real and he loves them, some of Kumaré’s followers felt the same. One girl in one of the above short clips knew that she had a connection with Kumaré, as did many people who were shown to feel the same way.
Should the film maker had wished, he could have carried on his charade indefinitely. His followers would have children and they would be child indoctrinated, and his followers would bring other people into his cult, especially those who were in a vulnerable point in their lives and were easily manipulated “seekers”.
Just like Christianity is tailor made for the indoctrinated and the vulnerable, Kumaré’s followers are of the same status, though their leader is still alive.
The problem for Christianity is that the Kumaré phenomena greatly lowers the bar in explaining how the Christian faith could have formed and spread without Jesus being a divine being. It defuses the many arguments of apologists who suggest that so many people could not have deceived themselves if Jesus was not the real deal.
(790) God failed to inspire Bible translators
Most people know that thousands of Bible copying errors were made in the early centuries of Christianity, but it is less well known that even if we had the original manuscripts, there would still be a formidable problem translating them accurately into modern languages. The following it taken from:
It is well known that the Bible is the most translated book in the world. In 1994 the United Bible Societies recorded that, of the estimated 3,000 languages in the world, 341 had complete Bibles, 822 some parts of the Bible, and that Bible translation was in progress in an additional 1,000 languages (Institut perevoda Biblii, 1996; 227). The lack of ability to speak the languages in which the Bible was originally written and continual changes in the languages we speak have created the need to translate the Bible. Therefore, throughout the years, there have been many who have translated or tried to translate the Bible.
However, translating the Bible is not an easy task, since there are many problems inherent in Bible translation. If we think how hard it is to translate modern languages into English, then how much more difficult it must be to translate 3,000-year-old Hebrew and 2,000-year-old Greek! The purpose of this paper is to consider some of the basic problems of Bible translation that have been encountered in the past and will certainly be encountered in the future.
One basic problem inherent in Bible translation is that we do not have the original manuscript of the Bible, but copies of copies of copies… and this causes many problems because translators do not know which of all these copies is correct and which is not, since none of them are identical. The differences are not very significant in the Old Testament, but they are in the New Testament. According to research, “about 3 per cent of the Bible’s texts varies across all the manuscripts. Nowadays, we have about 1,500 complete or partial manuscripts of the New Testament.”
There are two main approaches to solving this problem. The more common one is called the ecletic approach. Scholars put together a text from all the available manuscripts using various rules to sort out differences. For example: what do the oldest manuscripts say? What do the majority say? What do the best say? Which reading is more likely? But this approach is not accepted by many people, for it gives too much scope to human judgment. Another approach that has been used in the past is that of Ivan Panin. In 1890 Ivan Panin, after his conversion from atheism, discovered that the entire Bible was full of hidden numerical patterns largely based on the number seven. This discovery had two major implications. First, it gave striking proof of the inspiration of the Scripture. Every sentence, every word and even every letter had the divine seal upon it. The patterns could never have been placed there by human wit. Second, it gave him a method of deciding in every instance which was the correct text; and this numerical theory even enabled Panin to resolve ambiguities of punctuation (ibid). However, Ivan Panin’s work has been almost entirely ignored by academics.
As most people know, the Bible in its original untranslated form is a collection of ancient writings; the New Testament in Greek (though parts may have been previously written in Hebrew or Aramaic and then translated into Greek), the Old Testament in Hebrew and Aramaic, some passages of the Old Testament, mostly in Daniel, spanning many cultures and more than a thousand years. The 66 books into which the Bible is divided represent “a greater variety of literary styles e.g. historical narrative, prophecy, poetry, instructions and exhortation etc. than any other piece of literature in the history of mankind” (Snell-Hornby et al., 1998; 275). This variety of text types makes Bible translation a hard task for the translator, especially when translating into languages which do not have a long literary tradition.
Another problem that many translators face in Bible translation is that the Bible is addressed to a huge variety of people, e.g. theologians, adults, children, believers and non-believers, etc. And as Snell-Hornby states, the Bible is written for different uses, i.e., for both readers and listeners (ibid, 275). Thus, we could say that it is very difficult for a translator to translate the Bible since s/he must ‘reproduce’ an equivalent text in the Target Language, which can be ‘used’ for the same purposes as that of the Source Language.
