#1201-1400

(1201) God reverses the Earth’s rotation

In the Book of Isaiah (38:7-8) the following is written:

“This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz. ” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.

This provides proof that the Bible contains things that were made up by people who didn’t understand how the world works.  For the shadow to go back the 10 steps on the staircase, the Earth would have to stop revolving and reverse direction, causing massive earthquakes, tsunamis, and likely killing all large animals. In fact, the inertial forces would also likely cause the Earth itself to break apart. If something like this happened it would seem that it would have been noticed by other civilizations and documented in the small chance they survived.  But it only written about here in this one book of the Bible.

At the time this was written the sun was thought to be a small ball in the sky moving around the Earth, so the concept that it could be stopped and made to go in reverse without any damaging effects was thought to be possible. Our more accurate view of the universe has shown this verse to be preposterous.

(1202) Two explanations

The Bible is full of stories that have direct parallels to stories that predate it, such as Hercules, Dionysus, and Osiris, as well as several that followed, such as Apollonius. It is also full of many undeniable contradictions, such as Jesus’s genealogy and his birth and resurrection accounts. That seems to leave us with two possible explanations. The following was taken from:

https://danielmiessler.com/blog/the-bible-is-fiction-a-collection-of-evidence/

Many are familiar with Occam’s Razor, which states that, all things being equal, one should not seek complex explanations when more simple ones are available. Few dispute that these other stories predate the Judeo-Christian Bible, or that the Bible is full of massive contradictions, so we really have two main explanations:

God created all these stories and characters thousands of years before the Bible in order to trick people, and then created new stories and characters that were almost exactly the same. But the version that went into the Bible—even with all the contradictions and immoral teachings—is the actual word of God. …OR…

The Bible was created during a time where stories were orally passed down over thousands of years. Stories constantly morphed and changed over time, and the Bible is a collection of these. This is why it has the nearly identical flood story from Gilgamesh, and why Jesus has the same characteristics as Dionysus, Osiris, Horus, Mithra, and Krishna. The contradictions and immorality in the stories are not evidence that God is flawed or evil, but rather that humans invented him, just like the thousands of other gods that we used to but no longer believe in.

If you hadn’t been taught Christianity since you were a young child, which of these two explanations would make the most sense to you?

Once a Christian steps outside the pre-suppositional bubble in which his mind has been trapped, it becomes abundantly clear which of the two explanations is true.

(1203) Mistake opens floodgates

Sometimes all it takes is the recognition of a simple mistake to disengage someone from the idea that the Bible is the direct word of God and not a human product subject to error.  This can then cause a cascade of doubt to ultimately lead someone to the understanding that the Bible is solely the work of fallible humans. Such is what happened to biblical scholar Bart Ehrman.  The following was taken from:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/11/bible-inconsistencies.html

Bart Ehrman, in Misquoting Jesus, highlights the crisis of faith he had in believing the Bible was inspired when doing a research paper concerning who was the high priest when King David and his hungry men went into the temple to eat. In I Samuel 21:1-6 it says Ahimelech was the high priest, but in Mark’s gospel (2:25-26) we find Jesus saying Abiathar was the high priest. Ehrman developed a “bit convoluted” argument trying to harmonize this discrepancy. But when his professor suggested that Mark might have “just made a mistake,” he realized, in his words, “I had to do some pretty fancy exegetical footwork to get around the problem, and that my solution was in fact a bit of a stretch. I finally concluded, ‘Hmmm…maybe Mark did make a mistake. Once I made that admission, the floodgates opened. For if there could be one little, picayune mistake in Mark 2, maybe there could be mistakes in other places too.”

1 Samuel 21:1-6

David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?”

David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.”

But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.”

David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenevera I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!”  So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.

Mark 2:25-26

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

Most Christians are oblivious to the presence of errors such as this, and, in fact, are deliberately kept in the dark by the clergy.  But a simple mistake such as this, can crack the bubble of one’s perception, leading to a lifetime of objective investigation that in most cases causes one to become agnostic or atheistic.

(1204) How people see and hear what is not real

Much of the authenticity of Christianity lies with the veracity of people’s claims of what they saw or heard.  For instance, practically the entirety of modern Christian theology depends on the truth of Paul’s vision of Jesus. But it is highly plausible to conclude that all reported religious experiences are the consequences of non-supernatural causes.  The following list of these was taken from:

https://thechurchoftruth.org/the-bible-is-wrong-about-what-jesus-said/

Hallucinations (see Power of Hallucinations)
Mental Illness (mental institutions are filled with people who have visions)
Wishful thinking begets a white lie that grows
Intentional lie to attract attention
Intentional lie to protect self
Intentional lie to promote a cause, garner support
Outright falsification that “justifies” the end (See Paul’s statement about willingness to lie)
Epileptic seizure
Staring at the sun
Dementia
Drugs
Dreams
Delusion
Meditation
Comas and Brain Damage
Extreme exhaustion
Sleep Deprivation
Lack of oxygen to the brain for whatever reason (apnea, Near Death Experience)
Schizophrenia
Bi-Polar
Diabetic
Fugue state
Dissociative identity disorder
Bi Polar

Given the many pathways to the perception of what appears to be supernatural, it is understandable that mankind has invented thousands of gods and professed to thousands of ‘miraculous’ visions and ‘miracles.’  What is lacking in Christianity and all other religions is objective evidence of the truth of their claims.  Without that, Christianity will remain a hollow and unreliable system of defining reality.

(1205) The convoluted path to salvation

Many Christian clergy present a simple plan of salvation to their congregations, using a few scriptures, mostly in the Gospel of John and some writings of Paul, to back up their assertions.  As depicted at the following website, this plan looks like this:

http://new.exchristian.net/2014/01/go-to-hell-god.html

However, there is a monkey in the works, and that is the fact that there are many other relevant scriptural references that muddy the water and make the path to salvation appear to be much more complicated.  At the same website, it looks like this (reader will need to access the site to read the captions):

The failure of the Bible to present a consistent description of the requirements for salvation is a tell-tale sign that it is not a product of divine intervention, but rather the expected outcome of an assortment of books authored by various men all of whom had a different idea of God’s intentions.

(1206) Chreia or Progymnastmata

One of the strongest points made in Jesus mythicism is that the Gospels are fiction and that until the fictitious Gospels were written all there was in regards to the belief in Jesus Christ was the belief that Jesus was an archangel high-priest son-of-God almighty. Paul and others claimed that they had visions of Jesus and that the Old Testament sent them secret messages (revelation).

Paul the apostle only wrote about Jesus as an archangel in space and not a person and even the first Pope, Pope Clement, only wrote about Jesus as an archangel and only basing what he said on Paul’s letters. Clement writes as though he isn’t aware of the Gospels, or anything they say in them.

So what evidence do we have that the Gospels are fiction? That there really wasn’t any belief or telling of Jesus as a person until the Gospel of Mark? Well we have the fact that 2000 years ago in the area where the Gospel of Mark was written there was an ancient writing exercise called ‘chreiai’ or ‘chreia’, or ‘progymnasmata’.

Chreia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chreia

“As a literary genre the chreia was a subject of collection. Scholars such as Plutarch or Seneca kept their own private collections of chreiai. Published collections were also available. The chreia is primarily known, however, for its role in education. Students were introduced to simple chreiai almost as soon as they could read. Later they practiced the complex grammar of Greek by putting these chreiai through changes of voice and tense. As one of the last stages in their preparation for rhetoric—this is where chreiai serve as one of the progymnasmata—they would elaborate the theme of a chreiai into a formal eight-paragraph essay. The student would praise, paraphrase, explain, contrast, compare, provide an example, make a judgment, and, in conclusion, exhort the reader.”

Progymnasmata:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progymnasmata

“Progymnasmata (Greek προγυμνάσματα “fore-exercises”; Latin praeexercitamina) are a series of preliminary rhetorical exercises that began in ancient Greece and distended during the Roman Empire. These exercises were implemented by students of rhetoric, who began their schooling between ages twelve and fifteen. The purpose of these exercises was to prepare students for writing declamations after they had completed their education with the grammarians. There are only four surviving handbooks of progymnasmata, attributed to Aelius Theon, Hermogenes of Tarsus, Aphthonius of Antioch, and Nicolaus the Sophist.[1]”

So in discovering that this educational exercise in writing existed, what does this demonstrate, besides the fact that the Gospel of Mark could have been nothing more than a teenager’s homework project that they were handing in to their teacher as a demonstration of their skill? Not much.

These points effectively show this:

a) People such as Philo of Alexandria were devout believers in just a celestial Jesus, just like Paul and Clement, and there is no evidence that can conclude otherwise.

b) There is no evidence of the stories in the Gospels having any truth to them and they are filled with allegory and recycled stories from the Old Testament and stories in the writing style and form of Homer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer

c) The Gospels were written by people who weren’t there, couldn’t have been there, and never claimed to be there. It was never intended for Mark (the original Gospel) to be taken literally and the author was just doing something that was a standard technique in learning back then.

d) Almost all of the people who lived and died around the areas written about in the Gospels in the time of 29-33 AD were illiterate and would have been dead 40 years later when Mark was written (poor people with no dental care didn’t live long past 45 years old at that time).

e) How or why people took someone’s homework as truth and decided to base an entire religious cult around it is irrelevant because we probably will never know, but what we do know is that it is a lie and it is untrue.

As Dr. Richard Carrier explains in his book On The Historicity Of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt (Chapter 10.3):

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21964522-on-the-historicity-of-jesus

“Students were actually taught to invent narratives about famous and legendary persons, and to build a symbolic or moral message out of general rules or proverbs. As Gowler explains, ‘the composition of the stories in the Synoptic Gospels is very similar to such exercises as the expansion and elaboration of chreiai found in other ancient literature and delineated in ancient rhetorical handbooks’, in which authors ‘were free to vary the wording, details, and dynamics of chreiai according to their ideological and rhetorical interests’, and in fact they ‘were taught and encouraged’ to make both minor and major changes even to traditional stories in order to make whatever point they desired. Schools also taught the method of emulating old stories by rewriting them into new ones with new characters and outcomes—in other words, what we saw Virgil had done to Homer was a standard method of composing stories taught in all schools of the day. Which means ancient schools taught their students how to construct symbolically meaningful historical fiction, by both innovating and emulating other fiction. And as I’ll show, this is what we see happening in the Gospels.”

So if someone asks you how or why someone would make things up in the Gospels and transform a celestial entity into a real person with a fake history, just tell them that people did it all the time back then.

This is just another example of how and why Christianity is a false religion.

(1207) Christianity’s Number One Crime

Christianity’s number one crime is not murder, it’s not rape, it’s not stealing, it’s not adultery, and it’s not perjury.  No, rather, it’s the ‘act’ of not believing in something for which there is vanishing sparse evidence, or to put it another way, it’s using the skeptical brain that God gave you to reasonably conclude that he does not exist.

All of the other crimes, the ones that end or damage the lives of innocent people, can be forgiven, but the crime of not believing, which causes harm to no one, is slapped with an unspeakably brutal punishment.

To put this in perspective, it would be like the following court case.  One defendant has sodomized and murdered an 8 year-old girl.  Another defendant has done nothing wrong but has refused to take an oath of loyalty to the state.  The first defendant is given a commuted sentence and set free, while the second is executed after being tortured. This example illustrates the fact that Christianity is an immoral religion and cannot possibly be the product of an almighty deity.

A moral religion would have nothing to do with beliefs, but would judge on the basis of actions, with the number one crime being murder, rape, or causing harm to children.

(1208) Mythicism case that Jesus never existed is solid

Although apologists dismiss Jesus mythicism out of hand, the latest case about Jesus not existing (put together by Dr. Richard Carrier, Earl Doherty, Robert M. Price, Raphael Lataster and others) shows strong and undeniable evidence that holds up to peer review and holds its own against apologists and historical scrutiny.

Dr. Richard Carrier in his book On The Historicity of Jesus: Why We Have Reason For Doubt, outlines every attempt to demonstrate that Jesus was a real person and how none of them achieve that goal.

http://www.sheffieldphoenix.com/showbook.asp?bkid=264

Basic case and evidence:

1) We have evidence that the Jews believed in a celestial entity named Joshua (Jesus The Logos) over a hundred years before 30 CE.

– The OT

– Philo (was his belief)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philo

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos

2) We have evidence that The Book of Mark was plagiarized fiction.

– Copied from Homer
– Copied from other mythical beings
– Copied from OT

3) Paul in his 7 genuine letters (not the confirmed forgeries) never talks about a human Jesus on Earth.

– Paul only talks about Jesus in outer space.
– Paul only believed in Jesus as a celestial entity.
– Paul only says that Jesus appeared as a vision.
– Paul says that Jesus revealed himself to Paul through “scripture”.
– Paul claimed that Jesus was sending messages to Paul when Paul was reading the OT.
– Paul believed in the exact same thing as Philo and many other Jews at that time.

4) The archangel Michael in the book of Daniel is the same thing as Jesus and Christianity.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_(archangel)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Daniel

– Was written in 167 BCE
– Was not meant to be taken seriously, or literally and was just supposed to be taken as a bunch of stories and nothing else
– The Book of Daniel is confirmed fiction
– Unfortunately people took Daniel as real and serious
– This is evidence that Jews had a reason in their own Bible to believe in a celestial messiah.

5) The first time Jesus was written about as a man was in The Book of Mark.

– The other gospels were copied from Mark and each other.
– There are no claims that Jesus was a man, except the gospels and scholarly confirmed forgeries
– The gospels are all historically inaccurate and contradict themselves.
– The gospels are demonstrably false on many levels

6) There is no credible evidence that Jesus existed as a real person and all non-biblical claims of such have been convincingly debunked.

7) Even the first Pope, Pope Clement (who died in 99 CE), never writes about Jesus existing as a man.

– His letters talk only about Jesus metaphorically
– He writes like he’s never read the gospels
– He only bases his writings on Paul’s letters
– The Catholic Church removed his epistle from the Bible in the 17th Century because of this (because his writing suggested that Jesus was not a real man)

8) We have evidence that the Romans had a form of writing exercise that they used where they would take fictional beings and give them human stories. All four Gospels show evidence of this technique.

Chreia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chreia

and Progymnasmata

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progymnasmata

The case that Jesus was a mythical character is very solid and backed with compelling evidence. When all of the circumstantial evidence is viewed collectively, it suggests that Jesus probably didn’t exist, and this, of course, makes it clear that Christianity is a false religion.

(1209) The Tree of Knowledge and the death of Christianity

In the first book of the Bible, God admonishes Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from one specific tree that he placed in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge. They eat from it and then all hell breaks loose.

In the past 20 years, a new Tree of Knowledge has appeared in our contemporary ‘garden’ – the internet.  Of course, we humans have been dining ravenously on this source of knowledge because of its ease of use and immediate feedback. Just as God wanted Adam and Eve to remain ignorant of knowledge, so did the Christian clergy want the same for their congregations. This scheme worked well until the mid-1990’s when internet use began to take off.  Since then, we have observed this telling correlation:

http://new.exchristian.net/2016/05/how-internet-is-killing-religion-part-1.html

Although correlation does not prove causation, it can in some cases strongly suggest it as it does here. So we have a modern-day version of the Tree of Knowledge and this time instead of being banished from the garden, we are banishing the myth of the God who supposedly started all of this nonsense.

(1210) The parable of the canoe trip

The following is a parable that Jesus could have spoken, assuming he approved of Paul’s concept of Christianity.  It highlights the utter immorality of the central doctrine of the faith and the ludicrous outcome of God assigning people of the same family to both heaven and hell.

The author of this piece was Richard Zane Smith and was posted to this website:

http://new.exchristian.net/2016/05/canoe-trip.html

There was a man and his wife who had two lovely daughters.

He and his wife loved them both very much.

He had just built a wooden canoe and he took his daughters out onto the lake to teach them fishing and paddling and simply to enjoy the beautiful day together.

While they were fishing he told them of a story he’d never shared. When the daughter were both young he had risked his life entering into their burning house to save them. The older daughter was awed and said “Wow…dad you must really love us!” to which he smiled and replied “Yes I sure do!”

The younger daughter became thoughtful. “When did you save us dad and why has mom never talked about it?”

The father was a little hurt. “You don’t believe me? Don’t you love me?”

The older daughter said “I believe you Daddy and I love you most of all.”

The younger daughter said “Of course I love you dad… I just love mom more.”

After that, things became a little quieter and they fished together in silence listening to the water moving against the canoe…. But not long after the father spoke up with real concern in his voice,

“Girls we have a problem here”. He stood up pointing to water that seemed to be growing deeper in the bottom of the canoe. They worked hard bailing with cups and plates they had brought for a picnic, but the water only got deeper and was rapidly flooding the boat. They were deep in the center of the lake and there wasn’t a soul for miles.

The Father picked up two life jackets and held them up. “This is all we have girls, this boat is going down.” He began strapping one to his chest as the two daughter stared at their father, eyes wide with fear.

He then handed the remaining vest to the elder daughter. “Because you love me and believe me, you will be spared. He turned to his younger daughter and shook his head “I’m sorry, but you loved your mother more than me and you did not believe in me, so I can’t save you, this is just the way it has to be.”

The younger daughter exploded in tears and pleaded her heart out, but the two already had the life jackets on and were drifting away, leaving the younger daughter weeping and sobbing as she clung to the sinking boat. They both turned and began swimming to the shore and the older sister talked about the fun they could have together when they reached home. Her father smiled, “Yes, I’ll see to it that you’ll have more fun than you have ever had in your life.” When the elder daughter glanced back over her shoulder, there was nothing but lake water for miles…she was swimming next to her Father whom she worshiped and, she had never been happier…

It is a farce that Christians believe that their god is a loving father. On the other hand, If love means only loving those who love you back, then maybe they’re right.

(1211) God kills to make people believe in him

In Psalm 78, we get a picture of how God evangelized himself among the Israelites- he killed some of them so the survivors will turn back to him.

Psalm 78:29-34

They ate till they were gorged—

he had given them what they craved.

But before they turned from what they craved,

even while the food was still in their mouths,

God’s anger rose against them;

he put to death the sturdiest among them,

cutting down the young men of Israel.

In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;

in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.

So he ended their days in futility

and their years in terror.

Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;

they eagerly turned to him again.

So, here is an interesting insight into the god that Christians worship and with whom they seek to spend eternity- he uses murder as a means to make people follow him.  This would be like the Chinese government slaughtering a large number of protesters in Tiananmen Square to ‘encourage’ them to support the Communist Party.  Oh, wait, that actually happened!  So, the god of the Christians has the same mentality as Mao Zedong.

(1212) John’s gospel is uniquely anti-Semitic

When you lay out the gospels in the order they were written, it becomes obvious that something is very different about the last gospel, John, as it relates to the characterization of the Jews.  In Mark, the Jews are mentioned only 6 times, while in Luke and Matthew, only 5 times each. But in John, the Jews are mentioned 71 times, and they are depicted as conniving stalkers who continually badmouth Jesus and desire to kill him.  Here are some examples:

John 5:16-18

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.  In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

John 6:41-42

At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

John 7:25-27

At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?  Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMnv-kTEldY

It is impossible to believe that the authors of Mark, Matthew, and Luke would have failed to depict the Jews in this manner if it was true.  What is much more likely is the author of John, writing in the late 1st Century, was reflecting the anti-Jewish sentiment that swept throughout the Roman Empire following the Jewish War ending in 73 CE.  This is another example indicating that including John in the canon was a mistake.  And what compounds that mistake is that the majority of contemporary Christian theology is based on this book- a book that is a clear fictional forgery of whatever actually happened.

(1213) Mark’s allegory about a fig tree

In the Gospel of Mark there is an enigmatic story about Jesus cursing a fig tree because it bore no fruit even though it was not the correct season for it to do so.  The fig tree was presented by the author as a metaphor for the Jewish Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.  The temple destruction was an existential crisis for the Jews because their entire faith was organized around the temple and they couldn’t understand why God allowed it to be destroyed.  The answer was provided by Mark in his fictional allegorical narrative, presented here (notice that the fig tree story is wrapped around Jesus clearing the temple of money lenders.)

Mark 11:12-21

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.  And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ”

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

The fig tree represents the temple and the author is using it to suggest that the temple was no longer bearing ‘fruit.’  This, therefore, explained to the Jewish people why God allowed it to be destroyed.

This concept was first espoused by R. G. Hamerton-Kelly in his book Sacred Violence and the Messiah and is discussed in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUYRoYl7i6U

The reason that this is significant is that it is a demonstrable use of fictional allegory as a means of making a theological point, suggesting rather strongly that the author of Mark was not presenting raw history but rather a symbolic representation of his concept of Jesus. In other words, the entire book is probably nothing more than a collection of fictional stories pasted together.  This puts Christianity in a very precarious position given that the material in Mark was used extensively by the subsequent authors of Matthew, Luke, and John.  So it appears that the entire biblical narrative of Jesus is based on a collection of fictional symbolic stories that flowed from the imagination of a single man- that was then used later as a template by the authors who wrote similar accounts in their gospels.  This amounts to a total disintegration of the historical Jesus.

(1214) The failure of ‘minimal facts’ apologetics

Sometimes, the best way to demonstrate that Christianity is unlikely to be true is to show that the best defense of it lacks credibility. One of the methods relied upon to ‘prove’ Christianity is the minimal facts method espoused by Dr. Gary Habermas.  A review of his method and an analogous use of it to ‘prove’ the Wizard of Oz  story is presented below and at this website:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gary_Habermas

In 1985, Dr. Gary Habermas and Antony Flew debated the question of Jesus’ resurrection as a literal and historical/physical event, before a crowd of 3000 people. The judges ruled that Habermas won the debate. In 2004, Habermas conducted an interview with Antony Flew in which Flew told that he had changed his views from atheism to deistic theism. Often touted as a sort of triumph by Habermas’s co-religionists it’s worth noting that Flew did not endorse any kind of Christianity, let alone the brand promoted by Habermas.

Habermas is a staunch defender of the resurrection of Jesus. His arguments are based on the prerequisite that Jesus of Nazareth existed (ignoring that the evidence leaves much to be desired), and the view that the Bible is self-evident and that its depiction of Jesus’ life is an unvarnished historical account. Habermas’s case for the resurrection is based on a number of “facts”:

  1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
  2. He was buried.
  3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
  4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).
  5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).
  6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.
  7. The resurrection was the central message.
  8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
  9. The Church was born and grew.
  10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.
  11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).
  12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

Habermas disagrees with the swoon theory and never considers that the accounts may have been less than 100% truthful. Habermas is known for quoting Gary Collins as saying that hallucinations are, by their nature, never a mass phenomena.

[edit]Counter-apologetics

Most of Habermas’s conclusions and arguments are based on the assumption of the absolute reliability of the stories of the gospels and nothing more. However, the gospels are not history textbooks. The Bible has been revealed many times to be not entirely trustworthy and includes deliberate myths and unhistorical fiction, as well as forgeries and interpolations. There are several instances where Habermas is incorrect or his points really mean nothing, for instance the conversions of Paul and James mean nothing. People change religions every day. The claim that the Disciples were willing to die for their beliefs is a fallacy known as argumentum ad martyrdom.

There are many stories in the life of Jesus that are literally fantastic, or appear to be reinterpretations of older myths.

Habermas’s work does not resemble the work of historians. Rather, he is stating that the events in the gospels are basically self-evidently true, which is just as fallacious as stating the events leading up to Mohammad’s ascension are true by citing Islamic scripture. He provides no external verification. Here is a walk through of Habermas’s “facts” to show that the are not historical facts or are unknowns.

  1. As far as we know, Jesus (if he existed) is told to have been crucified only in the gospels, about 45 to 70 years after Jesus died. No contemporary eye-witness reports this execution, nor does Paul ever mention the crucifixion. The claim that Jesus was crucified is unhistorical in of itself. Torah Law states any blasphemer should be put to death and then hung for display. This law is confirmed and elaborated in the Mishnah tractate Sanhedrin: people could be executed either by stoning, burning, decapitation, or strangulation, but whichever it was, when the crime was blasphemy the corpse was then hung on a pole for display, apparently like a slab of meat, which resembled a crucifixion. And whether executed or not, a body had to be taken down by sunset. Nowhere in the law does it state that the punishment was by crucifixion.
  2. Again, this is only mentioned in the gospels way after Jesus supposedly died. If Jesus did exist and was executed as a blasphemer, the Mishnah tractate Sanhedrin goes on to explain the law regarding the burial of condemned men: they did not bury the condemned in the burial grounds of his ancestors, but there were two graveyards made ready for the use of the court, one for those who were beheaded or strangled, and one for those who were stoned or burned.(6.5e-f) This is confirmed in three other sources: the Talmud, the Tosefta, and the Midrash Rabbah. Jesus, as a blasphemer, would be ear-marked for stoning and thus for the Graveyard of the Stoned and Burned. The Mishnah itself goes on to explain that only “when the flesh was completely decomposed were the bones gathered and buried in their proper place,” i.e. only then could the family rebury the condemned man in their ancestral tomb. There were no apparent exceptions made for execution by a Gentile government (Talmud, Sanhedrin 47b).
  3. We have no records of the disciples’ emotions or personal feelings. The gospel authors were not contemporary witnesses, Relying on the gospel authors is not a satisfactory answer.
  4. As discussed in point 2 above, Jesus was not buried in a tomb. As a blasphemer, to be properly buried by Jewish law, Jesus would have to wait to become bones before buried in a tomb (and that take a lot longer than 3 days).
  5. Such experiences, if they happened, can be explained without miracles.
  6. That is assuming they were never doubters, or they merely claim they were never doubters. All we have is the word of some anonymous authors. Perhaps only half the disciples were believers, and the gospel authors reported that they were all believes to give credulity to the resurrection story. Without individual or contemporary testimony, we cannot be sure that they all became believers.
  7. Rather, the atonement was the more appropriate central message. Resurrection means nothing without the atonement.
  8. Jerusalem was the center of education and religious diversion. Followers of various beliefs all testify as to their experiences and faith, such as Apollonius of Tyana raising the dead.
  9. This can be achieved without a historical figure, such as with cargo cults. The sudden rise of the Mormon Church does not prove that God lives on a planet or an angel visited Joseph Smith. Also, Habermas would likely reject a Muslim using this argumentin favor of the validity of Islam.
  10. Setting a date of worship does not require an historical figure to exist. You might as well point to the Muslim choice of Friday as their day of worship as some sort argument for the validity of Islam.
  11. Again, this is assuming James existed, was a doubter and did not lie. Habermas’s only reason for assuming this is biblical inerrancy.
  12. Paul himself is emphatic about never having witnessed Jesus or his resurrection, and claims to have changed his views on the road to Damascus after having a vision. Also, compare Paul’s claims of skepticism and dis-/unbelief with those made by Lee Strobel

[edit]The Oz analogy

Using the same logic and type of “evidence” employed by Gary Habermas for the historicity of Jesus, we can make a solid case for the historicity of the Wizard of Oz (by assuming the inerrancy of The Wizard of Oz[wp], of course):

Fact 1: Independent Testimony: The oldest account comes from Frank[wp] with subsequent expansion and collaborative evidence supplied by Noel[wp], Florence[wp], Edgar[wp], and John[wp]. For instance, Frank simply describes the twister hitting the Mid-West, but from the other four we can deduce that it specifically hit Kansas. We can verify that tornadoes hit Kansas and have done so for many centuries. This knowledge of local geography and climate further supports that all five authors were eye witnesses intimately familiar with the course of events.

Fact 2: The Wicked Witch of the East Actually Died: This has been confirmed by five chiropractors, who all agree that a house falling from the sky at great heights could kill her. The fifth chiropractor, unlike the previous four, did not state unequivocally that the Wicked Witch would necessarily die, but is sure that the most likely scenario would result in her death.

Fact 3: The Radical Change in the Munchkin Behavior: The Munchkins were terrified on the Wicked Witch of the East. However, after the house fell on the Wicked Witch, the Munchkins were happy, singing and proclaiming that she did in fact die. They would not do any of this unless the Wicked Witch of the East had actually died, otherwise she would hurt them. No other scenario can plausibly explain a paradigm shift of this magnitude.

Fact 4: The Ruby Slippers[1]: Dorothy possessed the Ruby Slippers, which would be impossible unless the Wicked Witch of the East was actually dead. Dorothy having the Ruby Slippers has been independently verified by both the Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West. These two are constantly at odds with each other, and thus they would not agree on Dorothy having the Slippers if it wasn’t true.

Fact 5: The Yellow Brick Road: If the Yellow Brick Road did not exist, there would be no way for Dorothy to get to the Emerald City from Munchkin Land. Since we know that she did make it to the Emerald City, the Yellow Brick Road must logically (have) exist(ed). Furthermore, the existence of the Yellow Brick Road has been verified through the independent eye witness testimonies of the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion who also traveled it.

Bonus: The Munchkin Land Factor: If the Wicked Witch of the East was not dead, the flying monkeys could easily have verified that by coming in to investigate it at any time. Since they didn’t and believed she was in fact dead, there is no reason to believe that they would have lied or been mistaken about it.

The problem with this attempt to demonstrate the truth of Christianity is the unfounded assumption that everything written in the Bible is true, an assumption that has been shown to be false on multiple levels. Otherwise, using the same method, we can prove the existence of Oz’s wizard.

(1215) Purification after childbirth

One of the surest ways to prove Christianity is untrue is to show that the foundation upon which it rests, The Old Testament, cannot be the work of a divine being. And one of the best examples of this is Leviticus, Chapter 12, in which the ‘Lord’ imparts his celestial wisdom about women being purified after childbirth.

Leviticus 12: 1-8

The Lord said to Moses,  “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period.  On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.

“ ‘When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. He shall offer them before the Lord to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.

“ ‘These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl.  But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’ ”

So, here is a test for Christianity.  Does it make sense that God would consider a woman to be unclean after childbirth, and further does it make sense that birthing a female child would double the period of recuperation from her state of uncleanliness?  If not, then what is this nonsense doing in the Bible?  Whatever else in the Bible is just the primitive thinking of a Bronze Age man with much less understanding of the world than anyone alive today? To be a Christian, you must confront this scripture and either (1) admit that this chapter is not the voice of God, or (2) admit that your god is a weird misogynistic pervert.

(1216) The illusion of self

Almost everyone has what can be defined as a finite sense of self, or ‘I,’ or ‘me.’ This sense of identity develops slowly over the first years of life and reaches a peak when neural activity reaches a maximum, around 20 years of age for most people, then fades gradually as age reduces the speed of synaptic communications in the brain.  In very old and demented persons, the sense of self is mostly non-existent.

It is certain, based on every scientific investigation of the human brain, that this sense of self is an illusion- that is, the ‘I’ or ‘me’ that a person experiences CANNOT exist outside of the physical body that he inhabits.

Sam Harris interviewed Bruce Hood to discuss his book The Self Illusion, as transcripted here:

https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-illusion-of-the-self2

What this means is that the idea that we could exist in some other manifestation is false.  The answer to each of these questions is NO:

  • Could I have been born 200 years ago?
  • Could I not be here today but be born  200 years from now?
  • Could I have been male instead of female, or vice versa?
  • Could I have been a horse, a giraffe, or a tiger, or maybe a mosquito?
  • Could I have been born in Japan instead of the United Kingdom?
  • Could I have an actual out-of-body experience (not just a feeling that it is happening)?
  • Could I have been the child of different parents?

The illusion of self is what spawned the belief in the afterlife and in some cases a belief in a pre-life. This led to the development of religions to adjudicate the proper allocations of reward and punishment to the transcendent souls of the dead.

Even if it was understood that our identity is inextricably tied to our bodies, religions would still have developed, but they would have been concerned only with temporal matters- that is, things that affected the lives of people from birth to death, but the kinds of religions that promised a life after death or an eternal place of habitation, such as Christianity, would not have developed.

It is only within the past 150 years that science has been able to determine that all of our emotions, thoughts, and sense of being is tied to our physical bodies, and not to some immaterial essence.  Yet, the ancient beliefs persist.  Once a person recognizes that the sense of self is an illusion, a belief in Christianity and similar religions becomes impossible.

(1217) The Seven Heavens

The current best case that mythicist scholars have put together to demonstrate that Jesus didn’t exist is that he was just a preconceived belief as an archangel son of God, whom Paul talked to in “outer space.” Paul preached that Jesus lived and died (being killed by demons) and was resurrected by God, all in “outer space.”

When Christians and their apologists hear mythicists say that Jesus was crucified and resurrected in outer space, they usually get confused and go berserk without bothering to examine the evidence, or even attempting to comprehend the underlying  logic.

The term “outer space” that mythicists use is the simplified way of saying “within the 7 heavens” (which was the common belief at the claimed time of Jesus).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Heavens#

“In religious or mythological cosmology, the seven heavens refer to the seven divisions of the Heaven, the abode of immortal beings, or the visible sky, the expanse containing the Sun, Moon and the stars.[1] This concept dates back to ancient Mesopotamian religions and similar concept is also found in some Indian religions such as Hinduism, and in some Abrahamic religions such as Islam, Judaism and Catholicism.[2] Some of these traditions also have a concept of seven earths or seven underworlds, which also includes Jainism.”

As it’s called in Judaism “shamayin”:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven_in_Judaism

“The Biblical authors pictured the earth as a flat disk floating in water, with the heavens above and the underworld below.[2] The raqiya (firmament), a solid inverted bowl above the earth, colored blue by the cosmic ocean, kept the waters above the earth from flooding the world.[3] From about 300 BCE the three-tiered cosmos was largely replaced by a newer Greek model which saw the earth as a sphere at the center of a set of seven concentric heavens, one for each visible planet plus the sun and moon, with the realm of God in an eighth and highest heaven, but although several Jewish works from this period have multiple heavens, as do some New Testament works, none has exactly the formal Greek system.”

The Bible even refers to one of these ‘heavens,’ and it’s Paul who refers to it. This goes to demonstrate how made up, wrong, inaccurate, nonsensical, and fictitious they are, since we now know the true physics of the solar system and that the sun doesn’t revolve around the Earth.

2 Corinthians 12:2 says: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.” (3rd heaven)

So we know that this primitive belief in the 7 heavens existed.

We know that the people in the Bible had this same belief.

We know that Paul also had this belief.

If that was Paul’s belief then we know that he believed that Jesus lived in these 7 heavens, as did God his father.

Paul preached that Jesus died and was resurrected in space and we know this because Paul never talks about Jesus being on Earth, only in space.

Jesus only talked to Paul through “scripture” or “revelation” and he doesn’t talk about Jesus as a person, or having a terrestrial history.

So what we have is an imaginary man, in an imaginary place, with an imaginary story, getting replaced by another imaginary story set in a real place. (Paul’s epistles replaced by the Gospels).

This is another reason why we know that Christianity is false.

(1218) Any sin however slight…

Contemporary Christianity holds that God cannot countenance the introduction of ANY sin into Heaven, meaning that no man, imperfect as he is, can earn on his own right the reward of Heaven, but must accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross so as to be absolved of ALL sin, both original and personal, and thus be seen as sinless in the eyes of God, thereby meeting the requirement for entry into Heaven.

This is an immoral system of justice which can be easily demonstrated.  The following is taken from:

http://articles.exchristian.net/2006/12/was-jesus-wrong-examining-justice-of.html

The problem here however, is that God’s justice, as described by fundamentalists, is, for the lack of a better word, stupid. We are sometimes told that God cannot stand the presence of sin or evil (which begs the question of why a benevolent, all-loving God apparently throws a temper tantrum or scowls in disgust at the sight of human mistakes, AKA sin), that no sin and no imperfections are allowed in heaven, which is perfect. Thus, according to one argument put up by Christian fundamentalists, even one sin is an irreparable stain that cannot be allowed into heaven. Furthermore, it is an offense to God, and because God is perfect and holy, even that one little imperfection is worthy of being punished endlessly, over and over and over again.

Our justice system is not perfect. But even we, as humans, know that punishing someone again and again and again and again for the same mistake is not just. Only sadists enjoy giving pain. Normal, sensible people can see that it’s not right to to punish someone for longer then need be. A murderer may be deserving of punishment, yes, but is it right to continuously punish him with pain over and over again, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year for year after year after year after year? Or, is it right to punish him with solitary confinement twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year for year after year after year after year? In the beginning, perhaps it would make sense, when the memory of his act of brutally murdering someone would be fresh, and the anger for retribution would be great. But after a time, people would start to realize how cruel it would be to keep going in that manner. Could you imagine watching someone, no matter how evil, being tortured non-stop every day for years? Watching him or her scream in pain for years… doesn’t that seem like a horrible thing to watch?

The problem with God giving an eternity of hell due to one little mistake can be compared to our justice system giving everyone the same sentence, no matter what they’ve done.

***

“Your honor, this man has murdered a family, raping the wife in the process and bashing the skulls of the children in with a mallet.”

“Life in prison with no parole! Next case.”

“Your honor, this woman killed her boyfriend by dropping a bowling ball on his head.”

“Life in prison with no parole! Next case.”

“Your honor, this young man painted some graffiti inside his school’s bathroom.”

“Life in prison with no parole! Next case!”

“Your honor, this woman shoplifted some bananas from a grocery store.”

“Life in prison with no parole! Next case!”

“Your honor, this man went ten miles over the speed limit in a city street.”

“Life in prison with no parole! Next case!”

***

Sounds crazy, no? Yet this is essentially the case of fundamentalist god’s justice. Eternity in hell with no parole, no matter what you’ve done. Your only crime in life could be stealing a pack of cards from a store, and you’d be sent to hell for all eternity (while flawed and mistake-filled people who believe in Jesus get to go to God’s perfect heaven, despite the fact that they are chock full of sin and far from perfect).

Doesn’t that sound unnecessarily cruel? Even our system, flawed as it is, establishes guidelines and rules for how long a person should be punished. If you shoplift for example, your time of punishment will be far less then that of, say, Hitler. If you’re good and work at making up for what you’ve done, then you can get out of prison early. Yet a perfect god lumps all crimes together and punishes then endlessly without even bothering to try and correct. One would think that a benevolent and perfect God, who’s more just then we are, would have a system that ultimately heals and corrects, rather then punishes endlessly for no reason.

Why is it that God cannot discern the different severities of sin while humans can?  How can it be that humans are more humane, fair, considerate, and compassionate than God?  Why do humans attempt to redeem the sinner while God gives up on them for eternity?  Answer: because god is imaginary.

(1219) Matthew misinterprets Jeremiah

When the author of Matthew made up a fake story that King Herod ordered the killing of all of the babies in and around Bethlehem, a story not told in any other gospel, or any other book in the Bible, or any historical account of any kind, he also made a big mistake in trying to tie this ‘massacre’ to a prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah, by quoting Jeremiah 31:15. If he had just read the next two verses he could have avoided this embarrassing mistake, as the prophecy clearly refers to the Babylonian Captivity.

Matthew 2:16-18

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Jeremiah 31:15-17

This is what the Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

This is what the Lord says:“Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded, They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants, Your children will return to their own land.”

It goes without saying that a scripture inspired by a supernatural source would not have made this mistake.

(1220) God insensitive to deadly misunderstanding

In the Middle Ages, a time fraught with devastating plagues that killed millions, there was a prevailing belief among many Christians that disease was a sentence imposed by God as a punishment for sin, and that any attempt to interfere, i.e. by taking efforts to cure the malady, was sinful.  This, of course led to much unnecessary death and misery.  The following is taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/gam_sick.htm

Since disease-causing demons were God’s punishment for sin, it was clearly a pious duty to accept that punishment. To minimize 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.

It would be unconscionable to watch others writhe in pain and die based on a misunderstanding that could easily be corrected.  And yet, this is exactly what God did.  He allowed people to suffer at great lengths because his followers misinterpreted his word. Either that or the much more probable conclusion- that he is a myth.

(1221) Matthew and Luke originally had no birth story

Based on the best scholarly evidence, the original authors of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke did not include a birth story about Jesus. They instead were later interpolations.  Since birth stories of Jesus are absent from the Gospels of Mark and John, this means that none of the original gospel authors wrote anything about Jesus’s birth. The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/df0_nativity.htm

According to an ancient tradition (acknowledged in the Jerusalem Bible), the original version of the Matthew gospel was written “in the Hebrew tongue”. This version is likely to have been the gospel used by the Ebionites. One of the interesting things known about this Ebionite gospel was that it was shorter than the Greek version. One reason for this was that the opening verses about Jesus” miraculous birth were absent. If this Ebionite gospel was indeed the original version of Matthew, then the nativity story must be a later Greek addition, which is exactly what many scholars independently suspect from other evidence. It is also significant that we know of early versions of the Luke gospel that also lacked the nativity story.

Even the most conservative Christian scholars now regard the stories of Jesus” miraculous birth as being historically unreliable.

What this means is that the description of a significant element of Jesus’s divinity is a consequence of tampering with the material presented by the original gospel authors.  Now some Christians will argue that God could just as easily have inspired the scribes who later added the birth stories to Matthew and Luke. But this argument falls apart when you realize that the two birth accounts are completely incompatible- they are two wildly different stories.

(1222) Christianity is based on political propaganda

Although most Christians ignore the Old Testament, primarily because it consistently violates their picture of a kind and generous god, these ancient Jewish scriptures are the only foundation upon which Christianity is constructed.  To show that they are myth immediately proves the falsity of Christianity.  But beyond this obvious truth is the motivation that drove the creation of these scriptures in the first place- showing this ‘foundation’ to be nothing more than loosely compacted sand.  The following is taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2016/04/the-bible-makes-sense-when-you-realize_17.html

The men who wrote the Pentateuch didn’t care about the picture of God they were painting. They just wanted to show that Israel had God’s sanction. God Bless Israel. They were propagandists for the State—tools—just following orders. They didn’t believe any of that shit actually happened. Why would they? Their experience of God was the same as ours: He’s mainly uninvolved, off attending to something else more important perhaps, maybe cleaning His apartment—certainly not opening up chasms in the good earth to swallow up fifthly sinners.

Little did those Tools of the State know the Western world was going to erect an entire theology based on the apoplectic God from their political propaganda. Even Jesus—he, along his fellow Jews, believed that wrath was a perfectly good word to describe how God feels about sin.

And, of course, men lie. (Bought anything off an infomercial lately? Kitchen Miracle, my ass!) Add that to the mix when you’re discussing the humanness of scripture. For example, archeology has shown the stories of the Canaanite conquest are, again, more Party Line than Gospel Truth. Battles that were supposed to have happened, clearly didn’t. On more than one occasion, the Old Testament has the Israelites laying siege to a city that didn’t exist at the time. Men lie. Archaeology doesn’t.

So, this is Christianity in a nutshell.  All of the cathedrals, churches, priests, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries- all of them chasing after nothing more than the politically-motivated myth and propaganda that was used to galvanize a Bronze-Age Middle Eastern tribe.

(1223) The myth of Judas Iscariot

The central character in the gospel drama of Jesus’s betrayal and crucifixion is a man named Judas Iscariot.  Modern scholarship has exposed the very strong possibility that he is just a mythical construction to flesh out and dramatize the events surrounding the passion of Jesus.  Bishop John Shelby Spong has formulated a basis for discounting the historicity of this person, as expressed at this website:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.ca/2007/12/did-judas-iscariot-exist-by-bishop-john.html

I am suspicious of the historicity of Judas Iscariot and of his role in the Christian story as the traitor. That suspicion has been created by five easily identifiable, documentable facts.

First, a careful reading of the New Testament reveals the not-fuIly suppressed memory of a man named Judas, in the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, who was not evil and who was not a traitor. In the Fourth Gospel John refers to a disciple named Judas, who is not Iscariot (14:22). Luke in his list of the twelve disciples names, in addition to Iscariot, another disciple named Judas, identified only as the brother of James (6:16). This Judas replaces Thaddaeus in the list recounted by Mark (3:14-19) and Matthew (10:2-4). In addition to this, there is an epistle that bears Judas’ name that was included by the Christians in the New Testament. The author of this book is identified as Jude, which is simply another variation of the name Judas, and he is called in that epistle “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1:1). There is clearly an early Christian memory of a faithful Judas in the inner circle of the Christian movement.

The second source of my suspicion comes from the fact that the act of betrayal by a member of the twelve disciples is not found in the earliest Christian writings. Judas is first placed into the Christian story by Mark (3:19), who wrote in the early years of the eighth decade of the Common Era. Prior to that time, we have the entire Pauline corpus, which was written between the years 50 and 64 CE. We may also have what scholars call the Q (or Quelle,i.e., “source”) document, which many believe to be a lost “sayings gospel” that both Matthew and Luke are said to have incorporated into their narratives as a supplement to their use of Mark. Because we still have Mark, we can easily show that Matthew and Luke copied some of the content of Mark almost verbatim into their gospels. But when all of this Markean material is removed from Matthew and Luke, these two gospel writers still have material so identical that it has to have had a common source. That shared material has led many to the assumption that both Matthew and Luke had a second written source other than Mark, a source that is now lost. When these identical or nearly identical passages are lifted out of Matthew and Luke and studied separately, they appear to be largely a collection of the sayings of Jesus. Hence Q is assumed to be an early collection of Jesus’ sayings. Some scholars date this Q material as early as the 50s. If that is accurate, then this is a second major pregospel source that must be examined.”

Turning first to Paul, we discover that the concept of betrayal prior to the crucifixion enters Paul’s writings merely as a dating device, with no content whatsoever. Addressing a letter to the Corinthians in the mid-50s Paul says, “For I have received from the Lord, what I also delivered to you; that the Lord Jesus Christ on the night when he was ‘betrayed’; took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body which is broken for you.'” (1 Cor. 11 :23-24). Paul’s intention here was simply to tell the story of the inauguration of the Last Supper. However, in doing that he used a word that the English translators in the seventeenth century said means “betrayed.” In the Pauline quote above, I placed ‘betrayed’ into a single quote because this word literally means “handed over,” which does not project the same meaning that comes to mind when we hear the word betrayed. It is worth noting that in his entire written corpus Paul gives no evidence that he was aware of a betrayal that took place at the hand of one of the twelve disciples, but the English translators knew the later gospel stories, and so they placed that meaning into their rendition of this word. It was one more of many examples in which later Christians were guilty of reading Paul through the eyes of the gospel narratives. We need to keep in mind that Paul had died before the first gospel was written. While in this particular text Paul does not rule out the betrayal possibility, he does appear to do so just four chapters later.

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, Paul once again declares that he is passing on to his readers the sacred traditions that he has received. Then he gives the barest outline to the details of the final events in Jesus’ life. He says that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter]’ then to the twelve.”

“He appeared to … the twelve.” Judas was still among them when Easter dawned: that is Paul’s testimony! When Matthew related the first biblical story of the risen Christ appearing to the disciples on a mountaintop in Galilee (Matt. 28:16-20), he asserted that it was only to “the eleven” that Christ appeared. Sometime between when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (ca. mid-50s CE) and when Matthew wrote this account of a resurrection appearance (ca. 82-85 CE), the story of Judas as a traitor appears to have entered the Christian story. Paul did not know about this tradition. His writings in 1 Corinthians make that perfectly clear.

When we turn to the Q source, we discover that it is in this common, and presumably earlier, tradition that both Matthew and Luke quote Jesus as saying to the disciples, with Judas present, “At the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). Luke has this text read, “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of lsrael” (Luke 22:28-30). The assumption here is that among the twelve disciples who will judge the twelve tribes of Israel, Judas is included. The editors appear to forget that one of the twelve will be judged unworthy. The Q material, if it was indeed a separate and earlier source, seems to have been collected before the story of Judas the traitor came into the tradition, and both Matthew and Luke failed to make their source fully conform to the changing tradition that now included the story of a traitor among the twelve. That is additional evidence that the story of the betrayal of Jesus by one of the twelve, named Judas, was not an original part of the Christian narrative. It was added later, which of course begs the question as to when and why it was added.

The third reason I am suspicious about the historicity of the betrayal story is the way the Judas account so obviously grows once it has been introduced by Mark, somewhere between 70 and 75 CE. Mark has Judas go to the chief priests to betray Jesus. They “promise to give him money,” but no amount is stated, and “he sought how he might conveniently betray him” (Mark 14:10-11, KJV). In Mark’s version of the Last Supper, Jesus identifies the traitor as “one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me” (14:20, NRSV). Mark then has the act of betrayal take place at midnight in the Garden of Gethsemane with a kiss (14:44-45). That is the last time we see Judas in Mark’s gospel.

Matthew, writing about a decade after Mark, builds on Mark’s meager details. In his growing story Matthew adds the price paid for the betrayal. It was, he says, thirty pieces of silver (26:15). Matthew also introduces dialogue between Judas and Jesus at the moment of betrayal that Mark does not mention (26:25). The disciples, Matthew tells us, resisted those who would take Jesus after this betrayal, but Jesus rebuked them (26:51-54). Matthew then tells the story of Judas repenting and trying to return the blood money. The temple leaders refused to receive the money back, so Judas cast it into the temple and, according to Matthew proceeded to hang himself. Matthew then tells us that the chief priests used the money to buy a potter’s field in which strangers could be buried (27:3-10). That is the end of Judas for Matthew.

Luke, writing some five to ten years after Matthew, portrays the chief priests and scribes as aggressively seeking to lay hands on Jesus but being restrained by their fear of his popularity with the people. So they sent spies pretending to be righteous messengers trying to entrap him (Luke 20:19-20). Judas, as the traitor, is introduced against this background. Luke explains Judas’ treachery by saying that “Satan entered [him)” (22:3) and caused him to strike a deal with the chief priests and officers. Finally, what it was that Judas actually betrayed is introduced in Luke for the first time: Judas was to lead them to Jesus apart from the crowd (22:6). This is a rather weak explanation. Surely the authorities could have followed Jesus at night and discovered where he slept apart from the crowd. He was easily identified, after all. When he was arrested, he reminded his accusers that he had been daily in the temple teaching (22:53). It is worth noting that what Judas actually did for them could have been accomplished without his assistance. It thus has the feel of a manufactured story. There Judas exits Luke’s gospel.

However, in the book of Acts Luke adds, in a speech delivered by Peter to the disciples, that it was Judas rather than the Jewish authorities who used the reward of iniquity to purchase a field. When inspecting that field Judas fell “headlong,” Luke says; “he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:16-18). It was a rather more gross way to die than simply by hanging and it quite specifically contradicts the hanging account. Both situations might bring death, but one’s bowels do not gush out when one is hanged by the neck. The story obviously was still growing.