Eugene Nida points out that “since no two languages are identical, there can be no absolute correspondence between languages. Hence, there can be no fully exact translations. The total impact of a translation may be reasonably close to the original, but there can be no identity in detail” (cited in Venuti 2000; 127). It is accepted that exact translation is ‘impossible’ since meanings of words and grammatical structures in any two languages do not generally correspond. We can illustrate that with the Greek word λόγος. No one English word is exactly equivalent to it. It can mean a word, a thought, a saying, a discourse, a narrative, a matter and many other things. The translator must choose the best equivalent in each situation. To illustrate grammatical problems we can consider tenses. English has two present tenses whereas most other languages only have one. Εσθίω in Greek or ich esse in German can mean ‘I eat’ or ‘I am eating’. Pronouns are also full of problems. Hebrew has four words for you distinguishing between masculine and feminine and singular and plural. English has only the one. In the Song of Solomon, in the Hebrew it is always clear from the gender whether the bride or bridegroom is speaking, but some English versions lose the distinction (See Notes for a discussion of specific biblical passages).
So from the above examples we can see that it is totally impossible to take a document in one language and make an exact word for word equivalent of it in another. Frequently the translator must grasp the meaning of the original as best he can and then seek to reproduce that meaning in the Target Language. This, however, can be done if the Bible translator “respects the features of the receptor language and exploits the potentialities of the language to the greatest possible extent” (Nida and Taber 1974, 4). And as Nida says, “unfortunately, in some instances translators have actually tried to ‘remake’ a language; but this was unsuccessful” (ibid, 4). For example, one missionary in Latin America insisted on trying to introduce the passive voice of the verb into a language which had no such form. Of course, this was not successful. One should simply accept the fact that there are many languages which do not have a passive voice and find a way to report actions in the active voice.
Another problem inherent in Bible translation is comprehension of the intended meaning. Here, in fact, there are at least three problems. First, there is the problem of understanding the ancient languages in which the Bible was written. No one who spoke those languages is around to tell us what they mean. We all know that languages continually change over time. New words are always being added and others take on different or added meanings. For example, only recently have we begun using the word ‘Internet’ as part of the everyday speech. And when we hear the word ‘cool’ in a conversation today, it is not always referring to the weather. Therefore, it is obvious that words do not have only one meaning, and many are not used in the same way that they were used in the past.
It is also well known that even modern Greeks and Israelis cannot understand the Bible from its original manuscripts; they need a translation. However, to understand the Bible, words must be studied in all the places where they occur in available writings and compared with similar words in related languages. Then, we might be able to understand or guess their meaning. Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that of the Bible expected to be understood. The Bible is not a collection of cabalistic writing or of Delphic oracles. As Nida says, “the writers of the Bible were addressing themselves to concrete historical situations and were speaking to living people confronted with pressing issues” (ibid, 7). Thus, we should assume that the writers of the Bible expected to be understood, and also that they intended one meaning and not several, unless an intentional ambiguity is linguistically ‘marked.’
There is also the problem of cultural understanding. With an imperfect knowledge of ancient cultures it is not always possible to understand references of various kinds. Bible scholars are continually learning things about ancient Israel and the Near East that can help us understand the historical and cultural context out of which the Bible emerged. For example, we understand much more clearly today the way the various social classes interacted in the ancient world, as well as the more intimate workings of families, clans and tribes in ancient Israel. Such discoveries sometimes affect how we understand the words and the stories of the Bible. In addition, archeologists continue to find documents and libraries that can help translators understand the ancient Hebrew and Greek languages better, and so help them translate the Bible more accurately. For instance, the King James Version translates 1 Samuel 17.22 like this:
The translators had difficulty with one of the Hebrew words in the manuscripts they used, and translated “his carriage” and “keeper of the carriage” based on the context of the narrative. As translators learned more about the Hebrew language and its vocabulary they understood that the verse did not talk about David’s ‘carriage,’ but about the ‘carried things’ or ‘baggage’ that he had with him for the soldiers in the army. And so the translators of the Revised Standard Version (published in 1952) were able to translate the same verse more accurately:
At this point, we should mention that even if translators know the cultural setting of the Biblical era, it is very hard for them to reconstruct this cultural setting in which the writing first took place since there are great differences between it and the current one.
What this means is that we have an imperfect understanding of what God, assuming he ‘dictated’ directly to the Biblical authors, is saying to us. If God inspired the original scriptural authors, why has he not inspired the translators in the same manner? If he had, there would be no controversies over scriptural texts as all translations would agree and would convey the original meanings. That God opted out of this critical process is strong evidence of his non-existence.
(791) Luke’s gospel reveals Jesus to be a regular man
In what may be considered an inadvertent mistake by the author of Luke, though more likely the fact that the doctrine of Jesus’s divinity had not fully developed by that time, Luke presents the following scripture:
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
If Jesus was god, he would already possess infinite wisdom and therefore could not ‘grow in wisdom.’ Further, if Jesus was god, he could not grow in favor with himself. Though this might seem like a trivial point, it is further evidence that Jesus was not initially thought to be equal to god, nor to be part of a trinity of gods, but rather a human prophet, similar to the Jewish prophets (ie. Moses, Abraham, Elijah) familiar to all Jews at that time. If the author of Luke had believed Jesus to have been god, he would have fashioned this verse differently, perhaps as follows:
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in stature and displayed unearthly wisdom, and he found favor with all men who sought the truth.
(792) Jesus was wrong about the origin of gender
Jesus made a significant error in identifying when male and female animals first appeared.
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
The beginning of creation happened at the Big Bang, if not before, and that happened approximately 13.8 billion years ago. The first appearance of male and female animals happened much, much later:
Many protists reproduce sexually, as do the multicellular plants, animals, and fungi. In the eukaryotic fossil record, sexual reproduction first appeared by 1.2 billion years ago in the Proterozoic Eon.
Therefore Jesus made a 12.6 billion year mistake in timing the beginning of sex on the Earth. That Jesus allegedly believed the Genesis creation story, or at least one of the two creation stories, is evidence that he was not a god.
(793) The evolution of Christian doctrine
A study of early Church documents reveals that many of the conventional doctrines of Christianity were not in place in the first few centuries after Jesus. Rather than being firmly established in scripture, the doctrine seems to have developed slowly over time, and with lots of political influence. This website explains what happened:
Often there is no reliable support for doctrine at all. Early writers frequently failed to mention important doctrines, apparently because they were unaware of them. Sometimes they supported doctrines that are now considered heretical and rejected ones that are now considered orthodox. Often they contradicted one another.
The general pattern in the first few centuries is that some Christians adopt a popular pagan theme. It gains popularity and theologians refine it so that it can be accommodated into the body of acceptable Church doctrine. If possible, some sort of biblical justification is found for it, and if not, a suitable piece of text is inserted into the Bible. A Church Council eventually endorses it by a majority vote, and anathematises anyone who denies it. Those who do continue to deny it are condemned as heretics and persecuted into submission or extinction.
It is difficult to find any substantial doctrine that is clearly formulated, has explicit biblical support, and is free of the charge of having been borrowed from contemporary pagan religions. If consistency of teaching is sought as well, then the task appears impossible: not a single doctrine qualifies. An increasing number of Church scholars accept that almost all mainstream Christian doctrine was unknown to the biblical Jesus. It was developed after his death, largely borrowed from other religions, and subject to amendment in later centuries, often looking suspiciously as though it were determined by popular pressure and political expediency.
Evolving doctrine is a bulletproof demonstration of a human-centered enterprise. If Christianity had been from God, the doctrine would have been precisely defined at the very start and would have remained constant to the current day.