John paints Judas with an even more sinister brush. Judas was really a thief, he says (12:6). He was filled by a satanic spirit (13:27). There is no Last Supper in John, but after the foot-washing ceremony that is substituted for it, John describes a discussion that took place in which Jesus identified the traitor as “he who ate my bread” (13:18). The disciples wondered and looked around at one another. The beloved disciple then asked Jesus quite specifically the “who” question, and Jesus responded, “The one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish” (John 13:26, NRSV). Then dipping the bread into the common food supply, he handed it to Judas and said, “Do quickly what you are going to do” (John 13:27, NRSV). Judas then went out of the upper room, and as he did, John comments, “It was night” (13: 30). After the Last Supper was concluded, Judas arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane at the place where Jesus was praying, accompanied by a band of soldiers from the chief priests, and the traitorous act was accomplished (18:2-9). Peter fought back with a sword, John says, cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest (John 18:10-11). That was Judas’ last appearance in the gospel tradition.

The distinctions are fascinating! Clearly the story was evolving, the details supplied as each phase of the narrative entered the tradition. The whole story of Judas has the feeling of being contrived. My suspicions are not alleviated by the details.

The fourth reason for my suspicion is that the story of the act of betrayal is set very dramatically at midnight. It is just too neat a detail to have what the gospel writers believed was the darkest deed in human history occur at the darkest moment of the night. That looks more like a liturgical drama than it does a fact of history.

My fifth and final source of suspicion is the name of the traitor itself. Judas is nothing but the Greek spelling of Judah. The name of the traitor is the very name of the Jewish nation. The leaders of the orthodox party of that nation, who defined the worship of the Jews, were by the time the gospels were written increasingly the enemy of the Christian movement. It is simply too convenient to place the blame for Jesus’ death on the whole of orthodox Judaism by linking the traitor by name with the entire nation of the Jews. When that fact is combined with a specific attempt to exonerate the Romans by portraying Pilate as washing his hands and saying, “I am innocent of this [just] man’s blood,” then we see the shifting of blame. It simply looks made up. The Romans killed Jesus, but by the eighth decade of the Christian era, when the story of Jesus was being written, something compelled the gospel writers to exonerate the Roman procurator, Pilate, and to blame the Jews. That was when Judas the traitor, identified as one of the twelve, entered the tradition. That identification sealed the fate of the Jews as the perennial object of a violent and persecuting Christian anti-Semitism.

If Judas is nothing more than a fictional character designed for the purposes of adding a dramatic element to the death of Jesus, then it is quite correct to assume that this technique was used in other gospel passages, rendering the gospels an ambiguous and indecipherable mixture of myth and fact.  As such, there is no firm foundation for the practice of the Christian faith.

(1224) Gospel of John is a mystical Jewish tale

So much of modern Christianity hangs on the authenticity of the fourth gospel, John, such that any doubt or suspicion assigned to it by biblical scholars scores a damaging blow to the faith.  If this gospel had been left out of the canon, Christianity would be a very different religion and it would have been nearly impossible for Christianity to have adopted the letters of Paul into the Bible. Following the law and doing good works, not faith, would have been the principal passageway to the afterlife. The following was taken from:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shelby-spong/gospel-of-john-what-everyone-knows-about-the-fourth-gospel_b_3422026.html

Almost any poll of regular church goers will reveal that their favorite book in the New Testament is the Gospel of John. It is the book that is most often used at Christian funerals. It includes such well known and oft-quoted texts as: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It boasts the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept,” which serves the needs of many cross word puzzle creators. Its prologue was used for centuries in Catholic liturgies as “the last gospel” at the mass. It includes characters like Doubting Thomas, whose very name has entered our public discourse.

Yet, I suspect that if these devotees of John’s Gospel were introduced to the world of Johannine scholarship, they would be both shocked and angered by contemporary insights into this treasured book. It is to place much of this scholarship into the public arena that I have written the book, “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic

Among the conclusions that I have reached in my intensive five-year-long study of John’s Gospel are these:

1) There is no way that the Fourth Gospel was written by John Zebedee or by any of the disciples of Jesus. The author of this book is not a single individual, but is at least three different writers/editors, who did their layered work over a period of 25 to 30 years.

2) There is probably not a single word attributed to Jesus in this book that the Jesus of history actually spoke. This includes all the “I Am” sayings and all of the “Farewell Discourses.”

3) Not one of the signs (the Fourth Gospel’s word for miracles) recorded in this book was, in all probability, something that actually happened. This means that Jesus never changed water into wine, fed a multitude with five loaves and two fish or raised Lazarus from the dead.

4) Many of the characters who appear in the pages of the Fourth Gospel are literary creations of its author and were never intended to be understood as real people, who actually lived in history. This includes Nathaniel, who is introduced with great fanfare in chapter one and is treated in John’s Gospel as one of “the Twelve,” as well as the enigmatic character called by the Fourth Gospel “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” who is introduced in Chapter 13 and who stars in this narrative from then on up to and including the resurrection event. Between those two “bookend” characters, we run into such well-known figures as Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman by the well, the man crippled for 38 years and the man born blind, none of whom has ever been mentioned before in any written Christian source and each of whom in all probability is nothing more than the literary creation of the author.

5) John’s Gospel seems to ridicule anyone who might read this book as a work of literal history. For example, Jesus says to Nicodemus: “You must be born again.” Nicodemus, the literalist, says: “Born again? I am a grown man! How can I crawl back into my mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus says to the Samaritan woman: “If you know the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would give you living water.” The Samaritan woman, a literalist, responds: “Man, you don’t even have a bucket!”

6) The Gospel also exaggerates its details, once more I believe, to counter any attempt to read it literally. For example, Jesus does not just turn water into wine, he turns it into 150 gallons of wine! Jesus does not just give sight to a blind man, he gives sight to a man born blind! Jesus does not just raise a person from the dead, he raises one who has been dead and even buried for four days, one who is still bound in grave clothes and one who, according to the King James translation “already stinketh” with the odor of decaying flesh!

Finally this book will challenge the way the Fourth Gospel has been used in Christian history as the guarantor of what came to be called Christian orthodoxy or creedal Christianity. The Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. leaned on the Fourth Gospel as literal history in order to formulate the creeds and ultimately to undergird such doctrines as the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity. The texts used to support that creedal development, my studies have led me to affirm, have nothing to do with an external God entering humanity in the person of Jesus, but are rather attempts to describe the experience of the human breaking the boundaries of consciousness and entering into the transformation available inside a sense of a mystical oneness with God. If that is so, then the Fourth Gospel has the potential to become the primary biblical source upon the basis of which Christianity can be changed dramatically to speak with radical freshness to the 21st century.

Christianity is not about the divine becoming human so much as it is about the human becoming divine. That is a paradigm shift of the first order.

These are the conclusions to which my study of John’s Gospel has led me, and they are the conclusions that I explore and document in this book “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.”

The Gospel of John has failed to stand up to the scrutiny of advanced biblical scholarship.  This means that the form of Christianity practiced most widely is a counterfeit version of whatever reality accompanied the ministry of Jesus.

(1225) God’s caprice for killing

It is well documented in the Old Testament that God has a penchant if not a fetish for killing people. It runs throughout in almost every book. But one of these killings is especially significant because it involves murdering a person who was trying to do the right thing, in fact, was doing the right thing- in this case to protect one of the most holy relics of Judeo-Christianity, the Ark of the Covenant (referred to here as the Ark of God), which is the mythical rock tablet upon which God inscribed the Ten Commandments.

2 Samuel 6:1-7

David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand.  He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets,harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

So it appears that God was angry at Uzzah because he dared to touch the Ark, whereas if he hadn’t, the Ark would have fallen off the cart and broke. Where in the world does this make any sense?  Would any human not see and appreciate the extenuating circumstances in this case and excuse the technical violation of touching something deemed off limits? No, and neither would any real god. This is a prime example of a made-up story trying to show God as a no-prisoners task master with the expressed intent to induce fear.

(1226) Lack of a unified theory of atonement

Christians hold a consistent view that Jesus died on the cross and rose again to atone for the sins of his followers. After that, though, all bets are off. There is a dizzying number of theories about how this process works. It is instructive to observe that there has not been a convergence of thought on this subject after almost 2000 years of arguments, threats, schisms, banishments, excommunications, and executions.  The following was taken from:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/10/when-christians-critizcize-each-other-i.html

One way to tell whether a theory is in crisis to to observe how many versions of that theory have been proposed. When it comes to how the death of Jesus supposedly atones for sins there have been a lot of versions proposed by Christians who, for good reasons, have disputed the others. So let’s recap. The earliest proposals were The Ransom Theory and the The Recapitulation Theory. Then came a host of them afterward, like Anslem’s Satisfaction Theory, The Penal Substitutionary Theory, The Governmental Theory, The Moral Influence Theory, and recently The Relationship Theory. There are others: The Acceptance Theory. The Declaratory Theory. The Mystical Theory. The Guaranty Theory. The Vicarious Repentance Theory. The Christus Victor Theory. The Healing Theory. The Penal Non-Substitution Theory. The Kaleidoscope Theory. The Participatory Model. The Scapegoating Theory. Check some of them out! See also this book of four views, and watch as Christians trash the other views! You see, there is nothing left for me to do. Christians do it to themselves. All I need to do is point it out.

Given nearly two millennia I’d venture to say with good reason that there will never be a cogent, well-argued version that can ever pass muster in the future either. I think the whole idea of Jesus dying for my sins to restore me to God is built upon the beliefs of a superstitious ancient world, where gods and goddesses were pleased with sacrifices, whether they were human or animal ones. This ancient world is long gone now, so it’s time to give up believing in an incarnate God who offered a sacrifice for us on the cross to atone for our sins.

If God meant to offer a gift of atonement by having his son murdered by the Roman Empire, it would seem that he would make sure that we know precisely what it all means.  If, on the other hand, humans devised such a scenario without the benefit of a deity to align their views, then we would expect to see exactly what we see- a plethora of competing theories.

(1227) Forgiveness or not?

Consider the following two scriptures:

Matthew 12:31-32

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

In the first case, Jesus is saying that if people say bad things about him they can be forgiven, but if they speak badly about the Holy Spirit they are eternally damned with no hope for redemption.  This presumably can happen at any time in a person’s life, and once it does, it is all over for that person.

In the second case, Jesus is saying that believing on him is the only condition for gaining the reward of eternal life.  He is saying this without any conditions.  In fact there are many statements similar to this in the Gospel of John, such as:

John 11:25

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.

Once again, this promise is made without any conditions.  He didn’t say “He who believes in me will live, as long as he has not spoken badly about the Holy Spirit.”

This brings up the scenario where a person blasphemes the Holy Spirit, but later repents and comes to accept Christ into his heart.  Will Jesus stand by his word and send this person to Hell, or stand by his word and send this person to Heaven? Needless to say, this is a crucial contradiction, and one that reveals the footprint of human, not divine, authorship.

(1228) Failed prophecies reveal the Bible’s fallibility

One of the best tests of the Bible’s claim to be the word of God is the success of its predictions of future (at the time of its writing) events.  In general, the Bible’s score in this accounting is abysmal.  The following website lists many of the failed prophecies:

http://faithskeptic.50megs.com/prophecies.htm

Genesis 26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

Here God tells Isaac that his descendents (Hebrews) will be as numerous as the stars.  Considering the number of stars there are in the universe, that would have to be on the order of 1020 Jewish people.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Christians say that this verse is a prophecy of Jesus’ birth to a virgin.  There are a couple problems with this prophecy…First, virgin in this verse is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word “almah”, which actually means “young woman”.  A young woman is not necessarily a virgin.  “Bethulah” would have been the correct word to use if the author meant virgin.  Second, nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus referred to as Immanuel.

Isaiah 17:1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

Damascus is still inhabited today with over a million people, and hardly a ruinous heap.

Isaiah 19:4-5 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts. And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.

The river mentioned here is the Nile.  The Nile is still one of Egypt’s greatest natural resource.

Isaiah 19:18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.

The Canaanite language has never been spoken in Egypt, and is now an extinct.

Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

There are uncircumcised people living in Jerusalem even today.

Ezekiel 29:10-11 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.  No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.

Never in its long history has Egypt ever been uninhabited for forty years.

Amos 9:15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.

Many times, Jews have been pulled up out of their land.  The ownership of their land is still being fought for.

Jonah 3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Nineveh was never overthrown.  Why?  Because God changed his mind in verse 3:10, despite what Malachi 3:6, Numbers 23:19 and Ezekiel 24:14 says about God never changing his mind.

Jonah 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Zechariah 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

Christians say that this prophecy was fulfilled when Judas received 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus.  Matthew 27:9 recites this verse, but incorrectly credits Jeremiah with the prophecy.

Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Again, Jesus is never referred to as Emmanuel (Immanuel).

Matthew 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Nowhere in the Old Testament is such a prophecy found, so how could such a one be fulfilled?

Matthew 12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

There is no passage in the Old Testament that can be attributed to what Jesus is saying here.

Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

Jesus states that all the signs marking the end of the world in Matthew 24 would be fulfilled before his generation ended.  That generation ended 2000 years ago, and the world has not come to an end, neither has all those signs been fulfilled.

Matthew 27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value.

This prophecy was never spoken by Jeremiah.

Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Jesus tells the high priest that he would see his second coming.  The high priest is long dead, and Jesus hasn’t returned yet.

Throughout the New Testament, the end of the world is prophesied as being very near, at hand, to be witnessed by those living at the time.  Paul often told the people he preached to that they would be witnesses to Jesus’ second coming.  They are all long gone.

This continues to be a source of embarrassment for Christianity. Whereas the Bible is assumed to be the work of an all-knowing and all-powerful god, the prophecies contained therein should be unanimously correct and precise.  The fact that so many of them have failed is forceful proof that the Bible is not the word of God.

(1229) Plato out-philosophizes Jesus

Celsus, a second century critic of Christianity, made an astute comparison between Jesus and Plato (428-348 BCE) as to their characterizations of the relationship between riches and virtue.  Here is his quote from On the True Doctrine:

“Just as the charlatans of the cults take advantage of the simpleton’s lack of education to lead him around by the nose, so too with the Christian teachers: they do not want to give or receive reasons for what they believe. Their favorite expressions are “Do not ask questions, just believe!” and: “Your faith will save you!” “The wisdom of the world,” they say, “is evil; to be simple is to be good.” We are told that Jesus judged the rich with the saying ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of god.’  Yet we know that Plato expressed this very idea in a purer form when he said, ‘It is impossible for an exceptionally good man to be exceptionally rich.’ Is one utterance more inspired than the other?”

It is arguable that Plato’s remark was superior to Jesus’s because it exposes an intrinsic principal that wealth not shared is a selfish act that is detrimental to the common good. Jesus, on the other hand, merely suggests that wealth clouds a person’s attachment to sacred matters, making it difficult to achieve spiritual success.  Plato’s remark is much more likely to modify behaviors and lead to a better and more harmonious world.

(1230) Without Heaven Christianity would die

This is to say that the success and longevity and, in fact, the survivability of Christianity is heavily dependent on the promise to its followers of an eternal life in Heaven.  If Heaven had never become a part of Christian doctrine, it is very likely that Christianity would no longer exist.  There are two primary reasons for this:

  • Christianity does not confer a tangible benefit to its believers in terms of earthly blessings. It does not make people healthier, does not cure their diseases, heal their injuries, provide wealth, answer their prayers, nor provide any other real life advantage. In fact, its major and only non-negligible attraction is the hope for a future life in Heaven.
  • As a philosophical guide, there are much better alternatives, with Buddhism being the best example. Others that are superior to Christianity include Baha’i, Taoism, and Confucianism, all of which predate Christianity except Baha’i. Although it may be argued as to which philosophy is better, the standard of judgement should be what is best for the happiness and peaceful coexistence of mankind, the animal kingdom, and the Earth’s environment. Given those measures, it should be generally acknowledged that the philosophies listed above surpass Christianity, and some by a large margin.

This leaves a hard question for Christians. Why is it that the god of the universe produced a religion that can’t compete with the best man-made philosophies, embroiled instead with such noxious ideas as the condemnation of homosexuals, the subjugation of women, the endorsement of slavery, the use of blood sacrifice, and the threat of eternal torture?  Why would the religion of God need to rely on a future promise to corral believers instead of presenting the best ideas, guidance, and wisdom for the real world?  It would not, and that is one reason why we can conclude that Christianity is not of divine origin.

(1231) Without Hell Christianity would die

The motivation to embrace Christianity is both positive, with its promise of eternal bliss, and negative, with its threat of never-ending torture.  But suppose that Christianity had offered only its heavenly reward while simply sentencing those deemed unworthy to a post-life state of non-existence (oblivion).  Would that form of Christianity have been as successful?  Are Christians more excited about Heaven or more afraid of being sent to Hell?

It’s obvious that the figure of Satan is inextricably woven into the drama of Christianity and any attempt to extricate him from the orthodox doctrine would be similar to extracting a person’s lungs and expecting him to live. The following lecture by Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) makes this point abundantly clear:

http://infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/devil.html

No, If Satan is not real then Christianity is necessarily false. But what about the concept that Satan is real, but Hell is just a fictional invention (made up by unscrupulous men as a means to scare people). This enjoys a shade of plausibility as Satan might still be motivated to prevent people from accessing Heaven out of sheer selfish jealousy. So, in that case, we could have a seemingly viable Christianity without the existence of Hell.

A Christianity without Hell would be a relief to apologists who have to bend over backwards to explain how a benevolent god could sentence people to eternal punishment for a finite crime.  But would the lack of fear of Hell de-motivate potential followers to the extent that Christianity would wither and die? This returns to the question: Are people more afraid of Hell than excited about Heaven?

As it turns out, the answer is that people are more motivated by fear than any other emotion.  Fear controls thoughts and actions much more than anything related to desires and hopes.  The following was taken from:

http://theunboundedspirit.com/fear-of-hell-and-desire-for-heaven-the-two-reasons-why-people-believe-in-religion/

The first and foremost reason why people believe in religion is fear. Humans are the most fearful animal. They fear many things–old age, disease, natural disasters, poverty – but most importantly, death. Indeed, humans are unique animals in that they can be aware of their own death. Perhaps no animal can foresee its death, except man. The very fact that man knows he will eventually die to this life causes tremendous amount of fear in him–fear of the unknown.

Priests became aware of this very early and tried to exploit it. How? Firstly, by propounding the idea of hell in the afterlife. By making people afraid of hell, priests were able to control people emotionally. That’s the reason why priests continuously insist that we are born sinners: their purpose is to instill a deep fear of hell into us.

Secondly, priests offered a solution to the problem of hell. They created the idea of god–a judge who will either send you to heaven or condemn you to hell, according to how you have lived your life. They asked that if you did certain things you needn’t be afraid of hell. In this way people were made to follow religious dogmas, afraid that if they don’t, they might end up experiencing eternal suffering.

As a thought experiment if you asked a man to take this offer:  You can have sex with a beautiful virgin woman but afterwards you will be given painful electrical shocks for one hour, would he take it? No, the fear of pain far outweighs the anticipation of bliss.

Returning to the title of this essay, it is perhaps slightly overstated to claim that Christianity would die without the threat of Hell, but it is not an overstatement to assert that it likely would be nothing more than a fringe religion.  That is to say, Christianity is, first and foremost, a purveyor of fear.

(1232) Jesus baptism story preceded birth story

Biblical scholars have long understood that there is a chronological problem with the birth stories in Matthew and Luke and the accounts of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist.  In the first case, Jesus is born of the Holy Spirit and in the second case, he is initially receiving it.  Thus, it is evident that the legend of the baptism developed before the legend of his miraculous virgin birth.  Both legends were placed in the gospels of Matthew and Luke and the necessary sequencing of them resulted in the anachronistic contradiction. In the first gospel, Mark, there is no mention of the birth story, so Jesus’s baptismal reception of the Holy Spirit causes no concern. The following was taken from:

http://www.mythicistpapers.com/2012/10/02/john-was-jesus-pt-1-ory/

The account of the baptism of Jesus by John6 was, from all the evidence, completely changed. The scene is important because it represents the only encounter ever to take place between the two persons. In effect, John dies after the baptism in the Jordan, and Jesus—going “in spirit” into Galilee—launches upon his work.7

The paradoxical nature of the baptism of Jesus by John has long been noted. Surprise increases with the realization that Jesus, who brings the baptism of the spirit,8 asks to receive baptism from John who has just announced that it is Jesus who should conduct the baptism (Mt 3:14).

By receiving the Holy Spirit, Jesus shows that he did not yet possess it. He is therefore different from the Jesus who should, like John, have been imbued with the Holy Spirit from the womb of his mother (Mt :20; Lk 1:35). Presumably, Jesus was born like other men and was not yet distinguished by God. Such distinction did not occur until the dove descended upon him during baptism. The Jesus of the baptism was not conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was not born of a virgin. He was a man in whom God revealed Himself during the course of a rite performed by John. [Therefore, the Jesus of the baptism is a different figure from the Jesus of the birth stories. This difference shows the independent traditions behind the baptism and the birth accounts. It is the baptism—with its adoptionist Christology9—which is earlier. The birth stories, with their from-the-womb Christology, are later.—RS]

The inconsistency between these two traditions, the virgin birth and the baptism, offers an insight into the development of Christian doctrine, indicating that it was a sequential process occurring over many years and decades.  This is the modus operandi of a legend, not a true historical event.

(1233) Early Christians did not believe Jesus was a man

There is evidence that a group of early Christians denied that Jesus had been a flesh and blood human, but was simply a spiritual being. This caused a problem for the defenders of orthodoxy.  The following was taken from:

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/orthodoxy.html

The Catholic Church, striving to eradicate their Gnostics rivals, coined the term “Docetists” (from the Greek “to seem”) to describe those heretics who believed their Christ’s divinity was irreconcilable with his taking human form.

A faint echo of this ancient skirmish is to be found in the First Epistle of John, a multi-author work put together by the orthodox:

“Many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God:

And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

– 1 John 4.1,3

 Why would this epistle need to denounce the deniers of a human Jesus other than because many Christians did, indeed, deny a human “Jesus of Nazareth.”

The question that must be confronted is how a belief developed, apparently widespread enough to cause concern, that Jesus did not take on a human form if, in fact, he did.  This would be similar to a group that claimed that Julius Caesar was just a heavenly figure with no earthly presence.  On the other hand, a mythical figure who had been given an earthly presence by the use of historical fiction would be expected to leave a sizable group of people denying his human existence.

(1234) Matthew modifies Mark to redeem disciples

It is well known that the author of Matthew used the Gospel of Mark as a template for his book.  In most cases, he simply copied and added or subtracted some details according to his whim.  But in the following case, he made a change that directly contradicted what Mark had written:

http://errancy.org/sit.html

In Mark’s gospel, the brothers James and John asked to sit at the side of Jesus in Heaven. This is Mark 10:35-37:

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (ESV)

On the other hand, Matthew 20:20-21 has it that the request came from their mother:

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” (ESV)

These two passages are definitely about the same incident: in both Mark and Matthew, it comes right after Jesus foretells his death for the third time, and right before Jesus heals the blind. This is a problem. Inerrantists must reply like this:

Is it not plausible that all three came together and made inquiry of the Lord with regard to the positions on His right and left hand in the kingdom?

It’s possible. Indeed, Matthew indicates that all three were present. But the question is not who was present, but rather, who spoke?

I suppose you can say that the sons and their mother all spoke, one after another. But this is one of several occasions in the gospels where inerrancy requires you to believe that two authors gave half the story and nobody gave the whole story. This is very irritating. The more reasonable response is that Matthew, who used Mark as a source, altered the story to make the disciples look less foolish, by having someone else make the silly request.

This goes to prove that the authors of the gospels were not classical historians, but rather story tellers who never hesitated to make things up for whatever purpose they saw fit.

(1235) Elijah is carried up into heaven

There are certain scriptures in the Bible that are laughably fictional, and perhaps one of the best examples is 2 Kings 2:7-14:

Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan.  Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.

Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

In this short period of several minutes, a coat is used twice to separate the waters of the Jordan River, such as to produce a dry pathway across, a chariot of fire and horses appear out of nowhere, and Elijah is taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, a flight that would have quickly caused him to die from cold and lack of oxygen.  This cannot be anything more than a fictional story, once again demonstrating that the Bible is not a testament to actual physical events or history.  Rather, it is a mythical storybook filled with phantasmagorical imagery.

(1236) The indoctrination of Christians

Most people are very smart and can navigate their way through life with consistent success.  They use critical thinking skills to decide on a marriage partner or a new job, or what kind of car to buy, or what house to buy.  But when it comes to religions, all of this is generally thrown out and what remains is a dumbed down form of brain activity.  In the following website, John Loftus explains this phenomenon:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2013/10/are-christians-stupid.html

        1. Christians are human. They (like all of us, to a greater or lesser degree) compartmentalize, rationalize, fall prey to confirmation bias and a host of other faulty thought processes. Inconsistent thinking is a problem we all face. If we live in an echo chamber where we do not hear dissenting opinions, then we are never forced to examine the ideas we hold. Many fundamentalist Christians live in a carefully-sanitized, climate-controlled ‘spiritual’ bubble. They may have gone years, or perhaps decades without ever talking with someone who calls their cherished beliefs into question.
        2. Christians who were immersed in fundamentalist religion from a young age have been through a long process of mental conditioning. This starts well before the critical reasoning skills of the mind have developed, and like the frog in the kettle, the heat is slowly turned up without them noticing. Imagine being introduced to the Noah story as a cutesy storybook tale about lots of fun animals and a boat. And rainbows! The religious child is not taught to empathize with the masses of people and animals drowning outside the Ark. By the time they are an adult, capable of understanding the horrific genocidal implications of the Bible god’s deluge, they have already been desensitized, and if their thoughts ever dare to drift into questioning whether Yahweh’s actions were righteous and loving… well they now know about a horrible place called Hell where he will send them if they get out of line.
        3. Fundamentalists have had important facts withheld from them. They are not typically going to be aware of the influence of how Genesis borrows from Mesopotamian creation and flood myths, or the JEPD textual theory of the Old Testament. They generally not have studied comparative religions, and aren’t aware of how the beliefs of Judaism and Christianity have changed and adapted over time. Popular apologetics writers like Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell are masters at controlling the information flow in their presentations and books. They carefully neglect to explore evidence which undermines their case, while overselling the ‘proofs’ for Christianity. The average Christian is going to trust them, not fact-check or dig deeper.
        4. Fundamentalists have been given false information: about evolution, the reliability of the Bible, about what life is like without belief in a god. They have been assured by people whom they deeply trust that these things are so. Like the town elders in M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Village sought to control the townspeople through fear and lies about the outside world, Christian leaders spread misinformation so that they can control their flock.
        5. There are mechanisms in place which are implicitly designed to stop believers from questioning, and finding their way out of the religious maze. Apologists like Copan, Geisler, and Craig seek to soothe restless, questioning Christians – calming them down and keeping them in the fold by giving ‘reasoned’ answers to biblical and theological difficulties. Their job is not primarily to convert skeptics into believers. They are the spiritual cowboys, singing to keep the herd calm through the long dark night of the soul. Family and friendship ties are often mediated through the church and this attaches a high cost to defecting. For many, the price is too much to pay and so they suppress or abandon their questions. Fear of losing their salvation, the terror of Hell is often sufficient to stop reason in its tracks. Christians are warned that they can be deceived by Satan and the ‘philosophy of men’. A whirlwind of church busyness and involvement (by design) leaves very little time for examining one’s beliefs.

Religious belief operates in a different realm of human mentality, and because of that it can survive even in the wake of scientific and historical evidence that refutes its authenticity.  Christianity can be disproved beyond reasonable doubt but most of its followers cannot not be moved from their preconceptions.  So it will continue to float along for several more centuries by taking advantage of the frailties of the human mind.

(1237) Bible authors couldn’t have anticipated the future

It is nearly certain that the people who were authoring the books of the Bible did not realize that 2000 years (or more) later that people would be hanging on every word they wrote to decide how to live their lives or how to govern others. In fact, most if not all of them believed that the year 2000 CE would never happen, believing that the end of times was near.

Also, they could not have anticipated the dramatic changes that would occur over this time frame, such as the universal abolishment of slavery, that women would become co-equal in sharing property rights with their husbands, the discovery of homosexuality as a natural and unchosen condition, that disease would be determined to be caused by bacteria and viruses, that divorce and remarriage would become common, or any of the advances in technology and science.

To put this in perspective, consider the challenge it would be to write a book today, listing a set of rules and guidelines for people who will be alive in the year 4000 CE.  By that time much of societal work will be accomplished by robots, polygamy and polyamory might be widespread, people might be living to be 500 years old, gene selection will most likely be used in reproduction, the death penalty will likely be universally abolished, birth control might be legislatively mandated, and virtual reality might be the predominant mode of living.  Needless to say, the task would be daunting, and the product would almost certainly be rejected by the future earthlings.

If the Bible was presented to people today without any of the claims that it is a supernaturally-inspired book, it would be immediately rejected as being out of date, primitive, mostly irrelevant, inhumane, cruel, and barbaric.  In other words, it has failed to pass the test of time. This is to be expected, just as we would expect the people of the year 4000 to reject our writings.  But if God was the author of the Bible, this is not what we would expect, rather it would be a document that would span time and all of the changes that he, and only he, could foresee.

(1238) Jesus ben Ananias and the 21 parallels

As many people know, Josephus wrote about 20 different Jesus’ (Yeshua) in his writings. The claim of the Jesus that Christians worship however (Yeshua ben Yosef) doesn’t appear in Josephus except as a confirmed forgery. The reference of John the Baptist is irrelevant and the reference of “James the Lord’s brother” is referencing a Jesus that actually existed named Yeshua ben Damneus who died in 70AD, was a high priest and acknowledged to be a real, but a completely different person.

There is another Jesus (Yeshua ben Ananias) who it appears that the author of Mark copied and put into the Book of Mark by using certain elements about that Jesus.

Dr. Richard Carrier discovered 21 parallels between Yeshua ben Ananias and the Jesus that Christians think they worship (Yeshua ben Yosef) by comparing the Gospel of Mark with Josephus’ book ‘The Jewish War’. Dr. Carrier lists these points in his book On The Historicity Of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt.

http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=853&p=18114

1 Both are named Jesus
2 Both come to Jerusalem during a major religious festival. Mk 14.2
= JW 6.301
3 Both entered the temple area to rant against the temple. Mk 11.15-17
= JW 6.301
4 During which both quote the same chapter of Jeremah. Jer. 7-11 in Mk;
Jer. 7.34 in JW
5 Both then preach daily in the temple. Mk 14.49
= JW 6.306
6 Both declared ‘woe’ unto Judea or the Jews. Mk 13.17 = JW
6.304, 306, 309
7 Both predict the temple will be destroyed. Mk 13.2
= JW 6.300, 309
8 Both are for this reason arrested by the Jews. Mk 14.43
= 6.302
9 Both are accused of speaking against the temple. Mk 14.58
= JW 6.302
10 Neither makes any defense of himself against the charges Mk 14.60
= JW 6.302
11 Both are beaten by the Jews Mk 14.65
= JW 6.302
12 Then both are taken to the Roman governor. Pilate in
Mk 15.1
= Albinus in
JW 6.302
13 Both are interrogated by the Roman governor. Mk 15.2-4
= JW 6.305
14 During which both are asked to identify themselves. Mk 15. 2
= JW 6.305
15 And yet again neither says anything in his defense. Mk 15 3-5
= JW 6.305
16 Both are then beaten by the Romans. Mk 15.15
= JW 6.304
17 In both cases the Roman governor decides he should release him.
18 ….but doesn’t (Mark)….but does (JW) Mk 15 6-15 vs.
JW 6.305
19 Both are finally killed by the Romans (in Mark, by execution; in the JW, by artillery). Mk 15.34
= JW 6.308-309
20 Both utter a lament for themselves immediately before they die. Mk 15.34
= JW 6.309
21 Both die with a loud cry. Mk 15.37
= JW 6.309

http://www.sheffieldphoenix.com/showbook.asp?bkid=264

As Dr. Carrier points out in his book On The Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt, page 428/429:

Indeed, even how Mark decides to construct the sequence of the Passion narrative appears to be based on the tale of another Jesus: Jesus ben Ananias, the ‘Jesus of Jerusalem’, an insane prophet active in the 60s CE who is then killed in the siege of Jerusalem (roughly in the year 70 CE). His story is told by Josephus in the Jewish War, and unless Josephus invented him, his narrative must have been famous, famous enough for Josephus to know of it, and thus famous enough for Mark to know of it, too, and make use of it to model the tale of his own Jesus. Or if Josephus invented the tale, then Mark evidently used Josephus as a source because the parallels are too numerous to be at all probable as a coincidence. Some Mark does derive from elsewhere (or matches from elsewhere to a double purpose), but the overall scheme of the story in Josephus matches Mark too closely to believe that Mark just came up with the exact same scheme independently. And since it’s not believable that Josephus invented a new story using Mark, we must conclude Mark invented his story using Josephus—or the same tale known to Josephus.

It would appear this story inspired the general outline of Mark’s entire Passover Narrative. There are at least twenty significant parallels (and one reversal).

So there you have it- another reason to demonstrate that Mark is fictional with convincing evidence to back it up. With this information, we can demonstrate once again that Christianity is false.

(1239) Book of Mark lies about a false prophecy

Christians often claim that the Bible and Christianity are true based on the prophecies in the Bible.  However, few are aware of the fact that the gospels were sometimes used as tools to cover up and lie about failed prophecies in The Old Testament.

There is a multitude of reasons why the story of Jesus cleansing the temple is not true (See Reason #542). The story is told Mark 11:15-19 and was copied in Matthew 21:12-17, Luke 19:45-48 and John 2:13-16. In short, this event could not have happened because the temple was filled with armed guards and much security and was the size of four football fields. Jesus would have been immediately arrested and probably executed.

The reason that this fictional story was added to Mark 11 in the first place was to cover up a lying prophecy told in Zechariah 14:21:

And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.

Not only was the temple a giant flea market shopping mall, just as Jeremiah said it wouldn’t be, but the Gospels created a fictional story to claim that God himself, as Jesus, went in to make sure that people didn’t use the temple in that manner.

So unlike the Book of Daniel which wrote about events after they happened and claimed they were prophecies, the gospels took a prophecy already made and constructed a bombastic lie to ‘fulfill’ it.

If Christianity and the Bible were true, such deceptions would not be necessary.

(1240) The temple veil

In the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, there is a statement that the Jewish temple veil, the curtain that separated the ‘holy’ from the ‘most holy’ portions of the temple, was torn down the middle at the moment of Jesus’s death.  Because Matthew and Luke copied from Mark, the truth of this matters hangs on the reliability of Mark’s gospel.  And right off the bat there is a problem with Mark’s account because it appears that someone added the line about the temple veil after the original gospel was completed.  Here is Mark 15:37-39:

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

The narrative is abruptly interrupted by Verse 38 whereas Verse 39 flows naturally from Verse 37.  Almost assuredly, Verse 38 is an interpolation.

But there are other problems. We know from Josephus’s writings that the temple veil was very thick (at least 4 inches) and that there was a saying that two horses tied to either end could not tear it apart. Also, we know that the temple continued to operate normally for 40 years following Jesus’s death and that there is no record of the temple veil ever being damaged or being repaired. It would seem that if God tore the veil, he would have prevented it from ever being repaired and used again in its original format- otherwise what’s the purpose of doing it in the first place?

The temple veil was the barrier that prevented anyone other than the High Priest from entering the most holy place in the temple, so the tearing of the veil carried the symbolism that Jesus’s death removed this barrier and gave all persons access to God’s grace.  But just like so many stories in the gospels, this one is just a fictional tale meant to convey a spiritual message.  It wasn’t even in Mark’s original gospel and it has no historical backing.  This is another reminder that it is a folly to take the gospels at face value.

(1241) Dead Sea Scrolls fail to mention Jesus

The Dead Sea Scrolls represented the most significant find in religious studies during the 20th Century.  Although they provided significant information about the Jewish culture during three centuries around the time of Jesus, they did not mention Jesus at all. This is significant in that it tends to refute the gospel claim that Jesus was a widely known and famous preacher during his ministry in Judea and Galilee. If the miracles attributed to Jesus were true, it is hard to believe the Essenes would have chosen to ignore such an amazing historical phenomenon.  The following was taken from:

http://www.centuryone.com/25dssfacts.html

Dead Sea Scrolls were most likely written by the Essenes during the period from about 200 B.C. to 68 C.E./A.D. The Essenes are mentioned by Josephus and in a few other sources, but not in the New testament. The Essenes were a strict Torah observant, Messianic, apocalyptic, baptist, wilderness, new covenant Jewish sect. They were led by a priest they called the “Teacher of Righteousness,” who was opposed and possibly killed by the establishment priesthood in Jerusalem.

 Although the Qumran community existed during the time of the ministry of Jesus, none of the Scrolls refer to Him, nor do they mention any of His follower’s described in the New Testament.

This represents a notable absence of evidence for the gospel’s characterization of Jesus’s ministry and compelling evidence that the gospels are heavily exaggerated- or worse, complete fabrications. This probably explains why the scrolls were held in restricted access for almost 50 years before being fully released.

(1242) God will damn some before death

When Jesus returns to the Earth, it is accepted by most Christians that he will ‘gather his elect’ in a rapture to heaven and then consign those who remain to a long period of tribulation.  Those who remain will therefore be condemned to hell with no chance for redemption.  It should be obvious that this plan will consign many people to hell before they die, thus removing the remaining chance they would have had to convert before death.

It would silly for Christians to suggest that God will give the non-raptured people another chance to redeem themselves because after the rapture it would be more than obvious that Christianity is the one true religion, and therefore everyone alive would accept that fact and become followers of Christ.  Everyone would be saved making the rapture itself rather meaningless.

So the rebellious teen who rejected Jesus will be sent to hell, the victim of dumb-luck timing of God’s plan.  Otherwise, he could have found Jesus later in life.  No thinking person can believe this is fair.

The whole concept of Jesus returning to separate the saved from the un-saved is therefore nonsensical, and it’s another reason to reject the Christian religion.

(1243) Why does Jesus need to return?

Christians are taught to believe that Jesus will return at some unknown time to judge the living and the dead.  Various denominations have different ideas of what Jesus will actually do when he returns, but virtually all Christians believe that he will return.  But, few Christians ever ask themselves the question- why is it important for him to return in the first place, what is the real purpose?

Jesus has already died on the cross and resurrected so that people can be saved so there’s no need to do that again.  He also laid down a lot of rules, parables, and sayings to guide and instruct his followers how to behave, so presumable he doesn’t need to change or add to any of that.  Also, for the past 2000 years he has judged the approximately three billion people who have died during that time, assigning them to either heaven or hell, so returning is not intrinsically needed to impart judgement.

So, what is left?  Is he returning so he can end the world?  But why do that?  He constructed the solar system in such a way that it is feasible for humans to inhabit the earth for another billion years or so (until the sun becomes too intense), so why shut everything down in a couple thousand years (just 1/500,000 of the available time)?  And, in so doing, scuttle the lives of billions of young people who would never have the chance to live out their lives?  Or possibly, for example, abandon the Webb Space Telescope with no one to operate it?

What it all comes down to is that there is no need for Jesus to return.  Everything can be left just as it is and it all works fine, and in so doing God could make a lot more people to enjoy his paradise (hopefully).

So now that it’s established that Jesus’s return has no real purpose, the question is how or why did this get incorporated into Christian doctrine?  The best answer is that early Christians had an incentive to instill its followers with a sense of immediacy. By claiming that Jesus was to return soon and that thereafter no pathway to salvation would remain, it created a very efficient recruiting tool.  It is likely that Paul was the first influential person to publish this idea and then subsequently it was incorporated into the gospels.

Just for the record, it is very unlikely that Jesus, assuming he was a real person, conceived of his mission as a two-step process, but rather he believed that as the Jewish messiah he would reign as King of the Jews in a Roman-free holy land within his lifetime. It was only after his unexpected death that his followers concocted the idea that he would return.

All of this nonsense and illogic demonstrates that Christianity is not an authentic religion.

(1244) Jesus parallels to Moses

There are so many similarities between Moses and Jesus in the Bible that one of two truths must exist- either the New Testament writers utilized the history of Moses as a template to construct the fictional character of Jesus, or God orchestrated a mirrored history for his son to emulate Moses.  The more likely of the two is not too hard to discern. The following was taken from:

http://www.confidentfaith.net/moses-and-jesus-devine-similarities

 

Moses – The first mediator                               Jesus – The final mediator

Moses was born as a Hebrew Jesus was born as a Hebrew
Moses was chosen by God to be a leader Jesus was chosen by God to be a leader
Moses was born while his people were suffering under a cruel leader. (Pharaoh) Jesus was born while his people were suffering under a cruel leader. (Herod)
Moses hid in Egypt as a child. Jesus hid in Egypt as a child.
The leader of the land that Moses was born into tried to kill all of the babies when he was born. The leader of the land that Jesus was born into tried to kill all of the babies when He was born.
Moses turned water into blood. Jesus turned water into wine.
Moses died on a hill. Jesus died on a hill.
Moses fasted 40 days and faced a spiritual crisis on a mountain Jesus fasted 40 days and faced a spiritual crisis on a mountain.
Moses told people about the need for a Passover lamb. Jesus became the Passover lamb.
Moses founded a new religion Jesus founded a new religion
Moses communicated directly with God Jesus communicated directly with God
Moses performed miracles Jesus performed miracles
Moses revised an existing religion Jesus revised an existing religion
Moses was a law giver – gave the ten commandments Jesus was a law giver – gave the great commandment.
Moses was hated by the ruling party (Egyptians) Jesus was hated by the ruling party (Pharisees)
Moses had brothers and sisters who misunderstood him. Jesus had brothers and sisters who misunderstood him.
Moses chose 12 leaders to follow. Jesus chose 12 leaders to follow.
Moses gave his people a new identity as a people. Jesus gave his people a new identity as a people.
Moses had followers who strayed from his teachings. Jesus had followers who strayed from his teachings.
Moses is arguably the lead figure of the Old Testament. Jesus is the lead figure of the New Testament.
Moses taught his followers how to pray. Jesus taught his followers how to pray.
Moses chose people to carry on when he was leaving. Jesus chose people to carry on when he was leaving.
Moses led his people to the promised land. Jesus leads his people to the promised land.
Moses sent 12 spies to Canaan so he could bring people to the promised land. Jesus sent 12 disciples to the world so he could bring people to the promised land.
Moses appointed 70 rulers over Israel Jesus appointed 70 disciples to the nations.
The people picked up stones to stone Moses but they did not succeed. The people picked up stones to stone Jesus, but they did not succeed.
Moses controlled the waters of the Red Sea Jesus controlled the Sea of Galilee
Moses brought living water out of the Rock Jesus brings living water to all of his believers.
The face of Moses shown with glory on Mount Sinai. The face of Jesus shown with glory on the mount of Transfiguration.
Moses lifted the brazen serpent up in the wilderness to heal people Jesus was lifted up on the cross to heal us from our own sins.
Moses was a shepherd Jesus was the good shepherd
Moses subdued an attacking army by raising his arms high on the top of a hill.  (with two other people) Jesus subdued sin and death with arms raised high on a hill.  (with two other people)
Moses said another prophet would come (Jesus) Jesus said another would come (Holy Spirit)
Those who did not follow Moses died in the wilderness because of their lack of faith. Those who refused to follow Jesus died in the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Jesus had warned them it was coming, and history shows that the Christians left right before the siege started because of the remembrance of the words of Jesus.  Those who did not believe Jesus stayed and were either killed or sold to slavery.
Moses fed thousands supernaturally with bread. Jesus fed thousands supernaturally with bread.
Moses took a gentile bride Jesus took a gentile bride (the church)
Moses led the Israelites in a victory song after the victory in Egypt. This song will be repeated at the end as a victory song for Jesus.  (see Rev. 15:2-3)
There is a long period of silence in the story of Moses from the time he was a child until adulthood. There is a long period of silence in the story of Jesus from the time he was a child until adulthood.
Moses showed compassion to a woman getting water at a well. Jesus showed compassion to a woman getting water at a well.
Moses’ mission was to redeem Israel from slavery to Egypt Jesus’ mission was to redeem mankind from slavery to sin.
Moses was loved and supported by his sister Miriam (which is Miryam in Hebrew) Jesus was loved and supported in his ministry by His mother Mary (which is also Miryam in Hebrew)
Moses gave God’s law on a mountain. Jesus gave the new law from the Mount of the Beatitudes. (sermon on the mount.)
Moses offered his life for the salvation of his people after the sin of the golden calf. Jesus offered His life for the salvation of the world.
Moses rejected a lavish, ruling lifestyle in the house of the Pharaoh.  Instead, he chose a humble life. Jesus rejected the offers of Satan to be the ruler of this world and instead chose a humble life
Moses washed Aaron and his sons with water. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

The writers of the New Testament fashioned Jesus as the “New Moses” which was an admirable literary technique, but one that makes Jesus  seem less than historical- even more so, because an increasing number of biblical scholars are reaching the consensus that Moses was a legendary figure.

(1245) Q Document probably didn’t exist

The Q document is a hypothetical written collection of Jesus‘s sayings (logia). Q is (part of) the “common” material found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke but not in the Gospel of Mark. According to this hypothesis, this material was drawn from the early Church’s Oral Tradition. This formulates the consensus two-source hypothesis as depicted below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_source

Christian apologists are fond of crediting the Q document as a means to answer critics’ claims that Christianity is based on documents that were not written until about 20 years after Jesus died (Paul’s letters) and 40 years later (The Book of Mark, the oldest biographical work).  Q, they claim, was an effort to record Jesus’s deeds and sayings that possibly was written very soon after Jesus died- and thus it can be considered more likely to be authentic. And since Q was incorporated into Matthew and Luke, then those two gospels are even more contemporary than Mark.

However, there are good reasons to conclude that Q never existed and that whatever source Matthew and Luke might have shared were scribblings about a person similar to Jesus (Ananius, who died in 68 CE) or they simply extracted similar material from the Old Testament.

The most rigorous argument against the existence of Q is summarized here, where the author (Mark Goodacre in his book The Case Against Q) presents 10 reasons for this conclusion:

http://markgoodacre.org/Q/ten.htm

No-one has ever seen Q

Current literature on Q abounds with editions of Q, investigations into its strata, studies of the communities that were behind it and analyses of their theology. In such circumstances, it is worth allowing ourselves the sober reminder that there is no manuscript of Q in existence. No-one has yet found even a fragment of Q.

No-one had ever heard of Q

No ancient author appears to have been aware of the existence of Q. One will search in vain for a single reference to it in ancient literature. For a while it was thought that ‘the logia’ to which Papias referred might be Q. Indeed, this was one of the planks on which the Q hypothesis rested in the nineteenth century. But no reputable scholar now believes this.

Narrative Sequence in Q

Q apparently has a narrative sequence in which the progress of Jesus’ ministry is carefully plotted. In outline this is: John the Baptist’s appearance in the Jordan, his preaching, Jesus’ baptism, temptations in the wilderness, Nazara, a great Sermon, Capernaum where the Centurion’s Boy is healed, messengers from John the Baptist. This narrative is problematic for the Q theory in two ways. First, it contradicts the assertion that Q is a “Sayings Gospel” that parallels Thomas. Second, this sequence makes sense when one notices that it corresponds precisely to the places at which Matthew departs from Mark’s basic order (in Matt. 3-11) and where Luke, in parallel, departs from that order. In other words, it makes good sense on the assumption that Luke is following Matthew as well as Mark.

Occam’s Razor

The British medieval philosopher Occam suggested a fine working principle: that entities should not be multiplied beyond what is necessary. How then has Q escaped Occam’s razor? Luke’s independence of Matthew, the thesis that necessitates Q, is thought to be confirmed by Luke’s apparent ignorance of Matthew in the passages they both share with Mark (triple tradition passages). But the existence of agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark in these very passages suggests otherwise.

Major Agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark

A clear and famous example of major agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark is provided by the Parable of the Mustard Seed:

Matt. 13.31-32 Mark 4.30-32 Luke 13.18-19
He put another parable
before them, saying: ‘The
kingdom of heaven islike a grain of
mustard seed, which
a person, having taken it,
sowed in his field; which,
though it is the smallest
of all the seeds,
when
it has grown is the
greatest of the
vegetables, and it
becomes a tree,
so that the birds of
heaven come and nest
in its branches.’
And he was saying,
‘How shall we liken the
kingdom of God, or in
what parable shall we put
it? Like a grain of
mustard seed, which whenit is sown upon the earth
is the smallest
of all the seeds on the
earth and when it is sown,
it grows and becomes the
greatest of all the
vegetables, and it
produces great branches,
so that the birds of
heaven are able to nest
under its shade.’
Therefore he was saying:
‘What is the
kingdom of God like,and
to what shall I liken
it? It is like a grain of
mustard seed, which
a person, having taken it,
put in his own garden andit grewand it
became a tree,
and the birds of
heaven nested
in its branches.’

The parts shown in red illustrate the agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark. Location is also important: both Matthew and Luke, unlike Mark, pair this parable with The Leaven (Matt. 13.33 // Luke 13.20-21). Since the Q hypothesis is founded on Luke’s independence of Matthew, agreement like this, agreement against Mark in both wording and order, should not be present. But the force of such major agreements tends not to be felt because of appeal to the phenomenon of ‘Mark-Q overlap’, both here and elsewhere (e.g. the Temptation; John the Baptist; Beelzebub). Does this then put the Q-sceptic in a no-win situation? Not quite. The Q hypothesis has a well-known achilles heel, the Minor Agreements.

Minor Agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark

There are about a thousand Minor Agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark. There is barely a pericope in the triple tradition (Matthew-Mark-Luke) that does not feature any. Among them are some that are so striking that Q begins to look vulnerable. For example:

Matt. 4.12-13 Mark 1.14, 21 Luke 4.14, 16, 31
  1. AkousaV de oti
    IwannhV paredoqh,
    anecwrhseneiV thn Galilaian. 13. Kai
    katalipwn thn Nazara
    elqwn katwkhsen eiV
    Kafarnaoum . . .
  2. Meta de to
    paradoqhnai ton Iwannhn,
    hlqen o IhsouVeiV thn Galilaian . . .21. Kai eisporeuontai eiV
    Kafarnaoum . . .
  3. Kaiupestreyen o IhsouV en
    th dunamei tou pneumatoV
    eiV thn Galilaian . . .
    16. Kai hlqen eiV Nazara
    . . . 31. kai kathlqen eiV
    Kafarnaoum . . .

For those without knowledge of Greek, there are two key points here. First, Matthew and Luke both agree against Mark in the order of Jesus’ itinerary. Jesus visits Nazara before he goes to Capernaum. Further, both Matthew and Luke use a unique spelling here – not Nazaret (Nazaret) or Nazareq (Nazareth) but Nazara (Nazara). This Minor Agreement, so difficult to explain if Luke is independent from Matthew, can only be removed by the suggestion that Nazara could have appeared in Q, a troublesome solution which increases the number of narrative elements in Q (cf. point 3 above) and makes Q look more like Matthew (cf. point 4 above).

Minor Agreements in the Passion Narrative

If one were to find a Minor Agreement between Matthew and Luke in the Passion narrative (Matt. 26-28 // Mark 14-16 // Luke 22-24), then this would be stronger evidence still against the existence of Q, for no-one thinks that Q has a Passion Narrative. The good news is that there are several Minor Agreements in this material, the most striking of which is this:

Matt. 26.67-8 Mark 14.65 Luke 22.63-4
Tote
eneptusan eiVto proswpon autou
kai ekolafisan auton,
oi de errapisan
legonteV,
profhteuson hmin, Criste,
tiV estin o paisaV se;
kai hrxanto tineV
emptuein
autw kai
perikaluptein
autou to proswpon
kai kolafizein autonkai legein autw,
profhteuson.
kai oi andreV oi
suneconteV auton enepaizon
autw deronteV, kai
perikaluyanteV
autonephrwtwn legonteV,
profhteuson,
tiV estin o paisaV se;

Or, for those who would prefer to see this in English:

Matt. 26.67-8 Mark 14.65 Luke 22.63-4
Then they spat inhis face, and struck him;
and some slapped him,
saying,
“Prophesy to us, Christ!
Who is the one who smote you?”
And some began to spit on him,and to cover his face,
and to strike him,
and to say to him,
“Prophesy!”
And the men who were holding him
mocked him, beating him,
and having covered his face,they asked him saying,
“Prophesy!
Who is the one who smote you?”

Here, then, we have a five-word verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark – tiV estin o paisaV se; (tis estin ho paisas se?) – an agreement that is all the more noticeable for its use of the verb paiw (paiõ, to strike), which occurs only here in Matthew and only here in Luke.

Michael Goulder (Luke, pp. 6-11) has placed some stress on this Minor Agreement as a key one in the case against Q, and rightly so – the leading defence from Q theorists (Tuckett, Neirynck) proposes that every single manuscript of Matthew has been corrupted at this point to include five words (tiV estin o paisaV se;) not originally there (for details, see my Goulder and the Gospels, pp. 101-7; with a response by Frans Neirynck, ‘Goulder and the Minor Agreements, ETL 73 (1997), pp. 84-93 (91-2).).

The Phenomenon of Fatigue

When one writer is copying the work of another, changes are sometimes made at the beginning of an account which are not sustained throughout – the writer lapses into docile reproduction of his / her source. This phenomenon of ‘fatigue’ is a tell-tale sign of a writer’s dependence on a source. Matthew, for example, correctly calls Herod tetraarchV (‘tetrarch’) in 14.1, only to lapse into calling him the less correct basileuV (‘king’) in 14.9, apparently reproducing Mark (6.26) who has called him basileuV (‘king’) throughout. Likewise, Luke re-sets the scene for the Feeding of the Five Thousand in ‘a city called Bethsaida’ (polin kaloumenhn Bhqsaida, Luke 9.10) only to lapse into the Markan wording later, ‘We are here in a deserted place’ (wde en erhmw topw esmen, Luke 9.12, cf. Mark 6.35).

It is revealing that this phenomenon also occurs in double tradition (Q) material, and always in the same direction, in favour of Luke’s use of Matthew. Take the Parable of the Talents / Pounds (Matt. 25.14-30 // Luke 19.11-27). Matthew has three servants throughout. Luke, on the other hand, has ten. But as the story progresses, we hear about ‘the first’ (19.16), ‘the second’ (19.18) and amazingly, ‘the other’ (o eteroV, Luke 19.20). Luke has inadvertently betrayed his knowledge of Matthew by drifting into the story-line of his source (see further my ‘Fatigue in the Synoptics’, NTS 44 (1998), pp. 45-58).

The Legacy of Scissors-and-Paste Scholarship

Q belongs to another age, an age in which scholars solved every problem by postulating another written source. The evangelists were thought of as ‘scissors and paste’ men, compilers and not composers, who edited together pieces from several documents. Classically, the bookish B. H. Streeter solved the synoptic problem by assigning a written source to each type of material – triple tradition was from Mark; double tradition was from ‘Q’; special Matthew was from ‘M’ and special Luke was from ‘L’. Most scholars have since dispensed with written ‘M’ and ‘L’ sources. The time has now come to get up-to-date, and to dispense with Q too.

Recognising Luke’s Literary Ability

Belief in Q has been an impediment to the proper appreciation of Luke’s literary ability, for Luke’s order has traditionally been explained on the assumption that he was conservatively following a Q text. But it is not at all inconceivable that Luke should have imaginatively and creatively re-ordered material from Matthew. Take, for example, the ideal placing of the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11.1-4; cf. Matt. 6.7-15), introducing a section on Jesus’ teaching on Prayer; or the ‘Consider the Lilies’ passage (Luke 12.22-34; cf. Matt. 6.25-34), so appropriately following on from the Lukan Rich Fool (Luke 12.13-21). Far from ‘unscrambling the egg with a vengeance’ (R. H. Fuller), the thesis of Luke’s use of Matthew helps us to see how Luke avoided his predecessor’s more rigid, thematic approach in order to develop a plausible, sequential narrative, just as he told us he would do (Luke 1.3).

Here is another good source on this subject:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12352

If Q did not exist, then Christianity has no defense against the criticism that it is based on documents written long after the events allegedly occurred and solely dependent on the integrity of a single author (Mark).

(1246) Theologian scholars punish criticism even of other theologian scholars:

If Christianity were true then the truth of it would stand on its own and its truth wouldn’t need defending. This however is not the case.

Often there are blasphemy laws in many countries (especially highly islamic countries) but secularism slowly is becoming the moral philosophical way of thinking in the world, despite blasphemy laws. Reason and a need for evidence are becoming more and more of a standard way of functional perception.

Unfortunately though, religion has almost taken a life of its own in order to preserve itself. Christianity is no exception. Though blasphemy laws are rarely observed in Christianity anymore as was common during the Crusades and Inquisition, Christian establishments will still lash out if they can in order to preserve the ignorance of itself, its lack of logic, and lack of evidence.

Some examples of this are Thomas L. Brodie and Michael R. Licona:l

Thomas L. Brodie – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michael R. Licona – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Both of these men are very highly educated Christian theologians. Both of these men spoke out about believing that certain things in the Bible were not literally true. When they did this, the Christian minds in charge of their academia lashed out and fired them and did their best to make sure that they couldn’t work anywhere else.

Mike Licona spoke out about how he did not believe that the saints rising from their graves in Matthew 27:52-53 was a true story.

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

As Jeff Lowder explains:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2011/11/08/christian-nt-scholar-and-apologist-michael-licona-loses-job-after-questioning-matthew-27/

“As reported by Christianity Today (see here), New Testament scholar Michael Licona has apparently lost both his job as research professor of New Testament at Southern Evangelical Seminary and been ousted as apologetics coordinator for the North America Mission Board (NAMB).

Why? In his 700-page book defending the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, Licona proposed that the story of the resurrection of the saints described in Matthew 27 might be metaphorical rather than literal history. Why is this a problem? As a result of Licona’s questioning of Matthew 27, apparently some evangelical scholars, most notably Norman Geisler, accused Licona of denying the full inerrancy of the Bible. Other evangelical scholars, including Paul Copan and Craig Blomberg, however, rallied to Licona’s defense.”

And this was a highly recognized and accomplished scholar and apologist who simply said that he thought this was written as an allegorical metaphor and that he saw no evidence that it was historically true. Yet the Christian scholars were swift to punish Licona for using logic and demanding evidence.

This perspective and revelation of Licona’s  doubting of the truth of something that is only a small part of Christianity and then paying the price pales to what Thomas Brodie revealed when he said that he doubted the existence of Jesus himself!

http://www.irishcentral.com/news/irish-priest-disciplined-after-claims-jesus-never-existed-in-controversial-book-187717531-237560221.html

“A top priest has been forced to quit a bible teaching job thanks to his work of pulpit fiction which denies the existence of Jesus Christ.

Fr Tom Brodie has been removed from his post in Limerick after the publication of his book ‘Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus.’

The Irish Sun reports that the priest was removed from his post at the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick which he helped set up.

The paper has gained access to documents which confirm that the scholar was also banned from any lecturing, teaching or writing while a probe is underway.

The report says that Father Brodie has questioned the existence of Jesus since the Seventies but has only made his views public now.

The book, which took 12 years to write, came as a shock to his superiors when it was published last October.

Father Brodie claims in the book that many of Jesus’s acts were a rip-off of the Hebrew Bible or, in some cases, of earlier texts.

A well-placed source told the Irish Sun: “Tom’s book has caused quite a stir and some considerable upset.

“The whole premise of his book has been questioned by biblical scholars. He was asked to step aside from his ministry and the Provincial Council unanimously backed that decision.

“A committee is now examining his work and will meet with Fr Brodie to discuss it.”

Another source said: “The theory is a bit strange, a bit out there. He was 12 years researching it and nobody knew he would come out with something like this.”

So it seems that the only way for Christianity to persist is for people to disregard the need for evidence and the exercise of independent thinking. When cognitive dissonance kicks in, it will cause the administrators of the theological schools to silence those voices of reason. This will keep Christian leaders mostly speaking with one voice, but it will be a voice that will appear increasingly at odds with reality.

If Christianity was true, it wouldn’t need to silence people by punishing them when they hold opposing views based on evidence, facts, and logic. In fact, opposing views would be extremely rare as an actual deity would have made sure that all of the theological issues were firmly established.

(1247) Textual problems with the Old Testament

The Old Testament is the bedrock of Christianity, the base upon which the Christian faith is built.  It contains the foundational beliefs surrounding the Christian god as well as the prophecies that are used to establish the legitimacy of Jesus’s messiahship.  However, the Old Testament is known by scholars to contain numerous errors and interpolations and a dizzying number of passages of ambiguous intent.  The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/aa0_ot.htm#text

There is no single original text of the Old Testament, nor is there a single original version of even one book of it. The Jews were remarkably free in early times to edit and re-edit their Hebrew texts. They did not regard their scriptures as a single body, but as separate works. As we have already seen they often copied chunks of one book into another, sometimes changing names and other details to meet the needs of the moment. Impious suggestions were also doctored. For example, it seemed wrong that God should stand before Abraham, so the two swapped places and Abraham now stood before God. There were genuine errors too. A common one was to incorporate marginal notes into the text. Typically, one scholar would add a note giving his explanation of an opaque passage. A later scholar, copying the manuscript, would interpret the note as a correction and copy it as part of the main text.

In later times (after AD 100) Jewish scribes began to take pains to ensure that texts were accurately copied, for example by checking the number of letters and words in the new manuscripts. The texts then settled down to relative uniformity, although they preserved errors and contradictions originating from earlier editing. Until the twentieth century, the oldest known Hebrew manuscript was only about 1,000 years old. When much older texts were rediscovered, it was possible to confirm what had previously been suspected — that numerous passages had been inserted, duplicated, scrambled or omitted.

A further difficulty was that different Jewish sects each tampered with the scriptures to suit their own teachings. For example the Samaritans had their own version, and so did the Essenes. There were also mainstream variants, and it is now generally accepted that the traditional text, known as the Masoretic Text, is “only one late and arbitrary line, surviving from an earlier uncontrolled variety”. The texts are only relatively uniform, and surviving manuscripts frequently disagree with each other. The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible gives variant readings in footnotes, showing that Hebrew manuscripts often disagree with each other, and with Greek, Syriac and other texts. Here are extracts from the preface to the NIV explaining how the translators worked:

For the Old Testament the standard Hebrew text, the Masoretic Text as published in the latest editions of Biblia Hebraica, was used throughout. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain material bearing on an earlier stage of the Hebrew text. They were consulted, as were the Samaritan Pentateuch and the ancient scribal traditions relating to textual changes. Sometimes a variant Hebrew reading in the margin of the Masoretic Text was followed instead of the text itself…. …The translators also consulted the more important early versions — the Septuagint; Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion; the Vulgate; the Syriac Peshitta; the Targums; and for the Psalms the Juxta Hebraica of St Jerome (c.340-420). Readings from these versions were occasionally followed where the Masoretic Text seemed doubtful and where accepted principles of textual criticism showed that one or more of these textual witnesses appeared to provide the correct reading.

A recent international committee, considering the text of the Old Testament, identified some 5,000 places where the Hebrew was so puzzling that it might need to be corrected. A few of these are noted in footnotes to modern translations, although different translations handle them in different ways.

The same source contains much detail and examples of how and where the scriptures were corrupted. It’s not enough that the Old Testament contains obvious fiction, but also that even some of the fiction is not what the authors originally wrote.  So what’s left is a bunch of corrupted fables, a pastiche of mishmash emanating from the minds of hundreds if not thousands of Bronze Age minds.  This is hardly the kind of product that a god would present his devotees.

(1248) Apostolic traditions did not survive modern Christianity

The traditions established by the earliest Christians represent the most authentic expression of the Christian faith.  The original disciples and followers of Jesus supposedly would have instituted the form of worship and practices that Jesus himself taught them.  So, if that is true, it would be expected that the vast majority of Christian churches would still be following these original traditions.  But, they aren’t.  The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/ac0_fathers.htm

Since the Bible fails to mention certain doctrines and practices that are now considered characteristically Christian, some branches of Christianity have looked to early traditions to justify them. But the results are disappointing. Few genuine traditions can be justified in this way, and worse still, early authorities often confirm many practices that are now regarded as unacceptable. For example, a return to the earliest practices would mean that no religious icons would be allowed, either pictures or statues. The use of incense would be prohibited as pagan. On the other hand, Christians would hold love feasts, and celebrate the Sabbath on Saturdays. Easter would be celebrated on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan. Infants would not be baptised, and adults would not be baptised except between Easter and Pentecost. Baptisms would then involve the triple immersion of the naked baptismal candidate. There would be no sacrament of confession or penance, or if we accept the earliest (third century) practices there would be only public penance (exomologesis), permitted once after baptism1. There would be no priests or bishops, only elders and supervisors, freely elected by the community.

The whole area of “tradition” is riddled with difficulties. The early Church leader and writerTertullian, who invented the idea of appealing to tradition, used it to justify the practice of triple immersion at baptism, the requirement that the Eucharist should be taken in the early morning, and the prohibition of kneeling at Easter or on Sundays. There is no doubt about the position of the early Church on these matters and it is for this reason that various reformed Churches have returned to at least some of these ancient practices.

The Roman Church is in a less comfortable position. It purports to give great weight to tradition — the importance of traditions dating back to the apostles was emphasised by the Council of Trent (Session 4). Yet it has persecuted and killed people for the heresies of adhering to apostolic practices — rejecting infant baptism, keeping the Sabbath on Saturday, celebrating Easter on the 14th of Nisan, and so on. Protestant Churches have also persecuted and killed other Christians (e.g. Anabaptists) for such “heresies”. It is strange enough that apostolic practices are sometimes at variance with mainstream Christian views. Worse is the fact that not a single Church doctrine can be justified by appeal to a reliable apostolic tradition.

When Christian practices and traditions change from its original format it provides evidence that outside, foreign influences have contaminated the faith.  We already know that most of those influences were infused by Roman pagans, turning Christianity into something that the apostles would not recognize.

(1249) The apocalypse scam

For almost 2,000 years, Christians have been exhorted to prepare for the imminent return of Jesus. Often, they are encouraged to quit their jobs, leave their families, hunker down in bunkers, and divest their savings, often to the benefit of those who are scamming them.  Recently, one of these scammers, Tim LaHaye, best known as co-author of the ‘Left Behind’ novels, died.  Robert Connor wrote this piece for his ‘eulogy.’

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2016/07/on-death-of-false-prophet-tim-lahaye-by.html#more

Baptist preacher, weapons grade homophobe, conspiracy theorist—of course the Illuminati wrote your local school’s curriculum! Don’t be silly!—founder of the Institute of Creation Research, and co-author of the Left Behind novels, Timothy “Moonbat” LaHaye has (finally) died. But there’s more Good News: Jesus Didn’t Come Back again. And again. And some more times. Many, many more times. Like all the other times Jesus Didn’t Come Back.

Two thousand years have passed with no Second Coming but the Christian apocalypse scam is still humming. Books promising blood up to the bridles of the Horsemen, low budget dreck featuring washed up actors, predictions of Judgment from the likes of the Baptist Nosferatu, Pat Robertson, all in a day’s work. Touch your TV screen and be healed! Pass me that there rattlesnake, Brother! I feel the Holy Ghost!

Here’s a partial list of failed prophecies from the New Testament:

And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power. (Mark 9:1)

Didn’t happen.

Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mark 13:29-30)

Nope, that generation passed away. The clowns at the door were just Jehovah’s Witnesses.

…we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

Didn’t happen. Nobody Paul wrote to is “still alive.”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)

So didn’t happen.

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:23)

Also didn’t happen.

Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16:28)

Nope, didn’t happen either. All dead.

What I am saying, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none… (1 Corinthians 7:29)

Au contraire, plenty of time. Have fun with your wife. Go on a second honeymoon.

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Corinthians 10:11)

Sorry! Wrong again! It’s all still here. “The ages” are doing just fine.

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here… (Romans 13:11-12)

Almost here? Not even close. Take the day off. Sleep in.

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Don’t wait up.

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.” (2 Peter 3:4)

Good question! Are evangelicals any closer to figuring it out? Not likely.

The important point to draw from this discussion is that if people today, those living in a scientifically-infused information age, can be drawn to believe this kind of foolishness, how much better these techniques must have worked on ignorant, illiterate people of the Bronze Age. Over the past 20 centuries Christianity has sustained itself by frightening people of the soon-to-come (but never seemingly arriving) day of judgment.  How much longer can this work? Another thousand years possibly? But the clock is running and eventually somebody is going to say the emperor has no clothes.

(1250) Who was the first person sent to hell?

An interesting thought experiment is to determine who was the first person that God sent to hell, assuming that Christianity is more or less true. Modern humans have lived for at least 100,000 years and it would be implausible to think that anyone from that era of antiquity was sent to either heaven or hell. But there must be a starting point where God made the momentous decision to send the first person to the fiery pit of hell.

According to Christianity, God first communicated with Jews in the Middle East about 3,000 to 6,000 years ago.  But he didn’t establish during those times that such a place as hell existed, only a shadowy and temporary place where souls languished after death, called Sheol.  So it would be inconceivable that God would have sent any of the Jews to hell during those years.

It appears that God didn’t make hell until after Jesus was born.  But the criteria for hell wasn’t fully established for a long time after Jesus died. Many Christians will opine that Judas, the betrayer, was the first person sent to hell. But that really doesn’t solve the problem because the next question remains just as hard- who was the second person sent to hell?  Or better yet, who was the first Chinese or the first Native American sent to hell?  It would not have been sporting for God to have sent people to hell if they knew nothing of the Christian faith, so it seems that no Native Americans were sent to either heaven or hell until after 1492, when Columbus first landed on American soil.  If Columbus told them about Jesus but they didn’t believe him, then MAYBE God sent them to hell at that time, though that hardly seems plausible.

There are no sensible answers to these questions. They all end up proposing hopelessly arbitrary and unfair judgments that any real God would avoid. The bottom line is that the initial assignments of people to heaven and hell cannot have been made in any fashion that meets even the slightest test of logic or fairness, and this is a good reason to reject Christianity.

(1251) Adultery in your heart

In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

There are many things wrong with this, including:

  • It states that anyone who does this commits adultery, but anyone would include unmarried men and women, who, by definition, cannot commit adultery.
  • It completely ignores the issue of a woman looking lustfully at a man, or for that matter a man looking lustfully at another man.
  • It defies human biology and the fact that if no one ever looked at a woman lustfully there wouldn’t have been sex or marriage in the first place.
  • It is a form of mind control that equates an unavoidable consequence of biology to be a sin, no different than saying that sneezing is a sin.

It’s unlikely, that Jesus, if he existed, ever said this, but much more likely that the author of Matthew dreamed it up (it doesn’t appear in any other gospel) as a catch-all gotcha to ensure that nobody considered themselves sinless and thus not in need of Jesus’s redemption.

(1252) Argument from consensus is fallacious

Apologists often use ‘the argument from consensus’ by claiming, because the majority of historians and ancient historians say Jesus existed, that therefore Jesus must have existed.

This is an ‘argument ad populum fallacy.’

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

Dr. Richard Carrier demonstrated during a debate with Christian scholar Craig Evans that the argument from consensus works only if there is substantial evidence supporting the consensus position. But it doesn’t exist. In this debate he noted:

  • That historians a century later just repeated what the Gospels said is not evidence that what the Gospels said was true. At all. Much less substantially.
  • That the Gospels, like many myths and legends and other varieties of historical fiction in antiquity, get some incidental cultural and historical details right, is not evidence that Jesus existed. At all. Much less substantially. Because none of those details have anything actually to do with Jesus. (It’s also not true that the Gospels get all those details right; but even if they did, this argument remains a fallacy.)
  • We have no eyewitnesses to the historicity of Jesus, and no author who claims he existed on earth has shown that they had any credible access to eyewitnesses. In fact, none even claim they did—except the authors of the Gospel of John, and their witness is a fabrication (OHJ, pp. 500-05; fabricating witnesses was common in ancient mythography: Alan Cameron has a whole chapter on it in Greek Mythography in the Roman World).
  • Paul, the only source we have who definitely wrote in less than an average lifetime after when Jesus would have lived, never says anyone he mentions as “Brothers of the Lord” or “apostles before” him knew or even saw Jesus before his death. But Paul does say all baptized Christians are brothers of the Lord, and that the apostles all saw Jesus just as he did, in a vision, after his cosmic resurrection—he never mentions them seeing Jesus before that, or in any other way; nor does he ever say any “Brothers of the Lord” were such before baptism.

“That’s it. That’s all Evans presents: (1) inconclusive passages in Paul, for which all the evidence of what he actually means is replaced with conjectures that he meant something else; (2) Gospels sometimes getting local knowledge correct that has no unique connection to Jesus; (3) historians a hundred years later who show no indication of having any access to any relevant evidence that would verify historicity; and (4) dogmatically credulous hagiographies no more believable than biographies of Romulus or Hercules. Not a single item of warranting evidence is on this list, much less a substantial amount of it. How, then, can this be the best explanation of the origins of Christianity? And why should we trust the consensus of a field that asserts certainty on a foundation of insubstantial evidence like this?”

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10935

In a similar way, historians of today are just repeating what they have they’ve read in the gospels and what they’ve been conditioned to believe.  Consensus means nothing without supporting evidence. The fact that Christians use an impotent and fallacious argument to defend Christianity is one of the most compelling indicators that it is a false religion.

(1253) Secular vs. Christian achievement

In the past 250 years, human civilization has realized the following list of achievements, making lives better and allowing for people to attain a measure of happiness, security, health, and opportunity.  Every one of these efforts has been accomplished by secular rather than sectarian forces and has often been resisted by a majority of the Christian churches:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/socialmedia.htm

  • Abolition of censorship
  • Freedom of the press
  • Freedom of conscience
  • Abolition of child soldiers
  • Abolition of capital punishment
  • Ending flogging and mutilation
  • Prison reform
  • National health systems
  • Old age pensions
  • Insurance for widows and orphans
  • Concept of genocide as a crime
  • Removing stigma of illegitimacy
  • Removal of stigma of suicide
  • Equality before the law
  • Children’s rights
  • Women’s rights
  • Universal, free education
  • Homosexual rights
  • Rights of homosexuals
  • Penal reform
  • Medical treatment for the insane
  • Freedom from slavery
  • Democracy/universal suffrage
  • Red Cross/Geneva conventions
  • Humane working conditions
  • Animal rights

If God is real and Christianity is the manifestation of his presence and power, it seems that Christian churches would have been the leader in creating a world that incorporates the ideals of Jesus’s philosophy.  The fact that this has been achieved fundamentally by non-Christian forces reveals that Christianity has no connection to any actual deity.

(1254) Duplicate Bible verses

The Bible contains many verses that are repeated, sometimes in the same book and other times in different books.  Some of these duplicates are explainable, such as the authors of Matthew and Luke copying verses from Mark, but others seem to be nothing more than pure plagiarism.  The following was taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2016/08/duplicate-bible-verses.html

I have always been puzzled by the number of verses & stories that are duplicated in the bible. For example there are two creation stories, two sets of commandments, two stories of giving your daughter to be raped to give examples.

Find below 235 duplicated verses and the question I ask is why?

Genesis 36:41, 1 Chronicles 1:52

Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58

2 Kings 19:5, Isaiah 37:5

2 Kings 19:2, Isaiah 37:2

1 Chronicles 16:10, Psalms 105:3

Ezra 2:53, Nehemiah 7:55

2 Samuel 22:46, Psalms 18:45

2 Kings 18:3, 2 Chronicles 29:2

1 Kings 12:11, 2 Chronicles 10:11

2 Kings 19:34, Isaiah 37:35

Ezekiel 40:29, Ezekiel 40:33

Genesis 10:27, 1 Chronicles 1:21

Jeremiah 10:15, Jeremiah 51:18

1 Kings 8:14, 2 Chronicles 6:3

1 Kings 12:6, 2 Chronicles 10:6

2 Samuel 23:19, 1 Chronicles 11:21

Genesis 10:16, 1 Chronicles 1:14

2 Kings 16:4, 2 Chronicles 28:4

1 Kings 12:1, 2 Chronicles 10:1

Psalms 60:8, Psalms 108:9

Genesis 10:2, 1 Chronicles 1:5

1 Chronicles 16:22, Psalms 105:15

2 Kings 22:18, 2 Chronicles 34:26

2 Samuel 23:37, 1 Chronicles 11:39

Job 4:1, Job 15:1, Job 22:1

1 Kings 22:7, 2 Chronicles 18:6

Numbers 29:18, Numbers 29:21, Numbers 29:24, Numbers 29:27, Numbers 29:30, Numbers 29:33

Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38

Proverbs 18:8, Proverbs 26:22

1 Kings 12:4, 2 Chronicles 10:4

Matthew 26:32, Mark 14:28

Ezra 2:3, Nehemiah 7:8

Genesis 36:37, 1 Chronicles 1:48

2 Kings 18:20, Isaiah 36:5

Genesis 36:34, 1 Chronicles 1:45

Numbers 7:15, Numbers 7:21, Numbers 7:27, Numbers 7:33, Numbers 7:39, Numbers 7:45, Numbers 7:51, Numbers 7:57, Numbers 7:63, Numbers 7:69, Numbers 7:75, Numbers 7:81

1 Kings 8:35, 2 Chronicles 6:26

Ezra 2:51, Nehemiah 7:53

Psalms 59:6, Psalms 59:14

1 Kings 12:17, 2 Chronicles 10:17

2 Kings 21:5, 2 Chronicles 33:5

Leviticus 24:13, Numbers 16:36

Genesis 10:26, 1 Chronicles 1:20

1 Kings 22:18, 2 Chronicles 18:17

2 Kings 14:12, 2 Chronicles 25:22

2 Samuel 8:5, 1 Chronicles 18:5

Luke 20:43, Acts 2:35

Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47

Ezra 2:16, Nehemiah 7:21

2 Kings 20:17, Isaiah 39:6

Job 40:3, Job 42:1

2 Kings 8:18, 2 Chronicles 21:6

Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 16:25

1 Chronicles 16:24, Psalms 96:3

Exodus 40:1, Leviticus 5:14, Leviticus 6:1, Leviticus 6:8, Leviticus 6:19, Leviticus 6:24, Leviticus 7:22, Leviticus 7:28, Leviticus 8:1, Leviticus 12:1, Leviticus 14:1, Leviticus 20:1, Leviticus 23:1, Leviticus 24:1, Leviticus 27:1, Numbers 4:21, Numbers 5:1, Numbers 6:22, Numbers 9:9, Numbers 10:1, Numbers 13:1, Numbers 15:1, Numbers 15:17, Numbers 17:1, Numbers 26:52, Numbers 28:1, Numbers 31:1, Numbers 34:1, Numbers 34:16

1 Kings 8:17, 2 Chronicles 6:7

Numbers 29:16, Numbers 29:25

2 Samuel 22:9, Psalms 18:8

Judges 17:6, Judges 21:25

Matthew 24:19, Mark 13:17

Job 27:1, Job 29:1

Ezekiel 40:34, Ezekiel 40:37

Psalms 42:11, Psalms 43:5

Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 8:11

Genesis 36:42, 1 Chronicles 1:53

1 Kings 22:13, 2 Chronicles 18:12

1 Kings 12:12, 2 Chronicles 10:12

Ezra 2:43, Nehemiah 7:46

1 Kings 22:29, 2 Chronicles 18:28

2 Kings 19:26, Isaiah 37:27

Ezra 2:27, Nehemiah 7:31

2 Kings 23:32, 2 Kings 23:37

1 Kings 22:9, 2 Chronicles 18:8

2 Kings 18:13, Isaiah 36:1

Matthew 6:27, Luke 12:25

Psalms 107:6, Psalms 107:13, Psalms 107:19, Psalms 107:28

1 Kings 8:31, 2 Chronicles 6:22

Leviticus 2:3, Leviticus 2:10

2 Samuel 22:31, Psalms 18:30

1 Kings 10:6, 2 Chronicles 9:5

Matthew 24:46, Luke 12:43

Matthew 7:8, Luke 11:10

Matthew 24:18, Mark 13:16

Ezra 2:58, Nehemiah 7:60

Leviticus 3:10, Leviticus 3:15

Exodus 16:11, Exodus 31:12, Numbers 25:10, Numbers 27:6

2 Samuel 7:17, 1 Chronicles 17:15

Matthew 12:41, Luke 11:32

1 Kings 22:25, 2 Chronicles 18:24

Proverbs 22:3, Proverbs 27:12

2 Samuel 23:38, 1 Chronicles 11:40

Genesis 10:13, 1 Chronicles 1:11

Jeremiah 29:30, Jeremiah 35:12

2 Kings 18:23, Isaiah 36:8

Matthew 12:27, Luke 11:19

2 Kings 19:30, Isaiah 37:31

Exodus 13:1, Exodus 25:1, Exodus 30:11, Exodus 30:17, Exodus 30:22, Exodus 31:1, Numbers 15:37, Numbers 31:25

Numbers 7:25, Numbers 7:31, Numbers 7:37, Numbers 7:43, Numbers 7:49, Numbers 7:55, Numbers 7:61, Numbers 7:67, Numbers 7:73, Numbers 7:79

Ezra 2:7, Nehemiah 7:12

1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3

Jeremiah 10:16, Jeremiah 51:19

Numbers 7:16, Numbers 7:22, Numbers 7:28, Numbers 7:34, Numbers 7:40, Numbers 7:46, Numbers 7:52, Numbers 7:58, Numbers 7:64, Numbers 7:70, Numbers 7:76, Numbers 7:82

1 Kings 10:14, 2 Chronicles 9:13

2 Kings 19:11, Isaiah 37:11

2 Samuel 22:10, Psalms 18:9

1 Chronicles 16:14, Psalms 105:7

2 Samuel 8:7, 1 Chronicles 18:7

Psalms 67:3, Psalms 67:5

2 Samuel 23:14, 1 Chronicles 11:16

Matthew 11:6, Luke 7:23

1 Kings 8:18, 2 Chronicles 6:8

Genesis 10:29, 1 Chronicles 1:23

Isaiah 35:10, Isaiah 51:11

2 Kings 19:10, Isaiah 37:10

1 Kings 7:25, 2 Chronicles 4:4

Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33

Ezra 2:37, Nehemiah 7:40

Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23

2 Kings 22:15, 2 Chronicles 34:23

1 Chronicles 16:21, Psalms 105:14

2 Kings 25:2, Jeremiah 52:5

Psalms 57:5, Psalms 57:11, Psalms 108:5

1 Chronicles 16:20, Psalms 105:13

1 Kings 12:19, 2 Chronicles 10:19

Revelation 2:29, Revelation 3:6, Revelation 3:13

Genesis 10:3, 1 Chronicles 1:6

2 Samuel 22:19, Psalms 18:18

Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19

Psalms 107:8, Psalms 107:15, Psalms 107:21, Psalms 107:31

Matthew 24:32, Mark 13:28

Ezra 2:9, Nehemiah 7:14

Exodus 14:1, Numbers 7:4

2 Samuel 22:30, Psalms 18:29

1 Kings 8:12, 2 Chronicles 6:1

Genesis 10:6, 1 Chronicles 1:8

2 Samuel 10:9, 1 Chronicles 19:10

1 Kings 8:15, 2 Chronicles 6:4

Matthew 11:9, Luke 7:26

Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30

1 Kings 10:23, 2 Chronicles 9:22

Genesis 46:11, 1 Chronicles 6:1

Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17

2 Samuel 22:34, Psalms 18:33

Song of Solomon 2:7, Song of Solomon 3:5

1 Samuel 31:1, 1 Chronicles 10:1

1 Kings 22:17, 2 Chronicles 18:16

2 Kings 19:13, Isaiah 37:13

1 Kings 12:9, 2 Chronicles 10:9

1 Kings 8:24, 2 Chronicles 6:15

2 Samuel 22:6, Psalms 18:5

Jeremiah 16:1, Ezekiel 6:1, Ezekiel 7:1, Ezekiel 12:1, Ezekiel 13:1, Ezekiel 17:1, Ezekiel 18:1, Ezekiel 21:1, Ezekiel 23:1, Ezekiel 24:15, Ezekiel 25:1, Ezekiel 27:1, Ezekiel 28:1, Ezekiel 28:20, Ezekiel 30:1, Ezekiel 33:1, Ezekiel 33:23, Ezekiel 34:1, Ezekiel 35:1, Ezekiel 36:16, Ezekiel 37:15, Ezekiel 38:1

Genesis 10:15, 1 Chronicles 1:13

1 Kings 15:16, 1 Kings 15:32

Jeremiah 7:1, Jeremiah 11:1, Jeremiah 18:1, Jeremiah 30:1

Leviticus 13:1, Leviticus 14:33, Leviticus 15:1, Numbers 2:1, Numbers 4:1, Numbers 4:17

1 Chronicles 16:8, Psalms 105:1

1 Samuel 31:2, 1 Chronicles 10:2

1 Kings 7:23, 2 Chronicles 4:2

2 Samuel 22:4, Psalms 18:3

Ezra 2:38, Nehemiah 7:41

Jeremiah 32:26, Jeremiah 33:19, Jeremiah 33:23

Ezra 2:23, Nehemiah 7:27

Matthew 11:10, Luke 7:27

2 Kings 19:7, Isaiah 37:7

Matthew 26:46, Mark 14:42

2 Samuel 7:4, 1 Chronicles 17:3

Job 11:1, Job 20:1

2 Kings 24:19, Jeremiah 52:2

2 Kings 19:33, Isaiah 37:34

Ezra 2:39, Nehemiah 7:42

Matthew 7:3, Luke 6:41

2 Samuel 22:40, Psalms 18:39

Ezekiel 11:14, Ezekiel 12:17, Ezekiel 12:21, Ezekiel 12:26, Ezekiel 14:2, Ezekiel 14:12, Ezekiel 15:1, Ezekiel 20:2, Ezekiel 20:45, Ezekiel 21:8, Ezekiel 22:17, Ezekiel 22:23, Zechariah 6:9

1 Kings 8:36, 2 Chronicles 6:27

1 Kings 19:10, 1 Kings 19:14

Numbers 29:28, Numbers 29:38

Proverbs 6:11, Proverbs 24:34

2 Kings 19:1, Isaiah 37:1

1 Kings 22:34, 2 Chronicles 18:33

Jeremiah 10:14, Jeremiah 51:17

Psalms 60:9, Psalms 108:10

Genesis 36:35, 1 Chronicles 1:46

1 Kings 22:28, 2 Chronicles 18:27

Exodus 20:6, Deuteronomy 5:10

Ezra 2:34, Nehemiah 7:36

2 Kings 25:3, Jeremiah 52:6

Matthew 25:21, Matthew 25:23

Leviticus 4:1, Leviticus 17:1, Leviticus 18:1, Leviticus 19:1, Leviticus 21:16, Leviticus 22:1, Leviticus 22:17, Leviticus 22:26, Leviticus 23:9, Leviticus 23:23, Leviticus 23:26, Leviticus 23:33, Numbers 3:5, Numbers 3:11, Numbers 3:44, Numbers 5:5, Numbers 5:11, Numbers 6:1, Numbers 8:5, Numbers 8:23, Numbers 16:23, Numbers 18:25, Numbers 25:16, Numbers 35:9

Job 6:1, Job 9:1, Job 12:1, Job 16:1, Job 19:1, Job 21:1, Job 23:1, Job 26:1

Psalms 60:12, Psalms 108:13

2 Kings 25:29, Jeremiah 52:33

2 Kings 8:20, 2 Chronicles 21:8

2 Kings 18:19, Isaiah 36:4

Numbers 14:26, Numbers 16:20

1 Kings 22:11, 2 Chronicles 18:10

Song of Solomon 2:6, Song of Solomon 8:3

Genesis 10:14, 1 Chronicles 1:12

1 Chronicles 3:7, 1 Chronicles 14:6

Ezra 2:64, Nehemiah 7:66

2 Samuel 23:23, 1 Chronicles 11:25

2 Kings 15:3, 2 Chronicles 26:4

2 Samuel 22:35, Psalms 18:34

Ezra 2:4, Nehemiah 7:9

Job 8:1, Job 18:1, Job 25:1

1 Kings 22:16, 2 Chronicles 18:15

Matthew 24:47, Luke 12:44

1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalms 118:1, Psalms 118:29

Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3

Job 38:1, Job 40:6

1 Kings 22:5, 2 Chronicles 18:4

Proverbs 6:10, Proverbs 24:33

2 Kings 19:12, Isaiah 37:12

1 Chronicles 16:16, Psalms 105:9

2 Kings 25:20, Jeremiah 52:26

Ezra 2:32, Nehemiah 7:35

2 Kings 18:24, Isaiah 36:9

1 Kings 10:27, 2 Chronicles 9:27

Exodus 25:33, Exodus 37:19

Numbers 7:14, Numbers 7:20, Numbers 7:26, Numbers 7:32, Numbers 7:38, Numbers 7:44, Numbers 7:50, Numbers 7:56, Numbers 7:62, Numbers 7:68, Numbers 7:74, Numbers 7:80

Psalms 46:7, Psalms 46:11

Jeremiah 13:8, Jeremiah 18:5, Jeremiah 24:4, Ezekiel 17:11

Genesis 10:28, 1 Chronicles 1:22

1 Chronicles 16:11, Psalms 105:4

Genesis 10:17, 1 Chronicles 1:15

Genesis 36:33, 1 Chronicles 1:44

Matthew 17:21, Matthew 18:11, Matthew 23:14, Mark 7:16, Mark 9:44, Mark 9:46, Mark 11:26, Mark 15:28, Luke 17:36, Luke 23:17, John 5:4, Acts 8:37, Acts 15:34, Acts 24:7, Acts 28:29, Romans 16:24

Ezra 2:31, Nehemiah 7:34

Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26

Leviticus 19:30, Leviticus 26:2

Genesis 36:36, 1 Chronicles 1:47

Numbers 16:44, Numbers 20:7

Proverbs 21:9, Proverbs 25:24

Philippians 4:23, Philemon 1:25

2 Samuel 22:20, Psalms 18:19

Matthew 13:42, Matthew 13:50

It is unlikely that a book authored by a supernatural being would contain so many repetitious elements, but one authored by humans, who are prone to copying from others, would likely result In what we see above.

(1255) Twins

A world in which an all-powerful god is observing and controlling everything that happens would not have twins, triplets, quadruplets, or quintuplets. But a world unguided by any such a being would. In other words, a god-world would not exhibit stochastic characteristics in the birthing process.

The Christian god is painted as a reliably competent being who orchestrates a predictably ordered spectacle, a god who has a finger in every event, even in the microscopic processes that create new human beings. Because this god places so much emphasis on humans, as his prized species, it would seem that he would ensure that each one is made in the regular way- as a single DNA-unique person or at least as entering the world in a singular birthing event (neither identical nor fraternal multiples).

On the other hand, a world that operates independently of any singular controlling influence, existing as a chaotic stream of random physical forces, would be expected to show this type of variation in human reproduction.

Multiple birthing events are evidence that the Christian god, as the all-powerful and universal deity, does not exist.

(1256) Chromosome 2 and death of creationism

Scientific advancement has a knack for demolishing the claims of religion, and recent genome analyses have done just that to the Judeo-Christian account of creation. According to the creationist position, God made each of the animals as a separate creation event, meaning that no animals evolved from any others.  When genetic research first learned that humans had 46 chromosomes versus 48 for all of the other great apes, this gave creationists a possible scientific basis for asserting that God made humans independently from the apes.  However, this stratagem came crashing down when it was discovered that human chromosome #2 was formed from the fusion of two smaller chromosomes  that are still present in the apes- showing beyond doubt that humans are intimately related to the apes and share a common ancestor. The following was taken from:

http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/denisovans-humans-and-the-chromosome-2-fusion

Though I have discussed the evidence for a fusion event leading to human chromosome 2 before, perhaps a brief review of the evidence is in order. The human genome is made up of 23 pairs of chromosomes (for a total of 46 chromosomes). This makes us something of an oddity among living great apes, all the rest of whom have 24 pairs of chromosomes (for a total of 48). Given that there are many independent lines of evidence that support the conclusion that we share a common ancestor with other great apes, this poses something of a conundrum: how is it that our species arrived at this specific chromosome number? If we were to represent this “problem” on a phylogeny, or tree of relatedness, it would look something like this (not to scale):

Our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, both have 48 chromosomes, as do all other great apes such as gorillas and orangutans. This pattern has one of two explanations, one of which is much more likely than the other. Either the common ancestor to these species had 48 chromosomes, and there was an event that reduced that number to 46 specifically on the lineage leading to humans (option A), or the common ancestor species had 46 chromosomes, and there were independent, repeated events that increased chromosome number in all other great ape species (option B). We can compare these options by placing the required event(s) on the phylogeny (again, not to scale):

It should be obvious that the option that requires the fewest events is the more likely one – in this case option A with an event that reduces chromosome number in the lineage leading to humans. The other option, that of repeated, independent events to increase chromosome number, remains a formal, but unlikely, possibility. Events that reduce chromosome number are not frequent occurrences, so Option A is more likely than Option B.

We can also find further support for Option A, because it predicts a specific type of event, namely one that reduces chromosome number. Since loss of a large amount of chromosomal material is almost always detrimental, we need an event that reduces chromosome number without losing information. One way for this to happen is for two chromosomes to fuse together and become one. Initially, this event would produce an individual with 47 chromosomes, where two different chromosomes get stuck together. Contrary to what is often assumed, this individual would be fertile and able to interbreed with the others in his or her population (who continue to have 48 chromosomes). In a small population, over time, two relatives who both have one copy of the fusion chromosome may mate and produce some progeny with two copies of the fused chromosome, or the first individuals with 46 chromosomes. Since either a 48-pair set or a 46-pair set is preferable for ease of cell division, this population will either eventually get rid of the fusion variant (the most likely outcome), or by chance will switch over completely to the “new” form, with everyone bearing 46 chromosome pairs. While not overly likely, this type of event is not especially rare in mammals, and we have observed this sort of thing happening within recorded human history in other species. Some mammalian species even maintain distinct populations in the wild with differing chromosome numbers due to fusions, and these populations retain the ability to interbreed.

Further evidence for a fusion event in the lineage leading to modern humans comes from comparing synteny, or gene locations and orders on chromosomes within modern great apes – an issue we have discussed here before. In brief, what we see in human chromosome 2 is exactly what we would predict for a fusion event. When compared to other great apes, we see the genes on human chromosome 2 match up, in order, with two smaller ape chromosomes. We also see that sequences used at the tips of chromosomes are present at the proposed fusion site, and that human chromosome 2 has not one but two sites for the cell cytoskeleton to attach to for cell division – but that one of the sites is mutated and not functional, though it lines up precisely with the location of this site on the appropriate ape chromosome. Together, this evidence consistently supports both common ancestry for humans and great apes, and specifically that the difference we see in our chromosome numbers arose due to a single fusion event. I briefly discussed this evidence in my last post where I describe how I teach some of this material and the compelling impact it has on students exploring the evolution question for the first time.

These facts go a long way to proving that humans were not the direct invention of any god, but rather a result of natural and unguided processes. The only way for creationists to explain this problem, other than to hopelessly and ignorantly attempt to discredit the research, is to suggest that God deliberately designed human genetics to make it appear as if humans have a common ancestor with the great apes.  A deceptive god who pulls tricks like this might also place fake fossils in the ground for the same effect, but such a shyster god would then be guilty of faking people out in a manner that causes them to be innocently sent to hell- this is not the type of god that Christians view as being ‘theirs.’ Although many non-creationist Christians will not be moved by this topic, it does suggest a god who is somewhat removed from participating in earth’s history, and that is only one step away from being a non-factor, or, more likely, not existing at all. Chromosome #2 adds evidence that Christianity is false.

(1257) Keeping the masses uninformed

In the 20th Century, ass biblical scholarship and the study of church history began to identify contradictions upon contradictions and inconsistencies upon inconsistencies, there was a silent conspiracy among the clergy to keep these inconvenient facts from reaching the general church-goers, because otherwise it would reduce the number of bodies in the pews and more importantly the money received from them.  This conspiracy remains in effect today, though the internet has largely made it functionally futile.  The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/dg0_texts.htm

The fallibility of traditional Church teaching was still a sort of open secret, and scholars were still expected to keep quiet about certain matters in public. In the twentieth century a number of leading churchmen caused uproar in the Church by breaking this convention, for example by openly rejecting the Virgin Birth, denying the Resurrection, and questioning whether Christ had instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Among them have been E. W. Barnes, the Bishop of Birmingham, in 1947; and J. A. T. Robinson, the Bishop of Woolwich, with his book Honest To God in 1963. Robinson felt safe enough to concede that “God is intellectually superfluous, emotionally dispensable and morally intolerable”. Later, numerous theologians contributed to The Myth of God Incarnate in 1977; and David Jenkins, Prince Bishop of Durham, made various pronouncements throughout the 1980s on subjects such as his skepticism about Jesus” physical Resurrection.

In his 1998 book Why Christianity Must Change or Die, John Spong Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, dismissed the idea that Jesus was divine and pointed out that the God that most traditional Christians believe in is an ogre. Richard Holloway, Archbishop of Edinburgh, published a book called Godless Morality in 1999, destroying the myth that morality is a specifically Christian characteristic. Each time there were excited calls for resignations, defrockings and heresy trials. The furor was not so much over the ideas, which were increasingly widely shared, but over the breaking of the convention that the faithful masses should not be told about scholarly opinion within the Church.

The goal of most preachers and priests is to make sure that their congregations are over-trained and under-educated in matters of theology.  Never do you hear any of the problems inherent in the Bible and church doctrine, or the contentious and arbitrary manner in which the sacred truths were ‘invented.’  It’s a matter of feeding them baby food and keeping them dumb and happy.  Anybody who researches the facts behind Christianity immediately sees the disconnect with what they have been taught.  A true religion would only be confirmed by such scholarship, but a false one would wither, just as we see happening to Christianity.

(1258) The Bible has no respect for consent

In modern society, ethics and morals are intimately tied to the ideal of consent- that it is immoral to take an action that involves another person without their expressed consent. This concept is best expressed in sexual matters, but it also applies to things as innocuous as taking a photograph.

This is where Christianity, as expressed by its holy book, has taken a wrong turn, a turn that is mostly a reflection of the age in which it was created.  Homosexuality, which is almost always consensual, is condemned, as well as sex between unmarried persons, while slavery and rape, which are always non-consensual, are not condemned. Women are forced into marriages without their consent as well, and an alleged virgin is celestially ‘raped’ to produce a god-man. She clearly had no choice.

Mores change with time, but Christianity is stuck in a 2000- year old mindset, slavishly worshiping its ancient text, and becoming more and more irrelevant as time moves on. Any faith that fails the test of time is not one that is the product of a god.

(1259) Christianity is obsessed with war and death threats

It is well chronicled that Christianity of the Middle Ages was embarrassingly preoccupied with waging war against unbelievers, with countless crusades and inquisitions, along with the practices of imprisonment and torture.  Modern Christians tend to dismiss this history with a faint apology and assertion that all of that tumult has been expunged and that the church is now more loving and compassionate. Unfortunately, the vestiges of militarism and intimidation remain. The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/gh4_churchwar.htm

The whole Christian movement remains full of military allusions: Church Militant, Soldiers of Christ, Salvation Army, Church Lad’s Brigade,Crusade, Lord’s Resistance Army, etc. Christian Churches continue to explicitly “wage war” on unbelievers. Anyone one who voices public criticism of Christianity can expect to receive communications from devout Christian foot soldiers assuring them that they will burn in hell for all eternity, and threatening personally to accelerate the entry process. No Church ever seems to do anything to stop their foot soldiers making such death threats, and why should they? After all Jesus himself promised imminent and everlasting hell-fire to unbelievers.

Here is where Christianity flunks a crucial test. Throughout its history and even to the present it has failed to uphold the values of tolerance and respect for those who hold different beliefs.  And in a world that fails to confer positive evidence for any specific religion or faith system, such tolerance is not only desirable, it is imperative.