(794) The sad tale of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit)
There is nothing more sad than seeing an otherwise articulate, well-educated person professing a belief that some unformed, amorphous force, that comprises one-third of the Almighty God, is an actual sentient being who interacts directly with current-day believers. It is simply astonishing that this belief has persisted. Very few of these believers know about the dubious way in which this tradition came into being. It is described at this website:
The Bible often refers to the Holy Ghost, but nowhere explicitly identifies it with God , except arguably in the Johannine comma, an acknowledged addition to the text of the John gospel (see page 52 ). The creed adopted by the Ecumenical Council of Nicæa failed to mention that the Holy Ghost was divine, let alone a member of the Trinity (it had been referred to in the first draft, but without any suggestion of divinity). The question seems to have arisen in the next few generations. When it did arise, people speculated that the Holy Ghost might be “force”, or a created being, or God; some confessed that they did not know what to call it*.
The faction that said it was God eventually triumphed. Those who denied the full divinity came to be known as Macedonians or Pneumatomachians (“Spirit-fighters”*). The Holy Ghost was declared to be divine by the Second Ecumenical Council, held at Constantinople in 381. The Holy Ghost was accepted as one person of the Trinity, but problems arose as to the relationship between the Holy Ghost and the Father and Son. The Nicene Creed (the one agreed at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451) acknowledged the divinity of the Holy Ghost, referring to the “Holy Ghost … who proceedeth from the Father”.
In 589 a local council at Toledo added the words “and the Son” (in Latin filioque) to this, an action that was absolutely forbidden by earlier ecumenical councils. In time the whole Western Church adopted these new words. The addition was re-affirmed in 796 by a synod of the Western Church at Fréjus , and soon afterwards it was approved by Charlemagne (c.742-814), who seems to have had no understanding whatsoever of the theological implications. Now thefilioque was Western orthodoxy. For theologians the matter was one of the utmost importance. Adherents of the Western Church accused those in the East of heresy because they omitted the filioque from the creed. As the Eastern Churches pointed out it was the Western Church that had fallen into heresy by tampering with the creed without ecumenical authority*. This dispute contributed to the great schism between the Eastern Churches and the Western Church. The insertion is still adhered to by the Roman and Protestant Churches. In the Anglican Church it is confirmed in Article 5 of the 39 Articles. All impartial historians acknowledge that the filioque is bogus. Naturally, it is still considered heretical by the Eastern Churches.
Considering the lack of scriptural support, the sheer implausibility of such a being, and the political and contentious way in which it evolved over time, it can be safely stated that a belief in the Holy Spirit is tantamount to a belief in Santa Claus, and deserves the same amount of respect. It is a splendid example of how Christianity is a manufactured religion.
(795) Christianity is indistinguishable from it all being made up
Assume that Christianity is just a made-up religion. What, if anything seems to make this assumption unlikely to be true? An honest assessment returns nothing. The following is taken from:
If god was real and divinity was a thing then you would expect results. Instead the people of the ‘right’ religion are struck by disease, tragedy and poverty just as much as those of the ‘wrong’ or no religion. We do not see a cohesive mechanism you’d expect from real godly inspiration. Instead people keep bickering about what god is really meaning and the churches keep splintering with people starting their own denominations. There isn’t anything that keeps them together saying, this is what god says and want, we all agree on that because we all get the same revelations. Instead it is indistinguishable from all being made up and people giving it their own meaning which conveniently always fits how they thought about things in the first place.
(796) Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District
In late 2005 a trial took place in the United States that demonstrated a tidal wave of truth and evidence to the public. A case which exposed bad science, bad teaching, deceit, dishonesty and the true lengths that christians will go through to lie to themselves and to other people.
As shown on wikipedia:
Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. (400 F. Supp. 2d 707, Docket No. 4cv2688) was the first direct challenge brought in the United States federal courtstesting a public school district policy that required the teaching of intelligent design. In October 2004, the Dover Area School District of York County, Pennsylvania, changed its biologyteaching curriculum to require that intelligent design be presented as an alternative to evolution theory, and that Of Pandas and People, a textbook advocating intelligent design, was to be used as a reference book.The prominence of this textbook during the trial was such that the case is sometimes referred to as the Dover Panda Trial, a name which deliberately recalls the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee, 80 years earlier. The plaintiffs successfully argued that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The judge’s decision sparked considerable response from both supporters and critics.