(1260) The Bible Quiz

It is a well-known fact that most Christians have never read the entire Bible and, in fact, are more ignorant of its contents than the average atheist.  At the following website, a 35-question quiz in presented, asking whether the statements are true or false according to the Bible:

https://thechurchoftruth.org/the-quiz/

  1. God, the omniscient, was not able to find Adam in the Garden of Eden.
  2. God, the omniscient, believed that people could build a tower so high that they could join him in heaven while they were still alive.
  3. God, the omnipotent, was unable to defeat the “people of the valley” because they had chariots of iron.
  4. God, the omnipotent, lost a wrestling match with Jacob.
  5. God, the omniscient, regretted making Saul King of Israel.
  6. God sends two bears to rip up 42 little children for making fun of Elisha’s bald head.
  7. The first four commandments have nothing to do with living a moral life.
  8. The tenth commandment is “Don’t boil a young goat in the milk of its mother”.
  9. The 10 commandments do not prohibit rape, torture, kidnapping, child molestation or slavery.
  10. A woman who cannot prove that she is a virgin on her wedding night, may be stoned to death”.
  11. When the Israelites conquered the Midianites, 32 virgins were given to the priest as “the Lord’s tribute”.
  12. After Jephthah was victorious in battle, he sacrificed his daughter on the altar, as he had vowed to the Lord.
  13. God, through Moses, gives instructions for selling your daughter as a sex-slave.
  14. Moses told his troops to kill little boys then kill every non-virgin female but keep virginal children for themselves.
  15. God says that it’s OK to beat a slave as long as he lives a day or two.
  16. God intentionally threw down great stones from heaven so he could kill the Amorites
  17. God, the omniscient, repents seven of his actions.
  18. The Amalekites were completely killed off 3 times; first by Saul, then by David, and then by David again.
  19. God commands you to kill those who worship another god.
  20. God tortured Job so that he (God) could win a bet with the devil
  21. Homosexuality is an abomination to God.
  22. Handicapped people must not approach the altar.
  23. God defines the value of human life in shekels (dollars and cents); females are worth considerably less than males.
  24. Jesus says that the Old Testament laws are binding on everyone forever and that he came to support the law.
  25. Jesus preferred to have his feet anointed rather than give to the poor.
  26. Jesus intends his message of salvation for Jews only.
  27. Jesus said that “whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive”.
  28. Paul preached and taught that the Rapture would occur within his (Paul’s) lifetime.
  29. Jesus condemned entire cities to dreadful deaths and to the eternal torment of hell if they didn’t care for his preaching.
  30. Jesus tells his followers that he will return and establish his kingdom within their lifetime.
  31. Jesus speaks in parables is so that  “them that are without, seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them”.
  32. Jesus refused to cast out a devil from a Greek woman’s daughter, calling the woman a “dog”.
  33. Jesus orders two of his disciples to steal a donkey.
  34. Jesus says that his true followers of Christ would be able to  cast out devils, speak in tongues, handle poisonous snakes, drink poisons without harm, and cure the sick by touching them.
  35. Jesus promises his followers power over all the power of the enemy and promises that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

Of course, all of these are true, and yet most Christians would find this to be a fabricated screed of anti-Christian propaganda. What this demonstrates is that the best evidence against Christianity is the Bible.

(`1261) The gap between gospel authorship and the oldest manuscripts

Most everyone understands that the oldest manuscripts of the gospels are not originals, but few are aware of the time span from the originals to these extent documents.  In the following website, the time gap is displayed for every chapter in the four gospels:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/08/23/exploring-the-gap-between-when-the-gospels-were-written-and-the-oldest-copies-we-have/

How much time passed between when each chapter of the New Testament was supposedly written to the oldest known copy we have in our possession?

In an ideal world, we’d have the original copies available to us and the gap would be 0 years. Too bad we don’t live in an ideal world.

My colleague Bob Seidensticker documented those gaps to the best of his abilities. Just take a look at the Gospels as an example. You don’t see a lot of gaps of 10 years or even 50 years. In some cases, we’re looking at gaps of hundreds of years.

GospelGapsChartBob

The red lines mark the first chapter of each book — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

You see those spikes throughout the image? Each one represents a long period of time when we’re relying on nothing but word of mouth, oral history, and the belief that the scribes who copied down the stories were as accurate as possible. The foundations of Christianity rely on those assumptions.

Bob raises some obvious questions:

The height of each bar is the length of the dark period during which no one knows for sure what happened to the copies. We have enough data to repair some errors, but who knows how many errors remain and how bad they are?…

You wouldn’t believe a supernatural story if it was claimed to have happened yesterday, but we’re to believe supernatural stories about Jesus passed on as oral history for decades before being written down when we don’t even have the originals but only copies from centuries later?

It’s the most consequential game of Telephone we’ve ever seen, and the odds of some serious mistranslations or outright fabrications are enormous.

It’s a fascinating topic and Bob goes into more detail on his site. He also includes charts for other books of the New Testament. Be sure to check it out.

As can be seen, most of the gospel chapters were in an unaccountable state for approximately 100 to 250 years, well enough time to render their veracity and authenticity in serious doubt. It is inconceivable that a god would allow this situation to exist with what otherwise must be, in his eyes, the world’s most important book.  This is evidence that there was no divine influence employed to create and maintain the gospels.

(1262) Jesus appeared only to die-hard believers plus one

After his resurrection, Jesus is alleged to have appeared to his disciples and a few of the women plus Paul, the only outsider to enjoy a visit- and even then it was only a vision. He is also alleged to have appeared to 500 people according to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:6), though this event is extremely dubious given its isolated scriptural mention and the fact that none of these witnesses can be corroborated by any external evidence. But even so, there remains a critical problem, as discussed by Richard Carrier at this website:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11069

Only an ordinary explanation can easily explain why Jesus only appeared to die-hard believers, and then, much later, to only one of millions of outsiders across the entire planet. If God himself were really appearing to people, and really was on a compassionate mission to reform and save the world, there is hardly any credible reason he would appear to only one persecutor rather than to all of them. But if Paul’s experience was entirely natural and not at all divine, then we should expect such an event to be rare, possibly even unique—and, lo and behold, that appears to be the case.

Paul’s conversion thus supports the conclusion that Christianity originated from natural phenomena, and not from any encounter with a walking corpse. A walking corpse—indeed a flying corpse (Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:9–11) or a teleporting corpse (Luke 24:31–37 and John 20:19–26)—could have visited Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin, the masses of Jerusalem, the Roman legions, even the emperor and senate of Rome. He could even have flown to America (as the Mormons actually believe he did), and even China, preaching in all the temples and courts of Asia. In fact, being God, he could have appeared to everyone on earth. He could visit me right now. Or you! And yet, instead, besides his already fanatical followers, just one odd fellow ever saw him.

If Jesus was a god and really wanted to save the world, he would have appeared and delivered his Gospel personally to the whole world. He would not appear only to one small group of believers and one lone outsider, in one tiny place, just one time, two thousand years ago, and then give up.

Whenever the list of witnesses to a miraculous event includes only the die-hard believers and excludes impartial persons on the outside, the red flag is raised and legitimate doubt is appropriate if not required. Christians discount the miracle claims of other faiths for the same reason. Christianity fails the identical test.

(1263) The Bible doesn’t set the moral bar very high

Christians assert ad nauseam that the Bible is the ultimate moral guide and that if we focus our society on biblical principles that we would achieve as close as possible a perfect world. This is patently absurd. The Bible is not a wellspring of moral wisdom- it is rather the somewhat crude and unenlightened ideas of First Century humans. The following was taken from:

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/03/10-reasons-christianity-makes-no-sense/

 Let’s face it: Don’t rape people, don’t own people, don’t hate people, and don’t hurt children are kind of no-brainers when it comes to morality. Our friend Jesus and his old man not only failed to make these things clear, but in many instances they encouraged, condoned, or commanded them. Sure, Jesus said a few things about loving your neighbor and being kind to strangers, but he also said that not believing in him was the worst offense a person could commit and that anyone who didn’t believe would burn in Hell for all eternity. And seriously, the Ten Commandments as a basis for all morality? Checking out your neighbor’s wife is worse than raping his daughter? Taking the lord’s name in vain is worse than owning slaves? Nice priorities. Add to this the fact that god himself does not follow his own rules, to which Christians respond that mere mortals cannot understand or judge the morality of god. But if the bible defines morality, and god has a different set of rules for himself than for humans, and we are not allowed to know or understand his rules except that we are expected to do as he says but not as he does, then how exactly does that provide any kind of moral baseline whatsoever?

The meme that the Bible is a suitable moral guide is like a virus that is spread from parent to child and then to grandchild and so on.  It doesn’t contain any intrinsic truth, but nevertheless it proliferates quite effectively from repetition and inculcation. It takes an open mind and an actual reading of the Bible for a person to conquer this virus, but once that’s achieved, it proffers lifetime immunity.

(1264) Jesus didn’t have faith

There is an adage that you should not require of others what you do not require of yourself.  Someone who violates this axiom is called a hypocrite.  You need look no further than the gospels to identify the most famous hypocrite of all time- Jesus. The following is taken from:

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/03/10-reasons-christianity-makes-no-sense/

Jesus was always rolling his eyes and scolding his disciples for not having enough faith. There are many verses to be found in the New Testament in which Jesus says some variation of, “Don’t trust your senses, don’t look for evidence, just accept it because I said so.” But if Jesus was the son of god, then faith wasn’t something he needed – he knew god and heaven were real because that’s where he came from, no faith required. How fair is it to command the rest of the world to believe something on faith alone, threatening eternal punishment to any who don’t believe it, when you yourself have no faith and all the evidence?

This would be like taking a test with the key at your disposal, making a 100, and then criticizing your friend who, without the key, made an 80. For Jesus to repair his image and no longer be considered a hypocrite, he would have to show us the same evidence for which he has access. Then he can rightly get on our case if we balk.

(1265) The intervention/omnipotence problem

There are four possible iterations of the question of God’s omnipotence combined with whether he chooses to intervene in the affairs of our planet. They are shown below:

Does God intervene? Is God omnipotent? Then…
Yes Yes He intends for evil to exist.
Yes No He cannot control all aspects of our lives or keep track of what we are all doing.
No Yes He has chosen to leave us to the natural forces of nature.
No No He might not even know we are here.

 

The standard position of the vast majority of Christians is the first row- that God intervenes and is omnipotent.  If any other rows are the truth, it destroys the entire doctrine of Christianity because it leaves the post-life assignments of heaven and hell in limbo. In any case, a non-intervening god renders the bulk of the Bible a fable.  This then leaves Christianity in a hard spot, because an omnipotent intervening god could have set up conditions that would have alleviated the worst manifestations of human pain and suffering. This is discussed further at this website:

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/03/10-reasons-christianity-makes-no-sense/

A quarter of a million people died in the tsunami of 2006. Twenty first graders and six adults were slaughtered at Sandy Hook. People die of starvation, are killed by war and disease, are raped or beaten by people who have power over them, and suffer in countless other ways. If there is an omniscient, omnipotent god who is also loving, as Christians would have us believe, why do these things happen? Why do children suffer and die? Why are there droughts and floods and famines and pestilences and earthquakes and wars? Why couldn’t god just make people nice? Why create natural disasters? Why didn’t he set forth better, clearer rules to eliminate ambiguity about how we are supposed to treat each other? God either intervenes or he doesn’t; god is either omnipotent or he isn’t. If he does and he is, then suffering exists because god intends for it to be that way. If he doesn’t and he isn’t, then he isn’t in control of anything, including the minutiae of how we live our daily lives. How is either a god worth worshiping?

The only answers available to the Christian are that ‘God is mysterious’ or ‘God’s ways are not our ways,’ but it leaves the rest of us with the much more credible answer- ‘the Christian god does not exist.’

(1266) God favors Israelites, men, and virgins

In the Book of Revelation, God reveals the makeup of his ‘first fruits’ or the most favored that he will invite to spend eternity with him in heaven.  They turn out to be all men, all Israelties, and all virgins, having never been ‘defiled’ with a woman.  Here are the relevant passages:

Revelation 7:1-8

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.  Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:  “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”  Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,

from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,

from the tribe of Gad 12,000,

from the tribe of Asher 12,000,

from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,

from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,

from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,

from the tribe of Levi 12,000,

from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,

from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,

from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,

from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

Revelation 14:1-5

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.  And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.  And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.  These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb.  No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

This is a testament to ludicrousness. We are asked to believe that there are 144,000 Jewish men who are virgins, who have never lied, and who can be identified as belonging to one of these 12 tribes, who will be magically whisked up into heaven and be God’s favored ones forever.  So if you are not a Jew, or you are a woman, or you have had sex, or you have lied, God does not see you as being one of his favored ones.

What these scriptures suggest is that God is a racist, a male chauvinist and misogynist, and someone who sees sex as an act that defiles a person.  Or more accurately, these scriptures suggest that the Book of Revelation is the putrid discharge of a Bronze Age crazy man’s mind.

(1267) Christianity peddles paternalism

The Christian faith succeeds in no small manner by creating the illusion that a benevolent and caring father figure is available to everyone, even if their earthly fathers are missing or less than honorable. It is this manipulation of human emotions that helps to sustain a belief system that offers only a trivial amount of evidence of its truth.  It also helps to explain why women tend to hold on to Christianity more tenaciously than men despite the fact that it is immersed in the concept of male superiority. The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/id0_christianity.htm

Religions and other bodies of belief compete with each other for acceptance. Often it is possible to identify specific aspects that appeal to people and give one religion an edge over another. One important characteristic of Christianity, arguably its prime selling point, is paternalism. God takes care of us. He watches over us all the time. We turn to him for protection. He is firm, yet gentle and understanding. He knows all that we know, and much, much more. He is big and powerful. He is the ultimate in dads who can beat up your dad.

This characteristic did not escape Sigmund Freud, who made the observation that “at bottom God is no more than an exalted father.” Freud contended that religion plays on the infantile aspects of people by reinforcing the childish residues in their psyches. This was an unwelcome revelation, for he found it painful to reflect that the majority of moralists would never rise above what he saw as so infantile a view of the world. Perhaps as a result of his insights, the Western Churches have been playing down paternal aspects of Christianity. Christians are now discouraged from thinking of God as a big old man, dressed in white and sitting on a throne in the sky. However, it is clear that many still conceive of God as a powerful wise old father figure, and not all of them are young children. Sociological studies show that nuns, unmarried girls, and older women tend to have attitudes towards God that are particularly similar to their attitudes towards their own fathers. Other paternalistic elements are not difficult to find in Christianity. The brotherhood of man depended not only on the Fatherhood of God but also on the Fatherhood of the Clergy. All priests are “fathers.” The titles patriarch, abbot, pope and padre all derive from words meaning exactly the same thing “father”. Traditionally when a boy joined the Church he was adopted by his bishop, exchanging his own family for that of his bishop. Now he had a big powerful family for life, with a range of father figures who would always be bigger and more powerful than himself.

We often believe things not because they are true but because we should like them to be true. Most drivers of motor vehicles believe themselves to be above-average drivers. Similarly a disproportionate people imagine themselves to have better than average senses of humour, to be more intelligent and fair-minded than they really are, to be more honest than the norm, and to have unusually gifted children. As Francis Baconput it “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true” It is conceivable that people believe in a paternalistic God for a similar reason — that they would like a paternalistic God to be looking after them. Freud thought there was something in this idea: “Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctive desires.”

This drives home the advice to beware of believing what you wish to be true.  The human brain is apt to arrange its conclusions around its innate desires, and to filter all incoming information accordingly. Christianity thus becomes an emotional  black hole that defeats the exercise of critical thinking. Most Christians are unwittingly caught in this trap. It keeps them from seeing the obvious fallacy of the entire enterprise.

(1268) Christianity’s role in the supernaturality fraud

The human brain is particularly susceptible to a belief in the supernatural and to see purpose where only natural forces are at play. Christianity borrowed many of these misconceptions that people held twenty centuries ago.  It is only now, in a scientifically-infused information-saturated world that we are beginning to see the fallacy of this way of perceiving reality. The following is taken from:

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/07/supernatural-beliefs-the-trillion-dollar-fraud/

Think of the amazing number of supernatural beliefs held by people:

Gods, goddesses, devils, demons, angels, heavens, hells, purgatories, limbos, miracles, prophecies, visions, auras, saviors, virgin births, immaculate conceptions, resurrections, bodily ascensions, faith-healings, exorcisms, salvation, redemption, messages from the dead, voices from Atlantis, omens, magic, clairvoyance, spirit-signals, divine visitations, incarnations, reincarnations, second comings, judgment days, astrology horoscopes, psychic phenomena, extra-sensory perception, telekinesis, voodoo, fairies, leprechauns, werewolves, vampires, zombies, witches, warlocks, ghosts, wraiths, poltergeists, dopplegangers, incubi, succubi, palmistry, tarot cards, ouija boards, levitation, out-of-body travel, magical transport to UFOs, Elvis on a flying saucer, invisible Lemurians in Mount Shasta, Thetans from a dying planet, etc., etc.

That’s about 60 varieties — and you can probably think of others I overlooked.

All these magical beliefs are basically alike. There’s no tangible evidence for any of them. You can’t test supernatural claims; you’re expected to swallow them by blind faith. The only “proof” for them is that they were “revealed” by some prophet, guru, astrologer, shaman, mullah, mystic, swami, psychic, soothsayer or “channeler.”

Well, considering the human brain’s vaunted power of logic, you’d think that people everywhere would reject magical assertions that can’t be verified. But the opposite is true. Billions of people embrace them. Almost all of humanity prays to invisible spirits and envisions a mystical realm. Virtually every leader invokes the deities. Supernaturalism pervades our whole species, in one form or another.

Around the planet, varying from culture to culture, the phenomenon is nearly universal. It consumes billions of person-hours and trillions of dollars. Millions of prayers to unseen beings are uttered every day, and millions of rituals performed. This extravaganza requires a vast array of priests and personnel, and a vast array of buildings and facilities. The cost is astronomical. Americans alone give $70 billion a year to churches — more than the national budgets of many countries. Other supernatural investment is enormous. For example, Americans spend $300 million a year on psychic hot-lines.

In this mighty ocean of spirituality, only a few rebels dare to ask: What if it’s all untrue? What if no spirit realm exists, and the whole enterprise is a fantasy? What if people don’t live after death? What if thousands of years of kneeling, praying, worshiping, sacrificing, fighting holy wars, torturing heretics and the like was, and continues to be, a monumental waste?

What if the emperor has no clothes?

What if the whole supernatural spectrum and its huge army of practitioners constitute a trillion-dollar fraud?

The transition from supernaturalism to naturalism has been taking place for several centuries, though it still has a long way to go. Because Christianity is tied in with many supernaturalistic phenomena, it cannot be expected to survive the inevitable total rejection of supernaturalism that is likely to come in the next 500 years. The explosive nature of scientific discovery coupled with the superfluidity of information will be its death knell.

(1269) The arrogance of eternal life

Christianity teaches that you can live forever in your ‘second’ life.’ That means that you will outlive the destruction of the earth and the sun and the solar system, the entire Milky Way Galaxy, in fact all of the galaxies in the observable universe. You will still be alive when all of the black holes evaporate and the universe experiences a heat death of maximum entropy.

But what if the promise was different? Suppose scripture says you will live in heaven for only a few hundred years and then die.  In that case, would people still be as excited about Christianity? Probably not, even though this is a more realistic scenario. It would merely be substituting one mortal existence for another one- better, but the end result is the same. If you knew that 300 years from now you will cease to exist no matter how you live your life or what you believe, and that your non-existence will then extend to eternity, it would leave little reason to follow the ‘correct’ religion. And the creators of Christianity and other religions knew this fact. Eternal life was the only thing that could do the trick.  But at the same time, it stretched credulity to its breaking point.

The writers of the Bible and arguably Jesus himself believed that the earth and the heavens were eternal- they had no concept of the life cycle of the stars- that the sun would burn out over time, or that the earth would be swallowed up when the sun bulges outward in its death throes.  Many of them even thought that heaven itself would be relocated to the earth for the remainder of eternity. But we now live in a scientific age and we know that nothing is permanent- everything eventually dies and vanishes, even protons and neutrons.  And so the idea of eternal life is a pre-scientific, superstitious concept that no longer matches our understanding of reality, and thus should be promptly rejected.

(1270) Science brings people together, religion divides

The science in Pakistan, in China, in Mexico, and in India is the same.  Whenever a conference of scientists from around the world meet, there is a general consensus on the fundamental matters of their theories and observations.  The differences that might exist are usually only temporary as further experimentation reveals the correct concepts, and the failed hypotheses are cast aside.

Now, imagine a conference of religious leaders from around the world. You would have Christians, both evangelical and mainstream, Mormons, Scientologists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, etc.  There would be no general consensus and the differences would not dissolve over time. Although they might agree on several social issues, they would find little middle ground as it relates to theology.

Why is there this difference? Why does science converge while religion diverges? Why do people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and nationalities agree on science but disagree on religion? It is simply this: science is the impartial discovery of reality; religion is the subjective creation of fantasy.

(1271) How to find a wife according to the Bible

The Bible is considered by Christians to be the best guide for one’s life and so it is for unmarried men who want to find a wife.  Here is the advice that God has provided for this purpose:

http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Bad_Bible_Advice

  1. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. – (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)
  2. Find a prostitute and marry her. – (Hosea 1:1-3)
  3. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. – Moses (Ex 2:16-21)
  4. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. – Boaz (Ruth 4:5-10)
  5. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. – Benjaminites (Judges 21:19-25)
  6. Have God create a wife for you while you sleep. Note: this will cost you. – Adam (Gen 2:19-24)
  7. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a wife. – Jacob (Genesis 29:15-30)
  8. Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter for a wife – David (I Samuel 18:27)
  9. Even if no one is out there, just wander around a bit and you’ll definitely find someone. (It’s all relative, of course.) – Cain (Genesis 4:16-17)
  10. Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. – Xerxes or Ahasuerus (Esther 2:3-4)
  11. When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a … woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision, simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.” – Samson (Judges 14:1-3)
  12. Kill any husband and take HIS wife (Prepare to lose four sons, though). – David (2 Samuel 11)
  13. Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow. (It’s not just a good idea; it’s the law.) – Onana and Boaz (Deuteronomy or Leviticus, example in Ruth)
  14. Don’t be so picky. Make up for quality with quantity. – Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3)
  15. Rape a virgin and then pay her father 50 shekels – Deuteronomy 22:28-29
  16. A wife?…NOT? – Paul (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

What this illustrates is that to be a Christian you either have to be ignorant of what is in the Bible, or you have to be willfully and hypocritically selective in what you read and recall.

(1272) Evidence supplied versus standard of belief

There is a fundamental problem with Christianity. God demands belief while supplying stingy evidence of his existence.  Every person needs a variable amount and quality of evidence to produce a belief.  But because the evidence is more or less the same for everyone, only those with a low standard for evidence will end up believing and thus be welcomed into heaven.  Those with more critical thinking skills or skepticism will be sent, absent any fault of their own, to hell.  Is this fair? The following was taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/50f2qk/if_he_truly_wanted_us_all_to_believe_wouldnt_a/

First Point

The first argument is regarding the nature of belief itself. In my estimation, belief doesn’t come as the result of a choice. It is, I think, an automatic process which occurs as a result of the weighing of evidence.

“Weighing of evidence” is a very apt phrase, as it turns out. I imagine the process of evidence evaluation as a set of scales that exist within the mind. For any given claim, evidence for goes on one side of the scales, and evidence against goes on the other side. Depending on how the scales balance out, we get either active belief or active disbelief. (And if evidence for both sides balances out, we got non-belief, which is not the same as disbelief.)

I can’t walk out into the rain and choose to believe I’m not getting wet. I can’t look up at a blue sky and choose to believe it’s red or pink or green. I can’t look at a still lake and choose to believe there’s a chest filled with pirate gold buried in the silt at the bottom.

Second Point

My second point is a necessary conclusion from my first point: If belief is not a choice, then theists did not arrive at their beliefs as a result of a choice, but as a result of being convinced by the evidence that is available to them.

If belief is not a choice, then how is it that some people believe and some people don’t?

The answer is that we all have different standards of evidence. The evidence that convinces you might not be convincing to me, and vice verse. Further, there may be evidence that is available to you that is not available to me (for example, people who have experienced personal revelations, or who claim to have a spiritual connection/relationship with God).

My own personal standards of evidence are what dictate which evidence I will find compelling and which evidence I won’t. Just as I can’t choose what to believe and what not to believe, I also can’t choose to throw my own personal standards of evidence out the window and adopt your standard of evidence as my own.

 Third Point

In short, some people have standards of evidence which have been satisfied by the available evidence, and some don’t. It becomes a nonsensical proposition, then, to claim (as many do) that the Christian God is unwilling to provide proof of his existence. Assuming he exists, the truth of the matter is that he does provide enough compelling evidence for those people whose standards of evidence are low enough. (I don’t mean “low” in derogatory fashion.)

If the first two points of my argument are correct, then asking skeptics to believe in the absence of evidence (which they would find compelling) is a nonsensical proposition. You are asking them to abandon their own standards of evidence and adopt yours. Even if it were possible for them to do that (and I don’t think it is, not without a massive paradigm shift), why should they?

In closing:

Not everyone is convinced by the same types or levels of evidence. With this in mind, if salvation is predicated upon belief (and we’re often told that it is), and if God wants us all to believe in him (and we’re told he does), then it seems to me that a loving God would be willing to provide whatever evidence that a person needs in order to believe, regardless of how high that person’s standard of evidence might be.

This is where Christianity comes off the rails. Before Paul contaminated what was the initial requirement for salvation, living a life in conformance with the commandments (as revealed by the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke), the faith had some semblance of plausibility.  But when belief became the overriding criterion for salvation, a credibility gap developed as discussed above.

(1273) God is Love?

We hear it all the time from Christians, that God is Love.  Yet, when you think about what love is, how we generally define it, the Christian mantra sounds more like an Orwellian mind-control meme, ala ‘war is peace.’ The following was taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2016/08/im-god-god-is-love.html

I am God. God is love. I love you so much.

I love you so much that I set you up to fail.

I love you so much that I taught a snake how to talk, tempt and deceive.

I love you so much that I created most of you knowing you’d reject me.

I love you so much that I made infinite torture the price of your finite rejection.

I love you so much that I’ll give all who reject me a special body that will never die and never stop feeling ultimate pain.

I love you so much that I’ve made sexuality one of your most intense desires but one of your most forbidden actions.

I love you so much that I’ll let some of you be rich, powerful and comfortable while most will be poor, miserable and weak.

I love you so much that I’ll make my forgiveness and salvation one of the most obscure, secluded, exclusive, elusive, difficult, ancient, senseless, illogical and bizarre, argued, debated, opinionated, sadistic, divisive, repulsive, reject-able, laughable, unverifiable, irrational, emotional, psychological things ever conceived.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you doubt me.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you trust me.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you stay from me.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you are closer to me than anyone.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you don’t serve me.

I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you serve me faithfully.

I love you so much that I’ll make your suffering for ignoring me very real in this life.

I love you so much that I’ll make your rewards for walking with me only real in the next life.

I love you so much that I’ll kill your loved ones, destroy your life, ravage your body and make your best friends think it’s your fault just to teach the devil a lesson.

I love you so much that I’ll make everything you need to know about me and my love available to you in an ancient, translated, revised, edited, copied, argued, debated, contradictory, violent, terrifying, depressing, ambiguous, bizarre, embarrassing book written by dozens of disagreeing men, spanning thousands of years.

I love you so much. God is love. I am God.

A god who actually loved us would, first of all, not threaten us with Hell. Second, he would let us know who he is and make his existence positively known.  Third, if he decided to give us life after death, he would guide every one of us to this happy place. God is not Love. God is a sadistic, jealousy-fueled, deceiving deal-maker.

(1274) Freedom of thought

When asked for proof of their god, Christians often refer to the inner feelings of God’s presence in their lives, how it makes them feel, and how it fills their life with meaning and purpose, as if this is true evidence of God’s existence.  But what they don’t understand is that when a person jettisons belief in the supernatural, a comparable if not more magnificent inner transcendent experience occurs, as is expressed here by 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 heroes, 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.

If we are to go by inner feelings to judge the likelihood of God’s existence, the atheistic perspective wins the competition, largely because it is devoid of comforting promises and hopes for an afterlife, and yet it is even more powerful in its majesty, broader in its wonderment, and more freeing in its landscape. In a god-existing world, atheists would be the ones saddled by cognitive dissonance and fretting over their concept of reality.

(1275) Jewish morality no different than neighbors

If a god actually selected he Jews as his chosen people, it would seem likely that they would have exhibited behaviors, knowledge, and morality that would have differentiated themselves from the other groups of people scattered over the world at that time.  This did not happen, and it’s a window into understanding the human causation of Judeo-Christianity.  The following is a quote by Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899):

Most nations, at the time the Old Testament was written, believed in slavery, polygamy, wars of extermination, and religious persecution; and it is not wonderful that the book contained nothing contrary to such belief. The fact that it was in exact accord with the morality of its time proves that it was not the product of any being superior to man.

“The inspired writers” upheld or established slavery, countenanced polygamy, commanded wars of extermination, and ordered the slaughter of women and babes. In these respects they were precisely like the uninspired savages by whom they were surrounded.

They also taught and commanded religious persecution as a duty, and visited the most trivial offences with the punishment of death. In these particulars they were in exact accord with their barbarian neighbors.

They were utterly ignorant of geology and astronomy, and knew no more of what had happened than of what would happen; and, so far as accuracy is concerned, their history and prophecy were about equal; in other words, they were just as ignorant as those who lived and died in nature’s night.

If the Christian god was real, then the Jews should have become the paragons of progressive thinking, making them the shining stars of all civilizations of their time.  On the other hand, if it was all just a fictional fantasy, then the Jews should have remained mired in the same backward (for its time) mores as its worldwide counterparts.  Of course, this is what happened, and it’s a very strong argument for the non-existence of the Christian god.

(1276) Jesus never made the seven “I Am” statements

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes seven dramatic, self-defining statements beginning with “I am” -as follows:

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(John 8:12)

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”(John 10:11)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”(John 11:25-26)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Christian doctrine relies heavily on these statements as a means to define the deific status of Jesus and his indispensable role in the gift of salvation. But, evidence strongly suggests that Jesus, assuming he was a unique person, never made these statements.  The following was taken from:

https://rejectingjesus.com/2014/09/17/idiotic-stuff-jesus-said-5-the-i-am-sayings/

Let’s be clear from the outset here; Jesus never actually made any of the seven ‘I am’ claims put into his mouth in John’s gospel. You know the ones: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’, ‘I am the True Vine’, ‘the Good Shepherd’, ‘the Light of the World’ and so on. So it is a little unfair to lump them with all the idiotic things it’s more likely Jesus did say (see previous posts.)

How do we know he didn’t say them? Lots of reasons. Firstly, they’re not in the other three gospels all of which were written earlier than John’s, and are therefore closer to the time Jesus lived (though the earliest, Mark’s gospel, was probably put together thirty to forty years after Jesus lived.) If Jesus had really made all those grand ‘I am’ claims, wouldn’t the other gospel writers have recorded them too? Yet none of them mentions even one.

Secondly, in the synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – Jesus has a different message from the one given to him in John’s gospel. The earlier gospels have Jesus talk about himself only very rarely. Instead, he goes on at length about the coming of the Kingdom of God (or Heaven) and how y’all better get ready for it ’cause it’s a-coming soon. Was he wrong about that one! On the odd occasion he does refer to himself in the synoptic gospels, he often does it in a sort of coded way, calling himself ‘the son of man’. He hardly ever uses ‘I’, let alone makes grandiose claims about himself.

Thirdly, all three of the synoptic gospels rely on earlier sources, now lost to us, and none of those has Jesus make ‘I am’ statements either. How do we know? Because, again, they’re not there in any of the three accounts – Matthew, Mark or Luke – that are built up from them. Significantly, one of these sources is an early record of Jesus’ sayings; that’s a ‘sayings gospel’ that doesn’t relate any ‘I am’ sayings.

Fourthly, John’s gospel is late – at least sixty years after JC’s death and also after Paul’s supernatural Christianity had gained a foothold among the gullible. The Jesus of John’s gospel is a reworked version, more in-line with the ‘Christ’ that Paul preached and much less like the Jewish peasant who had lived and preached the Kingdom of God. Despite what Christians claim, John’s gospel is not another eye-witness report (none of the gospels is) that differs only in minor details from the other three accounts. It is total reworking of the story, with its central figure transformed into a sort of divine Superman, and the idea of the coming Kingdom relegated to a single mention. This change of agenda renders the fourth gospel utterly unreliable as an historical record of anything the earthly Jesus might have said.

Fifthly, Christians claim John’s gospel differs from the others because in it Jesus reveals special, secret truths about himself to ‘the disciple whom he loved’, traditionally the John whom the gospel is named after. But again, the problem with this explanation is that the synoptic gospels don’t mention Jesus favouring one particular disciple over the others (unless it’s Simon Peter). In these, John, a loud, brash fisherman, plays only a minor role. Why don’t the synoptics refer to the special, more intimate relationship that John’s gospel refers to? Largely because there wasn’t one – not until the fourth gospel came to be written and ‘John’, who led the community that produced it, wanted to bump up his part.

So, idiotic as it would have been for an itinerant Jewish preacher and ‘prophet’, whose mission ended in failure, to make these claims about himself, Jesus never did. He didn’t say he was ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’. Or ‘the Vine’. Or ‘the Good Shepherd’. These are claims made for him long after he lived, by people who were persuaded by a snake-oil salesman that a God-man had mystically ‘saved’ them. They ‘re-imagined’ Jesus, sayings and all, to fit their idea of what he must have been like – and John’s gospel was born.

Along with the first three gospels, the most famous and exhaustive list of things that Jesus allegedly said, the Gospel of Thomas, fails to list any of these “I am” statements, as well.  It seems incredibly unlikely that the most important claims made by Jesus would have escaped the earliest authors, and, by extension, the Holy Spirit’s ‘inspiration.” Thus, one of the major pillars supporting Christianity is the fraudulent act of putting words in Jesus’s mouth.

(1277) God is a horrible ‘teacher’

The fact that Jesus said that very few of the people that God ‘creates’ make it to heaven often passes over the heads of most Christians, who view it as an unavoidable consequence of human fallibility. But seen in another perspective, that of a educational institution, it more has the appearance of God’s embarrassing failure. The following was taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/09/a-god-created-world-would-look-like-a-60s-family-sitcom-2/

First, let’s view life from the Christian perspective. Jesus makes clear that few will make it to heaven.

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. (Matthew 7:13–14)

Making it through that small gate is our purpose in life. I’ve heard Christians give different metaphors for our world. God made a challenging life on earth as a test to see which people are made of the right stuff. Or it’s a proving ground where the good souls get a chance to prove their worth. Or a crucible where the dross burns away to improve our character and prepare us for heaven.

But let’s imagine life as a classroom. God apparently is so poor a teacher that he only graduates a few of his students.

If you were the president of a college, you might think that if 80 percent of the freshmen graduate, that’s a decent fraction. It’s too bad about the rest, but it’s not possible to make that fraction zero. But God could. God would know exactly what the problems were and how to fix them. Is it a lack of motivation? A lack of funds? Classes not relevant or interesting enough? With God in control, he could create colleges with a 100 percent graduation rate.

God isn’t president of an ordinary college; he’s president of the Ultimate College—life. What fraction of people graduate from God’s college into heaven? Not even half.

Jesus seems proud and righteous in predicting the poor ‘graduate rate’ of his human underlings, but who is really responsible for this sad state of affairs?  Could it be the judge himself who engineers the faulty operation of human brains and then further suppresses the evidence of his existence?  Matthew 7:13-14 can better be described as Jesus’s confession.

(1278) Biblical family values are deplorable

Christians often point to their bibles while extolling the virtues of family values.  Although their own families might exhibit virtuous values, their bibles most certainly do not. The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/cf0_injunctions.htm

Throughout his life Jesus had little time for families if we are to believe the gospels. At the age of 12 he failed to return home with his family from the Passover feast at Jerusalem. He was found in the Jerusalem Temple three days later by his sorrowing parents, who had returned from Nazareth to look for him (Luke 2:42-48) — not very thoughtful behavior on the part of the exceptionally wise and learned son of God towards his mother one might think. The third of the seven swords through the heart of “Our Lady of Sorrows” on the right, put there by Jesus himself, represents Mary’s sorrow at her son’s inconsiderate disappearance.

Jesus was routinely dismissive of his mother and her feelings. Mariologists have long been embarrassed by the way he spoke to her, for example “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” (John 2:4). The usual explanation is that translators unwittingly introduced an element of curtness, but this is simply not true. In any case, Jesus rejected his family more than once. When they asked for him when he was addressing a multitude, he denied his mother and brothers, and said that those listening to him at the time were his mother and brothers (Mark 3:31-35 cf. Matthew 12:46-49 and Luke 8:19-21).

As the gospels clearly state, Jesus had no qualms about taking his disciples away from their families. The brothers James and John abandoned their father, leaving him to manage as best he could with the fishing nets they had been preparing. Jesus gave a clear instruction that his followers should “call no man your father upon the earth” on the grounds that they had only one father and that was the one in Heaven (Matthew 23:9). According to some, Peter abandoned his wife and family to follow Jesus. On one occasion a disciple asked permission to go and bury his dead father:

But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Matthew 8:22 cf. Luke 9:60

Jesus then refused another potential follower who asked permission to say goodbye to his family before abandoning them (Luke 9:61-62). We learn that this attitude was entirely in line with Jesus’ purpose:

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. Matthew 10:35

Jesus consistently taught that his followers should abandon and despise their families. Everlasting life is promised to those who leave their present homes and families (Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:29-30 and Luke 18:29-30). The Luke author gives Jesus’ summary of his views on family life:

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

A similar sentiment is expressed in the non-canonical Gospel of St Thomas. Indeed, this gospel goes further “Whoever recognizes his father and mother will be called the son of a whore”.

Just before he asserts that he is come to bring not peace but a sword, Jesus says:

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. Matthew 10:21

The Church’s traditional attitude towards family life has been consistent with Jesus’ views until recent times. The pinnacle of achievement was to remain a virgin and so not have a family at all. Converts were expected to abandon their families if their families declined to become Christians as well. Polygamists were required to abandon all but one wife. Priests were required to abandon their wives and families, just as the apostles and early Church Fathers had done. St Alexis won his sainthood by abandoning his new bride on his wedding day. Christianity was responsible for an untold number of abandoned wives, divided families, and disinherited children. You can read examples of the damage done by traditional attitudes to families here.

For the moment the key point is that in the last few decades it has become fashionable to support family values. Since the 1960s the Churches have found it expedient to portray themselves in exactly the opposite light to that in which they have traditionally basked. As a leading liberal churchman has noted:

The idealization of the family is a modern cultural creation, which the Churches have validated, and now no modern bishop would dream of publicly endorsing Jesus’ views about the family.

The Church has reversed its traditional teaching to agree with modern opinion. Much creative imagination now goes into the pretense that the gospels do not mean what they plainly say: that followers of Jesus must hate their families. Except for a few men and women who do abandon their families to become hermits, anchorites, missionaries, Roman Catholic priests, monks or nuns, there are now virtually no Christians who follow Jesus’ teaching about family life.

It’s left up to the ecclesiastical order to explain why a book authored by God would contain so much anti-family rhetoric. To the skeptic, the answer is quite evident- the early church could only grow if its new recruits were told to dismiss their family’s protestations and place the church as their highest priority.

(1279) Chronological problems with the synoptic gospels

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke are all written in a manner that appears to tell stories in a chronological order. One episode follows another, often with connecting language, such as “and then Jesus went to …” (It is not worth considering the Gospel of John in this discussion as it is evidently talking about a completely different individual). One of the best examples of this chronological disorder is reflected in the following three scriptures, each documenting the same event:

Mark 1: 29-31

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Luke 4:38-39

Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

Matthew 8:14-15

When Jesus came into Simon’s house, he saw Simon’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

Note the chapter numbers. In Mark, Jesus heals Simon’s (aka Peter) mother-in-law only a day or two after recruiting Simon as a disciple.  In Luke and Matthew, this event happens only after a multitude of intervening events, some of which are presented in Mark as happening afterwards. Biblical scholars have invented many theories to explain this and scores of other sequence discrepancies, the principal one being that some events are listed chronologically while others are ordered in a thematic manner. It doesn’t work. The sequence errors in the gospels are evidence that these accounts cannot  meet the contemporary standards of factual history.

(1280) Calendars

Christians often cite the fact that modern calendars measure time from the birth of Jesus as evidence not only of Jesus’s existence but that he must have been the most influential man ever to live. This is a complete misrepresentation of the truth. In fact, the use of Jesus’s alleged birth to mark the years began many centuries later and was not fully complete until the 15th Century. The following was taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_calendars

For the first six centuries since the birth of Jesus Christ, European countries used various local systems to count years, most usually regnal years, modeled on the Old Testament. In some cases, Creation dating was also used. In the 6th century, the Christian monk Dionysius Exiguus devised the Anno Domini system, dating from the Incarnation of Jesus.[  In the 8th century, the Anglo-Saxon historian Bede the Venerable used another Latin term, “ante uero incarnationis dominicae tempus” (“the time before the Lord’s true incarnation”, equivalent to the English “before Christ”), to identify years before the first year of this era.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, even Popes continued to date documents according to regnal years, and usage of AD only gradually became common in Europe from the 11th to the 14th centuries.[In 1422, Portugal became the last Western European country to adopt the Anno Domini system.

Only after centuries of Christian hegemony in the Western world did our system of dating time to the birth of Jesus begin. So this fact points in the opposite direction that Christians claim- it is evidence the Jesus’s life was not very influential and that it took hundreds of years of myth-building for it become so.

(1280) Historical uncertainties

The credibility of the gospel accounts of Jesus’s life can be compared to the degree of certainty we can apply to recent historical events. The following is taken from:

http://articles.exchristian.net/2007/12/summary-of-my-case-against-christianity.html

If God revealed himself in history, then he chose a very poor medium and a poor era to do so. If you know that much about the craft of the historian, she is dealing with the stuff of the past in which many frauds and forgeries have been found. This justifies a skeptical outlook upon what has been reported to have happened. Almost anything can be rationally denied in history, even if the event happened.

Consider the following historical questions: How were the Egyptian pyramids made? Who made them? Why? Was Shakespeare a fictitious name for Francis Bacon? Exactly how was the Gettysburg battle fought and won? What was the true motivation for Lincoln to emancipate the slaves? What happened at Custer’s last stand? Who killed President John F. Kennedy? Why? Who knew what and when during the Watergate scandal that eventually led to President Nixon resigning? Why did America lose the “war” in Vietnam? Did George W. Bush legitimately win the 2000 election? Did President Bush knowingly lead us into a war with Iraq on false pretenses? What about some high profile criminal cases? Is O.J. Simpson a murderer? Who killed Jon Bene Ramsey? Is Michael Jackson a pedophile?

It is enlightening to realize that we don’t know for sure the answers to these questions, despite the fact that they are recent, were well documented by testimonies, video, audio, books, physical evidence, and articles, and were all in the natural realm. Now, take events that occurred twenty centuries ago, for which we only have questionable and contradictory works written by unknown authors in unknown locations, with unknown motives, and which document supernatural events of a type not seen in modern times.  How can we be sure of what really happened back then when we can’t be totally sure of what happened just recently?

(1282) Faith maintenance

By and large, atheists do not construct churches or hold regular meetings to reinforce their lack of belief in a supernatural being.  They don’t gather around a scientist every Sunday morning to be reassured that evolution is true or that the universe is billions of years old. In other words, they do not seek or need the degree of psychological maintenance that most Christians appear to depend upon.  The following is a quote from Dan Barker:

“Scientists do not join hands every Sunday and sing “Yes gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have faith! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!” If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept.”

This drives home an important point. Atheists are more secure in their world view. To put this in perspective, imagine a group of people living in a cave.  The shaman of the group implores the people to stay inside the cave during daylight hours because the direct sunlight will kill them.  But a few brave and adventurous people decide to go outside and test this idea. They find it to be untrue and return to tell the cave dwellers that the shaman is wrong.  But they will not listen. As time goes on, doubts creep into the minds of the cave dwellers that perhaps the shaman is wrong, while the renegades have no such confusion of thought, secure in their experience and knowledge of the real world.

In may be hard for Christians to understand this point, but suffice to say, the vast majority of atheists are not cowering or afraid that they might be wrong- no, they are certain to the nth degree that, in spite of all the mysteries of the world yet to be discovered, the god of Christianity is fictional.

(1283) Extrapolation of scripture

It is well known that many of the conventional doctrines, policies, and attitudes of Christianity do not appear in the Bible, but were ideas that evolved over the centuries and eventually became staples of Christian thought. This is best illuminated by a quote from Dan Barker:

“The next time believers tell you that ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in our founding document, tell them to stop using the word ‘trinity.’ The word ‘trinity’ appears nowhere in the bible. Neither does Rapture, or Second Coming, or Original Sin. If they are still unfazed (or unphrased), by this, then add Omniscience, Omnipresence, Supernatural, Transcendence, Afterlife, Deity, Divinity, Theology, Monotheism, Missionary, Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Christianity, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Methodist, Catholic, Pope, Cardinal, Catechism, Purgatory, Penance, Transubstantiation, Excommunication, Dogma, Chastity, Unpardonable Sin, Infallibility, Inerrancy, Incarnation, Epiphany, Sermon, Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer, Good Friday, Doubting Thomas, Advent, Sunday School, Dead Sea, Golden Rule, Moral, Morality, Ethics, Patriotism, Education, Atheism, Apostasy, Conservative (Liberal is in), Capital Punishment, Monogamy, Abortion, Pornography, Homosexual, Lesbian, Fairness, Logic, Republic, Democracy, Capitalism, Funeral, Decalogue, or Bible.”

Christianity has evolved so far beyond the Bible that it is becoming hazardous for a Christian to actually read it.  But the problem with all of these extrapolated ideas is that they necessarily diverge, given an assumption that no deity is aligning this process, such that there are multiple positions on almost every topic. So instead of having a tight, cohesive, unified Christianity, we have thousands of denominations and a large degree of querulous infighting.  The Bible is simply insufficient to guide a unified faith.

(1284) Mark’s Jesus vs. Luke’s Jesus

If we examine the words of Jesus from the moment of his arrest until his death on the cross from the Books of Mark and Luke, some interesting discrepancies can be seen.  Here are Jesus’s words during that period in Mark:

“Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?  Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

“I am,” and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

“Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.”

“You have said so,”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

And from Luke:

“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

“No more of this!”

“Am I leading a rebellion that you have come with swords and clubs?  Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

“Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

“If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer.  But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

“You say that I am.”

“You have said so,”

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then

“ ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”

And to the hills, “Cover us!”

For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

 Here is what can be gleaned from this comparison:

  • In Luke, Jesus rebukes Judas, in Mark he does not.
  • In Mark, Jesus refers to a fulfilled scripture concerning his arrest, Luke correctly removes this claim and just calls it an ‘hour of darkness.’
  • In Mark, Jesus says to the high priest that he will see Jesus coming on the clouds. In Luke, written later in time, and probably after the high priest has died, just says Jesus just says he will be seated at the right hand of God.
  • In Luke, Jesus delivers a prophecy to the daughters of Jerusalem, which is totally missing in Mark.
  • In Luke, Jesus forgives his tormenters, not in Mark.
  • In Luke, Jesus grants salvation to one of the two men being crucified next to him, in Mark, both men just mock him, and no heavenly reward is offered.
  • In Mark, Jesus despairingly cries out, feeling he is being abandoned by his father, while in Luke, this is replaced by the overtly positive statement of committing his spirit.
  • In Luke, Jesus is much more loquacious, less frustrated, and more in control than in Mark.

To reconcile these differences, an apologist can posit that Luke was able to access some new sources that were unavailable to Mark, but there still must be a way to make both accounts accurate within themselves- unless it is conceded that the authors made some mistakes.  This is where a problem develops- it is impossible to construct a conflated narrative that renders both accounts completely accurate. This means that at least some of what is documented in these two accounts is fictional. Once that door has been opened, it unleashes a potential floodgate of uncertainty of the type that no overseeing and all-powerful god would have allowed.

(1285) Early documents know the least about Jesus

If we study the order in which various documents were written about Jesus, it becomes clear that the earliest ones know the least about the details of his life. This is revealed by an attempt to determine when Jesus was born. The following was taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nogodblog/2016/06/will-the-real-jesus-please-stand-up/

We have a further problem: exactly which Jesus are we talking about? Are we talking about the Jesus of Luke, Chapters 2 & 3, the Jesus born at the time of the census under Quirinius in 6 CE, when Herod was Tetrarch of Galilee and Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea? (Apologists try to invent a Quirinian census at an earlier date—before the death of Herod the Great—but there is no room in Quirinius’ CV for such.) Or, are we talking about the Jesus of Matthew 2:1, the one born during the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BCE? Or are we talking about the Jesus of the oldest gospel, Mark’s, the Jesus who has no birth or childhood at all? Or are we talking about the Jesus of John’s gospel—the one who started his life “in the beginning”? Or the Jesus of Saul/Paul who can hardly be said to have had an earthly life in Galilee at all?

Perhaps we are talking about the Jesus of the Church Father Irenaeus [Against Heresies, XXII] who lived into his 50s and died during the reign of Claudius? Or how about the Jesus of the Toldoth Yeshu—the Jesus born around 100 BCE, during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus? Or maybe, then, are we talking about the Jesus who, it was decided in 336 CE, had been born on the winter solstice (December 25, Julian calendar) or on January 6—take your pick!—along with Mithra and the other sun gods of antiquity? Lastly, are we talking about a Jesus of Nazareth, or a Jesus of Someplace Else?

Trying to date the birth of Jesus reveals an important fact: The earliest documents “know” the least about his life and childhood; the latest know the most. Apocryphal gospels postdating the canonical ones know by far the most about his supposed earthly life. Must we suppose that Jesus lived his life backwards? Or are we just dealing with a story that, like rumor, grows in detail with retelling?

How can something so profound as God coming to our world and walking around as a man wind up in so much ambiguity?  Well, if it really happened, it wouldn’t have.

(1286) Luke’s description of Nazareth is erroneous

In Luke 4:14-30, we read:

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.  He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’ ”

 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.  I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.  Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.  And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.  But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

There are significant problems with this verse, starting with the high probability, based on multiple pieces of evidence (See #259), that the city of Nazareth did not exist during the First Century, which only became a true city in the 4th Century when an 80-year-old dowager Empress Helena manufactured one out of her belief in the gospels.  Even modern-day Nazareth could not be the site of the action described in Luke. The following was taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nogodblog/2015/12/speaking-frank-ly-part-3/

The venerated sites at present-day Nazareth do not fit the description of the city in the Gospel of Luke. It is well to remind readers that even many apologists and scholars who argue in favor of turn-of-the-era habitation of present-day Nazareth agree: it cannot be the site described in Luke 4:16–30, a city (polis) built with a synagogue atop a hill with a cliff from which the congregation of the synagogue tried to cast Jesus down to his death. They prefer to admit that “Luke” was incorrect in his description of the “city” (the New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman terms it “a one-dog town”) rather than accept the fact that the Christian-tourist mecca was not inhabited when Jesus and the Holy Family should have been living in it. There is not today—nor for geological reasons could there ever have been—any cliff near the top of the hill now grown over by the modern city. There has never been any Lukan “brow of the hill” from which Jesus could have been launched into orbit.

So what we are left with is an episode that probably never happened in a city that did not exist at the time.  This provides significant evidence that whoever wrote the Book of Luke was playing fast and loose with the facts.

(1287) God and Satan are partners

Christians have been led to believe that Satan (Lucifer) is God’s mortal enemy who is a wicked individual and who will wind up being punished In Hell for eternity once Jesus returns. But, of course, this makes no sense, as an all-powerful god could simply vanquish his enemy with a wave of his hand.

No, Satan is a necessary element of God’s plan.  He is needed to tempt people, so they can be tested for their suitability as future residents of heaven. His demons are needed to further this cause.  Finally, Lucifer is needed to oversee and administer the eternal torture that awaits all non-believers. After all, if God did the torturing, it would ruin his image!

So Satan is really not a bad person. He is simply doing his job as God’s indispensable partner in crime.

(1288) Seeing God

The Bible is full of contradictions when it comes to stating whether or not anyone, other than Jesus, has seen God. The following is taken from:

https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/has-anyone-seen-god-or-not

Has seen

(Gen. 17:1), “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless;

(Gen. 18:1) Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.”

(Exodus 6:2-3), “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.”

(Exodus 24:9-11), “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.”

(Num. 12:6-8), “He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.  I shall speak with him in a dream. “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?”

(Acts 7:2), “And he [Stephen] said, ‘Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran . . . ‘”

Has not seen

(Exodus 33:20), “But He [God] said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”

(John 1:18), “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God andb is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known..”

(John 5:37), “”And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.”

(John 6:46), “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.”

(1 Tim. 6:15-16), “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

Christian apologists have wrapped themselves around the axle trying to explain this away.  The latest and perhaps most used explanation is that Abraham and Moses were seeing God the Son (Jesus) and not God the Father. This absurdity is an example that no contradiction is beyond the focused imagination of a determined believer.

(1289) No contemporary writings of Jesus means no miracles

Christians are usually quick to concede that there are no writings about Jesus that were written while he was still alive and that the gospels were written decades later.  But what is missed in this concession is that, if the gospels are telling the truth and Jesus was performing other-worldly magic tricks, there should have been documents describing these miracles authored by numerous historians located in and around Jerusalem at the time. The following was taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nogodblog/2016/08/gospel-fiction-and-magical-nonsense/

Let us take stock: We now have analyzed the first nine paragraphs of Philip Jenkins’ blog “The Myth of the Mythical Jesus” and have not yet been presented any real evidence to support the historicity or quondam physical reality of Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, we have found the author’s great ability to commit indirectly the ad hominem abusive species fallacy, make unsubstantiated claims, and commit the fallacy so common with religious apologists—trying to explain the unknown by means of the even less known (ignotum per ignotius). Let us now consider Jenkins’ tenth paragraph:

“But you can take Paul entirely out of the story, and still have all the evidence you need. The gospels were not of course written during Jesus’s lifetime, but they use traditions that clearly do provide a direct linkage to a historical individual. The quality of historical sources depends on how directly they can be connected to events, and how plausible the chain of connection. All the canonical sources depict a very plausible Jesus in a very identifiable early first century historical setting. More significant, there are clear and well understood chains of evidence and tradition from Jesus’s time to the writing of those gospels.”

Goodness gracious, where should we begin? We must ask why “of course,” when Jenkins writes “The gospels were not of course written during Jesus’s lifetime…” If Jesus had done any of the magic tricks claimed in them, there would have had to be exactly contemporaneous reports—lots of them. Only if all the miracles of the gospels never happened can this statement have any plausibility at all. Jenkins either should concede that his Jesus was not a wonderworker, or he should give up his argument from the gospels. Bart Ehrman in his Did Jesus Exist? Was able (although not effectively) to use arguments based on the gospels simply because he is an Atheist and admits Jesus wasn’t a god and that the miracles are not historical. Jenkins must either give up Christianity or give up trying to use the gospels as historical documents.

The lack of documents, written by either Roman or Jewish authorities, from the period 28 – 50 CE mentioning anything about Jesus’s miracles lends significant evidence that they did not happen. Whether Jesus existed is still in question, but if he did, it is nearly certain that none of the miracles described in the gospels actually occurred.

(1290) The Testimonium Flavianum

If you ask Christian apologists for extra-Biblical evidence of Jesus, they will normally first offer the writings of Josephus (37-100 CE) in his account Antiquities of the Jews. This work was written in 94 CE and it offers the most complete First Century non-Biblical description of Jesus and his life history (although it would have been 60 years since the events occurred).  However, modern researchers have determined that it is almost certainly an interpolation added by a Christian scribe at a later date.  To see this clearly, below is the text from the subject paragraph.  Notice how Paragraph 2 flows perfectly into Paragraph 4, while Paragraph 3 (the description of Jesus) interrupts the flow of the text:

¶ 2. But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs [25 miles]. However, the Jews were not pleased with what had been done about this water, and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamour against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design. Some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man, as crowds of such people usually do. So he habited a great number of his soldiers in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to t place where they might surround them. So be bade the Jews himself go away; but they boldly casting reproaches upon him he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not, nor did they spare them in the least; and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded; and thus an end was put to this sedition.

 ¶ 3. Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works,—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ [Messiah]; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

¶ 4. About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder; and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome. I will now first take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis, and will then give an account of the Jewish affairs…

This incident reflects two problems with Christianity’s claims of Jesus’s history- first, that once this fraud is exposed, there is no significant remaining First Century non-Biblical testimony of Jesus. Second, it indicates that manipulating ancient texts was potentially a common practice used to uphold the myths surrounding Jesus.

(1291) Characteristics of a true religion

In the discussion below, the expected characteristics of a true religion are listed.  This is of course a subjective analysis, but it contains a reasonable guess at what a faith guided by a supernatural entity might look like.  The following is taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/fe0_practical.htm

It is reasonable to ask what the characteristics of a true religion might be expected to be, and then compare Christianity against those expectations. This is not an unfair thing to do because, like other religions, Christianity purports to possess characteristics that can pertain only to an institution appointed by God. The following list contains some of the characteristics that Christians have claimed for their faith, and that a disinterested observer might reasonably expect the one true religion to possess*:

The tenets, doctrines and practices of the religion should be distinctive and original.

The tenets, doctrines and practices of the religion should be clear and unambiguous.

Doctrines should be free from error.

The religion should be internally consistent.

Doctrines should not be contradictory or lead to absurd or irrational conclusions, nor depend upon irrational arguments.

The religion should be unchanging and not culturally determined.

Access to the religion should be equally available to all people.

The religion should be fair. It should not favour any one group of people or put another at a disadvantage.

Adherents should be united in their divinely inspired belief. In other words they should all believe the same things.

The one true religion might be expected to be noticeably superior to other, false, religions.

It should be possible to distinguish the one true religion from other belief systems.

The religion should be a force for good in the world.

The religion should not be intellectually dishonest.

In the links above, each of these attributes are assessed against the record of Christianity. The end result is that Christianity dismally failed the test. It fails to rise above other religions in a fashion that would suggest that it is a true religion. Rather it contains all of the hallmarks of a man-made belief system.

(1292) Foundational bias leads to logical fallacies

A majority of Christians and other religious people practice an erroneous method of reasoning called foundational bias.  They admit to having a bias towards a certain conclusion before making an argument.  Foundational bias is not based on evidence or logic, but it is instead based upon personal preference and belief. Therefore, foundational bias opens the door to all logical fallacies.

Some examples:

“No one can convince me”

“There’s no way you can prove to me”

“I don’t need any more evidence”

“Keep your facts to yourself’

Anyone with this kind of closed-minded stubbornness can hardly be trusted because this opens the way for all logical fallacies.

A perfect example of demonstrating this double standard with a foundational bias is when we compare “God” to a monster underneath a child’s bed. In Malcom Murray’s amazing book The Atheist Primer he sums this up brilliantly:

The Atheist’s Primer

“Consider the proposition that there is a goblin under the bed. Perhaps your daughter has woken you up in the middle of the night to make such an assertion. How should you appease her? Perhaps you will get down on your hands and knees and look. You report your findings: a stray sock, a book, some dust, but no goblin.

Does this test prove the non-existence of goblins? Not if one of the magical properties of this goblin is the ability to become invisible. Your not seeing an invisible goblin is perfectly compatible with the existence of an invisible goblin. Even your daughter understands this logic.

So, you take out a broom and sweep under the bed. Your broom has not struck anything that you cannot see. Does this prove the non-existence of an invisible goblin? Again, such a test is to no avail if another of the magical features of this goblin is to disappear when faced by nonbelievers. Your not striking a goblin that can magically avoid being struck can hardly count as proof against the existence of such a goblin. You now realize that all such tests will similarly fail. The magic nature of the thing being investigated is such that no definitive test can prove its non-existence.

That we cannot definitively prove the non-existence of the magic goblin under the bed does not stymie us, however. We do not say, “Ah, then I guess it’s reasonable for us to assume the existence of magic goblins.” Nor would we think it reasonable to simply withhold judgement until some definitive proof comes along. Rather, we think it eminently reasonable to believe in the non-existence of goblins, magic or otherwise.”

Murray reveals a terrific point, citing an example of Christian illogical hypocrisy and double standards that reflects on fallacious biases and not evidence, logic, or facts. This shows once again that Christianity is a false religion, because there is no reason to believe that the invisible, silent, intangible, non-interactive god of the Christian religion actually exists.

(1293) Christians of various centuries wouldn’t recognize each other

Christianity is an old religion, with a murky but increasingly transparent history. It is in this examination of the way the faith evolved that gives credence to its non-deistic origins. The following is taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/fe0_practical.htm#constancy

It is difficult, if not impossible, to trace doctrines and practices back to the early Christian times. The overwhelming majority are later accretions, and if we knew a little more about the first century we might be able to affirm that all of them are accretions.

Christians occasionally claim that their religion is the same as that practised by their predecessors for almost 2,000 years. If it were divinely inspired then we should not be surprised to find it to be so. A cursory review of the history of Christianity reveals however that this claim cannot be supported. If it were possible to assemble five typical Christians from the years AD 50, 500, 1000, 1500, and 2000, it is doubtful whether any one of them would acknowledge another as a fellow Christian. Over that time the religion has changed so much that to each of them, the faith of the other four would seem absurd, unchristian, heretical or blasphemous.

One more ‘Christian’ that could be added to the list is Jesus, although he was never a Christian, but an observant Jew.  So what of the Christians of the Year 2500- what would we expect? Well, for sure by then creationism and the whole story of Genesis will be discarded.  All remnants of Hell and evil spirits, demons, and Satan himself will be gone.  So what will be left?- probably just a number of hand-picked feel-good statements by Jesus from the gospels.  The Christians of that day will certainly not recognize the Christians of today.

(1294) God loves the smell of burning flesh

One of ways we know that Christianity is a false religion is to examine the ancient Jewish religion upon which it is based. And one of the ways to demonstrate that the Jewish religion is false is to illuminate some of the primitive qualities of that faith.  And one of the best examples of this is the ritualistic sacrifice of animals and specifically the concept that this barbaric act produces an aroma that is pleasing to the Lord.  In fact, there are 36 biblical references to God’s penchant for smelling burning flesh or in some cases an offering of grains, all the way from Genesis to Numbers (each one is listed in the URL below).  Here is one example:

Leviticus 4:27-31

“ ‘If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect.  They are to lay their hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering. Then the priest is to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. They shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. In this way the priest will make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven.

The idea that God can smell the smoke indicates a belief that God is somehow located just above in the clouds. It is this window into the primitive knowledge of these people that we know that this nonsense has nothing to do with a supernatural deity. The following is taken from:

https://rarebible.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/god-loves-the-aroma-of-burning-animals-and-grain/

Imagine for a minute that the above passages were in the Koran and not in the Bible.  I would criticize these verses as examples of primitive and barbaric practices. Animal sacrifice is something we would never practice at the Baptist churches in Texas.

Imagine that someone were to knock on your door and tell you that the way to please God was to follow the above verses. You would probably think they were members of some cult or a member of a primitive society in some distant country. They certainly could not be American Christians!

However, all the above verses are in the Bible. They were rarely read or discussed in any of my Sunday school classes. Occasionally it was mentioned that Jesus was the replacement for such sacrifices, but most of the time ancient Israel was presented as the most advanced civilization of its time with the greatest buildings (wrong), greatest knowledge (wrong) and greatest of everything until they lost it all by failing to follow God. However, these verses show how primitive the ancient Jewish religion was.

The Old Testament did not start out as a perfect book written by or about a perfect God. It was a product of its time. Thousands of years ago, many civilizations practiced animal sacrifice. The Old Testament reflects the practices of many religions of the time in which it was written. We would call many of the religions that advocated animal sacrifice as “primitive.”  Primitive religions offered sacrifices to their gods in order to prevent natural catastrophes, such as the eruption of a volcano. The sacrifices mentioned in the Old Testament are just as primitive.

An all-perfect God would not find the “aroma” of burning animals and grain “pleasing.” However, the central concepts of Judaism and Christianity are dependent on these verses.

You cannot be a Christian unless you believe that the god you worship is a barbaric tyrant who relishes the torture and burning of animals and that he enjoys the smell of burning flesh.  If you try to jettison these verses and pretend they are apocryphal, then you have just undercut the only foundation upon which your faith rests. Christians must own the idea that God enjoys a smell that would be repugnant to civilized people.

(1295) Jesus the megalomaniac

Christians are not only in the uncomfortable position of worshiping a god who is morally inferior to themselves, but they also are expected to revere a savior who is decidedly egotistical, and to such extent that it would be considered a negative personality trait in anyone else.  Both of these disconnects require  pre-conditioning of their minds to overlook the obvious. The following was taken from:

https://kpharri.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/jesus-the-megalomaniac/

Imagine walking through a shopping mall and overhearing a young man say the following things:

“I am the Messiah.”

“I am the Son of Man.”

“You are of this world; I am not of this world.”

“My sheep listen to my voice, and I give them eternal life.”

“All authority in heaven and on earth is mine.”

“You must love me more than anyone else, even your own family.”

What would you think of such a person? Humble, modest, and unpretentious? Or egotistical with delusions of grandeur?

I’d personally go with the latter.

The above examples are, of course, things that Jesus is alleged to have said*. Should we then regard Jesus as a megalomaniac, or is it possible to think of him as humble and modest?

If there was evidence that Jesus’ words were true, i.e. that Jesus was, in fact, the son of God and the savior of all mankind, then we would certainly be obliged to cut him some slack. It’s always good to tell the truth, even if it puts you at risk of sounding egotistical. If you’re the son of God, you’re the son of God.

The problem is that there is no independent evidence that Jesus’ claims are true. We have only the claims themselves. So, Christianity has managed a sort of bootstrapping exercise.  It starts with the development of a culture of respect and admiration for Jesus. Then, when new Christians hear Jesus’ claims for the first time, their senses have already been dulled to the egotistical nature of those claims, and instead they see a humble man telling it like it is. However, the very culture of respect and admiration that primed this attitude is itself based on nothing more than the original biblical claims.

This, to me, is a fascinating aspect of religious culture: it changes people’s attitudes so profoundly that they will happily embrace a personality which, if it were taken out of the religious context, would be summarily condemned – by the exact same people – as egotistical and delusional.

And religion is not the only area in which this sort of brainwashing happens. Tyrants and dictators have taken advantage of their subjects in this way since time immemorial.  A recent example is the now departed Kim Jong Il, who instilled a cult-like atmosphere of reverence toward himself, the “Dear Leader”. It’s interesting that many Christians here in the U.S. decry such manipulation, yet they fail to see it in their own religion. Jesus is just telling it like it is, right?

So, the question that should be asked is this: If Jesus was who he claimed to be and was more or less a true representation of Christian doctrine, was there a way he could have delivered his message without sounding so egotistical?  We have many human examples of how a superior being acts humbly, such as Gandhi, Mandela, and Abe Lincoln.  Jesus could have delivered his message of redemption without reference to his superiority, and it is evidence, whether he was real or not, that his biographers went overboard in selling his divine status.

(1296) Jesus sinned

Christian doctrine is fairly uniform in its claim that Jesus led a sin-free life and that this fact is consequential in validating his sacrifice on the cross as a propitiation of the sins of his followers. In other words, Jesus did not die for his own sins.  Scripture is a bit vague on Jesus’s pristine sin scorecard but there are a few places where it is made somewhat clear:

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:21-22

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

1 John 3:4-5

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.

The problem with this is that the gospels clearly show times where Jesus did sin.  Here are some examples:

  • Jesus at 12 separating from his parents and being absent from them for 3 days (Luke 2:41-50)
  • Condoning the breaking of Sabbath Law ( Mark 2:23-28)
  • Jesus killed a fig tree that was probably somebody else’s property, depriving others of its fruit, and for no reason other than it was not producing fruit out of season. (Mark 11:12-14)
  • Jesus overturned money-changer tables in the temple grounds. This was a legal and necessary process for Jews to purchase animals for sacrifice because they had to exchange Roman for Hebrew currency to make the purchases. What Jesus did was clearly illegal and uncalled for. (Mark 11:15-17)
  • Jesus calls men fools (Matthew 23:16-17) after explaining that anyone who calls a person a fool is in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:22)
  • Jesus presented himself for baptism, a rite to cleanse a person of sin. (Matthew 3:13-17)
  • Jesus forbids a man to bury his father (Matthew 8:21-22)
  • Jesus lies saying he will not go to the Festival of Tabernacles, but goes anyway (John 7:1-24)
  • Jesus lies saying that some people standing before him will not taste death until they see him coming in his kingdom (Matthew 16:28)

So it seems the Bible is not consistent on Jesus’s sin-free credentials.  But taking only what was written by his heavily biased biographers, it is easy to conclude that if Jesus was a real person, he also sinned like a regular man, and this has consequences for both his alleged divinity and the legitimacy of his sacrifice on the cross.

(1297) The battlefield effect

There is a built-in bias that masks the futility and ineffectiveness of prayer. Yet, this bias often escapes the notice of most Christians, who, when it comes to their faith, often fail to reason on anything more than a superficial level. The following is taken from:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/god10.htm

The “battlefield effect” is one reason why so many people believe in the power of prayer. By understanding how it works, you can understand a great deal about how prayer works.

Let’s say that a general sends 10,000 soldiers into a fierce battle. Although the general does not know it at the time, the 10,000 men end up marching into an ambush. The enemy has 30,000 troops, artillery support plus close air support and is able to decimate the 10,000 soldiers in short order. Once the enemy is finished, they leave 100 survivors out of the original 10,000 to limp and crawl back to base.

You may have heard that there are no atheists in foxholes. Before they died, we can assume that every single one of the 10,000 soldiers who marched into the ambush prayed fervently and deeply for God to spare his life. Despite those prayers, the enemy proceeded to attack with deadly force. 9,900 of those who prayed wasted their breath — they died.

The 100 who return from the battle, however, feel as though their prayers were answered. They have been through a horrific firefight, and they are deeply grateful to have escaped with their lives. At the time they prayed, they were absolutely and totally terrified and desperate. To have survived seems like a miracle.

The 100 survivors fan out with their personal stories of answered prayers. They tell their soldier buddies how they prayed for their lives and their prayers were answered. When they arrive home they tell their families and friends about their harrowing experiences on the battlefield and how nothing but their prayers saved them. They give testimonials at church, give speeches in the community, write articles for magazines, etc. Millions of people are exposed to the positive, powerful, personal testimonials of the 100 survivors.

This is great advertising for prayer. And it works. People hear the stories of the survivors and they believe. The real power of this approach, however, comes from the fact that the 9,900 dead soldiers never get to tell their side of the story. Ninety nine percent of the soldiers died, and only one percent survived. Far more men prayed and died, but they never get to tell anyone about their disappointment.

So the 100 personal testimonials FOR prayer are strong, loud, frequent and compelling. Meanwhile the 9,900 personal testimonials AGAINST prayer are silent, because the dead soldiers never get a chance to speak. Therefore, to a casual observer, it appears that prayer works. Every story that you hear is positive. The reality is that 99% of the praying people died.

It is precisely this effect that has created an artificial and completely erroneous perception that prayer works. It has certainly fueled a lot of undeserved confidence in the existence of a supernatural being who has concern for humans.

(1298) The fallacy of crediting the number of manuscripts

Christian apologists often cite the large number of extant manuscripts of the gospels and other biblical books as evidence of the Bible’s authenticity.  However, as Richard Carrier discusses below, the amount of copying that was done does not make the base copy any more authentic.  The argument is so bad that it actually turns out to be an argument better suited for a skeptic. The following was taken from:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11209

So when Christian apologists make hay out of the big number of Bible manuscripts, they are pulling wool over your eyes (and the eyes of their congregations, and possibly even themselves). That number is meaningless. It has nothing to do with the reliability of transmission or the reliability of the surviving texts. Similarly, all the manuscripts we have of Josephus all derive from the single manuscript used by Eusebius around 300 A.D. at the Library of Caesarea, a library he curated. Thus, two hundred years of manuscript variants for Josephus are lost to us. And no amount of citing how many manuscripts we have can get us passed that choking singularity. All those manuscripts of Josephus that we have, can only help us reconstruct what was in the one single manuscript of Eusebius in 300 A.D. (and often, not even that, as many readings remain obscure or undecidable among the variants known, just as is the case with the NT).

Likewise, no count of NT manuscripts can get us passed the choking singularity of the Anti-Marcionite Edition of about 150 A.D., and all its transmission errors and political and doctrinal choices, changes, and idiosyncrasies. All those manuscripts we do have, can only help us reconstruct that single manuscript. A manuscript dating one to two whole lifetimes after the books in it were written. A manuscript assembled and edited by persons with a definite propagandistic agenda, and no professional or scientific concern to ascertain its textual accuracy. And, like for Josephus, in many cases we don’t even have that. For there remain countless instances in the NT where we do not know which variants known to us actually appeared in that edition. And in some cases, it’s statistically possible,none of the variants extant today is what was originally in it. And yet what was in it, is just what was in it. What was in the original versions of the books it assembled, we literally cannot know. At most we can bank on the probability that massive changes might have been unsuccessful; but countless small ones would have; and we know for a fact they were—as in the case of the Christian edition of the OT, the Christians kept insisting it had passages in it that Jewish versions didn’t (see OHJ, pp. 90-92), which of course they blamed (implausibly) on the Jews changing their versions. Because everyone’s edition was, when their own, “obviously” the unsullied original.

So those big numbers? Useless. Meaningless. Showy fantastical blather.

And so also goes into the bin the claim that the Christians carefully and meticulously and reverently preserved even that edition. They doctored and meddled with it repeatedly. And did so more blatantly and recklessly in its first hundred years of publication, as in that period they didn’t even employ professionals to oversee the accuracy of its reproduction. Such professional care only entered the scene in the 4th century. And even then errors and alterations remained common.

Like I said when someone at the Holding debate asked me why I don’t distrust secular manuscripts, like the Annalsof Tacitus, for the same reasons I distrust the Bible: the Annals are also lousy with transmission errors and possible interpolations and deletions. “If the Annals of Tacitus were instructions for building a rocket, I would not get on that rocket.” I wouldn’t base my life on it. It would be foolish to. I trust it to a certain probability, because as an ancient historian I don’t need to be certain of anything I reconstruct about ancient history, I can be fine with balances of probability; I’m comfortable with ambiguity. But for a worldview instruction manual, on which you will gamble your entire life, and govern your entire conduct, and use as an overriding rule over all your opinions, the Bible would only be trusted in such a capacity by a fool. Because it would be foolish to trust even Tacitus in that capacity. And the Bible is far worse. The Annals of Tacitus were not transmitted for a century and a half by unprofessional amateurs before benefiting from professional publishing controls. And the Annals of Tacitus were not edited and transmitted for hundreds and hundreds of years by persons obsessed with altering it to suit their ever-changing fanatical, political, and doctrinal needs. And above all, the one edited variant of the Annals of Tacitus that we get any chance of seeing was not chosen two lifetimes after Tacitus by a single person or cabal obsessed with using it to win a political propaganda war with the convenience of its contents.

So here we are. Three things you should know about the New Testament manuscripts…their number is useless, they all come from the same late and flawed edition, and they are more riddled with error and distortion than the most competently transmitted of secular texts would have been. And that is the very worst kind of book to base your life on. Even besides all the stupid and shitty things it says.

To any thinking person, there is no way that a god would transmit a message to mankind in the slipshod way that the Bible came to be.  A human-centered enterprise, on the other hand, would be expected to exhibit these characteristics.

(1299) Christians reject science, but hypocritically use its benefits

Christianity has had a 20-century tussle with science, always suspicious, often outright hostile, and sometimes homicidal to its chief promoters. And yet, Christians have no issue with using the life-enhancing benefits that science has provided.  It is entertaining to see a person who denies evolution using gene therapy to cure their condition. It was the study of evolution that led to our understanding of how genes control our bodies and mutate over time. The following is taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2011/09/14-problems-with-christianity-part-ii.html

It’s no secret that Christians love to have their cake and eat it, and this is as true with science as it is anything else.

As a Christian, you are taught to largely disregard science and progress as it comes from the minds of fallen and sinful men. Instead, the bible which is seen as “god’s word” is held up as the only truth. Thus, when scientific discoveries contradict biblical myths, the Christian is expected to ignore the scientific view in place of stories they themselves would consider mythical if espoused by other faiths. At the same time, Christians are quite happy to reap the benefits of scientific discovery when it suits them. It’s genuinely comical to see Christians using the internet, a product of science and technology, to try and undermine the importance of science. Christians also own computers, drive cars, visit the doctor, use mobile phones and then turn around and say that science and progress is wicked and that man’s wisdom is “foolish”.

Interestingly, many Christians also refuse to acknowledge psychotherapy for mental problems, seeing it as a satanic endeavor. Instead, they prefer to rely on prayer and superstition (as outlined in Problem 8), which only serves as a placebo at best and at worst, exacerbates such issues. Some particularly radical believers even choose not to go to the doctor for physical ailments. As a result, these unfortunately deluded people miss out on the benefits of both modern medicine and psychotherapy, but will pray futilely for healing whilst the people they care about suffer and die needlessly.

Since its inception, Christianity has fought tooth and nail against scientific progress of any kind. Historically, the likes of Galileo and Hypatia were targeted by the church for having the bare faced temerity to learn about the natural world and teach others. Christians also block scientific advancements that don’t conform to their literalist interpretations of scripture and attack proponents of science whilst at the same time claiming to be persecuted. The level of hypocrisy and self-deceit amongst believers who take this view is truly astounding.

The biggest problem with Christianity’s never ending crusade against science is that it invariably slows down progress (as with the Dark Ages). Contrary to what believers like to think, science does not set out to disprove Christianity intentionally. It simply seeks to find out more about the natural world, and oftentimes ends up treading on the toes of Christian dogma which, already certain of its rightness, does not even give scientific discovery any due consideration (one only has to look at the age old controversy surrounding evolution to see that). By some measure of hypocrisy, Christians insist that unbelievers explore their faith with an open mind, but do not extend the very science that enriches their own lives the same courtesy.

It should be obvious that any religion that is forced by its own dogma to distance itself from scientific progress must not be a true reflection of its claims. That is, science over time would tend to confirm the doctrines of a true faith. And the followers of Christianity who use all of the advancements of science while blithely disagreeing with core scientific theories are first-class hypocrites.

(1300) Epistemic distance argument fails

Many Christian apologists claim that God must allow evil to occur because if he intervened in any demonstrable way, it would eliminate the free will of persons to either believe or reject his existence, and that this somehow is important to God. This concept is termed ‘epistemic distance’ and it’s often used to attempt to explain why God seems so…. non-existent.  But the argument fails any objective analysis. The following is taken from:

http://www.provingthenegative.com/2008/02/is-he-keeping-his-distance-or-is-he.html

There is a response to arguments from evil to the effect that God does not do more to prevent evil because if he were to do so, this would make his existence too obvious to us. God therefore intervenes in the world only cautiously, in ways that could be seen as having purely natural causes. In this way, God maintains an “epistemic distance” from us, that is necessary if we are to come to love and worship him freely, and if we are to take charge of our own lives rather than becoming dependent on God to do everything for us. There are numerous problems with this “epistemic distance” strategy. Here are just three of them.

First, the view seems to presuppose that one cannot freely love and worship God if one knows with certainty or near certainty that God exists. There is no good reason to accept this, however. I am certainly capable of love for all sorts of people of whose existence I am quite certain. Nor does it seem that I would be less likely to worship a God whose existence is in doubt than a God whose existence is certain. In fact, it seems quite the other way around.

Furthermore, if we are to believe the accounts of holy books like the Bible, people like Moses, and Jesus’ disciples had far better evidence of God’s existence than we do, but that did not prevent them from loving and worshiping God. Even Lucifer is represented as rebelling against God in spite of what we must presume to have been great certainty of God’s existence.

Second, many theists maintain that it is possible to prove God’s existence beyond reasonable doubt. Cosmological, Ontological, Teleological, and other sorts of arguments have been proposed as compelling assent from all but those blinded by sin or irrationality. But if it is possible to prove God’s existence, then epistemic distance would be destroyed.

Third, it seems that certainty regarding God’s existence is compatible with taking charge of one’s own destiny at least insofar as that is possible. Suppose God wants me to gather my own food rather than wait for God to provide me with everything. It might be argued that God would be justified in allowing me to starve to death if I fail to gather my own food. But God is omnipotent. It seems he could also easily enough cause in me powerfully unpleasant sensations of hunger which would motivate me to gather food and would cause powerfully pleasant sensations resulting from eating. These would, it seems, be enough to motivate me to act on my own. There would be no further need for me to die as additional deterrent.

The notion that God must maintain epistemic distance from us for us to have meaningful freedom is unsustainable, and thus cannot plausibly figure in responses to arguments from evil.

A god that cannot be seen or heard is just short of a god that does not exist, and all attempts fail to explain why a god that has such a dramatic scriptural presence would now be so hidden.  And apologists need to come up with a better argument for why god allows so much evil- ‘epistemic distance’ is dead on arrival.

(1301) Miscarriages should not exist in a Christian world

The joining of a human egg to a sperm is sacrosanct to most Christians, who believe that these events are under the control of God.  They generally consider the fertilized egg to be a person deserving of all rights commonly afforded to ‘out of the womb’ humans. For this reason, they usually oppose a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.

Unfortunately, the god they worship does not feel the same way.  Otherwise, there would never be a miscarriage. If God is as Christians claim, all-knowing and all-powerful, then he has complete control over whether a sexual act results in fertilization.  Once he permits it to happen and observes the fertilized egg cell, then it is within his alleged capability to see that the egg gets implanted correctly in the uterus and obtains sufficient support to thrive in the womb. But we know that 60-80% of fertilized eggs are flushed out and never implant in the uterus, and of the ones that do, about half end in failed pregnancies (miscarriages). These figures, though, are not critical to this argument, because if God is who Christians believe, and God has the same morality as most Christians, then every fertilized egg should eventually result in a live birth.

So it seems God does not see conception as the beginning of life, and evidently he pretty much stays out of the reproduction process all together.

(1302) Hell is impossible

The typical stereotypical Christian view of hell is a place where people who have not accepted Christ are sent for eternity to suffer from some sort of punishment. Although modern Christians cringe at the idea that people in hell suffer from pain and torture, the scriptures strongly suggest that Jesus believed this to be the case:

Matthew 13:47-50

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Being placed in a furnace and gnashing teeth definitely implies that physical pain is a part of the hell experience, but, of course, what did Jesus know?  At the time these scriptures were written, people had no idea what causes pain in the first place.  It was thought that a person’s immaterial soul that presumably is sent to hell has the capability to feel pain.

Now we know this to be untrue and that pain can only be felt by the physical structure of a nervous system.  The best proof that the soul cannot feel pain is people afflicted with a condition called congential insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis (CIPA):

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/congenital-insensitivity-to-pain-with-anhidrosis

Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis (CIPA) has two characteristic features: the inability to feel pain and temperature, and decreased or absent sweating (anhidrosis). This condition is also known as hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type IV. The signs and symptoms of CIPA appear early, usually at birth or during infancy, but with careful medical attention, affected individuals can live into adulthood.

An inability to feel pain and temperature often leads to repeated severe injuries. Unintentional self-injury is common in people with CIPA, typically by biting the tongue, lips, or fingers, which may lead to spontaneous amputation of the affected area. In addition, people with CIPA heal slowly from skin and bone injuries. Repeated trauma can lead to chronic bone infections (osteomyelitis) or a condition called Charcot joints, in which the bones and tissue surrounding joints are destroyed.

This video explains this argument in greater detail:

Those with CIPA have souls, according to Christians, but these souls are not capable of feeling pain. This leaves Jesus’s threat in jeopardy- how can hell’s furnace cause gnashing of teeth if there is no sensation of pain? This appears to leave only one way for Christians to defend their scare tactics- God must reconstruct a new physical body for hell-bound apostates, JUST SO THEY CAN EXPERIENCE PAIN. Can such a god have anything to say about Hitler?

(1303) Wishing replaces reason

There is a phenomenon where the brain malfunctions and the perception of reality is replaced with a vision of what is hoped or wished for.  This applies particularly prevalently in the area of religion. Christianity, in particular, promises a reward so spectacular, living forever in a pleasant setting, that it is difficult for those brought up in it ever to let it go completely.  A suppressed understanding of its absurdity is replaced with an expressed fantasy of its reality.  The following is a paraphrased quote from Aron Ra:

“If I were confronted with evidence that my beliefs were wrong, I would change my mind. Not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I would have no choice. I cannot believe something I know to be false.

But for certain people believing means something else entirely. It means wishing things into existence. It means that wanting something to be true overrides all other factors, including sense and honesty.”

This is why there are creationists. These people just do not care about what is true, about evidence or reason. They only care about what they want to believe. They live in some sort of magical world where wishing is reality.

But facts are not facultative and reality is not up for opinion. Creationism is false. No-one can look at the evidence, be a creationist and be an honest person. It is either creationism or honesty.”

The human mind tends to filter any information that conflicts with what is desired, so although there is ample evidence to disprove creationism, it is still believed by a significant portion of the population. The same is true of Christianity. The counter evidence is compelling, but the misfiring of the brain keeps people from seeing what is right before their eyes.

(1304) Christianity lacks a convergence point

If we look at science, we see that over time many competing hypotheses eventually get whittled down to just one- the correct one.  And this process is independent of any regional influences or pre-conceived ideas that scientists may hold at the outset of a campaign of inquiry.  Scientists all over the world eventually settle on the correct answer- whether it is the size of the Milky Way galaxy, the age of the earth, the structure of DNA, or the cause of AIDS.  That is, for each of these topics, there is a point of convergence that is defined by the fundamental reality of the world.

On the other hand, religion, and for this argument Christianity, has failed to display a point of convergence.  It would be expected that if Christianity is true, there would be only one set of beliefs that would express this truth.  Over time, the Holy Spirit would collimate the thinking of all Christians to the correct doctrines. Even if there was some confusion at the start, particularly because of insufficient historical documentation, given twenty centuries of time, the thoughts and beliefs of all Christians would converge around the core truths.  This has not happened, as there are now almost 40,000 Christian denominations, all of which have at least subtle, and sometimes major, disagreements on what constitutes the true dogma.

This point can be expanded to include all of the religions in the world.  Yes, there has been some convergence defined by the deaths of many pagan religions, but this winnowing has yet to expose a convergence point centered around the ‘one true religion.’   The implication of this reality is that there must not exist ‘one true religion’ and that every religion created so far must be a human-constructed system of belief.

(1305) Characteristics of a mythological religion

There are certain aspects of mythology that, when observed, can advise an objective person to steer clear of believing or following a fictitious faith. Most people use these common sense observations to conclude that ‘other’ religions are false, but almost always fail to see the same things in their own faith. The following was taken from:

https://thewisesloth.com/2016/05/31/the-mythology-test/

A myth is a story told by a specific culture that explains nature, history and customs. Myths tend to be ethnocentric and scientifically inaccurate. Mythology is the collected myths of a culture. If you can find examples of at least half the items on this list in a religious book, then that book fits the definition of mythology.

Are there credible first hand sources that can verify the authenticity of the events described in the book?

Does it have a scientifically inaccurate creation story?

Does it have any other scientifically or historically inaccurate events or statements?

Does it give supernatural explanations for natural phenomenon?

Does it say supernatural phenomenon exist which have never been recorded by scientific instruments?

Does it contain talking animals?

Does it contain numerology?

Does it advocate or condone animal or human sacrifices?

Does it contain multiple Gods?

Does it have a hero who saves the world?

Does it contain a demigod hero who was born from a virgin?

Does God or other supernatural beings have human or animal body parts?

Does God or other supernatural beings possess tools used by the author’s culture?

Does God or other supernatural beings behave like a member of the author’s culture?

Does God or other supernatural beings have names similar to those used in the author’s culture?

Is the author’s civilization the most important group of people in the world to God?

Do the lessons and rules in the book reflect the values of the author’s culture?

Does it command you to believe and hold onto the teachings in the book?

Does it include permission or commandments to kill certain people?

Does it include permission or commandments to take other people’s land and property?

Does it condone slavery?

Does it have rules regarding property rights, prices and taxes?

Does it contain rules or statements that make women second class citizens?

Does it say government should be a theocracy?

Does it give political power to religious leaders?

Does it tell you to give money to God’s spokesmen?

Christianity exhibits all of these traits, indicating rather forcefully that it is mythological.  Curiously, though, this is not apparent to most Christians, but to those who once embraced but have now exited the faith, this assessment is emphatically obvious.

(1306)  There should be no major false religions

This point has been made previously, based on the fact that a true religion would be infinitely more effective than false ones, such that over time the false religions would wither and die.  But, to take this argument to another level, a real god would not permit false religions to thrive in the first place.

This implies, for example, that if Christianity is the true faith, then Islam should not exist in any significant sense.  God is supposedly not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), and therefore he would intervene as necessary to prevent the rise of Islam.  If God is omnipotent, it would be an easy task for him to ensure that Christianity was the only major religion in the world.  Considering the crucial implications of one’s focus of worship, this would simply be a common courtesy to the human race- to make it clear to everyone which faith was true and not to confuse the situation.

The existence and long-term growth of Islam and other major religions hints at the strong probability that Christianity is not a true faith; or if it is, that God is purposely allowing billions of people to be deceived by false human-created belief systems. As a corollary, the existence of multiple major religions implies that none of them are true.

(1307) Defining the nature of god by the effectiveness of prayer

Christians generally conclude that their god is all-powerful and essentially in control of everything that happens.  If this is true, then God has no compunction about the presence of evil and human suffering.  After all he would be able to prevent such things.  This god is innately evil or at best indifferent, and a god as such would not change his plan in response to a personal prayer.

On the other hand, if we take the minority opinion that the Christian god is somewhat limited (as a way to portray him as benevolent and also to explain the existence of evil), then it must be conceded that this god is unable to control human fate, rendering any prayers ineffectual as well.

But is there a type of god that would answer prayers? This is the third option- that God is all-powerful but has chosen to let earthly events proceed on a probabilistic basis, kind of like a person observing an ant farm and just letting the ants do their thing without interfering. This god MIGHT be amenable to answering a prayer because he would want to reward the exercise of faith. (If you could hear an ant pleading for his friend to be saved from drowning, you might reach into the tank to do so).  This is the only description of God that would result in prayers being answered.

However, by any objective measure, prayers are consistently ineffective:

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/12082681/ns/health-heart_health/t/power-prayer-flunks-unusual-test/#.V_LjDfBn3IU

This eliminates option 3 and leaves us either with a god that is all-powerful and evil or one that is limited and unable to control what happens. Neither of these options comport to the conventional doctrines of Christianity, leading to the conclusion that the Christian god probably does not exist.

(1308) The evolution of belief in the afterlife

The Bible does not present a consistent doctrine concerning the existence of an afterlife. In fact, it seems as though the idea of an afterlife evolved over time.  The early part of the Old Testament does not discuss the afterlife, in fact it is fairly clear that death is final:

Genesis 3:19

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Psalm 104:29

When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.

Ecclesiastes 3:19-21

Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

Ecclesiastes 9:5

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.

Isaiah 26:14

They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them.

When we get to the Book of Daniel, there is a hint that SOME (but not all) dead people will be raised and judged:

Daniel 12:2

Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace.

It’s not until the Book of John in the New Testament that it is asserted that ALL dead people will brought back to life and judged for eternity:

John 5:28-29

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

It is highly questionable why God would conceal the amazing reward of an eternal afterlife from his chosen people for thousands of years, only to finally let out the secret when Jesus roams the Earth. It is also suspicious that this idea enters Judeo-Christianity only after the faith is influenced by the pagan beliefs of the Gentiles.

(1309) The shock collar analogy

It is commonly asserted by Christians that the growth of Christianity and the nearly uniform persistence of belief of its adherents is evidence of its truth. But there is another explanation for Christianity’s ‘success’ that renders this argument moot.  It is called ‘conditioning’ by psychologists and it is illustrated by  this excellent example:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/

David, here are my thoughts as someone only 3 years removed from ministry and deconversion. I will use a metaphor. One day as I was on my job, a man was noticing the work I was doing on his neighbor’s property. He wanted me to come over and talk to him which I did. In the course of our conversation I noticed he had this beautiful black lab named, “Bogey.” I tried to get Bogey to come to me but he wouldn’t. His tongue and tail were wagging furiously. He wanted to come to me, but he couldn’t. His owner predictably said, “I have an electric fence,” but followed with this zinger, “But his shock collar is NOT on.”

This was a moment of enlightenment for me. Bogey could have come to me without being physically shocked. But all the time spent with the shock collar on had done its work. His mind didn’t know the difference. The fear, threat, and pain conditioning effectively kept Bogey within the boundaries someone else had set for him. What began as a literal, physical boundary transformed into an imaginary one that was just as confining.

Bogey illustrates myself and many Christians. From the moment of our births, the tight shock collar of Christianity was placed upon us. Tight boundaries were placed all around us with 1000 threats warning us what would happen if we crossed the line. Threats such as be shunned, separated from, disowned, divine chastening in countless forms, being forever labeled an apostate, and of course the omnipresent threat of being “justly” barbecued for 100 trillion years cycle after 100 trillion year cycle in a lake of fire with no food, water, love, or hope. How nice.

The voltage of this collar system was increased every week of our lives through Sunday School, Awana, Youth Group, Revival services, and Sunday morning and evening worship. Many of us went on to attend Christian Bible College where we went to chapel 2-4 times a week and heard devotionals at every event imaginable. All of these sermons contained “applications” which were nothing more than new legislation laced with more threats for disobedience. Over the course of a lifetime, the Christian “conscience” is saddled with hundreds and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of rules and sub-rules all carrying threats of punishment for falling short of perfect obedience. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for the Christian shock collar to become completely central and all-controlling in the minds of those living in its yard.

Even many atheists who are certain that Christianity is false have unspoken fears that they might end up in a painful afterlife situation. It is sometimes impossible to completely erase childhood indoctrination, which is characterized by many enlightened people as ‘child abuse.’ But it is the bread and butter of Christianity- how else could you perpetuate an obviously false belief system?

(1310) Explosion of books criticizing Christianity

Since the turn of the century there has been a quiet revolution in the field of Christian apologetics and scholarship.  There’s been a stunning increase in the number of titles that are exposing the problems and implausibility of the Christian faith. The following website lists these recently published books:

http://www.tentoughproblems.com/the-cure-for-christianity-library/

Abram, Cheryl,

Firing God, 2014

Alcántar, Fernando,

To the Cross and Back: An Immigrant’s Journey from Faith to Reason, 2015

Andrews, Seth,

Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason, 2012

Angier, Natalie,

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, 2008

Antony, Louise, ed.,

Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life, 2010

Arel, Dan,

Parenting Without God: how to raise moral, ethical and intelligent children, free from religious dogma, 2014

Avalos, Hector,

  • The Bad Jesus, 2015
  • Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence, 2005
  • The End of Biblical Studies, 2007
  • Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship, 2013

Baggini, Julian,

Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, 2003

Barbera, Don,

Black and Not Baptist: Nonbelief and Freethought in the Black Community, 2003

Barker, Dan,

  • God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, 2016
  • Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning, 2015
  • Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, 1992 & 2006
  • Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, 2008

Blackford, Russell & Schüklenk, Udo,

  • 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists, 2009
  • 50 Great Myths About Atheism, 2013

Boghossian, Peter,

A Manual for Creating Atheists, 2013

Boyer, Pascal,

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, 2002

Brewster, Melanie, ed.,

Atheists in America, 2014

Bradley, Raymond,

God’s Gravediggers: Why No Deity Exists, 2016

Brodie, Thomas,

Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery, 2012

Carroll, Sean,

  • The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself, 2016
  • The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters, 2016

Carrier, Richard,

  • Hitler Homer Bible Christ: The Historical Papers of Richard Carrier 1995-2013, 2014
  • Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn’t Need a Miracle to Succeed, 2009
  • On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, 2014
  • Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus, 2012
  • Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, 2005
  • Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith, 2011

Christina, Greta,

  • Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, 2014
  • Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, 2014
  • The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life, 2016
  • Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, 2012

Comings, David,

Did Man Create God? Is Your Spiritual Brain at Peace With Your Thinking Brain? 2008

Coyne, Jerry,

Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible, 2015

Cragun, Ryan,

  • What You Don’t Know About Religion (but Should), 2013
  • How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps: A Toolkit for Secular Activists, 2015

Cunningham, George,

Decoding the Language of God: Can a Scientist Really Be a Believer? A Geneticist Responds to Francis Collins, 2009

Daleiden, Joseph,

The Final Superstition: A Critical Evaluation of the Judeo-Christian Legacy, 1994

Daniels, Kenneth,

Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary, 2010

Dawkins, Richard,

  • The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, 2005
  • The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design, 2015
  • The God Delusion, 2008
  • The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, 2009
  • The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, 2012
  • Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, 2000

Dennett, Daniel & LaScola, Linda,

Caught in The Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind, 2013

Dennett, Daniel,

  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, 2007
  • Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life, 1996

DeWitt, Jerry & Brown, Ethan,

Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism, 2013

Doherty, Earl,

  • Jesus: Neither God Nor Man – The Case for a Mythical Jesus, 2009
  • The End of an Illusion: How Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?” Has Laid the Case for an Historical Jesus to Rest, 2012
  • The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus, 1999

Eden, Jason,

That’s Me In the Corner: Coming Out as An Atheist on Facebook, 2014

Edis, Tanner,

  • Science and Nonbelief, 2007
  • The Ghost in the Universe: God in Light of Modern Science, 2002

Ehrman, Bart,

  • Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, 2012
  • God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer, 2009
  • How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, 2015
  • Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, 2001
  • Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior, 2016
  • Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them), 2010
  • Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, 2005
  • Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament, 2005
  • Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, 2007
  • The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, 2011

Eller, David,

  • Natural Atheism, 2004
  • Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Freethinker, 2008

Epstein, Greg,

Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, 2010

Ferris, Timothy,

Coming of Age in the Milky Way, 1988

Finklestein, Israel & Silberman, Neil Asher,

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, 2002

Fitzgerald, David,

  • Jesus: Mything in Action, 2016
  • Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All, 2010
  • The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion Book One: The Mormons, 2014

Fox, Robin Lane,

The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, 1992

Fredriksen, Paula,

From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, 2000

Gilgamesh, Horus,

  • Awkward Moments Children’s Bible, Vol. 1, 2013
  • Awkward Moments (Not Found In Your Average) Children’s Bible – Vol. 2: Don’t blame us – it’s in the Bible! 2014

Gill, Tyson,

Belief in Science and the Science of Belief, 2010

Gorham, Candace A.M.,

The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion—and Others Should Too, 2014

Grant, Michael,

Saint Paul, 2000

Grayling, A.C.,

  • The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism, 2014
  • The Good Book: A Humanist Bible, 2013

Guigneberg, Charles,

Jesus, 1935

Hafer, Abby,

The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not, 2015

Hallquist, Chris,

UFOs, Ghosts, and a Rising God: Debunking the Resurrection of Jesus, 2009

Harbour, Daniel,

An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Atheism, 2001

Harwood, William,

Mythology’s Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus, 1992

Sam Harris,

  • Free Will, 2012
  • Letter to a Christian Nation, 2008
  • The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason, 2005
  • The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, 2011

Harrison, Guy,

  • 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, 2008
  • 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian, 2013
  • Think: Why You Should Question Everything, 2013

Harvie, Robin. & Meyers, Stephanie, eds.,

The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, 2010

Hawking, Stephen & Mladinow, Leonard,

The Grand Design, 2012

Hecht, Jennifer Michael,

Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson, 2004

Helms, Randel,

  • Gospel Fictions, 1988
  • The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict Itself, 2006

Hitchens, Christopher,

  • God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007
  • The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, 2007

Hunsberger, Bruce & Altemeyer, Bob,

Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study of America’s Nonbelievers, 2006

Hyppolite, Carolyn,

Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born Again Atheist, 2014

Jacoby, Susan,

  • Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, 2004
  • Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion, 2016
  • The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought, 2014
  • The Age of American Unreason, 2009

James, Craig,

The Religion Virus: Why We Believe in God, 2010

Jenkins, Philip,

Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years, 2011

Jillette, Penn,

God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, 2012

Johnson, Chris,

A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God, 2014

Joshi, S. T.,

  • God’s Defenders: What They Believe and Why They Are Wrong, 2003
  • The Original Atheists: First Thoughts on Nonbelief, 2014
  • The Unbelievers: The Evolution of Modern Atheism, 2011

Kelly, Joshua,

Oh, Your God!: The Evil Idea That Is Religion, 2016

Kennedy, Ludovic,

All In the Mind: A Farewell to God, 1999

Kick, Russ, ed.,

Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion, 2007

Klein, George,

The Atheist and the Holy City: Encounters and Reflections, 1990

Komarnitsky, Kris,

Doubting Jesus’ Resurrection: What Happened in th Black Box? 2009

Krauss, Lawrence,

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing, 2013

Lalli, Nica,

Nothing: Something to Believe In, 2007

Lataster, Raphael,

  • Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists, 2015
  • There was no Jesus, there is no God: A Scholarly Examination of the Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical Evidence & Arguments for Monotheism, 2013

Law, Stephen,

Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole, 2011

Lehto, Bill, ed.,

Atheist Voices of Minnesota: an Anthology of Personal Stories, 2012

Le Poidevin, Robin,

Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 1996

Lindsay, James,

  • Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly, 2013
  • Everybody Is Wrong About God, 2015

Lindsay, Ronald,

The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do, 2014

Lobdell, William,
Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace, 2009

Loftus, John,

  • Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails, 2014
  • Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion, 2016
  • The End of Christianity, 2011
  • The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, 2010
  • The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True, 2013
  • Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End, 2016
  • Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, 2008
  • Why I became an Atheist: Personal Reflections and Additional Arguments, 2008

Long, Jason,

  • Biblical Nonsense: A Review of the Bible for Doubting Christians, 2005
  • The Religious Condition: Answering and Explaining Christian Reasoning, 2008

Maccoby, Hyam,

The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, 1998

Mack, Burton,

  • The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy, 2003
  • Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth, 1996

Madison, David, 

10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, 2016

Maisel, Eric,

The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods, 2009

Mark, Jeffrey,

Christian No More: On Leaving Christianity, Debunking Christianity, And Embracing Atheism And Freethinking, 2008

Martin, Michael,

  • Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, 1992
  • Atheism, Morality, and Meaning, 2003
  • The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy), 2006
  • The Case Against Christianity, 1991

Martin, Michael & Monnier, Ricki, eds.,

  • The Impossibility of God, 2003

Matheson, Chris,

The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate), 2015

McAfee, David,

  • Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings, 2011
  • Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer, 2012

McCormick, Matthew,

Atheism and the Case Against Christ, 2012

McGowan, Dale,

Atheism for Dummies, 2013

McGowan, Dale, ed.,

Voices of Unbelief: Documents from Atheists and Agnostics, 2012

McGowan, Dale; Matsumura, Molleen; Metskas, Amada; Devor, Jan,

Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, 2009

Mencken, H. L.,

Treatise on the Gods, 1932

Mehta, Hemant,

  • I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith Through an Atheist’s Eyes, 2007
  • The Friendly Atheist: Thoughts on the Role of Religion in Politics and Media, 2013
  • The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide: Helping Secular Students Thrive, 2012

Mills, David,

Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism, 2006

Mitchell, Deborah,

Growing Up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Without Religion, 2014

Molyneux, Stefan,

Against the Gods? A Concise Guide to Atheism and Agnosticism, 2011

Murphy, Derek,

Jesus Potter Harry Christ: The Fascinating Parallels Between Two of the World’s Most Popular Literary Characters, 2011

Musolino, Julien,

The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain from Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs, 2015

Navabi, Armin,

Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God, 2014

Niose, David,

  • Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason, 2014
  • Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, 2013

Onfray, Michel,

Atheism Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam, 2011

Orenstein, David & Blaikie, Linda,

Godless Grace: How Non-Believers Make the World Safer, Richer and Kinder, 2015

Ostman, Cami & Tive, Susan,

Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions, 2013

Palmer, Michael,

  • The Atheist’s Creed, 2010
  • The Atheist’s Primer, 2012

Perakh, Mark,

Unintelligent Design, 2003

Pervo, Richard,

  • The Making of Paul: Constructions of the Apostle in Early Christianity, 2010
  • The Mystery of Acts: Unraveling Its Story, 2008

Pinn, Anthony,

Writing God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist, 2014

Price, Robert,

  • Blaming Jesus for Jehovah: Rethinking the Righteousness of Christianity, 2016
  • Deconstructing Jesus, 2000
  • Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition? 2003
  • Jesus Is Dead, 2007
  • Killing History: Jesus in the No-Spin Zone, 2014
  • Moses and Minimalism: Form Criticism vs. Fiction in the Pentateuch, 2015
  • The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul, 2012
  • The Case Against The Case For Christ: A New Testament Scholar Refutes the Reverend Lee Strobel, 2010
  • The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems, 2011
  • The Historical Bejeezus: What a Long, Strange Quest It’s Been, 2013

Price, Robert & Suominen, Ed

Evolving Out of Eden, 2013

Price, Robert & Lowder, J. J., eds.,

The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave, 2005

Prothero, Stephen,

  • American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, 2004
  • God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World, 2011

Rafferty, Tom,

Making Stuff Up Is Unwise: An Introduction to Reason, Skepticism and Science, 2012

Ray, Darrell,

The God Virus: How Religion Infects our Lives and our Culture, 2009

Ripley, Bob,

Life Beyond Belief: A Preacher’s Deconversion, 2014

Russell, Bertrand,

Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, 1967

Sagan, Carl,

  • Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science, 1986
  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1997
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, 2007

Shermer, Michael,

  • How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God, 2003
  • Skeptic: Viewing the World with a Rational Eye, 2016
  • The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths, 2012
  • The Moral Arc: How Science Makes Us Better People, 2016
  • The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule, 2004
  • Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, 2007
  • Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, 2002

Silverman, David,

Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World, 2015

Silverman, Herb,

Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt, 2012

Sjørdal, Jonathan ErikTwo Witnesses: Hebrew Texts Changed By The Greek New Testament, 2009

Smith, George,

Atheism: The Case Against God, 1979

Stefanelli, Al,

A Voice of Reason in an Unreasonable World: The Rise of Atheism on Planet Earth, 2011

Stedman, Chris,

Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, 2013

Steele, David Ramsay,

Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy, 2008

Stenger, Victor,

  • God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion, 2012
  • God and the Multiverse: Humanity’s Expanding View of the Cosmos, 2014
  • God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, 2008
  • The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us, 2011
  • The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, 2009
  • The Original Atheists: First Thoughts on Nonbelief, 2014

Stephens, Mitchell,

Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World, 2014

Tarico, Valerie,

  • The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth, 2006
  • Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, 2010

Templeton, Charles,

  • Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith, 1999

Thomas, J. Anderson & Aukofer, Claire,

Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith, 2011

Thompson, Thomas,

The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David, 2005

Torres, Phil,

The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us about the Apocalypse, 2016

Tyson, Neil deGrasse & Goldsmith, Donald,

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, 2014

Watson, Peter,

The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live since the Death of God, 2014

Wells, Steve,

The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, 2013

Wathey, John,

The Illusion of God’s Presence: The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing, 2016

Wheaton, Billy & Fuller, Joy,

Hooks and Ladders: A Journey on a Bridge to Nowhere with American Evangelical Christians, 2009

Whitmarsh, Tim,

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World, 2015

Wilson, A.N.,

  • God’s Funeral: A Biography of Faith and Doubt in Western Civilization, 1999
  • Jesus: A Life, 2004

Winell, Marlene,

Leaving the Fold, 2006

Young, Matt,

No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe, 2001

Young, Matt & Edis, Tanner,

Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, 2004

Zichterman, Jocelyn,

I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape from—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult, 2013

Zuckerman, Phil,

  • Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions, 2014
  • Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment, 2010

Zuckerman, Phil; Galen, Luke; Pasquale, Frank,

The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies, 2016

This is an impressive list and it would seem improbable that any Christian could read all of these books and come away without accumulating significant doubts about their faith. This surge in anti-Christian literature is fueled by one of two sources, depending on a person’s pre-conceived model of reality:

  1. Christianity is false, and as more and more scholars and historians focus on it, it begins to fall apart at the seams.
  2. Christianity is true, and Satan is setting the stage for the Second Coming by infiltrating the minds of many to deny God’s existence.