For a complete live action reenactment of what took place:
What were the results:
The result of this trial was that an unbiased christian judge (appointed by George W Bush) who analyzed the evidence, established the following:
– Intelligent design is not science and has zero evidence.
– The only reason that the school was attempting to force intelligent design into science class was to discredit and discourage evolution from being taught to people, because it was trying to disguise creationism as a science instead of religious doctrine.
– That all theories on intelligent design were easily debunked by the peer reviewed science of countless of scholars
– That one of the head scientists in the trial on the side of intelligent design Dr. Behe, insisted that intelligent design is a scientific theory, while stating when asked if “astrology was science?”, he stated that yes, astrology is science, which demonstrated the intelligent design movement’s questionable interpretation and questionable methods and even more questionable knowledge and comprehension.
– That the school textbooks and the published, research and information inside them, were created with an agenda to mislead and smear, not teach and show actual evidence.
– That there was hard evidence that The Discovery Institute as they are called, who created the intelligent design school textbooks (Pandas and People) had admitted through investigation, that they were on a mission to discredit evolution, but that they themselves established that they were not aware of any way to effectively do this.
– That the leading expert on the side of the plaintiffs was Professor Ken Miller who successfully debunked all of the Discovery Institute’s best claims in sound fashion and was himself a devout Catholic, but not someone who is biased and untruthful on the subject.
In the end everything completely backfired for the creationist defendants who had worked so hard at discrediting, misleading and undermining evolution from being taught in schools and attempting to teach intelligent design also. It also backfired on the Discovery Institute because of all the negative exposure that was witnessed and documented from the institute in the court battle.
– All claims that the defendants put forth trying to debunk evolution and say that it has holes were exposed as untrue.
– All attempts to prove intelligent design were debunked thoroughly.
– The plaintiffs received death threats from people because the plaintiffs opposed intelligent design being taught in school and demonstrated that Jesus and Yahweh want people to threaten people with death for using reason, science and evidence.
– Unknown persons committed vandalism within the school and exposed themselves as terrorists against evolution by removing pictures and artwork of evolution and burning it outside the school. This act caused people to see christianity’s true colors.
– The Discovery Institute was exposed as being fallacious and unscientific and using poor and illogical methods.
– The Discovery Institute threw the best arguments they had and the best claims of evidence they had and had it demonstrated that everything they had as being meaningless and thoroughly debunked.
– The Discovery Institute was exposed with their own words as actually having no evidence whatsoever to prove intelligent design, or to disprove evolution.
– The Discovery Institute was exposed with having an agenda and vendetta against evolution by what it seemed was by any means necessary.
How does this court victory show that christianity is false?:
– Proving without a doubt that evolution is true disproves creationism, which disproves Genesis, which disproves the Bible, which disproves Christianity which is based on the bible.
– Disproving intelligent design disproves creationism, which disproves the need for a magical creator, which is what Christianity bases it’s faith on.
– It shows that if something like creationism were true it would be obviously true, not be proven untrue beyond any reasonable doubt.
– If intelligent design is false, creationism is false, which proves the Old Testament is false since the Old Testament AND the New Testament reference Genesis repeatedly.
– If creationism, or intelligent design, is false then the existence of a divine creator is false, especially one that tells you to hate gay people, donate money to rich evangelists, and commit animal sacrifices.
(797) Satan is powerless
In the more than silly world of Christianity, the figure of Satan is presented as someone to fear, as if any sort of indiscretion can invite a vicious attack. Christians love to peddle this fear as a means to control people. But if Minister R. J. Sproul is correct, this fear is completely unfounded. Here is what he said:
Satan is a creature. He is finite and limited. He is subordinate to God. Christianity never embraces an ultimate dualism of equal and opposite power. Satan is stronger than men but no match for God. He has no divine attributes. His knowledge may exceed ours, but he is not omniscient. His strength may be greater than ours, but he is not omnipotent. He may have a wider sphere of influence than we have, but he is not omnipresent.