It is left up to the reader to decide which of these is the more likely.

(1311) Paul wrongfully credits authorities with God’s imprimatur

In the following passage, Paul makes the claim that earthly leaders are put in place by God himself, and that therefore citizens should subject themselves to these authorities in much the same way that they are expected to subject themselves to God:

Romans 13: 1-7

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

If Paul is correct, then God put in place the following rulers:

  • Idi Amin Dada
  • Attila the Hun
  • Genghis Khan
  • Pol Pot
  • Vlad Tepes
  • Ivan IV of Russia
  • Adolph Hitler
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Kim Jong II
  • Moammar Quaddafi
  • Saddam Hussein

According to Paul, these rulers were God’s selection and it was the duty of those living under their rule to abide by their edicts.  If anything, these examples decisively refute Paul’s doctrine, unless one is left to concede that God is evil.

(1312)  Seven ways science debunked Christianity

Step by step over the past several centuries science has intruded on the landscape of Christianity, causing it to shrink and finally disappear. That it, it disappeared for people who are scientifically literate and also objectively curious about the fabric of reality. In the following essay, John W. Loftus explains how the progression of science exposed the Christian faith to be untrue:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/08/top-seven-ways-christianity-is-debunked.html

God is dead, Friedrich Nietzsche predicted it over a century ago. No, God did not die. We just came to the realization he never existed in the first place. We no longer need him to explain what needs to be explained. We now have better natural explanations of the existing phenomena. They explain more without recourse to the ad hoc theories that supernatural explanations offer believers. Theologians came to realize this in the 60’s as announced on the cover of Time magazine, April 8, 1966. What killed him? The sciences.

1) The science of Philology first did this when it was learned that texts could be dated based on grammar, vocabulary, and dialect. Lorenzo Valla (c.1406-1457) used it to show theDonation of Constantine decree was a forgery. In this forged decree the Emperor Constantine transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. From the science of philology we’ve learned there are many forgeries in the canonized Bible (2nd Isaiah, Pastoral Epistles, II Peter, and so on) and that certain other books in the Bible reveal an evolutionary history. That’s science, baby, kick against the goads all you want to.

2) The next big hit came from Astronomy. The Copernican astronomical revolution as defended later by Galileo showed us that we do not live in a geocentric universe. Never did. The Biblical viewpoint, supposedly coming from a divine mind, did not understand this basic fact. The earth revolves around the sun. And we exist on a spiral arm in one galaxy of billions in the universe. The Catholic church took a big hit on this one and lost credibility in the eyes of scientists.

3) An even bigger hit came from Biology, specifically but not limited to Darwinian evolution. The Catholic Church learned from the debacle in Galileo’s day and came to embrace evolution as a fact. Evangelicals still denounce it, even though it is slowly winning over the best and the brightest among them. But with evolution we no longer need a creator, for there is nothing left to explain by means of the supernatural hypothesis. Completely obliterated is the literal Genesis account of origins, and since that’s the case why should anyone think there is any divine mind behind the writings in the Bible at all? No one should. There is no need of that god-hypothesis, as Pierre-Simon La Place (1749–1827) first informed us.

Everything after this was a forgone conclusion. The Bible was nothing more than a human product. There was no need of looking for a divine mind behind the human authors. If God revealed himself to human beings he did so in ways that are indistinguishable from him not revealing himself at all.

Other sciences came into play as well.

4) Archaeology has debunked many stories in the Bible. Archeologists have discovered several ancient Mesopotamian texts that predate the ones in the Bible and tell similar superstitious stories of the origins of the universe. It has also shown us there was no Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt.

5) Psychology shows us we are largely products of our environment, that we think illogically many times, that we believe what we prefer to be true, that human beings are not evil so much as ill, largely because of their social environment. Psychology shows us there can be no wrathful God who will punish us forever because of what we believe.

6) Anthropology has shown us from the fact that there are many different cultures around the globe and with it a great deal of religious diversity, that there are many rational ways to understand our place in this world. Human beings get along just fine living in these so-called different universes. As a result many people are embracing multiculturalism. This is contrary to any given located cultural expression of Christianity which equates their Christianity with the absolute standard for cultures as a whole. Such a parochial limited notion is absolute hogwash.

7) Neurology shows us there is an extremely close relationship between our beliefs and neuron firings, which can be drug induced, or even surgically removed. There is therefore no need for the supernatural explanation of the soul.

In fact, these and other sciences have repeatedly pummeled religion for centuries. The fact that there are still believers is a testament to the stubbornness of belief and an almost willful ignorance to believe despite what they teach us because of the psychological need to believe. This need to believe is most clearly seen in the mind of the believer when we consider the massive amount of ubiquitous world-wide suffering and the lack of any satisfactory theodicy explaining why a good omnipotent God allows it. The only explanation that can account for continued belief in the presence of this suffering is wish fulfillment.

God is dead. We do not need him. It’s time to give up childish things and think as adults. Become scientifically literate. Become informed. Grow out of religious belief just as you did with the belief in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

A religious faith is not just an exercise in belief, it is also a statement about the nature of reality. As such, it is inevitable that it will be tested by future discoveries that may or may not comport to the claims that have been made. For Christianity, this process has not gone well.  And given what has already happened, the future does not look very good either- the final mysteries are soon to be solved, and God will completely disappear from any explanatory exegesis.

(1313) The Pirahã people

A constant claim of Christians and followers of other religions is that “atheists know God exists,” which is a fallacious argument that makes no sense. Another claim from apologists is that all people are born with an innate belief in God, but that atheists are people who deliberately deny God’s existence because they want to ‘sin.’ The claim that god-belief is innate is easily disputed by the fact that children are force fed their religions from their parents and their surrounding social environments and their communities. In other words, there is a vanishingly small number of children who do not get indoctrinated.

However, there is a living example that people are not born believing in ‘God’- the Pirahã people tribe in Brazil. This tribe lives in the Amazonian jungle and are a people completely without religion, though they do have some superstitions from simply not knowing things. They have no religious doctrine and they do not practice any kind of worship, though some of them might believe in an afterlife or reincarnation for whatever reasons.

When introduced to the concepts of God, Jesus, and an afterlife, the Pirahã simply reject them in amusement, because there is no evidence anyone can show them that these things are real.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirahã_people

So what we have here is evidence of a people who are superstitious to certain simple unexplained things (which no Christian today would believe) yet have no belief in a supreme deity. This is because they lack the creativity and imagination to design a fictional supreme deity and give it a history ,and they demand evidence when a concept such as God or Jesus is described to them.

As explained by Professor Daniel L. Everett:

“According to Everett, the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god, and they lost interest in Jesus when they discovered that Everett had never seen him. They require evidence based on personal experience for every claim made. However, they do believe in spirits that can sometimes take on the shape of things in the environment. These spirits can be jaguars, trees, or other visible, tangible things including people. Everett reported one incident where the Pirahã said that “Xigagaí, one of the beings that lives above the clouds, was standing on a beach yelling at us, telling us that he would kill us if we go into the jungle.” Everett and his daughter could see nothing and yet the Pirahã insisted that Xigagaíwas still on the beach.”

So for Christians, or for any religion that tries to use the argument that “atheists believe in God but want to sin,” there really is no argument or point to be made.  The Pirahã people are like the proverbial boy calling the emperor naked, revealing that reality is tangible while fantasy is invisible, and the fact that God can’t be seen, heard, or touched is convincing evidence that he doesn’t exist.

(1314) Mark invented the Sea of Galilee

In the Gospel of Mark, the Sea of Galilee is a prominent landmark upon which much of the pageantry of Jesus’s mission occurs.  But when compared to reality, it appears that Mark did not know what he was talking about. The following is taken from:

Did Mark Invent the Sea of Galilee?

Most of Mark’s Gospel prior to the passion narrative revolves around a body of water the author calls the Sea of Galilee. It is the geographical focal point where Jesus calls his disciples, preaches to the crowds, travels (by boat), and performs his miracles — including many that involve the sea itself. It is a dangerous body of water whose raging waves must be quelled by Jesus on one occasion to save his shipmates.

There is, in fact, no “sea” in the Galilee region of Palestine. There is a lake in the right location that matches the geographical description of Mark’s sea in many (though not all) respects. But no ancient writer prior to Mark ever mentions a body of water called the Sea of Galilee, and some of the reasons Mark gives the sea such a prominent role are often overlooked.

Porphyry of Tyre, a Greek philosopher of the third century, was one of the first pagan writers to investigate Christian claims. The surviving quotations of his work include some canny observations about Mark:

Another section in the gospel deserves comment, for it is likewise devoid of sense and full of implausibility; I mean that absurd story about Jesus sending his apostles across the sea ahead of him after a banquet, then walking across to them “at the fourth watch of the night.” It is related that they had been working all night to keep the boat adrift and were frightened by the size of the storm [surging against the boat]. (The fourth watch would be the tenth hour of the night, with three hours being left.)

Those who know the region well tell us that, in fact, there is no “sea” in the locality but only a tiny lake which springs from a river that flows through the hills of Galilee near Tiberias. Small boats can get across it within two hours. [And the lake is too small] to have seen whitecaps caused by storm. Mark seems to be stretching a point to its extremities when he writes that Jesus—after nine hours had passed—decided in the tenth to walk across to his disciples who had been floating about on the pond for the duration!

As if this isn’t enough, he calls it a “sea”—indeed, a stormy sea—a very angry sea which tosses them about in its waves causing them to fear for their lives. He does this, apparently, so that he can next show Christ miraculously causing the storm to cease and the sea to calm down, hence saving the disciples from the dangers of the swell. It is from fables like this one that we judge the gospel to be a cleverly woven curtain, each thread of which requires careful scrutiny. (Translation by R. Joseph Hoffman, Porphyry’s Against the Christians: The Literary Remains, 1994.)

This is an important point because if Mark was exaggerating the dimensions and size of this lake to dramatize his narrative, it suggests that other aspects of his story of Jesus were exaggerated as well. This does not bode well for Christianity because the Gospel of Mark was used as template for the other gospels.

(1315) Hell is humanity’s default destination

If Christianity is true then it must be assumed that God purposefully designed hell as the default final destination for humanity. That is, he made people imperfect ensuring that all of them would fall short of his glory and thereby ‘deserve’ an eternity of anguish and weeping.  This makes no sense. The following is taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/04/10-reasons-the-crucifixion-story-makes-no-sense

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

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

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

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

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

So God has set up a system where simply living a normal life will send you to everlasting torture- in other words, that is your default judgment.  You don’t have to cheat, steal, kill, or do any specific crimes to merit this fate. Then he offers a way out, as if being generous, by the act of believing something for which he offers scant evidence.  This is not the plan of an intelligent being. This is a farce that should be seen as such and rejected by all thinking persons.

(1316) Divine miscommunication

One of the problems haunting Christianity is why God would have passed up an opportunity to communicate to society some of the more enlightened and compassionate ethics that have evolved over the past 20 centuries, such as abolishing slavery and rape. Or as the poet Katha Pollitt puts it:

This point is further discussed at this site:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-problem-of-divine-miscommunication.html#more

There are people alive today, maybe millions of them, who would be dead if there were no laws against murder, and every society has them including other religious cultures and largely non-theist ones. There are women who have not been raped, maybe millions of them, because of anti-rape laws. There are children who have not been molested, maybe millions of them, because of laws against molesting. There are people who have not been robbed, maybe millions of them, because of laws against theft. The reason is because of the fear of punishment. Laws have teeth to them. If caught the pervert or thief will suffer for doing such deeds. Fear of punishment keeps potential criminals in check, and from what I can tell, without this fear many of us do such deeds (anyone who ever contemplated killing someone knows this).

Now would someone please offer a good explanation why any intelligent person would try to solve the problem of divine miscommunication like this, apart from the need to believe no matter what the cost? This particular case clearly highlights a deluded mind. If you can clearly see it here you get a glimpse of why they are also poor ones. None of them work. At all. For similar reasons. As Graham Lyons said on FB: “I just can’t imagine how a religious Christian or Jew can make a coherent reply to that.

A miscommunication from a divine being is a serious matter and it points to one of two conclusions- either God deliberately decided not to advance the morality and ethics of humanity beyond what currently existed at the time, or he is just an imaginary being invented by a bunch of clueless Bronze Age zealots.

(1317) Epilepsy is caused by evil spirits

In the Book of Luke (and Mark also) there is a story about a father who asked Jesus to heal his son, who was suffering from epilepsy, rabies, or some similar disorder:

Luke 9:37-43

The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him.  A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.  A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him.  I begged your disciples to drive it out, but could not.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “How long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.  And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.

There are several problems with this scripture:

First, the father indicates that the disciples cannot remove the spirit that is inhabiting the boy, but earlier in the same chapter, Jesus says:

Luke 9:1-2

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

If Jesus gave them power to drive out all demons, why could they not handle this one?

Second, why does Jesus rebuke the father for having too little faith when he obviously had enough faith to ask the disciples and Jesus to cure the boy, believing they could do the job?

Third, we now know what causes these conditions and that they are not caused by demons, so why does Jesus seem not to know this? But, then again, we must remember that the person who wrote this scripture believed that sneezing was the body’s method of expelling evil spirits (God bless you!).

(1318) Jesus was not the founder of the Christian faith

Jesus did not found the Christian religion.  If brought back to life, he would continue to worship as a Jew. It was others who carried on afterwards and who perverted his ministry that formed the umbrella of Christian religions that exist today.  The following is taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/ba0_jesus.htm#royal

There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon Earth, and died to give his work final consecration, never had any existence.
Albert Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical Jesus

It rarely occurs to anyone brought up as a Christian to question whether Jesus founded the Christian religion: it seems so obvious that he did. But what if we look for biblical evidence that Jesus was the first Christian, and compare it to the evidence that he was a more or less conventional follower of the Jewish religion?

After almost 2,000 years of Christian development of the story of Jesus it is easy to forget that he was Jewish by descent. In fact Jesus was quite clearly Jewish. He bore a common Jewish name. Animal sacrifices were made by his family to mark his birth in accordance with Jewish custom, purifying the mother and “redeeming” the son. He was circumcised according to Jewish Law. He accepted the Jewish faith throughout his life. He attended the synagogue, and was familiar with the Jewish scriptures. Indeed he often taught in synagogues (e.g. Mark 1:39 , Matthew 9:35, Luke 4:15). On one occasion he even delivered the liturgical sermon after reading the prophetic lesson for the day. As a Jewish teacher his followers naturally addressed him as Rabbi. Many of his teachings were characteristic teachings of the Pharisees, one of the many Jewish sects then popular. After healing a leper Jesus instructed him to go to a Jewish priest and make an offering, as required by Jewish Law. On a number of occasions he indicated that he was interested only in the Jewish people. He is reported as having said:

I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Matthew 15:24

Furthermore Jesus specifically forbade his disciples from teaching to the gentiles (Matthew 10:5). He characterized the gentiles as “dogs” (Matthew 15:26 and Mark 7:27) and as “swine” (Matthew 7:6). When a man from the gentile city of Gerasa asked to be allowed to join Jesus” followers his offer was declined and he was told to return home (Mark 5:18-19 and Luke 8:38-39). Jesus” teaching was characteristically Jewish. The aspects that are often pointed up as being new and radically different were not at all new, as we shall see later.

Jesus worshipped in the Temple and in synagogues. He never expressed any intention that his followers should do otherwise. He never established a Church in the sense that the word is now used. After his death his immediate followers continued to worship at the Temple and to attend synagogues. After Paul and his friends proved too troublesome to be accommodated in synagogues, followers worshipped at home. For generations afterwards gentile Christians worshipped in private houses. It was not until later that buildings were specially built or sequestered as churches. Only after this had happened could it occur to anyone to reinterpret the statement “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [petros] and upon this rock [petros], I will build my church [ecclesian] …. ” (Matthew 16:18). In the centuries to come, new meanings would be found for this statement, but for the time being it could be used to justify a separate Church and separate Church buildings.

According to the Bible, Jesus never used or heard the word Christian. It was not even coined until around AD 42, years after his death, when it was first used in Antioch (Acts 11:26).

Apart from anything else, it would not have made much sense for Jesus to found a religion, because it is clear that he believed the end of the world to be imminent — according the New Testament he said so on numerous occasions. There would be little point in establishing a Church and its accompanying hierarchy if the world was going to end within a few years at most. The simple fact is that there is no evidence that Jesus ever intended to found a new religion, Christian or otherwise.

This is damming evidence against Christianity- that the central figure of the faith had no intention to formulate the religion upon which he is worshiped. This would be like uncovering evidence that Martin Luther remained a devoted Catholic who was posthumously re-characterized by others as the founder of the Protestant Revolution.

(1319) The misleading role of coincidence

Christians as well as followers of other religions often use as evidence of their faith amazing stories about uncanny occurrences that ‘just can’t be coincidence.’ For example, “I prayed for my mother and a minute later she called to say she was feeling better.”  But what fuels this misconception is that most people do not understand the mechanics of probability and tend to focus on successes while discounting the much more numerous failures. The following was taken from:

https://atheistkit.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/lifes-most-incredible-events-explained-just-a-coincidence/

Imagine how you would feel if your alarm only failed to go off when it really mattered. Or you could never find a parking spot when you were in a rush. Or you got dumped the same day you got fired the same day you got sick. How did you get sick? Because you got a flat tire, and your phone died right then, and you had to walk to find a phone. And then it started raining…

Bad karma! The universe is out to get you! You’re cursed, you have the worst luck, etc… After all, which is more likely, that these are all just coincidences, or that theyaren’t coincidences, because destiny has its hands in your life?

Well, let’s check! There are seven billion people on earth. So, every day, there are seven billion different days lived. One of those seven billion days has to be the most improbable day of all, a day so improbable it only happens once out of every seven billion days lived.

To put that in perspective, there are about 30,000 days in the life of a 90 year old. One of those days will be the most improbable of the 30,000, a day so improbable it only happens once in 30,000 days of life, once in a 90-year lifetime. Imagine the most improbable day you’ll have in your life if you live to 90, the absolute craziest! More mind-blowing than any day of your life so far. That’s a one out of 30,000 kind of event.

Well, that’s nothing compared to a one out of seven billion kind of day, and one of those happens once every single day. It’s a day more improbable than the craziest day of your life, more improbable than the craziest day in the life of anyone you know. If 200,000 people lived to be 90 years old, only one of them would have a day this crazy!

And yet, one such day happens once a day, somewhere on earth, like winning the weird lottery.

The failure of humans to understand the statistical expression of probability has spawned many religions, superstitions, and false beliefs. It has also created lots of fake evidence that reinforces those false beliefs. In every case, when viewed in a holistic manner, there is no need to credit anything supernatural.

(1320) Individual visions evolve into mass sightings

One of the arguments that Christian apologists use to defend the Christian faith is the statement in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:6) that Jesus appeared after his resurrection to over 500 people at the same time.  The line of argument is that this could not have been a hallucination, since such is an individual, not group, phenomenon. However there are strong counter-arguments that can be made. First, Paul might have just made up this statement out of thin air- it doesn’t appear anywhere else in the New Testament.  The other possibility is that it started as an individual vision that over time became reported as a mass sighting.  This has historical precedent as discussed at this website:

https://ntwrong.wordpress.com/2008/09/24/resurrection-of-jesus-as-mass-hallucination/

The visions of individual visionaries were frequently written up in vision reports as the experiences of entire groups, armies, or even whole towns.

Example 1: In ca. 648 BC, Ashurbanipal’s vision of the Goddess Ishtar (Astartes) was said to be shared by his whole army. Ashurbanipal explains that when his army reached the river Idide, his soldiers were too afraid to cross it because of its strong current. “But the Goddess Ishtar who dwells in Arbela let my army have a dream in the middle of the night.” In this mass dream or vision Ishtar was heard to say, “I shall go in front of Ashurbanipal, the king whom I have myself made.” And so the army, Ashurbanipal added, “put their trust in this dream and crossed the river Idide safely.” (Luckenbill, Ancient records of Assyria and Babylonia, 1968: section 807). Ashurbanipal’s own record of his vision of Ishtar has been extended to become a vision experienced by an entire army on the march!

Example 2: A famous example of a vision report of mass hallucination concerns the famous Christian convert, the Emperor Constantine. Eusebius writes a biography of Constantine, which is ‘historical’ by the standards of his day, yet reports that when Constantine “was praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvelous sign appeared to him from heaven” (Eusebius, Life of Constantine, 1.28). The famous sign in the sky was a cross of light, with the inscription, “Conquer by this”. Eusebius goes on: “At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle.” Eusebius expressly claims that his ‘historical record’ of the event was derived from no less a person than the Emperor Constantine himself, with whom Eusebius had spoken about the miracle. Most interestingly, Lactantius writes a near-contemporary account of Constantine’s same experience. But it is significantly different. Lactantius’ early account places the vision of the cross in Constantine’s dream, and on the night before. So, Constantine’s vision is not shared by his army and it is a nighttime dream rather than a vision. Even though Eusebius had spoken directly to the central eyewitness, Constantine himself, the Emperor and/or Eusebius had managed to transform the earlier individual dream report into a mass vision report!

Example 3: And here’s another example. According to Plutarch’s historiographicLives, when Alexander was besieging Tyre, “many of the Tyrians dreamed” a dream “that Apollo declared he would go over to Alexander, because he was displeased with their behaviour in the town”. Not coincidentally, Plutarch also records a dream that Alexander personally experienced, which ‘prophesied’ the same outcome. Again, in dream reports such as these, we can identify a tendency for individual dream reports to seep over into mass dream reports!

Example 4: As a last example, Sefer Chasidim records a dream dreamt by “all the townspeople” of a certain town. A saintly sage complained to all the (Jewish) townspeople — making his complaint within the townspeople’s dreams — that he had been buried next to an evildoer. So the townspeople placed stones between the two graves to get him out of their dreams.

Often, popular Christian apologists like to make the naive argument that a hallucination or vision or dream can only be experienced by one person at a time, and therefore the biblical reports of mass sightings of the resurrected Jesus (such as those in Mark 16 and 1 Corinthians 15) must be true:

“Hallucinations happen to individuals. Only one person can see a hallucination at a time; a group of people, whether there are 10, 12, or 500 of them, would not have the same hallucination at the same time.”
– Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ

But the evidence demonstrates this claim is either quite false or misses the point. Individual vision reports could and did develop into mass vision reports and could and did get assimilated into ancient histories and bibliographies as though they were factual and true. As a result, ancient histories and bibliographies contained accounts of mass visions which, in fact, were entirely fictional.

Here is another link that discusses this topic:

http://parapsychology101.blogspot.ca/2010/02/miraculous-mass-sightings.html?m=1

So there are three possibilities concerning Paul’s claim:

  • It really happened.
  • He made it up.
  • It started as an individual vision that grew into the legend of a mass sighting

The historical record suggests that the second or third explanation is the more likely.

(1321) The parable-less Gospel of John

In the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus tells numerous parables that are meant to teach indirectly a lesson to his people. In the following scripture, Jesus explains why he uses parables in such quantity- to confine his message to God’s chosen people:

Mathew 13:10-13

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables.

However, if parables are of such importance in the ministry of Jesus, why did the author of the Gospel of John omit them entirely? The following is taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parables_of_Jesus

The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “There are no parables in St. John’s Gospel. In the Synoptics … we reckon thirty-three in all; but some have raised the number even to sixty, by including proverbial expressions.” The Gospel of Luke contains both the largest total number of parables (24) and eighteen unique parables; the Gospel of Matthew contains 23 parables of which eleven are unique; and the Gospel of Mark contains eight parables of which two are unique.

In Harmony of the Gospels, Cox and Easley provide a Gospel harmony for the parables based on the following counts: Only in Matthew: 11, only in Mark: 2, only in Luke: 18, Matthew and Luke: 4, Matthew, Mark and Luke: 6. They list no parables for the Gospel of John.

This presents a major problem for the historicity of the Gospel of John. How could this account of Jesus have completely left out his favorite mode of communication? This is another reason for concluding that the Gospel of John, the foundation of much of modern Christianity, is fiction.

(1322) The end of the road for Christianity

Imagine there is a highway that ends at a big cliff with a sheer drop off into a deep canyon. The person who owns this stretch of road has placed a sign about a mile before the end that says “Danger: Road ends in one mile, turn around.” That is all- there are no barricades at the end and the drivers can’t see the end in time to stop. As it turns out many drivers miss seeing the sign and plunge into the canyon to their deaths. Many others who do see the sign note that it is old and worn and conclude that it is a prank and continue on, also to their deaths. Only a few really get the message and turn around.

No one would think that this was an honorable person concerned about the welfare of the folks who use his road.  With very minimal expense, he could upgrade the sign and place barricades at the end of the road, saving the lives of many.

Of course, in this parable, the owner of the road is the God of Christianity and the old, unconvincing sign is the Bible.  Like the road owner, God could easily save lives by providing more evidence of the looming danger, but he doesn’t.

Christian apologists have used the excuse that God honors faith over fact-based knowledge of his existence and therefore purposely hides himself from view.  Even if this tactic could be considered fair and loving in any sense, the problem persists in that the evidence that God has provided is woefully insufficient. This is clearly demonstrated by the multitudes of sincere and highly-educated seekers of truth who have concluded that Christianity is false, even after devoting much of their life to this question.

God, like the road owner, is therefore responsible for the ‘deaths’ of those who would be saved if the ‘sign’ was made a little more prominent.

(1323) Jesus not a chip off the old block

According to the dogma of Christianity, Jesus was not only the son of God, but also God himself, as embodying one-third of a holy trinity. This would tend to suggest that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all part of a single consciousness. Thus, they should exhibit the same personality, have the same agenda, and speak with a singular voice.

This is clearly not the case.  The best example is to examine the Ten Commandments that the Father delivered to the Israelites. The first four establish the egomaniacal character of the Father:

  • Thou shalt have no other gods.
  • No graven images or likenesses.
  • Not take the LORD’s name in vain.
  • Remember the Sabbath day.

But when Jesus was asked about the commandments, he gave the following answer:

Matthew 19:16-21

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

It is interesting that Jesus did not list any of the first four of the Ten Commandments, the ones that, evidently, were the most important to the Father. Instead of focusing of the worship of his own greatness, Jesus highlighted the truly noble aspects of living a decent and caring life.

Of course there are other significant differences- the Father being a sadistic killer of women and children and a stern taskmaster as manifested in numerous tales from the Old Testament, whereas Jesus appeared to be much more compassionate and kind.  So what to make of this disconnect? The simplest and best explanation is that the Bible was written by different people influenced by a different culture existing at the time.  Jesus and the Father are not of the same consciousness, do not speak with one voice, and are therefore do not represent 2/3 of a holy trinity.

(1324) Ron Wyatt, the fraud

Often we encounter Christians who claim that there is lots of undeniable, proven ‘evidence’ recently discovered that shows the Bible to be true. If challenged, this is usually followed by a condescending “you should do some research.”

The Christians who believe this ‘evidence’ have been duped by a man who died in 1999 and which some people still profit from. That man’s name is Ron Wyatt, the only person who actually claimed to have archaeological evidence of the Bible. In the end, it was all demonstrated to be fraudulent.

 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Wyatt

“Archaeologist Joe Zias of Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has stated that “Ron Wyatt is neither an archaeologist nor has he ever carried out a legally licensed excavation in Israel or Jerusalem. In order to excavate one must have at least a BA in archaeology which he does not possess despite his claims to the contrary. … [His claims] fall into the category of trash which one finds in tabloids such as the National Enquirer, Sun etc.”[17]”

Given the fact that even Christian organizations and websites expose Ron Wyatt’s frauds, this completely discredits any hope a Christian might have for crediting any ‘evidence’ of the stories in the Bible.

Here are some of the ‘discoveries that Wyatt has made:

  • Noah’s Home and a Flood-inscription at that site,
  • Fences from Noah’s farm,
  • Anchor Stones from Noah’s Ark,
  • laminated Deck Timber from the Ark,
  • Noah’s Altar,
  • Tombs with Tombstones of Noah and his wife,
  • the precise location of the Red Sea Crossing,
  • Wheels from Egyptian Chariots involved in the pursuit of the Israelites from Egypt,
  • the Book of the Law written by Moses on Animal Skins,
  • Gold from the Golden Calf fashioned by Aaron,
  • the Ark of the Covenant,
  • Tables of the Ten Commandments,
  • the Tabernacle’s Table of the Showbread,
  • Goliath’s Sword,
  • Jesus’ Tomb and the Stone Seal of the Tomb,

So these facts remain:

– There is no significant evidence of anything in the Bible being true.

– The evidence disproving many biblical stories is overwhelming.

– The  most celebrated person who claimed to have found tangible evidence of the Bible, Ron Wyatt, was a proven fraud.

– All of Ron Wyatt’s claims of evidence are documented frauds.

This shows once again that Christianity is a false religion, with lots of evidence against its stories being true, but little if any evidence that shows it to be true, especially from a now deceased fraudster named Ron Wyatt, whose foundation (WAR) still profits from his fraudulent work.

http://wyattmuseum.com/

A true religion would not require a huckster like Ron Wyatt to prove its truth.

(1325) Christians are brainwashed to accept genocide

Almost everybody alive today agrees that genocide is an abhorrent and evil crime. But when Christians are asked to judge the righteousness of the genocides that God perpetrated in the Old Testament, they almost always defer to God’s defense and refuse to condemn these acts of divine savagery. The following is taken from:

http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2009/11/challenge-to-christians.html

I had expected that everyone would easily recognize that … all genocides were clearly wrong. But this was not the case. Instead, I was surprised to see that Christians were defending these genocides and claiming that they were justified. One of the reasons they offered was that the victims were so evil that they all deserved to be killed. Others said that the Israelites were in need of land, so God allowed them to conquer neighboring territories. And some even claim that anything God commands is morally right by definition and that we have no standing to question this or disobey his commands.

It was really quite startling that these excuses were so similar to the justifications used by the perpetrators of genocide. The victims were simply unworthy of life, or they needed to acquire more territory for themselves, or they were just following orders. Even more unnerving is how indifferent these people are to the realities of genocide. They apparently have no problem with killing defenseless children and treating even infants as too evil to live. It’s like none of this seems real to them.

But perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that of all the Christians I’ve discussed this with, not one of them has been willing to condemn these genocides. Not a single one. They have all tried to defend this.

So, I’d like to issue a challenge to Christians. Can you acknowledge that genocide is wrong even if God commands it? Can you agree that genocide is never acceptable including the genocides of the Bible? Are you capable as a Christian of condemning genocide without equivocation? [none to date have done so]

Most Christians are caught in a trap of slavish, cultish submission to an unchallengeable authority. This has been one of the more impressive accomplishments of Christianity- that it has been able to sweep under the rug the atrocities of God as told in the Bible by brainwashing its followers to accept the idea that God can do no evil. But then again, this is the definition of a scam, and that is precisely what Christianity is.

(1326) People at the time of Jesus were unreliable witnesses

It is easy to think of the disciples of Jesus and other people who witnessed his ministry, assuming he was a real person,  as being similar to people of today. That is decidedly not case. The following was taken from:

http://www.provingthenegative.com/2009/04/case-againt-christ.html

We can make the same sort of projection back across time:
§ Consider the difference between your education level, or the general level of knowledge that the average American with a K-12 education has and the level of ignorance of a simple fisherman or a beggar living in the first century in Palestine.
§ Almost all of the information that you take for granted, the technology, and the methods for acquiring information were unavailable to them.
§ A tiny fraction of the population would have been literate.
§ Their mathematical abilities would have been worse than today’s average 3rd grader.
§ They did not know that the Earth moves, or what the Sun was.
§ They did not know what electricity, hydrogen are.
§ They did not know what caused disease, or pregnancy, or death.
§ If religiousness, superstition, and supernaturalism rise as education goes down, then they must have been rampant among the people who had contact with Jesus (if he was real at all.)

Were they skeptical?
§ How much skepticism, doubtfulness, or disposition towards critical scrutiny does a person have?
§ If a person habitually reflects on the evidence carefully, makes a conscious and careful effort to gather the broadest body of relevant evidence, and actively seeks out disconfirming grounds for a claim, that, all other things being equal, is favorable with regard to their trustworthiness as a source of information.
§ If a person whose skepticism is high becomes satisfied that X is true, then you could be more confident that it is true, all other things being equal, than you would be if your source for the same claim was someone who is generally gullible, uncritical, and who does not reflect or seek out disconfirming evidence.

The Point
§ The early believers would have had a low Supernatural Belief Threshold, a high level of Ignorance, and a low level of Skepticism.
§ SBT: For Iron Age people 2,000 years ago, the world would have been full of mysterious forces, magical events, spiritual entities, stories about supernatural happenings. Hundreds of the events that you observe every day and know the causes of would have been complete mysteries to them. For all they knew, headaches were caused by magic. The possibility that someone could come back from the dead would have seemed like common sense to them. (Bereavement hallucinations)
§ Ignorance: They were ignorant of the information that we have concerning religious tendencies, religious group dynamics, psychology, alternative explanations for paranormal beliefs.
§ They were ignorant of the 2,000 years of examples of allegedly supernatural events that turned out to be easily explainable in natural terms.
§ In that 2,000 years, we have learned a staggering amount about how human psychology works, errors in reasoning, problems in eye-witness reports, gullibility, mistakes, social-religious phenomena, and so on.
§ Skepticism: They would have been much less skeptical overall than many people who are good sources of information now are.
§ They would not have been trained or practiced or even familiar with the notions of disconfirming evidence, alternative explanations, bias, and justification.
§ They were deeply committed religious converts.

What is often missed is that most Christians accept the Jesus story as being true while dismissing other miraculous claims that have better evidence, given that they are more recent and have better documentation, and were promulgated by people who had a better understanding of the world.  If a Christian could magically go back in time to 30 CE and converse with the people of Judea at that time, they would be shocked by the level of ignorance and superstitious beliefs.  This is the substrate of Christian religious traditions.

(1327) Christians know that Jesus was wrong about divorce

If ever there was a more obvious difference between what Jesus taught and what Christians believe, it is in the area of divorce.  Jesus was adamantly against divorce, and in some scriptures his ban on divorce was unconditional.  Jesus thought, erroneously, that God was the matchmaker for all marriages and therefore divorce was an affront on God’s will.  It should not be lost on most observers that if God is actually arranging marriages, his record is one of utter failure. The following is taken from:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2016/10/jesus-got-it-wrong-really-wrong-jesus.html#more

Jesus gets major demerits for hardening the Old Testament teaching about divorce, thereby bringing incalculable anguish during the ensuing centuries. Many billions of people have gone into marriages for a wide variety of reasons, e.g., convenience, lust, desperation, family obligations and alliances, pregnancy—sometimes even love. It dawns on a lot of people, months or years into a marriage: “Well, this was a mistake.”

Jesus is guilty of a grievous logical fallacy in his pronouncement on divorce. Why do men and women get married? Jesus sees the “natural order” as God’s idea, and said this to the Pharisees:

“Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6)

If you operate within a theological context, there’s nothing wrong with the idea that God arranged for men and women to hook up, but it doesn’t follow at all that God has actually arranged all marriages, picking each woman for each man, ever since humans began cohabitating.

It is shortsighted, destructive and dangerous to argue that God’s law and intent are violated when couples don’t get along after all. Yet Jesus does just that in Mark 10. He condemns divorce, culminating in the famous verse 9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Did Jesus really think that it is God who makes all the matches, so many of which are disastrous?

To Mark 10, we can add Matthew 5:31-32: “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

In Mark and Luke we do not find the words “except on the ground of unchastity.” Somehow, in a small mercy, Matthew saw fit to add that modification.

Let it be noted, by the way, Christians have shown far more common sense than Jesus on this matter: They do get divorced, as much as their non-Christian neighbors. They’ve figured out that the layer of theology imposed on marriage (“what God has joined together”), is irrelevant and impossible to sustain in reality. They know that Jesus was wrong. This is one of his failures as a moral teacher.

The Catholic Church has maintained a level of rigidity on divorce that defies all logic and compassion—based on Jesus’ bad counsel on the matter. Yet the church has, for money, figured out ways to help couples escape matrimonial bonds. Don’t we all have our favorite stories of shrewd Catholic maneuvering? Mine is about the man who, for enough cash, after more than 20 years of marriage and three children, was able to buy an annulment. The church, it would seem, is not opposed to laying up treasure on earth.

The hypocrisy of the Catholic Church in the awarding of annulments for marriages that span decades with multiple children is breathtaking. These marriages were not legitimate?? All of that unadulterated nonsense to conform to Jesus’s ridiculous dogma.  This is a window to truth for an objective truth seeker.

(1328) Religious people understand the world less

A recent study conducted in Finland showed that religious people are more inclined to misunderstand the world and to ascribe conscious qualities onto unconscious objects. The following was taken from:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/religious-people-understand-world-less-study-shows-a7378896.html

Religious people are more likely to have a poorer understanding of the world and are more likely to believe objects like rocks and paper have human qualities, scientists say.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki compared believers in God or the paranormal to people with autism after finding they tend to struggle to understand the realities of the world around us.

Religious beliefs were linked with a weaker ability to understand physical and biological phenomenon such as volcanoes, flowers, rocks and wind without giving them human qualities

Believers were more likely to think that inanimate objects such as metal, oil, clothes and paper can think and feel, and agree with statements such as “Stones sense the cold”.

Marjaana Lindeman and Annika Svedholm-Häkkinen, who completed the study, said: “The more the participants believed in religious or other paranormal phenomena, the lower their intuitive physics skills, mechanical and mental rotation abilities, school grades in mathematics and physics, and knowledge about physical and biological phenomena were… and the more they regarded inanimate targets as mental phenomena”.

The study defined “mental” as having human characteristics such as thoughts and sprit.

Researchers said their findings suggest people’s lack of understanding about the physical world means they apply their own, human characteristics to the whole universe, “resulting in belief in demons, gods, and other supernatural phenomena”.

This confusion between mental and physical qualities “has [also] been recognised mainly among ancient people and small children”, they added.

It is well know that people of pre-scientific times exhibited the tendency to perceive intent and cause in purely random probabilistic phenomena, such as lighting, thunder, hurricanes, and earthquakes.  This is one of the reasons why we should be very skeptical of any claims they made of the supernatural, including, of course, what they wrote that was eventually incorporated into the Bible.

(1329) Omniscience versus free will

Christian doctrine generally holds to two vital truths that are necessary for it to make internal sense and to be fair and compassionate.  One is that God is omniscient, which is necessary to fairly apply the final judgment, and two is that everybody has free will to think and do as they please, or, in other words, their fate is not written at birth.  But where this runs into trouble is that, by virtue of being omniscient, God must know what will happen in the future, including the ultimate fate of every individual- i.e., whether they will eventually be sent to heaven or hell.  If this is true, then, quite unfairly, many people are involuntarily fated for hell.

The only way out of this dilemma is to assume that God is limited in his knowledge of the future.  There is some scriptural support for this view as God and Jesus often express surprise and anger, both of which would not be expected of one who has ‘already seen the movie.’ But it intrudes on the meme of a deity who is omniscient and unlimited.

So we are left with two possibilities, neither of which a regular Christian would embrace- either God is not omniscient, or Christianity constitutes a cruel game of arbitrarily assigning billions of defenseless people to everlasting punishment.

(1330) Abiogenesis

One of the angles of argumentation employed by Christian apologists is that science has not discovered how life could have originated from non-living matter.  This is proposed as a reason to conclude that a supernatural explanation is needed, and that, by a convenient use of prejudice, this source must have been the Christian god.  What the apologists are missing, either by ignorance or willful disregard, is that there are many hypothetical mechanisms by which abiogenesis could have occurred. The following is taken from:

http://www.provingthenegative.com/2008/09/current-theories-of-abiogenesis.html

The myth that we have no hypotheses, and no explanations for the origin of life on earth persists. In fact, biologists are considering and testing a long list of possibilities that would explain the shift from non-living to living materials. Here’s a few summarized from Wikipedia.

Primordial Soup—Miller-Urey use a mix of methane, ammonia, and hydrogen to form basic amino acids in the lab.

Deep Sea Vent Theory—Hydrogen saturated, heated, fluids from hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor mix with carbon dioxide laden water. Continued chemical energy from the interactions sustains processes that produce simple organic molecules.

Spontaneous Formation of Small Peptides from Amino Acids: Sidney Fox demonstrated that the conversions could occur on their own.

Eigen’s hypothesis—Eigen and Schuster argue that some molecules, possibly RNA, can serve as an information storing system that brings about the formation of other information storing systems, or a kind of replication.

Wächtershäuser’s hypothesis: Günter Wächtershäuser argues that some compounds come with inboard energy sources like iron sulfides that could release energy and synthesize simply organic molecules. His experiments produced small amounts of dipeptides and tripeptides.

Radioactive beach hypothesis: radioactive elements such as uranium may have concentrated on beaches and become building blocks for life by energizing amino acids, sugars from acetronitrile in water.

Homochirality: The right or left handedness of organic molecules may be explained by the origin of compounds in space.

Self-organization and replication: Under the right circumstances, many non-organic molecules exhibit properties of self-organization and self-replication.

“Genes first” models: the RNA world It has been argued that short RNA molecules could have formed on their own. Cell membranes could have formed from protein-like molecules in heated water. Chemical reactions in clay or on pyrites could have initiated self-replication.

“Metabolism first” models: iron-sulfur world and others. Some theories argue that metabolic processes started first, then self-replication.

Bubbles collecting on the beach could have played a role in forming early, proto-cell membranes.

Autocatalysis Some substances catalyze the production of themselves such as amino adenosine, pentafluorophenyl ester, and amino adenosine triacid ester.

Clay theory Complex organic molecules could have arisen from non-organic replicators such as silicate crystals. It has even been reported that the crystals can transfer information from mother to daughter crystals.

Gold’s “Deep-hot biosphere” model Gold argues that life originated miles below the surface of the earth. Microbial life has been found there. And it may be present on other planets.

“Primitive” extraterrestrial life Organic compounds are common in space, and early life may have been transferred here from other planets such as Mars.

Although none of these mechanisms have been demonstrated to have started life on our planet, it is fairly certain that one of them is at least mostly correct.  Either way, it demonstrates once again that the existence of a god or other supernatural force is not needed to explain our existence.

(1331) Paul’s improbable journey to Damascus

In the Book of Acts, the story is told of a journey that Paul undertook from Jerusalem to Damascus (in what is now Syria) to round up the Christians residing there and bring them back to Jerusalem as prisoners.  This journey must have taken a week or longer, even if he had horses, because the two cities are about 370 km apart along the most direct roads. It would have required a major support crew for handling the logistical issues of food and water and housing and also a means for transporting and feeding the prisoners on the return trip (there is no mention of how many Christians he expected to arrest and transport).

On the way, Paul allegedly was visited by Jesus in a vision who told him to continue on to Damascus for further instruction.  Paul became blinded and had his sight restored three days later by a man named Ananius.  This detail suspiciously parallels the story of Jesus dying on the cross and being resurrected three days later, as Paul’s Christian-persecuting self ‘died’ and was ‘resurrected’ as a new apostle of Christ.

Another point that also lends doubt about this journey is that the site of this miraculous vision is not enshrined. There are about four different guesses made by various religious factions, but none are in any sense authenticated or based on any evidence or handed-down tradition.  In Christianity, this seems to be a theme. The Damascus Road conversion site is one of the five most famous locations of Christian history, and none of them is historically established, including:

  • The birthplace of Jesus
  • The place of his crucifixion
  • The location of his tomb
  • The place from which he ascended to heaven

These points strongly suggest that Paul’s conversion story is a myth, possibly created by Paul himself or the author of Acts to authenticate his claim to be the preeminent apostle of Jesus, whom he never met.  And if it is a myth, then all of the theology spewing from his apocalyptic mind is essentially worthless.

(1332) The swoon theory, revisited

The swoon theory, that Jesus did not actually die on the cross and that he resuscitated afterwards, has been much maligned and even ridiculed by Christian apologists, but it deserves a second look.

Suppose Jesus was a regular preacher, or rabbi, similar to many others of the same ilk during his time. And like so many others, he espoused a theology that included the overthrow of the Roman occupation, enough to catch the attention of the Roman authorities, who convicted him of sedition and  condemned him to death by crucifixion.

While on the cross, Jesus appeared to succumb earlier than most victims.  One of this followers was a very wealthy man (Joseph of Arimathea?) who happened to be a close acquaintance of Pontius Pilate, who admired him and from whom he had previously received financial favors.  Joseph asked Pilate if he could take down Jesus’s body and entomb him, a departure from the regular custom of leaving the bodies of crucifixion victims on the cross for up to a week so that they could be picked apart by birds of prey.  Pilate acquiesced.