Satan cannot be at more than one place at one time. He is a space-time creature who is limited, as are all angels good or bad, by space and time. Chances are that in your whole lifetime you will never experience a direct, immediate encounter with Satan himself. You might encounter one of his junior-grade lieutenants or one of his host of disciples, but he is likely to spend his time and space in bigger targets than you or me. Even in his concentrated attack on Jesus, Satan departed from him “for a season” (Luke 4:13).
What the minister has conceded, without realizing it, is that if Satan is confined to a definite location, his ability to wreak havoc is severely limited. Since Satan presumably has no access to the internet or other forms of telecommunications, he can only see and manipulate conditions in his immediate vicinity. And since he has no physical body, he can’t apply forces against anything.
So Satan is a body-less person limited to a definite location at any time. That’s very close to the definition of nothing. And any thinking person realizes that all this talk of Satan is a spectacular display of unmitigated nonsense.
(798) Self-awareness in not exclusively human
One of the properties of humans that Christians would like to think is unique is the self-awareness of one’s existence. This would be the ultimate demonstration that God had created humans separate from the other animals and imbued them with the capability to be self-examining, conscious beings. This would fit well with the Christian narrative that God made humans for a specific and unique purpose.
However, scientists have now identified nine animals others than humans that have self-awareness- orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas, bottlenose dolphins, elephants, orcas, bonobos, rhesus macaques, and European magpies.
This brings up the question of why these self-conscious animals are being left out of consideration by Christianity. It also degrades the theory that God made humans to be special But, in the end, it provides substantial evidence that humans are the product of evolution and further evidence that the evolutionary process was not being guided by a purpose-driven deity.
(799) The first Christian apologist
Early Christian tradition and, later on, scripture supported the expectation that Jesus would return within the lifetime of some of the apostles.
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
But as the years passed and all of the apostles had died, there were many scoffers taunting Christians by questioning why Jesus had failed to return. To combat this discrepancy, some sort of a rationalization was needed. Enter the author of 2 Peter, who, by the way, was not Peter the apostle.
2 Peter 3: 3-9
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
The bolded statement above is often quoted by Christians to explain the problem with Matthew 16:28, but it’s an invalid rationalization. Jesus did not say he would return in a certain number of days or years, but that it would happen within the lifetime of some who were standing before him.
Thus, the author of 2 Peter became the first Christian apologist, starting a long string of apologists over the centuries trying to defend all of the illogical, inconsistent, barbaric, insensitive, absurd, implausible, and irrational aspects of the Christian faith. In the end, it’s an effort that is doomed to failure.
(800) Early Christians were more brutal than the Romans
Although Jesus was pretty clear about how he expected his followers to treat others, Christians over at least the first 15 centuries were even more brutal than the hated Romans.
Matthew 5: 7-9
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
The following is taken from:
Up to the fifth century AD, Christians seem to have had an inkling that there was something morally questionable about torture and killing. Christian torturers and executioners generally delayed their own baptism until just before death. The Church assured them that any sins of which they might have been guilty were thus washed away, and no lasting harm was done to their immortal souls. For the next 1,000 years and more, when Christianity was at the height of its power, the Church regarded brutality and killing as perfectly acceptable, and no such precautions were thought necessary. Mutilation, branding and flogging were commonplace. The Church found it acceptable for people to be flogged for the most trivial offences, even for things that today are not considered offences at all. Amongst them were vagrancy, drunkenness, drinking on a Sunday, having an illegitimate baby, even contracting smallpox.
Torture had been used as punishment and as a method of eliciting information in ancient times, but thinkers like Seneca and Cicero had recognized both its injustice and its futility as a means of discovering the truth. Such ideas did not impress Christians, and as we shall see (page 410) the Church was responsible for introducing torture into almost all European penal systems, without any of the original roman safeguards.
The question that needs to be asked is how did the religion that Jesus created become such a potent engine for human brutality. Christians will often rationalize this situation by saying that Christians aren’t perfect. But the faith claims that God is omnipotent and that followers are imbued with the Holy Spirit, and that popes, priests, and pastors are inspired by God.
The history of Christian inhumanity forcefully demonstrates that the faith is not being guided by any supernatural beings, but is rather the manifestation of greedy, insensitive, un-evolved, power-hungry men using a made-up theology to control people and gain wealth.
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