But unbeknownst to everyone, Jesus was not actually dead.  He was in a state of a temporary coma.  Premature burials still happen today:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premature_burial#Unintentional_live_burial

After about 30 hours, Jesus regained consciousness.  At first he was quite confused, last remembering being on the cross. But soon he realized that he was still alive and located in a tomb.  By now it was Sunday morning (he had been crucified on a Friday).  His next thought was that he was extremely fortunate to be still alive, but also that he was in extreme danger of being discovered by the Romans, who would most likely capture and nail him back to the cross.

He emerged from the tomb and furtively found a few of his astonished followers to let them know that he was still alive.  He told them that he must leave, but that he would return at some later time.  Then, like a pickpocket vanishing in a London fog, he simply disappeared, never to be seen again.  Perhaps he traveled to France, as is hinted by some apocryphal accounts.  He then lived out his life as a refugee, but never returned to the Holy Land, as the Romans remained in power throughout.

The story of his ‘resurrection’ from the dead spread virally as well as his promise to return.  Soon, fictional stories began to surface of some miraculous things he had done, including walking on water and feeding the multitudes. With each passing year, the stories became more spectacular, and soon a sect of Judaism formed that saw Jesus as the messiah along with the expectation that he would soon return and complete his holy mission.  Later, his enigmatic departure was re-told as an ascension into the sky in full view of his disciples, raising the expectation that his return would be similarly dramatic. A man named Paul reinterpreted the death and resurrection as being the ultimate blood sacrifice and took his theology to the Gentiles, and the rest of the story is the birth of one of the world’s great religions.  And it all started because a man thought dead was still alive.

For more thoughts on this theory, the following was presented as a comment on reddit.com:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/59fxb0/jesus_really_did_exist_but/

If the Jesus of the gospels was a real historical figure, this fact should be trivially easy to prove. It’s not. Christians respond to this by comparing Jesus to far less noteworthy historical figures, effectively stripping him of his celebrity.

They’re forced to make Jesus so unremarkable that I no longer care if he really existed or not. Essentially, since they can’t prove a historical Superman they instead rally behind a historical Clark Kent. I don’t care if Clark Kent was based on a real historical figure or not. Without Superman, Clark Kent is a nobody. Without the pageantry of the gospels, Jesus is a nobody.

OP: I’ve been reading a bit lately about mythisism (the idea that Jesus never existed at all, but was a complete fabrication of early Christians), and I’ve come to a rather paradoxical conclusion.

First, I’ve concluded that the evidence is consistent with the earliest Christians believing that Jesus was a real, flesh and blood, person. I find no compelling evidence that any of the early sects of Christianity believed him to have been any sort of non-corporeal entity.

Second, I find the lack of contemporary evidence not inconsistent with his having existed.

Third, it seems that the earliest Christians did hold sincere beliefs concerning certain irregularities surrounding his death and burial.

Here’s the rub. While nearly every biblical scholar agrees that Jesus most likely did, in fact, exist they must all concede the same point to reach this conclusion. Briefly put, that Jesus’ life up to the crucifixion was wholly unremarkable.

If you examine the beliefs apparently held by the earliest Christians you find only a spectrum of beliefs relating to the resurrection and nothing else. The ministry, teachings, miracles and other pageantry of the gospels appear only later as the movement begins to mature. Furthermore, there initially appears to be very little agreement regarding these stories, and, by the fourth century, the Christians are already splintered into countless sects all believing a different account of Jesus life.

You could imagine this endeavor as a kin to arguing that Superman had been a real person based, solely, on a presumably true story in which a man named Clark Kent survives a, what should have been, fatal bus crash. A few centuries after Clark’s death it might be easy to believe the fanciful stories surrounding such a man. However, if you were to read the various accounts backward throughout the decades you’d see how they evolve. Legends told and repeated layering on top of one another and intertwining. Some taking hold, while others fall silent. Details of his life being refined and distilled. His alleged superhuman abilities stripped away one by one until you’d reach this one, admittedly remarkable perhaps even curious, event. The crash that should have killed him, but didn’t. Before that? Silence. Nothing.

It seems completely reasonable that a farmer’s son from middle America would live out his days in ambiguity. It is far more conspicuous that the ‘man of steel’ should never garner a single headline until years or even decades after his death. That not one single person who actually met a man so influential as he had ever once put pen to paper for so much as a letter to mom describing their encounter. That so many thousands of people could witness such astounding deeds, yet never attract enough attention to be recorded.

My examination of this evidence has led me to this as the most likely explanation of the facts. Jesus did, in fact, exist. He suffered a, not uncommon, fate for outspoken men of that time, but he somehow survived execution. Bear in mind that, when Jesus was taken down, the two men crucified with him were still very much alive and had either of them been released at that time they too would likely have survived. In the book of John there even seems to be some discussion over whether Jesus was in fact dead. At any rate, this event, in itself, was sufficient to spawn the entire Christian movement. However, I see no good reason to believe that anything else described in the gospels, including many details regarding the crucifixion itself, ever happened.

This scenario cannot be discounted and is quite plausible.  Given the nature of peoples’ psychology of the time, it would not be surprising that a religious faith could emerge in response to this type of event.

(1333) Died-Again Christian syndrome

Many Christians use the term ‘born again’ to refer to that moment when they first truly believed in the Jesus story, taking it to heart, and committing their life accordingly.  But when some of these newly-minted Christians decide to take it one step further, to enter some aspect of public ministry, they often encounter within the training process information that causes them to doubt or completely abandon their faith. In effect, they become ‘died again,’ going back to where they were before.  A recent study was conducted of this phenomenon in South Africa.  It is discussed in detail at this site and the abstract shown below:

https://www.discerningtheworld.com/2009/05/09/the-died-again-christian-syndrome-by-the-university-of-pretoria/

Many Old Testament students (and subsequent scholars) come to the subject as eager fundamentalist Christians hoping to one day join the ministry. It is therefore not surprising that an exposure to the findings of biblical criticism and its exposure of the all-too-human, pre-Christian and alien nature of the Hebrew Bible has not infrequently contributes to a crisis of belief and, not uncommonly, a complete loss of faith (be it temporary or permanent). The cognitive dissonance involved in the rethinking of one’s childhood faith, the disorientation of having one’s consciousness transformed and the doubting engendered by insights that contradict the dogmas of one’s own Church traditions can be experienced as a shattering of reality, an inversion of the process of being born-again. This paper aims take a closer look at the etiology of the ‘died-again Christian syndrome’ as it is manifested among Old Testament students in the contemporary South African context.

What this illuminates is that in the process of someone converting from either an agnostic or an apathetic Christian to a fervent one, there is almost never an accompanying increase in knowledge of scripture or church history.  It is almost always an appeal to emotions and feelings.  But once anyone plies into the nuts and bolts of scripture and studies the evolution of Christian theological positions and its rather sordid history, the fervency necessarily dies out.  There is no better evidence that Christianity is false than to show that a more comprehensive study of itself leads more to doubt than faith.  A true religion would have the exact opposite effect.

(1334) The asymmetric nature of Christian sin economy

The Bible is clear throughout that the sin of Adam and Eve was cast upon every person who has ever lived.  This is definitively stated by St. Paul:

Romans 5:18

Therefore, just as one trespass brought condemnation for all men, so also one act of righteousness brought justification and life for all men.

Then, thousands of years later, God decided to have his son killed to erase the sin of Adam and Eve.  Here is the definitive verse, but note that there is a subtle difference from the verse above:

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Yes, the second verse offering forgiveness requires an action whereas the verse condemning mankind is automatic.  To be forgiven, you must believe in Jesus, but to be condemned by the sin of Adam, no belief or action is required. That is, you don’t have to believe in Adam to be condemned by his transgression. So why do you have to believe in Jesus to be forgiven?

Condemnation is unconditional, but forgiveness IS conditional. It is hard to imagine that an actual god would stack the odds in such an unfair manner.

(1335) Jesus mistakenly believes in the Exodus

The biblical story of the Exodus is so historically spectacular that it must have been one of the seminal historical events of all-time.  It tells of a massive escape of Jewish captives from Egypt and the destruction that God rained down on the Egyptian people and their possessions.  All of this happened after millions of the Jews had assimilated into this foreign culture for hundreds of years.  The following is taken from:

There Was No “Exodus”

The bible says that the “Exodus” consisted of  603,550 able-bodied adult males (not counting Levites), wives, non-fighting men, Levites  and children  would have brought the total to 3 million or more; equivalent to nearly half of the entire Egyptian population of around 3-6 million. After 430 years, the Jews would have been well integrated into the fabric of Egyptian culture and economy. If they were slaves, they would have been even more critical to the economy. The loss of such a huge proportion of the population would have caused havoc to the Egyptian economy, but no evidence of such effect has been found.

Think of it this way… if, in the United States, approximately 150 million workers (~50% of our population) of the lowest job skills suddenly disappeared tomorrow and, at the same time, roughly 20% of our population suddenly dropped dead all at the stroke of midnight (i.e. “first born), and our entire Army (what was left of it) drowned in the sea, not to mention loss of all crops and cattle,  don’t you think this would have affected our economy and reduced us to a third world country?

Wouldn’t Egypt have been affected similarly? Yet, at the time of the alleged Exodus (1447 BCE) Egypt was at the height of its powers.

Every Christian should ask themselves how Egypt could have not noticed all of this happening to their country. If this story is false, and it has also been shown to be false by all facets of archaeological study, then the Passover (the placement of blood on the homes of the Jews so God would ‘pass over’ their homes during his murderous rampage to kill the Egyptian first-born males) never happened, meaning that Jesus, as described in the Gospels, believed and participated in a ritual that was based on a myth (the Passover tradition). If Jesus thought the Passover was a real historical event, and all signs point to this, and the Passover never happened, as confirmed by overwhelming evidence, then Jesus, assuming he was a real person, had no more knowledge than any other human typical of his time.

(1336) Churches reluctant to use lightning rods

For many centuries, Christians believed that placing lighting rods on churches was a sign of having a lack of faith.  This was because they thought that God was personally directing the bolts of lightning and that he would hit only those churches that deserved to be hit for some reason. To prevent such a strike would be circumventing the divine will. The following is taken from:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/

The subject of lightning rods on churches comes up occasionally on DC. I found some quotes on that subject in a biography on Benjamin Franklin. The context is discussing Franklin’s experiments flying a kite in storm clouds, making sparks, and saving electricity in Leyden Jars.

How bad was the problem of lightning striking churches?

“For centuries, the devastating scourge of lightning had generally been considered a supernatural phenomenon or expression of God’s will. At the approach of a storm, church bells were rung to ward off the bolts. “The tones of the consecrated metal repel the demon and avert storm and lightning,” declared St. Thomas Aquinas. But even the most religiously faithful were likely to have noticed this was not very effective. During one thirty-five-year period in Germany alone during the mid-1700s, 386 churches were struck and more than one hundred bell ringers killed. In Venice, some three thousand people were killed when tons of gunpowder stored in a church was hit.”

Franklin’s results are well known: he discovered that the electricity could be directed to a lightning rod which would save the building from being burned down. Most were delighted to find protection from this disaster, but not everybody:

“In some circles, especially religious ones, Franklin’s findings stirred controversy. The Abbé Nollet, jealous, continued to denigrate his ideas and claimed that the lightning rod was an offense to God. “He speaks as if he thought it presumption in man to propose guarding himself against the thunders of Heaven!” Franklin wrote a friend. “Surely the thunder of Heaven is no more supernatural than the rain, hail or sunshine of Heaven, against the inconvenience of which we guard by roofs and shades without scruple.”

I’m sure most believers today could look back and understand the foolishness of opposing lightning rods—indeed, try to find a church that doesn’t have one and insurance. They could correctly identify how faith clouded the judgement of earlier believers. If only they could recognize the same effect today as it applies to evolution, homosexuality, birth control, etc.. It’s the OTF with a dimension of time. Sadly, faith still holds the same power, only the details have changed.

It took the following disaster for the Catholic Church to end its opposition to the use of lightning rods:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brescia_explosion

On August 18, 1769, the city of Brescia in northern Italy was devastated when the Bastion of San Nazaro was struck by lightning. The resulting fire ignited about 90,000 kg (or about 200,000 lb) of gunpowder stored there by the Republic of Venice, causing a massive explosion. Huge stones were hurled in a radius of a kilometer around the explosion, landing on people, houses, and church buildings including Santi Nazaro e Celso. Doors of houses and shops and city gates were thrown open, and broken glass showered down.

This explosion destroyed about one-sixth of the city. Reports of death tolls vary, with 3,000 deaths often reported in later English sources, though an official account from two years after the event references 400 dead and 800 wounded. French writer Louis-Sébastien Mercier claimed in his popular 1770 novel L’An 2440, rêve s’il en fut jamais, which was translated into English as Memoirs of the year two thousand five hundred by 1772, that 2,500 died in the explosion.

Scipione Garbelli’s Le Rovine di Brescia was published in 1771 and documented the tragedy.

The Roman Catholic Church withdrew its religious objection to lightning rods after the event.

So, in the end, the churches surrendered to the naturalistic understanding of nature and protected their buildings no differently than atheists did.  Whenever Christians and atheists act in the same fashion, it lends evidence that the supernatural is not an element of our reality.

(1337) Author of Mark was not Peter’s companion

The author of the Gospel of Mark is not known, and the assignment of the name “Mark” to this gospel was not made until about 100 years after it was written. In an effort to authenticate his work, a legend was created that this ‘Mark’ was a companion of the Apostle Peter, and that Mark wrote an account based on Peter’s recollections.  An examination of Mark’s gospel reveals that this tradition is almost certainly false, as is explained below:

 http://www.holybooks.info/mark.html#NotJewish

This anonymous gospel was the first to be written, between 60 and 80CE, by a Roman convert to Christianity. The author didn’t meet Jesus, wrote in Greek, not Hebrew, and was not a Jew. It is unlikely that Mark knew any Jews. There was no-one to correct his blunders about Jewish life, such as misquoting the 10 commandments, attributing God’s words to Moses, and having Jews buy things on the Sabbath. The Gospel of Mark has undergone many changes and there are several ancient versions. The oldest versions of Mark all end at Mark 16:8, many with the words “according to Mark” which hint that Mark was not the author, but, that someone was claiming that the document was their record of what Mark had told them. 16:9-20 was a later edition by a different unknown author. The Gospel of Mark contradicts the other gospels on many points and contains internal inconsistencies, some of these were later fixed by Matthew and Luke when they made their own copies of Mark.

To determine that, it is necessary to look very closely at how Luke and especially Matthew used Mark’s Gospel. Time and time again, we see Matthew correcting Mark’s blunders about Judaism. Clearly Matthew was a Jew and Mark, despite Papias’ bold assertion, was not very close to the Jerusalem Church.

Comparing Matthew 15:4 with Mark 7:10, Mark represents a more Gentile attitude in quoting the Old Testament as “Moses said” rather than “God said.” Matthew, a Jew, would never have attributed the 10 commandments to Moses. It was God who said them, as all Jews will tell you.

Mark 5:22: “One of the rulers of the synagogue.” Diaspora synagogues may sometimes have had more than ruler, as at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:15), but Palestinian synagogues normally had only one. Matthew 9:18, drops this phrase.

Mark 14:12: On the first day of unleavened bread when they sacrificed the Passover, confuses Nisan 15 with Nisan 14. Naturally, Matthew 26:17 drops the phrase “when they sacrificed the Passover”. Was Mark a Jew who did not know about the Passover?

Mark 14:13 says that the disciples were to be met by a man carrying a pitcher of water. Matthew 26:18 drops the idea that a Jewish man would do a woman’s work.

Mark 15:42, “When evening was already come, because it was Friday (paraskeue) that is, the day before the sabbath …” . This means “either that Friday began with that sunset, and Jesus had died on Thursday; or else, the evangelist forgot [or did not know] that the Jewish day began at evening.” Matthew 27:57-62 clarifies Mark’s confusion over Jewish days. Interestingly, the NIV tries to translate the problem away by writing for Mark 15:42 ‘So as evening approached”, rather than “and when evening had come”, as the RSV has it.

Mark 15:46 says that that same evening Joseph of Arimathea “bought a linen cloth.” Matthew drops the idea of a Jew buying something on the Sabbath. No Jew could have made that mistake.

Mark 1:2 wrongly ascribes Malachi 3:1 to Isaiah. Matthew 3:3 corrects this.

In Mark 2:7 the teachers of the law complain that Jesus is forgiving sins and say ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’. Jews did not think that. Matthew 9:3 drops the phrase. There is a Dead Sea Scroll called ‘The Prayer of Nabonidus'(4Q242) , written and copied by Jews, where it is said by Nabonidus ‘… an exorcist pardoned my sins. He was a Jew…’. Jews did believe that God could give authority to men to forgive sin.

Mark 2:26 – Abiathar should be Ahimelech.Matthew 12:1-8 does not repeat the mistake. Incidentally, if Jesus was thinking of 1 Sam. 21:1-8 when he said that David and those who were with him were hungry, then, in his omniscience, he forgot that David was on the run alone and the story that David told Ahimelech was a falsehood – David was not on a mission from the king and he did not have an appointment with any young men.

Mark 10:19 misquotes the Ten Commandments and inserts an extra commandment: “Do not defraud.” Matthew 19:18-20 sticks to the original 10, plus the one that many Rabbis regarded as a summary of the commandments.

Mark 15:34 has Jesus quoting Psalm 22:1 in Aramaic (Eloi). Had Jesus done this, bystanders could hardly have supposed that he was calling for Elijah. Jesus must have used Hebrew Eli, as at Matthew 27:46. The NIV tries to harmonize Matthew and Mark here by using Eloi in both places.

The evidence that Mark was not a companion of Peter’s and knew very little about the Jewish culture lends much weight to the possibility that his account of Jesus’s life is mostly fictional. If so, then the remaining three gospels, which borrowed heavily from Mark, are themselves nothing more than re-fabricated fiction.

(1138) Peter’s ordination is a forgery

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes a point to anoint Peter as the head of his ‘church,’ though this seems to be an anachronism, given that Jesus never otherwise makes any effort to set up a church, instead insisting that he would return very soon.  The ordination of Peter exists only in Matthew and not in the similar texts of Mark and Luke. Here are the three related synoptic passages:

Matthew 16:15-20

He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he the disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ.

Mark 8:27-30

And Jesus went forth, and his disciples, into the villages of Caesarea Philippi: and in the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Who do men say that I am? And they told him, saying, John the Baptist: and others, Elijah; but others, One of the prophets. And he asked them, But who say ye that I am? Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

Luke 9:18-20

And it came to pass, as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Who do the multitudes say that I am? And they answering said, John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets is risen again. And he said unto them, But who say ye that I am? And Peter answering said, The Christ of God.

The following was taken from:

http://www.skeptically.org/bible/id2.html

In Matthew 16:17-19 Jesus blesses Peter pronouncing him the “rock” upon which he will build his church while giving him the “keys to the kingdom.” Peter, therefore, stands as Jesus’ undisputed successor. In fact, Peter’s recognition by the Roman Catholic Church as the first pope is based primarily on this passage. However, the evidence of forgery is undeniable. First, although it constitutes an essential element of the Christian religion, the ordination of Peter is mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament, not even in First and Second Peter, the epistles allegedly written by the great apostle. Second, excluding this passage, Jesus never attempted to establish a “church.” Such a project would have been absurd in view of the fact that he assured his followers that the world would end and he would return in glory during their lifetime to establish the kingdom of God. In fact, the use of the word “church” suggests a level of organization not acquired until long after the event allegedly occurred. In that regard, it is interesting to note that throughout the four gospels the word “church” appears only twice thereafter, and both are in the same verse, Matthew 18:17. Third, and perhaps the most revealing, although Mark and Luke do not contain the ordination, they do contain duplicates of Matthew 16:16 and 16:20, the verses immediately preceding and following the ordination13. The so-called ordination of Peter is without a doubt a later insertion, i.e. a forgery.

Therefore, in an attempt to base the succession of Roman Catholic popes to the Apostle Peter, a forgery was inserted into the Matthew gospel.  This was despite not recognizing that Peter’s later denial of Christ would, by Jesus’s own words, disqualify him from even reaching heaven:

Matthew 10:32-33

Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

This point provides additional evidence of biblical tampering that renders the entirety of the Bible as being mostly fictional.

(1339) Acts was not written by Paul’s companion

Church tradition holds that a person named Luke was a traveling companion of Paul ‘s and that this person wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  It is fairly certain that the same person wrote both of these books, but is also virtually certain that this person was not Paul’s companion, and furthermore he knew very little about Paul, getting details wrong at every turn.  The following was taken from:

http://www.holybooks.info/acts.html

This book claims to be written by a companion of Paul, but, the book itself wasn’t written for a few decades after Paul’s death, although this is perfectly possible for a (young) comrade of Paul with a good memory. There are some quite large differences in the very earliest manuscripts that we have of the Book of Acts, and it is clear it was being written-and-edited for some time before reaching its final form.

“Acts claims to be written by someone who was a companion of Paul. But given the numerous discrepancies between Paul‘s letters and book of Acts, that looks highly unlikely. The author of Acts never names himself, and to that extent he is writing anonymously. But church tradition, starting about a century after the book was written, attributed the book to someone named Luke[because] the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, both of them anonymous, were written by the same author.”

Forged” by Bart Ehrman (2011)

Why did Theological concerns made academics over the years think that the author must have been a Gentilecompanion of Paul, rather than a Jewish one and Colossians 4:10-14 names 3 gentile companions of Paul: Epaphras, Demas and Luke the physician. But Demas abandoned Paul (2 Tim 2:10) and Epaphras founded a church in Colossae (Col. 1:5-7), but such a church is never mentioned in Acts and surely it would have been mentioned somewhere in Acts if the founder of that church was the one who wrote a Gospel and a second Book (of Acts). The assumption that, therefore, someone called Luke wrote it, “is found already in the late second-century church father Irenaeus [who] was writing a century after the book of Acts was produced [but is] the first surviving Christian author to make extensive reference to the book.”

The problem is: The names in Colossians are unreliable because Colossians is a later forgery in the name of Paul, and not by Paul, and, there are too many errors about Paul in Acts for it to be the work of such a close and long-term travelling companion as Luke. “I’ve mentioned only three of these discrepancies. There are many others. They involve just about every aspect of the historical PaulPaul‘s theology and preaching differ between Acts and the letters; other differences are in Paul’s attitude toward pagans, his relationship to the Jewish law, his missionary strategy, and his itinerary. At just about every point where it is possible to check what Acts says about Paul with what Paul says about himself in his authentic letters, there are discrepancies. The conclusion is hard to escape that Acts was probably not written by one of Paul’s traveling companions.”

Because it is highly probable that the Book of Acts was not written by a companion of Paul ‘s and that the book got almost every aspect of Paul’s actions and theology wrong, it has resulted in most biblical scholars concluding that Acts is primarily or totally a work of fiction.  This leaves a gigantic hole in the understanding of early Christianity and removes a vital historical bridge needed to establish its authenticity.

(1340) Less religious countries are the happiest

The United Nations World Happiness Report for 2016 shows that countries with a low level of religiosity tend to have happier people than those that live in more religious states.  The top ten happiest countries are reported as follows:

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway
  3. Switzerland
  4. Netherlands
  5. Sweden
  6. Canada
  7. Finland
  8. Austria
  9. Iceland
  10. Australia

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/geeg45edkjh/1-denmark/#3b8efbde1479

The least religious countries is the world are as follows:

  1. Australia
  2. Sweden
  3. Germany
  4. Netherlands
  5. New Zealand
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Denmark
  8. Canada
  9. France
  10. Austria

http://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2016-03-25/the-10-least-religious-countries-ranked-by-perception

There is a noticeable overlap of happy countries with irreligious countries. Obviously, there is no exclusive correlation between religion and happiness, as many other factors contribute, but one conclusion that can be drawn is that religious belief is not a robust generator of happiness. And that is a problem for the claims that are being made. If, for example, Christianity was true, then its followers would hold a major advantage over all others, as they would have a supernatural being supplying their needs through prayer.  Additionally, because of the tangible evidence of God in their lives, the followers would be confident that they will live eternally in heaven. This would imply that the happiest countries should be the ones that are the most Christian.  But none of the high majority Christian nations appear in the top 10.

(1341) Jesus’s ministry changes locations

There is a critical disconnect in the Gospels as to their description of the areas where Jesus focused his ministry. The following is taken from:

http://www.holybooks.info/mark.html#CACS

The gospels describe where Jesus taught. Mark contradicts Luke and John’s accounts:

“Mark has Jesus teaching only in the area of Galilee, and not in Judea, and only traveling the 70 miles to Jerusalem once, at the end of his life. Luke, however, portrays Jesus as teaching equally in Galilee and Judea. John’s Jesus, on the other hand, preaches mainly in Jerusalem and makes only occasional visits to Galilee.”

The Jesus Mysteries” by Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (1999) [Book Review]

Mark was the first gospel written and John was the last,  probably about 30 years later.  It is telling that Jesus’s orbit of influence evolved over that time to focus more on Jerusalem/Judea than Galilee.  If Jesus was real, he had only one ministry, and at best only one of these gospels is telling the truth about where he went. Because Mark was the first gospel written, and Jesus is believed to have lived in Galilee, it is most probable that he stayed in that district for most of his ministry. The later gospels fabricated a more extensive range of influence probably to embellish the overall credentials of a man who was being slowly made into a god.

(1342) The Book of Revelation is of dubious legitimacy

Many Christians revere the Book of Revelation as being the final word from God before his return at some future date.  It is seen as validating the idea that God is angry and vengeful against sinners and that he will exact upon them extreme punishment.  This is a form of comfort both to know that you as a Christian will avoid such horrors as well as enjoy the satisfaction that evil people will meet their due in the end. Unfortunately for Christians, the Book of Revelation has never been fully accepted as authentic scripture. The following was taken from:

http://www.holybooks.info/revelation.html

The Church Father Eusebius warned us that there were a number of previous writers who were concerned that Revelations was written by a heretic called Cerinthus, and he wrote the Book of Revelation in order to promulgate illegitimate ideas about a 1,000 years of paradise here on Earth4. The disputes were long-lasting, and the Book of Revelation was often rejected from Bibles as a result of its dubious legitimacy:

“[The Book of Revelation has] been many times rejected from the sacred canon. It did not appear in the Syriac Testament as late as 1562. Neither did Luther, the great reformer of the sixteenth century, nor his coworker, Erasmus, respect it, Luther declaring that for his part he would as soon it had not been written; Calvin, also, had small regard for it. The first collection of the New Testament canon, decided upon by the Council of Laodicea (A. D. 364), omitted the entire book from its list of sacred works; Jerome said that some Greek churches would not receive it. The celebrated Vatican codex in the papal library, the oldest uncial or Biblical manuscript in existence, does not contain Revelation. The canon of the New Testament was fixed as it now is by Pope Innocent I., A. D. 405, with the Book of Revelation still in dispute.”

The Woman’s Bible” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1898)

If God meant to provide a ‘revelation’ of his future plans, it is inconceivable that he would allow it to be jostled around and ridiculed. Rather, he would assure that it was universally received as being authentic. As it is, any knowledgeable Christian must concede that this book probably has nothing to do with God, even if he accepts the legitimacy of the remainder of the Bible.

(1343) First two chapters of Luke and Matthew are forgeries

There is considerable evidence that the first two chapters of the gospels of Luke and Matthew were added at a later date by a different author.  These interpolations added two fanciful and completely contradictory stories of Jesus’s virgin birth. The motivation for these forgeries was to back-supply evidence that Jesus was a god and therefore that he did not experience a normal birth. The following was taken from:

https://ehrmanblog.org/did-luke-originally-have-chapters-1-2/

The question of how an original version of Luke began hinges on lots of little pieces of scholarship of that sort (scholarship that I will *not* be providing here on the blog!  So don’t worry!).   It includes a careful analysis of the language of Luke 1-2, which shows that the writing style seems to differ from the rest of the Gospel; an assessment of the relationship of that portion of Luke to the Septuagint (the Greek OT) in comparison with the rest of the Gospel of Luke (these two chapters appear much more Septuagintal in character); and especially an assessment of a range of literary features of chs. 1-2 in relationship to ch. 3.  Here there are several important points that scholars have made:

  • The beginning of ch. 3 reads like the *beginning* of a narrative, not the continuation of a narrative.
  • The beginning of ch. 3 is the same, in substance, as the beginning of the source of Luke’s Gospel, Mark (they both begin with Jesus being baptized).
  • Some of the central themes of chs. 1-2 are never referred to elsewhere in either the rest of the Gospel or the book of Acts (e.g., Jesus having come from Bethlehem; his mother being a virgin), even though lots of other themes from early chapters (e..g, the baptism by John) *are* referred to later.
  • The voice at the baptism (“today I have begotten you” as “my son”) does not seem to make sense given the narrative of chs. 1-2 (where, according to 1:35, Jesus is the son of God because God made his mother pregnant)
  • The genealogy that is given in ch. 3 doesn’t make sense if the Gospel already had chs. 1-2.  The genealogy is given *after* the baptism.   But the natural place for a genealogy is at the point in which a person is *born* (since the genealogy traces the bloodline up to the time of birth), not at the point of baptism (as a 30 year old!).   Without chs. 1-2, however, the genealogy makes sense at the baptism, since it is at the baptism that Jesus is made the son of God according to the voice from heaven, and so immediately afterward the genealogy is given, in which Jesus’ family line is traced not only to Adam (so that he is the son of Adam) but from Adam to God (so that he is the son of God).

All of these factors contribute to a scholarly view (I don’t know if it’s a majority view; I somewhat doubt it.  But I think it *should* be, since the evidence strikes me as being so significantly in favor of it) that there was a first edition of Luke that began with what is now chapter 3.  If that is right, then what is now 1:1-4 would still have begun the Gospel, but the narrative would then have moved directly from 1:4 to what is now 3:1.

That would make sense of one other historical datum: one of our earliest witnesses to the Gospel of Luke is the “arch-heretic” Marcion, who notoriously “edited” his Gospel of Luke so that it did not have chs. 1-2 (since Marcion did not think that Jesus was born of a virgin, or born at all, but that he appeared as an adult at the beginning of his ministry).   But what if Marcion didn’t “edit” the two chapters by getting rid of them?  What if he knew a version of Luke that simply did not yet have them?  That would change how we evaluate Marcion’s “editorial” approach to the Gospel.

Although this excerpt only addresses Luke, the same discussion applies to the first two chapters of Matthew.  Pertaining to Luke, this means that the original gospel author did not write about the following events:

  • Foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist
  • Foretelling of the birth of Jesus
  • Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (JtB mother)
  • Mary’s song of praise (The Magnificat)
  • The birth of John the Baptist
  • Zechariah’s song
  • The birth of Jesus
  • Jesus presented in the Temple
  • 12- year old Jesus preaching in the Temple

A major portion of Christian tradition is therefore based on what an unknown person added to the Gospel of Luke most likely many decades after the original writing.  The effect that one unscrupulous person had on history is astounding.

(1344) The crucifixion stories are mythical

When considered as a whole, the stories of Jesus’s crucifixion presented in the gospels (each quite different) meet all of the characteristics of mythical folklore. Any person not raised in a Christian environment can clearly see and dismiss these tales as being legendary.  The following is taken from:

http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/christianity_crucifixionfacade.html#OriginalSin

The crucifixion story of Jesus Christ is mythical, based on pagan religions, and makes no sense:

  1. There is a complete absence of evidence for the events described – no authors mention the phenomenal events that supposedly occurred at the time of Jesus’ resurrection, and, there are no records of Jesus being crucified in the first place. This is despite there being multiple historians of the time who kept extensive records of events in that era, especially of unusual events and the misdeeds of rulers. The only records we have are those written by Christians themselves, the Gospels. And within each of those gospels nearly all details of the crucifixion and resurrection are different. Very important details, such as Jesus’ last words, are so different that it appears they are simply being made up by the authors. The earliest Christians did not know simple details such as where Jesus was buried.
  2. Most the details of Jesus’ death and rebirth are similar to the existing myths surrounding god-men in that era. The similarities to the Christs of other pagan religions are shockingly detailed, so much so that early Church fathers had to defend themselves against pagan critics who said that the stories of Jesus were simply pagan stories with new names.
  3. The crucifixion makes no sense. The crucifixion did not empower God as God is omnipotent. It did not aid its understanding of Humanity, as God is omniscient. God did not need to become Human to experience Human suffering: God already knew. God is able to judge us perfectly, because God is perfect, just and all-knowing. The crucifixion of Jesus did not improve God’s judgement of us, as God’s judgement was perfect both before and after the crucifixion. The crucifixion did not aid us, as “knowing Jesus” was not the point of the crucifixion unless God has arbitrarily condemned everyone to hell who happened to live before the founding of Christianity. That those who lived before the time of Jesus’ crucifixion are also judged fairly by (perfect) God means that there was no actual point to it all except as a needless public relations exercise. The entire escapade seems to be an irrational story copied from pre-Christian myths.

It is sometimes difficult for people to separate what is recorded in written words from what actually happened.  Most Christians are naive to a fault in believing that what someone wrote during the superstitious workings of the Iron Age must in fact be the literal truth.  Even after setting aside the irreconcilable contradictions between the various crucifixion accounts, each individual story is richly adorned with the mythical trappings common to almost all similar writings of its time and place in history.

(1345) God encourages confusion and division

Consider the following two scriptures:

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

John 17:20-23

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

We are to assume from these scriptures that God does not endorse confusion and hopes for, and with his infinite power has the ability to engender, unity among all people to acknowledge, respect, and worship his mighty celestial status. The historical record of worldwide division concerning all matters theological belies these aims.

The following quote summarizes this point:

“If we knew the truth, our existential crises, mental angst and warring world religions would have no grounds to vex. If god revealed itself to everyone, in no unclear terms, there could be no disagreement. But god does not do this. God remains hidden – and if god is the source of any of our world religions, it seems that it is intentionally giving conflicting messages. Saying one set of things to one group of people; appearing as a multitude of gods to others, and appearing not at all to many. These appear to be the tactics not of a god that wants us to understand and unite, but of one that actively encourages division, war, conflict, confusion and stress.”

“God Must Be Evil (If It Exists): 2.4. An Evil God Causes Confusion and Hides Itself”
Vexen Crabtree
 (2003)

Keep in mind, this is not saying that division, war, conflict, confusion, and stress are symptoms of imperfect humans arguing amidst themselves about which god is real, but rather it is an indictment of God himself for allowing such a chaotic situation to develop in the first place.  This could not have resulted from the executed plans of an infinitely intelligent supernatural being. On the other hand, it fits precisely the model of multiple and disparate banks of flawed humans inventing their preferred ideas of metaphysical beliefs.

(1346) Religion makes children meaner

Conventional wisdom suggests that raising a child in a religious environment should make them nicer and more altruistic than if they are not exposed to any religious tradition.  This is a part of the morality argument made by many apologists, suggesting that without a reference to a god, a person would have no moral barometer upon which to base his actions.  But research has shown the opposite to be true- children outside of a religious sphere of influence are kinder and less punitive. The following was taken from:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/06/religious-children-less-altruistic-secular-kids-study?CMP=fb_gu

Children from religious families are less kind and more punitive than those from non-religious households, according to a new study.

Academics from seven universities across the world studied Christian, Muslim and non-religious children to test the relationship between religion and morality.

They found that religious belief is a negative influence on children’s altruism.

“Overall, our findings … contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others,” said the authors of The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World, published this week in Current Biology.

“More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that secularization of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness – in fact, it will do just the opposite.”

Almost 1,200 children, aged between five and 12, in the US, Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey and South Africa participated in the study. Almost 24% were Christian, 43% Muslim, and 27.6% non-religious. The numbers of Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic and other children were too small to be statistically valid.

They were asked to choose stickers and then told there were not enough to go round for all children in their school, to see if they would share. They were also shown film of children pushing and bumping one another to gauge their responses.

The findings “robustly demonstrate that children from households identifying as either of the two major world religions (Christianity and Islam) were less altruistic than children from non-religious households”.

Older children, usually those with a longer exposure to religion, “exhibit[ed] the greatest negative relations”.

The study also found that “religiosity affects children’s punitive tendencies”. Children from religious households “frequently appear to be more judgmental of others’ actions”, it said.

A religion that worships a real god who has unlimited powers to influence the actions of his followers should engender amongst those followers a noticeable wave of benevolence, kindness, and altruism. On the other hand, a man-made religion that has no supernatural support and which necessarily divides itself from others should show the opposite. That the children of Christianity fall into the second category is evidence that the Christian god is mythical.

(1347) The Epistle of James was not written by Jesus’s brother

Although Christian scholarship often holds that the New Testament Epistle of James is the writing of Jesus’s brother James, there are compelling reasons to conclude that this is not true. The following is taken from:

http://www.holybooks.info/james.html

“There are excellent reasons for thinking that this letter [Epistle of James] was not written by the brother of Jesus, but was forged in his name. For one thing, the teaching being opposed [in the book of James] must have arisen later than the writings of Paul. That is to say, it is a later development of Pauline thinking in a later Pauline community. The teaching is indeed similar to the teaching found in Ephesians, written after Paul’s lifetime in his name. But it goes even farther than Ephesians, since the author of Ephesians would never have said that it didn’t matter how you lived so long as you have faith. Just the opposite in fact! (See Eph. 2:10.). Whoever is writing the book of James is presupposing an ever later situation found among Paul’s churches. But since the historical James was probably martyred in 62 CE, two decades or so before Ephesians was written, the book could not very well have been written by him

Moreover, the one thing we know best about James of Jerusalem is that he was concerned that Jewish followers of Jesus continue to keep the requirements of Jewish law. But this concern is completely and noticeably missing in this letter. This author, claiming to be James, is concerned with people doing ‘good deeds’; he is not at all concerned with keeping kosher, observing the Sabbath and Jewish festivals, or circumcision. His concerns are not those of James of Jerusalem.

The real clincher, though, is one we have seen before in relation to both Peter and Jude. This author has written a very fluent and rhetorically effective composition in Greek. He is intimately familiar with the Greek version of the Old Testament. The historical James, on the other hand, was an Aramaic-speaking peasant from Galilee who almost certainly never learned to read. Or if he did learn to read, it was to read Hebrew. If he ever learned Greek, it would have been as a second language in order to speak it, haltingly no doubt. He never would have gone to school. He never would have become proficient in Greek. He never would have learned how to write, even in his native language, let alone a second tongue. He never would have studied the Greek Old Testament. He never would have taken Greek composition classes. He never would have become skilled in Greek rhetoric.”

Forged, by Bart Ehrman (2011)

This is a significant point because the inclusion of this letter into the canon was predicated on the assumption that it was written by someone who knew and followed Jesus. It it is now seen to be far removed from that situation. That, in combination with its conflicting theology, makes it obvious that it should not have been added to the Bible.

(1348) The Great Commission is a hoax

Christian evangelism is commonly promoted as a compliant response to Jesus’s decree reported in the following verses:

Matthew 28:16-20

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

However, there are very good reasons to conclude that these verses were added well after the original version of the gospel was written. The following is taken from:

http://www.skeptically.org/bible/id2.html

The Great Commission is expressed in the writer’s language and reflects his concept of a world mission for the church. Jesus, if he actually existed, probably had no idea of launching a world mission and certainly was not an institution builder. Jesus in fact contradicts the Great Commission in Matthew 10:5-6 where he instructs the twelve disciples to, “Go nowhere among the gentiles, and enter no town of the Samarians, but go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He contradicts it again in Matthew 15:24 when he tells the Canaanite woman that, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The three parts of the commission – 1) make disciples, 2) baptize, and 3) teach – constitute the program adopted by the infant movement probably in the early second century, and therefore cannot be seen to reflect direct instructions from Jesus himself. Instead, they are framed in language characteristic of the individual evangelists and express their views of how the mission of the infant church is to be understood. In addition, can you imagine how long it would have taken twelve men living in a three-mile-an-hour world to successfully complete such an assignment? But not to worry because in Matthew 10:23 Jesus invalidates the Great Commission by telling his disciples, “You shall not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.” He does it again in Matthew 16:28 where he assures his followers that “There are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” The irony is that the destruction of the culture and traditions, folkways and customs of millions of indigenous peoples throughout the world by zealous, intolerant Christian missionaries was inspired not by a divine edict but by an obvious hoax.

The author of the Gospel of Matthew clearly viewed Jesus’s movement as applying to Jews only.  But when Paul had taken Jesus to the Gentiles, there was a need to show in scripture that this more inclusive, universal approach to Christianity was legitimate.  So, the extra verses were added as observed. This is an example where scribes put words in Jesus’s mouth to legitimize a change in the trajectory of Christian outreach.

(1349) DNA testing disproves weeping statue miracles

One of the very few types of ‘miracles’ that has survived and is still being reported today is the weeping and bleeding of holy statues, usually of the Virgin Mary.  Many Christians have relied upon these mysterious emanations of tears or blood as a means of bolstering their faith. But when examined, the miracles vanish under the scrutiny of scientific testing, revealing them to be pious frauds. The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/fda_miracles.htm#mystery

The development of DNA analysis in the late 1990’s put an end to holy statues of the Virgin Mary that shed tears acclaimed to be the real tears or sometimes the blood of the Virgin. Up until then, thousands of statues and statuettes had been acclaimed as miraculously shedding tears – and no one could prove otherwise as long as the fraudsters used human tears or human blood. Suddenly it was possible to identify not just the species, but also the gender and even the identity of the original shedder of the tears or blood. From 1995 the Weeping Madonna of Civitavecchia worked miracles in the church of St Agostino in Pantano, a suburb of the port of Civitavecchia, near Rome.

The authorities suspected what in Italy they call a “pious fraud” and investigated the matter. A DNA examination of the tears revealed that they came from a man. The statue’s owner, Fabio Gregori was asked to provide a sample for comparison. He refused. Everyone except the most devout made the obvious deduction. Dozens of other miraculous statues proved to be hoaxes, and soon only the most ignorant fraudster thought it worthwhile to try a new weeping statue fraud. Then in 2008 a church custodian Vincenzo Di Costanzo went on trial in northern Italy for faking blood on a statue of the Virgin Mary when his own DNA was matched Virgin’s blood. Weeping statues are now kept well away from anyone who might carry out DNA tests. At no point has the Church shown any interest in prosecuting fraudsters.

Modern-day fraudulently-staged miracles can be uncovered because we have the scientific means to examine them. This was not true for most of Christianity’s 2000-year reign. This means that hundreds of thousands of purported miracles went unchallenged and were accepted by pious devotees as supernatural signs that God and Jesus were real. It is certain that this mistaken impression fueled much of scripture, church tradition, and the growth of followers during this time. It should be recognized that if Christianity was true, there would have been enough truly miraculous experiences happening such that faking them would not have been necessary.

(1350) Earliest New Testament documents destroyed

There is a question why all of the earliest Christian writings have been lost, and why all of the extant writings, most many centuries younger than the originals, have shown signs of being tampered with. These two situations can be explained simply by the fact that whenever a scribe copied a scroll of scripture and made changes to it to suit his agenda, he would then destroy the original so as to cover up his artifice.

The following is taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_manuscript

Textual scholar Bart D. Ehrman writes: “It is true, of course, that the New Testament is abundantly attested in the manuscripts produced through the ages, but most of these manuscripts are many centuries removed from the originals, and none of them perfectly accurate. They all contain mistakes – altogether many thousands of mistakes. It is not an easy task to reconstruct the original words of the New Testament.

The earliest manuscript of a New Testament text is a business-card-sized fragment from the Gospel of JohnRylands Library Papyrus P52, which may be as early as the first half of the 2nd century. The first complete copies of single New Testament books appear around 200, and the earliest complete copy of the New Testament, the Codex Sinaiticus dates to the 4th century.

If God wanted to make sure that the originally inspired biblical writings would be accurately preserved for mankind, it was well within his power to do so.  And even if God didn’t care, the people of the time should have undertaken the task of safeguarding the originals. But if the process of copying, making changes, and destroying the original was widespread, we would expect to see the existing distribution of extant manuscripts.

(1351) Moral hypocrisy of Christians

Almost all Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, the creator of the universe and the infallible source for declaring what is right and wrong, what is moral, and what is ethical. So their bibles are their source for defining how they should live their lives.  But there is a huge disconnect when these same people deviate from what is stated in the Bible.  It forms a naked hypocrisy that is plainly visible to any objective observer.  The following is taken from:

Layers of Hypocrisy

Christians and atheists (and, I assume, people of all other beliefs) behave in ways worse than they think they should. An atheist might eat meat despite seeing vegetarianism as the moral ideal. A Christian might cheat on a spouse despite knowing from Bible and conscience that it is wrong. Both are examples of a very normal kind of hypocrisy; all humans I know of are guilty of something they think they should not have done.

However, a Christian who freely commits acts forbidden in the Bible has reached a level of hypocrisy no atheist can reach, for an atheist (at least, so far as I know) does not declare an immutable set of moral laws. A Christian, however, has by accepting that label stated that they are taking the Bible as a moral guide.

A Christian who allows for divorce and remarriage despite the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels on that matter is declaring that they know more about morality than their god.

A Christian who allows for homosexuality to be freely practiced despite the Bible calling it an abomination is declaring that they know more about morality than their god.

A Christian who sees any law, especially from the New Testament, as outdated and not worth following is declaring that they know more about morality than their god.

Could there be any greater hypocrisy than this? If you claim to get your morals from an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly loving being, but then ignore the book you claim was inspired by that being, you are espousing the height of hypocrisy.

Atheists (again, at least the ones I know) make no greater claim about the origins of morality than an evolutionary byproduct and the result of great human intellect. It is not passed down, but built up.

An atheist failing to follow rules in the Bible, seeing them as outdated due to our more evolved morality, is being entirely consistent. A Christian doing exactly the same is being entirely arrogant.

In fact, it is difficult to believe such a person is truly a Christian, for how could you disobey a being so powerful as Yahweh, or a being you claim to love so much as Jesus?

If a Christian professes that the Bible is the word of God and that God is the absolute moral authority, and the Bible states that ‘X’ is forbidden, but the Christian decides that ‘X’ is OK, then the Christian cannot have it both ways- either the Bible is not the word of God or God is not the absolute moral authority. So which one to choose?  Either choice results in a theological dead end, and the reality is that ALL Christians have a more evolved sense of morality than God as he is depicted in the Bible.

(1352) Marcion of Sinope

Marcion (85-160 CE) was an important, though controversial, church leader who considered the god of the Jews (Yahweh) to be an evil creator god of lesser importance and moral virtue than the (distinctly different) god that Jesus referred to as his Father.  So, in effect, Marcion was a polytheist. He denounced the Jewish scriptures and laws as being irrelevant to Christianity and he dismissed much of the New Testament writings as being heretical, leaving only portions of the Gospel of Luke and the letters from the Apostle Paul (with some deletions) as representing the true faith. The following is taken from:

http://www.bible.ca/b-canon-canon-of-marcion.htm

“It is usually said that Marcion “rejected” the Old Testament and accepted in its place only his own canon of Luke plus Pauline Epistles, edited to remove all allusions to the Old Testament. This, however, obscures two important points. First, Marcion’s rejection of the Old Testament was indeed total, in that he regarded it as completely alien to the revelation of salvation brought by Jesus and recorded in the New Testament documents he accepted. But this was not because he did not believe that the God of the Old Testament actually existed, or thought that the Old Testament itself was a purely human invention, pseudo-oracles of an imaginary god.

On the contrary, Marcion firmly believed that the Old Testament God did exist, and that he was the Creator of the world. The problem was that his creation was evil, and he himself therefore a malign being; it was precisely the role of Jesus, and of the Unknown God now revealed in him, to deliver humankind from the malice of the evil Creator. Furthermore, the creator-god really had spoken the words attributed to him in the Old Testament: these were fully true and accurate oracles, not a human invention.

They truly expressed the thoughts of the maker of the universe, and there could be no question of suggesting that they had been falsified in any way or contaminated by human intervention. “The Jewish Scriptures represent a true revelation of the Creator, but they do not speak of or for the God whom alone Christians ought to worship.”” Marcion’s “rejection” of the Old Testament thus needs to be qualified.”” (Lee Martin McDonald, James A. Sanders, Editors: The Canon Debate; John Barton, Marcion Revisited, p 344, 2002)

This is significant for a modern-day assessment of Christianity because Marcion developed these views only about 70 years after Jesus’s alleged death on the cross, or within the time that some of his acquaintances had deceased friends and relatives who were alive at the time of the crucifixion.  The views of Marcion have survived in various forms for the past 19 centuries to the present day. The following is taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcionism#Marcionism_in_modern_history

For some, the postulated problems of the Old Testament, and the appeal of Jesus are such that they identify themselves as modern day Marcionites, and follow his solution in keeping the New Testament as sacred scripture, and rejecting the Old Testament canon and practices. A term sometimes used for these groups is “New Testament Christians”. Carroll R. Bierbower is a pastor of a church he says is Marcionite in theology and practice. The Cathar movement, historically and in modern times, reject the Old Testament for the reasons Marcion enunciated. It remains unclear whether the 11th century Cathar movement is a continuation of earlier Gnostic and Marcion streams, or represents an independent re-invention. John Lindell, a former Methodist and Unitarian Universalist pastor, advocates Christian deism, which does not include the Old Testament as part of its theology.

If Marcionite theology had prevailed, Christianity today would be in a better position to finesse its way forward in a world that has soundly rejected the vengeance, brutality, misogyny, and crudeness of the Old Testament god. Like a millstone, the Old Testament scriptures weigh upon any effort to paint the Christian god (Yahweh) as a benevolent or compassionate figure. It is telling that this crucial problem with Christianity was recognized very early in its existence and that it has survived even to this day.

(1353)  Signal to noise ratio

Atheists are often scolded for embracing too tightly a demand for solid evidence to establish their beliefs. They are encouraged to think less critically and to let God speak to their hearts. This advice might hold water if it were not for the fact that this method of divining truth has resulted in millions of different answers. The following is taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2015/12/gospel-of-thomas.html

Christians tell us that god is everywhere, but then why is he so damned hard to find? They also tell us that god only reveals himself to those who seek him. However, I’ve seen over and over how people have “seeked” so hard they have convinced themselves they have found. But what have they found? It’s obvious that we humans have sought and “found” thousands of false gods down through the ages. So why seek? If a god truly wants me to believe, he surely can accomplish that with no help from me. That “leap of faith” that Christians regard so highly is really nothing but a guess made in the face of insufficient evidence.

Ultimately, a god and his message should make sense, and there is so much religious bullshit out there that no message purporting to come from a deity should be accepted as authentic if it lacks those basic markers of clarity and evidence.

In science and engineering, there is a term known as the ‘signal to noise ratio.’ It is a measure that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise or static.  In a world overseen by an omnipresent and interventionist god (as claimed by Christianity), it would be expected that the signal (the true and consistent communication to humans from this god) would easily drown out the static (people just hearing voices in their heads).  But all we observe is static- nothing that rises above the noise in any consistent manner.  The ‘voices from god’ have been persistently contradictory.

(1354) The age regression problem regarding an afterlife

Christianity maintains a doctrine that human lives do not end at physical death, but continue on afterwards in some form of a resurrected consciousness, whether or not that includes a physical body.  The problem with this theory is that it tacitly presupposes that consciousness is a static condition for each individual.  However, we know from experience that this is far from true. The following was taken from:

http://infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/immortality.html

(Another problem for survival in any form is the age regression problem, which is stated by W. T. Stace:

When an old man dies, what kind of consciousness is supposed to survive? Is it his consciousness as it was just before death, which may perhaps have become imbecile? Or is it the consciousness of his mature middle age? Or is it the infant mind that he had when he was a baby? The point of these questions is not that we do not know the answers … The point is that all possible answers are equally senseless … [W]ill the old man who dies suddenly revert to his middle years after death? And will the infant who dies suddenly become mature? (Edwards, “Introduction” 60).

Although each individual experiences continuity in space-time and possesses a typically robust recall of past experiences, their consciousness, maturity, knowledge, and sense of “I” changes throughout life.  It can be modeled as a wave that begins with no consciousness, slowly develops over time and then, if the person survives to old age, wanes to a feeble shadow of its former self. But the consciousness that would survive death would necessarily be static, and any point selected along the arc of a human life would leave some essence of a mortal person left behind. The Christian doctrine of an afterlife runs afoul of simple logic.

(1355) Dying and rising gods

The Christian concept of a god who dies and then comes back to life is not unique in human history and, in fact, was well ensconced in theological traditions well before the time of Jesus.  Although this does not prove that Jesus’s resurrection was mythical, it suggests that this historical background could have influenced early believers to conform their view of Jesus to match that of previous deities. The following was taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/04/jesus-just-one-more-dying-and-rising-savior/

History records many dying-and-rising saviors. Examples from the Ancient Near East that preceded the Jesus story include Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, and Baal. Here is a brief introduction.

Tammuz was the Sumerian god of food and vegetation and dates from c. 2000 BCE. His death was celebrated every spring. One version of the story has him living in the underworld for six months each year, alternating with his sister.

Osirus was killed by his brother Set and cut into many pieces and scattered. His wife Isis gathered the pieces together, and he was reincarnated as the Egyptian god of the underworld and judge of the dead. He was worshipped well before 2000 BCE.

Dionysus (known as Bacchus in Roman mythology) was the Greek god of wine and dates to the 1200s BCE. The son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Dionysus was killed and then brought back to life.

Adonis (from 600 BCE) is a Greek god who was killed and then returned to life by Zeus.

Attis (from 1200 BCE) is a vegetation god from central Asia Minor, brought back to life by his lover Cybele.

In Canaanite religion, Baal (Baʿal) was part of a cycle of life and death. Baal and Mot are sons of the supreme god El (yes, one of the names of the Jewish god). When El favored the death god Mot over Baal, the heat of the summer took over and Baal died. He was resurrected when his sister-wife kills Mot.

All these gods came from regions that were close enough to the crossroads of Israel (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Asia Minor) for the ideas to have plausibly made it there, were worshipped well before the time of Jesus, and were of the dying-and-rising sort.

This is strong evidence that the gospel writers knew of (and could have been influenced by) resurrecting god stories from other cultures.

Uniqueness is one of the hallmarks of what would be expected of an earthly interaction with a supernatural being.  Christianity’s motif of a dying and rising god is not unique and it represents a missed opportunity to differentiate itself from prior presumably false belief systems.

(1356) A woman’s promise depends on her father or husband’s agreement

The Bible clearly states that God pronounced that a woman cannot make a promise or enter into an agreement without the concurrence of her father or husband.  Meanwhile, a man can do these things without  anyone’s approval:

Numbers 30:1-16

Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the Lord commands:  When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

“When a young woman still living in her father’s household makes a vow to the Lord or obligates herself by a pledge and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the Lord will release her because her father has forbidden her.

“If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the Lord will release her.

“Any vow or obligation taken by a widow or divorced woman will be binding on her.

“If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the Lord will release her. Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself. But if her husband says nothing to her about it from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or the pledges binding on her. He confirms them by saying nothing to her when he hears about them. If, however, he nullifies them some time after he hears about them, then he must bear the consequences of her wrongdoing.”

These are the regulations the Lord gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living at home.

This is a difficult passage of scripture to absorb in the 21st Century after the fight for women’s rights has reached a level of parity to men’s.  Apologists might opine that God issued this edict for the time and place accordingly but did not intend it to apply universally for all time.  This might seem like a way to finesse away this case of blatant misogyny, but it leaves open two gaping problems- first, that Jesus allegedly stated that the Jewish laws must not be compromised until the end of times (Matthew 5:18), and second, if this instruction no longer applies, then which others no longer apply and who is to make this determination?

(1357) The low cost of Christianity

Christians often defend their religion by mentioning how fast it grew in the ancient world, with the thinking that a faith could not spread with such velocity if it was merely a human creation. But what this line of reasoning fails to consider is how Christianity set the bar so low that it only took an extremely minimal effort to attain its lofty promised reward. This low cost was a major recruitment tool. The following was taken from:

https://thechurchoftruth.org/jesus-did-not-die-for-your-sins/

Sacrifice was the standard way to appease the ancient gods. Most religions required the sacrifice of animals and other valuables. A few required human sacrifice. Christianity came up with the ultimate marketing ploy: to gain access to everlasting life, you did NOT have to sacrifice your goat, you did not have to kill another human, you only had to believe that God sacrificed a human, a special human, his SON!

There it is. The concept of sacrifice all wrapped up in a tidy package and no one has to sacrifice anything because God sacrificed his son. Neat eh? No wonder Christianity spread. It was simple to implement at no cost to the believers.

There are several other reasons for the acceptance of Christianity. For Paul’s Jewish audience, Paul’s Christianity was an attractive option:

You don’t have to circumcise yourself.

A promise of a heavenly afterlife at no cost; all you have to do is “believe”.

The one sacrifice means you no longer have to sacrifice your goat.

The one sacrifice means you don’t even have to think about your own sin.

You can ignore the unchangeable 613 mitzvot (commandments) that God gave to the Jewish people in the Torah

You can keep all your beliefs about reincarnated Gods and blood sacrifice.

Christianity was a “low cost” option to adopt.

Christianity did not start out as a low-cost ticket to heaven. It originally involved serious work and personal sacrifice as can be seen in the statements accredited to Jesus in the gospels. But once the Apostle Paul invented the idea that salvation was a zero-cost gift of God requiring nothing more than faith in Jesus, it became much more popular and saleable to the general population. But what it gained in acceptance it also lost in credibility- that such a minimal effort could claim an infinite reward.  It would be like Harvard University granting a PhD diploma to someone who answered correctly the question ‘what is 1+1?.’

(1358) Jesus covers his ass

Over the past 20 centuries, many Christian ‘prophets’ have predicted the end of the world, and most of them have narrowed it down to a specific year or even an exact date. They’ve all been wrong. Jesus was wrong himself, but it is enlightening to observe how his prediction was described in scripture. Here are the verses that follow his description of the second coming:

Mark 13:30-37

Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”

Jesus does not specify any year or date, saying only that it will come during the lifetime of those hearing his message. Jesus’s statement that he doesn’t know exactly when this will happen (only the Father?) no longer carries any water in Christian theology because Jesus is alleged to be God himself. It also should be obvious that he is talking to 1st Century Jews and not to 21st Century Gentiles.  But whatever is the truth, either Jesus himself or the author of Mark wanted to make sure that there was no hard and fast prediction of the second coming that could be used to discredit the budding new religion. Better to leave things ambiguous and keep the people wondering.

(1359) Paul recalls non-existent scriptures

Paul was a limited human being like everyone else, prone to making mistakes, but the problem for Christianity is that his letters were elevated to a scriptural status, adorned with the imprimatur of a perfect communication from God as administered through the Holy Spirit.  Herein lies a testable hypothesis, as an objective review of his writings should reveal no discrepancies.  But they do, and here is one example:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…

What is said here is not correct, there  were no scriptures (other than Paul’s own writings) in existence at the time of this letter (CE 51) that prophecized or documented the idea that Jesus died for our sins (this did not occur until the Gospel of John was written in approximately CE 90) or that he would rise from the dead after three days.  There are three possibilities to explain this problem:

  1. Paul simply made up this scriptural reference.
  2. This text was a later insertion by an unknown person.
  3. Paul was referring to Hosea 6:1-3.

Hosea 6:1-3

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.

There is no reputable biblical scholar who will attest to this verse as being a prophecy of Jesus’s death and resurrection, though some naïve Christian apologist still do.  The key word is ‘us’ as being who will be restored on the third day, clearly not a reference to a single individual.

Because Christianity claims all sorts of prophecies sprinkled throughout that Old Testament that refer to Jesus’s birth and life, it is a problem that there are none that forecast a three-day period of death followed by a resurrection (the most critical fact of Christian theology).  It is a further problem that Paul’s letter makes this erroneous claim.

(1360) A true god would not use human communication methods

If a god existed and it wanted to communicate with humans, it would do so in an unambiguous and universal manner. It would not rely on the biased and imperfect means of human communication, especially as it existed in such a rudimentary status thousands of years ago. The following is taken from:

http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/tb.html#Gospels

If God is good in nature and its message is true, and the message of god is important for us, then it holds to reason that a good god would want human beings to know that message. God in its omnipotence can immediately impart the correct knowledge directly into our consciousness. I am sure it also has the know-how to do it in a non-harmful way given that it designed our brains down to the functioning of millions of neuronal connections and neurotransmitters, etc. Put another way: It must be true that we all already know the most-important things that God wants us to know. Whatever various religions, prophets, seekers, mystics and holy spokespeople say is not exactly what God wants us to know. There is no reason for a good god, which wants the truth to be known, to convey important messages to individual human beings, in specific human languages, and allow us to spread the message using our own imperfect communication methods.

As soon as people start translating it, explaining it to each other and writing it down then the message becomes reliant upon cultural understanding. It will dilute, get misunderstood, and it is sure that different communities will come to interpret the message differently, leading to schism and confusion, and as history has shown, to violence and bloodshed. Therefore, God’s important messages are universal, imparted directly into all of our hearts and minds, and are therefore not made subject to human communications errors. If goodness comes from god, then given their historical mistakes, their culture-specific language, moral shortcomings and the social strife that results from their existence, holy books cannot possibly be from God. The whole idea of cultivating the True Religion via the orally-transmitted stories of itinerant and illiterate preachers such as Jesus and Mohammad, in (often obscure) human languages, is nonsensical.

The fact that there has never been a universally communicated message from any purportedly supernatural source strongly suggests that if a god or gods exist, that it or they have not made contact with humans.  A god who interacted in the ways suggested by all religions present and past can only be seen as being deliberately reclusive, undemocratic, unsympathetic, discriminatory, and unjust. In short, such a god would deserve not worship, but derision.

(1361) Bible written by and only by ardent believers

The Bible presents a one-sided history of its holy characters, documented only by the true believers of their purported credentials. We do not have any dispassionate versions of these events with which to compare and evaluate the truthfulness of the claims.  The following was taken from:

http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/tb.html#Gospels

It must not be forgotten that the books of the Bible are written by supporters and believers. The New Testament was authored by people who proclaimed their beliefs about who the Messiah was loudly enough to compete with other Roman god-man-messiah religions such as Mithraism and Roman mystery religions. They wrote enthusiastically to glorify Jesus and spread their beliefs to others.. It is the unfortunate case that the only descriptions of the Christian Jesus come from his followers – there are no independent, non-Christian documents that describe or detail Jesus, although some mention ‘Jesus’ (not an uncommon name) most are in reference to the beliefs of Christians. Therefore, the only evidence we have is of the most dubious kind. When we want to learn about a new, small religion, there are good sources of information, and bad ones. One of the worst sources of information about a religion’s leader is the praise written about him by disciples.

To give a modern example, it would be like trying to understand the mission of the Reverend Jim Jones of the Peoples’ Temple (that resulted in the 1978 suicide of 909 people in Guyana) having only accounts written by his ardent followers- and not having any accounts by the families of the Temple members, or from Representative Leo Ryan and others who undertook an investigation of the cult.  This biased view would necessarily be overly flattering.  And that is what we have throughout the Bible.

(1362) Naked contradictions in the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark is the oldest written document of Jesus’s ministry, and, because it was written the closest in time to Jesus’s death (about 40 years later), it is considered most likely to be the most authentic.  But there are markers in this gospel that strongly suggest that it was written more from imagination than from true history as there are too many mistakes in logic and sequence to be considered trustworthy. The following is a partial list of these issues compiled by Steven Carr and  posted here:

http://www.holybooks.info/mark.html#Chapter4

Mark 4:11 says that the secret of the kingdom of God has been given to the disciples. What was this secret? When was it given to the disciples, who seem totally ignorant of who Jesus was (Mark 4:41)?

In Mark 6:7-13 till 29-30 the disciples are sent out to preach and teach. As the disciples did not know Jesus was the Messiah until Mark 8:30, that must have been interesting!

Peter – Repent of your sins, and follow Jesus of Nazareth.
Bystander in the crowd – Is he the Messiah who will rid us of the cursed Roman occupation?
Peter – I never thought to ask him. I don’t know. I’ll ask him when I see him again, and get back to you.

What could the disciples have preached and taught in Mark 6 that had anything to do with the secret of the kingdom of God? Why send people out to teach without explaining that you are the Messiah?

They were also given power over evil spirits, but it is not until Mark 9:29 that Jesus explains that they have to pray first before driving out a demon. How did the disciples drive out demons before that, when Jesus had neglected to give them such basic instruction as to pray first?

Mark 7:14 gives some instruction about the Law which a simpleton could grasp, yet Jesus tells the disciples in verse 18 that they are without understanding. These are the preacher-teachers who had been given the secret of the kingdom of God.

Despite not being able to understand, and not knowing, elementary instruction about the Law, they had already by chapter 3 had liberal practices on fasting and the Sabbath, and the whole teaching of chapter 7 which the disciples did not understand) was caused by a question about the practices of those same disciples!

Don’t forget that these preacher-teachers, who had been given the secret of the Kingdom of God in 4:11, had had their hearts hardened in 6:52, so that they did not understand even such a blatant miracle as walking on water. Why give the disciples the secret of the kingdom of God and then harden their hearts so that they don’t understand it? Surely the average Christian would fall about laughing if he read such stories in the Book of Mormon or the Qu’ran.

The Gospel of Mark is critically important to Christianity because any mistakes or contrivances made within its content were repeated in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (which copied Mark extensively).  Therefore, the errors of a single author could have contaminated the bulk of Christian scripture.  There is much evidence that the person who wrote Mark was a Roman citizen living in Rome, not a Jew, with little understanding of Jewish tradition, and writing in Greek, a language that would have been foreign to Jesus, who spoke in Aramaic. This separation in time and culture when added to the mistakes listed above cast grave doubt on how much of Mark’s account should be accepted as truth.

(1363) Matthew inserts anachronistic words in Jesus’s mouth

During the time that Jesus was allegedly on the earth, he was a Jewish preacher who had no intention to change anything about the Jewish law. But, more importantly, this issue would never have been a question at that time, as all Jews understood the laws to be permanent. It only became controversial well after Jesus’s death (about 20-25 years later) by virtue of the theology espoused by Paul in his letters to various gentile congregations. Paul emphatically stated that Jesus had come to replace the Jewish law with the dispensation of grace and salvation on the cross and by his resurrection. This is where the author of Matthew in approximately CE 80, if defiance of Paul, inserted some words that Jesus undoubtedly never stated:

Matthew 5:17-20

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The following was taken from:

http://www.holybooks.info/matthew.html#Date

But no-one thought that. All Hebrew law was consistent in saying that the Old Testament laws will prevail for all time. St Paul’s messages about spreading the religion to gentiles, and sweeping away all the awkward and time-consuming Jewish customs, resulted in a debate over the status of the old laws. During that debate, the opinion arose that Jesus had come to abolish the old laws. But when the Gospel of Matthew was written this debate had already started, and the clumsy author invents this part of Jesus’ speech in order to make his particular theological point.

This illuminates another example why the gospels cannot be taken as actual history. They were too easily manipulated to push personal agendas.

(1364) Angel to the rescue for Matthew author

The author of the Gospel of Matthew got himself in a bind that eventually required the use of highly implausible events. It all started while he was writing his account in approximately 80 CE, or about 50 years after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus. At that time, many Jews were rumoring that Jesus did not really rise from the dead, but that his apostles had stolen the body to create the impression that he had. So Matthew made up a story (not told in any other gospel) that Roman soldiers were assigned to seal and guard the tomb to ensure that nobody tampered with it.  Here are the verses that followed:

Matthew 28:1-7

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

The problems begin almost immediately.  Why would the two women go to the tomb if it was closed, sealed, and guarded by Roman soldiers?  In the other gospels, the trip to the tomb was conducted to apply spices to the body of Jesus, but how could they have expected to gain entry given the circumstances? Next, Matthew has to resort to an angel coming down from heaven at just the right time (the kind of thing we see all the time in everyday life), wearing blazing clothing. This was apparently needed to paralyze the guards so the rest of the drama can play out.  Then this angel, which is normally considered to be a spirit and not a physical entity, has the power to break the seal and roll back the stone.

But now comes another issue that is even more implausible.  The tomb is empty. This means that after he revived, Jesus must have passed right through the rock walls of the tomb in his physical body, since the tomb was definitely sealed and closed at that time.  Also, at the time that Jesus exited the tomb, the Roman guard was still stationed there and presumably functioning as ordered. So how did they miss the miraculous event of Jesus passing through the rocks and exiting the tomb? And the violent earthquake?  If that happened, the disciples would likely have been injured and the rest of the city would likely have been summarily destroyed, given the construction methods of the time, but there is no mention of any problems of this sort.

This is an example where a story teller begins with a lie (the Roman guard) and then has to make up additional and increasingly implausible stories to shore up the end of the scene.  Anybody accepting this story as actual history is gullible beyond comprehension.

(1365) The overuse of the number ‘7’ in Revelation

The Book of Revelation is perhaps the most controversial book in the Bible. It was rejected by many factions within Christianity before finally being accepted, the last book to be canonized, though it is still rejected by many sects.  What should have resulted in its universal rejection is the overuse of the symbolic representation of the number “7.”  Here is a list:

  1. seven churches (1:4, 11, 20).
  2. seven Spirits (1:4, 3:1, 4:5, 5:6).
  3. seven golden lampstands (1:12-13, 20, 2:1).
  4. seven stars (1:16, 20, 2:1, 3:1).
  5. seven lamps (4:5).
  6. seven seals (5:1, 5:5).
  7. seven horns (5:6).
  8. seven eyes (5:6).
  9. seven angels (8:2, 6).
  10. seven trumpets (8:2, 6).
  11. seven thunders (10:3, 4).
  12. seven thousand (11:13).
  13. seven heads (12:3, 13:1, 17:3, 7, 9).
  14. seven crowns (12:3).
  15. seven angels (15:1, 6-8, 16:1, 17:1, 21:9).
  16. seven plagues (15:1, 6, 8, 21:9).
  17. seven bowls (15:7, 17:1, 21:9).
  18. seven mountains (17:9).
  19. seven kings (17:10-11).
  20. seven beatitudes (statements using Blessed 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7, 22:14).
  21. seven years of judgment. Dani’el 9:24-27 refers to the seven year tribulation period, and Revelation 6 begins the seven years of judgment.
  22. seven divisions of each of the letters to the seven churches (the description of Christ, the city, the church, the commendation, the concern, the command, and finally, the counsel).
  23. seven attributes of the Lamb (5:12).
  24. the seventh dispensation completing Scripture (20:1-10).

The nauseating repetition of a number that attains a magical status is an indication that the author is not writing in the arena of reality, but rather in some dreamlike incantation of his imagination. This alone, besides all of the ridiculous imagery and savagery that is embedded in this text, should have alerted ecclesiastical sources to discard this book from the Bible. Its inclusion is a major scar on the reputation of Christianity.

(1366) God changes mind about women rulers

In the Old Testament Book of Judges, a woman by the name of Deborah was leading Israel, or, in other words, she was the leader of God’s chosen people, who clearly met the approval of God for the assumption of this role.

Judges 4:4-5

Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.

The following was taken from:

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Deborah-No-2

Deborah was the fifth of the leaders or “Judges” of Israel raised up by God to deliver His people from the bondage their idolatry had caused, and instant both in word and deed she fulfilled her role as “Judge,” at a time when men tried to do right in the sight of their own eyes. As the position of woman in those days was of a distinctly subordinate character, Deborah’s prominence as a ruler is somewhat remarkable. All Israel was under her jurisdiction, and from the palm tree bearing her name, and elsewhere, called “the sanctuary of the palm,” she dispensed righteousness, justice and mercy. After the victory over the nation’s foes, she ruled with equity a land that had rest from war and captivity for forty years.

But in the New Testament, the holy scriptures tell a different story about women leaders:

1 Timothy 2:11-14

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 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

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

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

God is supposedly unchanging, but this indicates that some sort of a change must have taken place. Deborah was a good leader, removing any historical reasons for changing the deific policy of supporting women authorities.

(1367) Paul’s doctrine inflicts harm on society

It has been well established that the Christian doctrine of atonement, the idea that Jesus died to pay the penalty due all humans for the original sin of Adam and Eve and for any personally-committed sins, was initially invented by Paul.  The disciples of Jesus and early followers did not espouse this belief. In fact, despite the fact that Paul’s letters were written two to three decades before the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, none of these gospels incorporated Paul’s theory of atonement. It wasn’t until about 40 years later that the atonement doctrine wiggled into the final gospel, that of John.

Notwithstanding this confusing chronology, one thing that should be uncontroversial is that if Christianity is true, then God must have allowed for Paul to infiltrate this idea into what would eventually become the finished product of the faith.  That is where a difficulty arises, because it is obvious that the doctrine of atonement, the idea that blame can be shifted to an innocent ‘other,’ has resulted in serious harm to society over the past 20 centuries. The following is taken from:

http://atheistfoundation.org.au/article/christianity-is-false-and-immoral/

Christianity embodies the notions of Paul, whose New Testament letters were written between 55 and 60 C.E. before any of the four gospels.

Paul was a Jew, brainwashed with the religion of the Jews, and therefore he believed in the tale of Adam and Eve. He accepted that sin was hereditary and he accepted the immoral and primitive doctrine that guilt for wrongdoing can be off-loaded on to an innocent scapegoat. This usually involved the shedding of blood (often human) as an atonement required to appease the ‘gods’.

Though an innocent person may, and often does, pay the penalty, this immoral doctrine, which claims to absolve the wrongdoer from personal responsibility, results in the ongoing sequence of crime, confession, absolution and its repetition ad infinitum. Responsibility for wrongdoing must remain forever with the person who committed the offence. Anything that seeks to sidestep this basic principle inflicts grievous harm on society.

What the God of Christianity has apparently condoned, actively or tacitly, and which causes a harm to humanity, can be used by objective-minded individuals to conclude that this god most likely does not exist.

(1368) The pope who told the truth

Pope Leo X (1475-1521), who served as pope for the final 8 years of his life, made the most infamous remark of any pontiff past or present.  In effect he spilled the beans of what  likely most popes have secretly known. This is what he said at a lavish Good Friday banquet in the Vatican in 1514, and in the company of “seven intimates:”

“How well we know what a profitable superstition this fable of Christ has been for us”

For centuries, the Catholic Church has tried to live this down. The following was taken from:

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican30c.htm

The pope’s pronouncement is recorded in the diaries and records of both Pietro Cardinal Bembo (Letters and Comments on Pope Leo X, 1842 reprint) and Paolo Cardinal Giovio (De Vita Leonis Decimi…, op. cit.), two associates who were witnesses to it.

Caesar (Cardinal) Baronius (1538-1607) was Vatican librarian for seven years and wrote a 12-volume history of the Church, known as Annales Ecclesiastici. He was the Church’s most outstanding historian (Catholic Encyclopedia, New Edition, 1976, ii, p. 105) and his records provide vital inside information for anybody studying the rich depth of falsification in Christianity.

 Cardinal Baronius, who turned down two offers to become pope in 1605, added the following comments about Pope Leo’s declaration:

“The Pontiff has been accused of atheism, for he denied God and called Christ, in front of cardinals Pietro Bembo, Jovius and Iacopo Sadoleto and other intimates, ‘a fable’ … it must be corrected”.
(Annales Ecclesiastici, op. cit., tomes viii and xi)

In an early edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia (Pecci ed., iii, pp. 312-314, passim), the Church devoted two-and-half pages in an attempt to nullify the most destructive statement ever made by the head of Christianity. It based the essence of its argument on the assumption that what the pope meant by “profitable” was “gainful”, and “fable” was intended to mean “tradition”.

Hence, confused Catholic theologians argued that what the pope really meant was,

“How well Christians have gained from this wonderful tradition of Christ”.

But that isn’t what he said.

It is from Christianity’s own records that Pope Leo’s statement became known to the world. In his diaries, Cardinal Bembo, the Pope’s secretary for seven years, added that Leo:

“…was known to disbelieve Christianity itself. He advanced contrary to the faith and that in condemning the Gospel, therefore he must be a heretic; he was guilty of sodomy with his chamberlains; was addicted to pleasure, luxury, idleness, ambition, unchastity and sensuality; and spent his whole days in the company of musicians and buffoons. His Infallibility’s drunkenness was proverbial, he practiced incontinency as well as inebriation, and the effects of his crimes shattered the people’s constitution.”

What this illuminates is the fact that church leaders are not concerned so much about truth as what can keep them in business, and that they will happily broadcast a myth as long as it keeps them warm, fed, and powerful.

(1369) The collision of Christian concepts in wake of tragedies

A major challenge for Christians is to juggle two concepts simultaneously without creating a collision in their minds. First, that God omniscient and all-powerful and second, that seemingly senseless tragedies are an all too common experience. The following is a list of common responses (i.e. excuses) to this problem that are taken from this website:

http://new.exchristian.net/2016/10/my-thoughts-on-religion.html

  1. God has a plan for us all (otherwise known as, “There’s a reason for everything”).
  2. God must have had a reason for taking your (relative) so young (a personalized version of No. 1).
  3. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
  4. Your (Relative) will be waiting for you in heaven.
  5. He’s looking down on you and keeping you safe.
  6. God called him home.
  7. It was just his time.
  8. He was too good for this world.
  9. God must have needed another angel.
  10. God never gives us more than we can handle.

There is no Christian that does not feel at least some measure of cognitive dissonance over this conundrum, and it becomes more pronounced when a tragedy strikes a group of devout believers or children. But for an atheist, there is no need to rationalize and there is no conflict of concepts. It simply comes down to ‘the world’s an imperfect place and shit happens.’ In the search for ultimate reality, it’s usually the simple solutions that are the most correct.

(1370) God’s actions show he is not omnipotent

It is a central tenant of virtually every Christian sect that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, able to see everything happening in real time in every square millimeter of the entire universe, and able to influence and control all that occurs. But when Christians are challenged to defend the actions of God as described in the Bible, their rationalizations conflict with their belief that God is omnipotent. The following is taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/5edfea/nobody_here_thinks_god_is_omnipotent/

Christians clearly demonstrate that they don’t think God is omnipotent by making excuses for him that wouldn’t work if God was omnipotent.

For instance, someone recently argued that in order to give the Israelites land, God gave them the order to kill and enslave their enemies. They then argued that this wasn’t bad essentially because the alternative was worse: Israelites not getting their land.

WAIT A MINUTE

That’s not the [only] alternative.

God can do anything if he’s omnipotent. He could have given them spaceships and put a habitable planet on Mars. He could have silently sterilised the Midionites (Which they would definitely have preferred over murder, rape and enslavement). He could have persuaded the Midionites to walk to India.

This illuminates an important point. If God was actually omnipotent, he could have employed better, more humane, and more efficient methods to accomplish his ‘will.’ The most egregious example is when God killed the first born male children in Egypt in order to persuade the Pharaoh to release his Jewish prisoners. An omnipotent god could have gained their release without any bloodshed. In fact, an omnipotent god would have prevented the imprisonment of his ‘chosen’ people in the first place.

The Bible is full of similar examples. Yes, the god of the Bible is clearly limited in his ‘arsenal of weapons.’ It’s like he has bulldozers, but no shovels. Or he has to use humans to execute his plan, but they always end up fucking it up. And keep in mind that a God who is not omnipotent would be unable to administer fairly the post-life reward and punishment system described by Christian doctrine.

(1371) Six forged Pauline epistles should not be in the Bible

When the canon of the Bible was being assembled (347 CE), it was assumed by all present that each of the 13 epistles under the name of Paul were authentic, that is, they were written by the man himself. However, modern scholarship has determined that only 7 of the 13 were written by Paul; the other six are forgeries.  The following is taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Pauline_epistles

There is wide consensus in modern New Testament scholarship on a core group of authentic Pauline epistles whose authorship is rarely contested: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Several additional letters bearing Paul’s name are disputed among scholars, namely Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus. Scholarly opinion is sharply divided on whether Ephesians and Colossians are the letters of Paul; however, the remaining four–2 Thessalonians, as well as the three known as the Pastoral epistles [1 & 2 Timothy and Titus]–have been labeled pseudepigraphical works by most critical scholars.

Other than the embarrassment of canonizing forged epistles there is the problem that they present teachings that conflict with the genuine letters. Furthermore, they were likely written long after Paul’s death since they deal with details of church structure that were not present during Paul’s lifetime. This suggests that God or the Holy Spirit did not guide the canonical selection process. And if that’s true, then Christianity is a human creation.

(1372) The Trinity was unknown to the Jews

You can scour the Old Testament for any semblance of a reference to the Trinity, the Christian concept that God is an assembly of three personages- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but you will find none. Every reference is to God or the Lord, but it is understood that this is a single and unique personage, not an amalgam of three. So the question is: why would God conceal this important attribute of his holy essence from his chosen people for thousands of years? In fact, why has he continued to conceal this fact to Jewish worshipers even to this day?

The Trinity is one of the most essential doctrines of Christianity, but the fact that it only became a belief after the time of Jesus, and only on the basis of scant and questionable scriptural references, indicates that it was not communicated by the God of Judeo-Christianity.  It is quite clearly a fraudulent product of human imagination, exposing the wider fraud of the entire religion.

(1373) Infancy gospels

During the Second Century there were many Christians who were curious about the childhood of Jesus, mainly because the biblical gospels recount only one episode when Jesus was young (12 years old, in the Gospel of Luke). This void was eventually filled by authors who wrote what are commonly called the infancy gospels. The following was taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Testament_apocrypha#Infancy_gospels

The rarity of information about the childhood of Jesus in the canonical gospels led to a hunger of early Christians for more detail about the early life of Jesus. This was supplied by a number of 2nd century and later texts, known as infancy gospels, none of which were accepted into the biblical canon, but the very number of their surviving manuscripts attests to their continued popularity.

Most of these were based on the earliest infancy gospels, namely the Infancy Gospel of James (also called the “Protoevangelium of James”) and Infancy Gospel of Thomas, and on their later combination into the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (also called the “Infancy Gospel of Matthew” or “Birth of Mary and Infancy of the Saviour”).

The other significant early infancy gospels are the Syriac Infancy Gospel, the History of Joseph the Carpenter and the Life of John the Baptist.

Because Jesus was considered to be divine by this time (Second Century), it seemed logical that he must have performed miracles even as a child. Sure enough, the authors of these new gospel accounts revealed never-before-heard-of miracles performed by Jesus in his youth. The following is a list of these miracles at this website:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Jesus#Non-religious_views

Miracle Sources
Rich young man raised from the dead Secret Gospel of Mark 1
Water controlled and purified Infancy Thomas 2.2
Made birds of clay and brought them to life Infancy Thomas 2.3
Resurrected dead playmate Zeno Infancy Thomas 9
Healed a woodcutter’s foot Infancy Thomas 10
Held water in his cloak Infancy Thomas 11
Harvested 100 bushels of wheat from a single seed Infancy Thomas 12
Stretched a board that was short for carpentry Infancy Thomas 13
Resurrected a teacher he earlier struck down Infancy Thomas 14-15
Healed James’ viper bite Infancy Thomas 16
Resurrected a dead child Infancy Thomas 17
Resurrected a dead man Infancy Thomas 18
Miraculous Virgin Birth verified by midwife Infancy James 19-20

What happened in the Second Century with the creation of the infancy gospels is a template for the same process that occurred in the late First Century.  In the 30-50 years following Jesus’s life or his legend, Jesus was beginning to be seen as more than human, or even divine, so it was expected that he must have performed miracles during his ministry.  And just like the infancy authors, the authors of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John added miracles to their accounts to satisfy these expectations. The infancy gospels are thus a Rosetta Stone for interpreting the miraculous stories told in the canonical gospels. They reveal that concocting miraculous stories was a common practice among historians of the time.

(1374) Regrettable interpolation in 2 Corinthians

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, there is a textual segment that did not originate with Paul and is recognized to be an interpolation by an imposter.  It occurs at 6:14-18, including 7:1.  But first, it is instructive to see the transition that occurs from 6:13 to 7:2, as it would read omitting the interpolation:

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also. [interpolation is inserted here] Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

Here is the interpolation (6:14-7:1):

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. As God has said:

“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

The following is taken from:

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/2corinthians.html

Finally, verses 6:14-7:1 contain a fragment that has next to no connection to Paul in ideas or wording, although it does have some affinities with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Kummel allows that 6:14-7:1 is interpolated yet still maintains that it is Pauline. However, Joseph Fitzmyer has argued that 6:14-7:1 is an interpolation from a document at Qumran in an essay reproduced in The Semitic Background of the New Testament, pp. 205-217. There are three reasons to posit that the passage is interpolated: “the paragraph radically interrupts the chain of thought between 6:13 and 7:2,” the passage is “a unit intelligible in itself,” and “six of the key-words in the passage are not found elsewhere in the New Testament.” Fitzmyer argues that references to triple dualism, the opposition to idols, the temple of God, separation from all impurity, and the concatenation of Old Testament texts point to a Qumranic origin for the interpolated fragment.

This illustrates why the Bible cannot be relied upon as an accurate historical document.  This interpolation was detectable because of its abrupt textual transition and foreign literary elements, but there might be thousands of others that cannot be identified in this manner because they were done in a more professional manner.

This forgery is more than just a small problem for Christianity or the world for that matter because it encourages the ostracism by family and friends against those who hold different beliefs. It is often used by evangelical Christians to disown or shun their children who leave the faith.

(1375) Your clone is not you

A simple thought experiment can be used to demonstrate the unlikelihood of an afterlife.  What we know about thought and consciousness is that it takes a physical body and brain to produce the effects we associate with awareness and the sense of an identity that is separate from other people or other things.  It is what makes the “I” separate from the “not-I.”

Suppose science developed a technique to clone you to an atom-to-atom precision.  In a flash, a clone is produced that has your DNA, all of your memories, skills, and tendencies built in, all the way down to your fingerprints.  No one could find a single difference between you and your clone.  In fact, the clone, once awakened, would look at you and think that you were the clone, since it would have the built-in fresh memory of entering the facility for the cloning procedure.

But you see the clone as being a different person, even though it is like looking into a mirror.  That is, you don’t suddenly begin to experience your sense of being within two bodies at the same time. The clone is a separate person, even though it is identical to you. So the real you is not fully defined by your DNA, or any specific aspect of your brain or body, or even the set of experiences and knowledge that you have gained throughout your life (because the clone possesses all of that too).  What sets you apart is the continuity of your biological existence, the one thing of your’s the clone does not possess.

Identical twins are somewhat analogous to this discussion, but they become differentiated early in life with varied experiences and knowledge gains.  The clone in this thought experiment is exhaustively identical.

If we dismiss the rather silly idea that a soul exists (see # 80) and understand that it takes a physical structure to produce consciousness, then, when the body disintegrates after death, any reconstruction of it, even if precise to a tee-just as you were before death or earlier in life, will, in fact, be just like the clone in the thought experiment.  Just like you, BUT NOT YOU.

(1376) Victims of the Christian faith

Most Christians are of the opinion that their faith has been a godsend, so to speak, bringing love, peace, guidance, tolerance, and salvation to the world. And this is just what would be expected if Christianity was actually the one true religion gifted to mankind from a benevolent and omnipotent deity.  But there is a problem with this viewpoint- it does not square with history, not even close. At the following website, a list is provided of the various victims of the Christian faith over the past 20 centuries. The overwhelming magnitude of the horror is enough for any objective person to concede that the world would be a better place if Christianity had never been invented…and that it was certainly invented by humans, not a god.

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/09/victims-of-the-christian-faith/

Listed are only events that solely occurred on command or participation of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete)

Ancient Pagans

As soon as Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire by imperial edict (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.

Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.

Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.

Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as “temple destroyer.”

Pagan services became punishable by death in 356.

Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues.
According to Christian chroniclers he “followed meticulously all Christian teachings…”

In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights.

In the early fourth century the philosopher Sopatros was executed on demand of Christian authorities.

The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415.

Mission

Emperor Karl (Charlemagne) in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded.

Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany.

15th century Poland: 1019 churches and 17987 villages plundered by Knights of the Order. Number of victims unknown.

16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops “pacified and civilized” Ireland, where only Gaelic “wild Irish”, “unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing.” One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that “the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies… and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie”, which effort to civilize the Irish indeed caused “greate terrour to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolke, and freinds on the grounde”.
Tens of thousands of Gaelic Irish fell victim to the carnage.

Crusades (1095-1291)

First Crusade: 1095 on command of pope Urban II.

Semlin/Hungary 6/24/96 thousands slain. Wieselburg/Hungary 6/12/96 thousands.

9/9/96-9/26/96 Nikaia, Xerigordon (then Turkish), thousands respectively.

Until January 1098 a total of 40 capital cities and 200 castles conquered (number of slain unknown).

After 6/3/98 Antiochia (then Turkish) conquered, between 10,000 and 60,000 slain. 6/28/98 100,000 Turks (incl. women and children) killed.
Here the Christians “did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy’s] tents – save that they ran their lances through their bellies,” according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres.

Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/98 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine “the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians” said chronicler Albert Aquensis.

Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (Jewish, Muslim, men, women, children).
In the words of one witness: “there [in front of Solomon’s temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes”, and after that “happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour’s tomb, to honour it and to pay off our debt of gratitude.”

The Archbishop of Tyre, eye-witness, wrote: “It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished.”

Christian chronicler Eckehard of Aura noted that “even the following summer in all of Palestine the air was polluted by the stench of decomposition”. One million victims of the first crusade alone.

Battle of Askalon, 8/12/1099. 200,000 heathens slaughtered “in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Fourth crusade: 4/12/1204 Constantinople sacked, number of victims unknown, numerous thousands, many of them Christian.

Rest of Crusades in less detail: until the fall of Akkon 1291 probably 20 million victims (in the Holy land and Arab/Turkish areas alone).

Note: All figures according to contemporary (Christian) chroniclers.

Heretics and Atheists

Already in 385 C.E. the first Christians, the Spanish Priscillianus and six followers, were beheaded for heresy in Trier/Germany

Manichaean heresy: a crypto-Christian sect decent enough to practice birth control (and thus not as irresponsible as faithful Catholics) was exterminated in huge campaigns all over the Roman empire between 372 C.E. and 444 C.E. Numerous thousands of victims.

Albigensians: the first Crusade intended to slay other Christians.
The Albigensians (Cathars) viewed themselves as good Christians, but would not accept Roman Catholic rule, and taxes, and prohibition of birth control.
Begin of violence: on command of pope Innocent III (the greatest single mass murderer prior to the Nazi era) in 1209. Beziérs (today France) 7/22/1209 destroyed, all the inhabitants were slaughtered. Number of victims (including Catholics refusing to turn over their heretic neighbors and friends) estimated between 20,000-70,000.

Carcassonne 8/15/1209, thousands slain. Other cities followed.

Subsequent 20 years of war until nearly all Cathars (probably half the population of the Languedoc, today southern France) were exterminated.

After the war ended (1229) the Inquisition was founded 1232 to search and destroy surviving/hiding heretics. Last Cathars burned at the stake 1324.

Estimated one million victims (Cathar heresy alone).

Other heresies: Waldensians, Paulikians, Runcarians, Josephites, and many others. Most of these sects exterminated, (I believe some Waldensians live today, yet they had to endure 600 years of persecution) I estimate at least hundred thousand victims (including the Spanish inquisition but excluding victims in the New World).

Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada, a former Dominican friar, allegedly was responsible for 10,220 burnings.

John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and indulgences, was burned at the stake in 1415.

Michael Sattler, leader of a baptist community, was burned at the stake in Rottenburg, Germany, May 20, 1527. Several days later his wife and other followers were also executed.

University professor B. Hubmaier burned at the stake 1538 in Vienna.

Giordano Bruno, Dominican monk, after having been incarcerated for seven years, was burned at the stake for heresy on the Campo dei Fiori (Rome) on 2/17/1600.

Thomas Aikenhead, a twenty-year-old Scottish student of Edinburgh University, was hanged for atheism and blasphemy.

Witches

From the beginning of Christianity to 1484 probably more than several thousand.

In the era of witch hunting (1484-1750) according to modern scholars several hundred thousand (about 80% female) burned at the stake or hanged.

Incomplete list of documented cases: The Burning of Witches – A Chronicle of the Burning Times

Religious Wars

15th century: Crusades against Hussites, thousands slain.

1538 pope Paul III declared Crusade against apostate England and all English as slaves of Church (fortunately had not power to go into action).

1568 Spanish Inquisition Tribunal ordered extermination of 3 million rebels in (then Spanish) Netherlands.
Between 5000 and 6000 Protestants were drowned by Spanish Catholic Troops, “a disaster the burghers of Emden first realized when several thousand broad-brimmed Dutch hats floated by.”

1572 In France about 20,000 Huguenots were killed on command of pope Pius V. Until 17th century 200,000 flee. the 1572 Massacre of St Bartholomew, ultra-Catholics massacred several thousand Huguenot Protestants.

17th century: Catholics slay Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant leader. After murdering him, the Catholic mob mutilated his body, “cutting off his head, his hands, and his genitals… and then dumped him into the river […but] then, deciding that it was not worthy of being food for the fish, they hauled it out again [… and] dragged what was left … to the gallows of Montfaulcon, ‘to be meat and carrion for maggots and crows’.”

17th century: Catholics sack the city of Magdeburg/Germany: roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain. “In a single church fifty women were found beheaded,” reported poet Friedrich Schiller, “and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers.”

17th century 30 years’ war (Catholic vs. Protestant): at least 40% of population decimated, mostly in Germany.

Jews

Already in the 4th and 5th centuries synagogues were burned by Christians. Number of Jews slain unknown.

In the middle of the fourth century the first synagogue was destroyed on command of bishop Innocentius of Dertona in Northern Italy. The first synagogue known to have been burned down was near the river Euphrat, on command of the bishop of Kallinikon in the year 388.

694 17. Council of Toledo: Jews were enslaved, their property confiscated, and their children forcibly baptized.

1010 The Bishop of Limoges (France) had the cities’ Jews, who would not convert to Christianity, expelled or killed.

1096 First Crusade: Thousands of Jews slaughtered, maybe 12.000 total. Places: Worms 5/18/1096, Mainz 5/27/1096 (1100 persons), Cologne, Neuss, Altenahr, Wevelinghoven, Xanten, Moers, Dortmund, Kerpen, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Prag and others (All locations Germany except Metz/France, Prag/Czech).

1147 Second Crusade: Several hundred Jews were slain in Ham, Sully, Carentan, and Rameru (all locations in France).

1189/90 Third Crusade: English Jewish communities sacked.

1235, Fulda/Germany: 34 Jewish men and women slain.

1257, 1267: Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others exterminated.

1290 Bohemia (Poland) allegedly 10,000 Jews killed.

1337 Starting in Deggendorf/Germany a Jew-killing craze reaches 51 towns in Bavaria, Austria, Poland.

1348 All Jews of Basel/Switzerland and Strasbourg/France (two thousand) burned.

1349 In more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians).

1389 In Prag 3,000 Jews were slaughtered.

1391 Seville’s Jews killed (Archbishop Martinez leading). 4,000 were slain, 25,000 sold as slaves. Their identification was made easy by the brightly colored “badges of shame” that all Jews above the age of ten had been forced to wear.

1492 In the year Columbus set sail to conquer a New World, more than 150,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, many died on their way: 6/30/1492.

1648 Chmielnitzki massacres: In Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain.

(I feel sick …) this goes on and on, century after century, right into the kilns of Auschwitz.

Native Peoples

Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conquest of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity.

Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, “ought to be good servants … [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion.”
While Columbus described the Indians as “idolators” and “slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order,” his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as “beasts” because “they eat when they are hungry,” and made love “openly whenever they feel like it.”

On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, “making the declarations that are required” – the requerimiento – to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And “nobody objected.” If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued:

“I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you … and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church … and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him.”

Likewise in the words of John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: “justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England … to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, … and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante-Christ.”

In average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of “the marvelous goodness and providence of God” to the Christians of course, e.g. the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as “for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.”

On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead.

The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and Spanish raids.

As one of the culprits wrote: “So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous.”

The Indian chief Hatuey fled with his people but was captured and burned alive. As “they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell.”

What happened to his people was described by an eyewitness:

“The Spaniards found pleasure in inventing all kinds of odd cruelties … They built a long gibbet, long enough for the toes to touch the ground to prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles… then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive.”

Or, on another occasion:

“The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts…Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs.”

The “island’s population of about eight million people at the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492 already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out.” Eventually all the island’s natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were “forced” to import slaves from other caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus “the Caribbean’s millions of native people [were] thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century”. “In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated.”

“And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitlán [Mexico city] was next.”

Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other Spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and mesoamerican civilizations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida).

“When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead.”

Of course no different were the founders of what today is the US of America.

Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among (north American) Indians was rather harmless, in comparison to European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than conquer land. In the words of some of the pilgrim fathers: “Their Warres are farre less bloudy…”, so that there usually was “no great slawter of nether side”. Indeed, “they might fight seven yeares and not kill seven men.” What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children.

In the spring of 1612 some English colonists found life among the (generally friendly and generous) natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown – “being idell … did runne away unto the Indyans,” – to live among them (that probably solved a sex problem).
“Governor Thomas Dale had them hunted down and executed: ‘Some he apointed (sic) to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some shott to deathe’.” Of course these elegant measures were restricted for fellow Englishmen: “This was the treatment for those who wished to act like Indians. For those who had no choice in the matter, because they were the native people of Virginia” methods were different: “when an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community” down.

On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide, in what has become known as the “Peqout War.” The killers were New England Puritan Christians, refugees from persecution in their own home country England. In Puritan Massachusetts, religious nonconformists suffered this fate – and much worse. (A 1892 lithograph from the Library of Congress print collection)

When however, a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief’s pledge they attacked.
Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of what they were after, because when they were greeted by Pequot Indians (long-time foes of the Narragansetts) the troops nevertheless made war on the Pequots and burned their villages.
The puritan commander-in-charge John Mason after one massacre wrote: “And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished … God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven … Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies”: men, women, children.

So “the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance”.

Because of his readers’ assumed knowledge of Deuteronomy, there was no need for Mason to quote the words that immediately follow:
“Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them…” (Deut 20)

Mason’s comrade Underhill recalled how “great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of the young soldiers” yet reassured his readers that “sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents”.

Other Indians were killed in successful plots of poisoning. The colonists even had dogs especially trained to kill Indians and to devour children from their mothers breasts, in the colonists’ own words: “blood Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seaze them.” (This was inspired by Spanish methods of the time)
In this way they continued until the extermination of the Pequots was near.

The surviving handful of Indians “were parceled out to live in servitude. John Endicott and his pastor wrote to the governor asking for ‘a share’ of the captives, specifically ‘a young woman or girle and a boy if you thinke good’.”

Other tribes were to follow the same path.

Comment the Christian exterminators: “God’s Will, which will at last give us cause to say: How Great is His Goodness! and How Great is his Beauty!”
“Thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust!”

Like today, lying was morally acceptable to Christians then. “Peace treaties were signed with every intention to violate them: when the Indians ‘grow secure uppon (sic) the treatie’, advised the Council of State in Virginia, ‘we shall have the better Advantage both to surprise them, & cutt downe theire Corne’.”

In 1624 sixty heavily armed Englishmen cut down 800 defenseless Indian men, women and children.

In a single massacre in “King Philip’s War” of 1675 and 1676 some “600 Indians were destroyed. A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a ‘barbeque’.”

To summarize: Before the arrival of the English, the western Abenaki people in New Hampshire and Vermont had numbered 12,000. Less than half a century later about 250 remained alive – a destruction rate of 98%. The Pocumtuck people had numbered more than 18,000, fifty years later they were down to 920 – 95% destroyed. The Quiripi-Unquachog people had numbered about 30,000, fifty years later they were down to 1500 – 95% destroyed. The Massachusetts people had numbered at least 44,000, fifty years later barely 6000 were alive – 81% destroyed. These are only a few examples of the multitude of tribes living before Christian colonists set their foot on the New World. All this was before the smallpox epidemics of 1677 and 1678 had occurred. And the carnage was not over then.

All the above was only the beginning of the European colonization, it was before the frontier age actually had begun.

A total of maybe more than 150 million Indians (of both Americas) were destroyed in the period of 1500 to 1900, as an average two thirds by smallpox and other epidemics, that leaves some 50 million killed directly by violence, bad treatment and slavery.

In many countries, such as Brazil, and Guatemala, this continues even today.

More Glorious Events in U.S. History

Reverend Solomon Stoddard, one of New England’s most esteemed religious leaders, in “1703 formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs ‘to hunt Indians as they do bears’.”

Massacre of Sand Creek, Colorado 11/29/1864. Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister and still elder in the church (“I long to be wading in gore”) had a Cheyenne village of about 600, mostly women and children, gunned down despite the chiefs’ waving with a white flag: 400-500 killed. From an eye-witness account:

“There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed …”

By the 1860s, “in Hawai’i the Reverend Rufus Anderson surveyed the carnage that by then had reduced those islands’ native population by 90 percent or more, and he declined to see it as tragedy; the expected total die-off of the Hawaiian population was only natural, this missionary said, somewhat equivalent to ‘the amputation of diseased members of the body’.”

20th Century Church AtrocitiesSouth Gate of Jasenovac III “Brickworks” camp.

Catholic extermination camps

Surprisingly few know that Nazi extermination camps in World War II were by no means the only ones in Europe at the time. In the years 1942-1943 also in Croatia existed numerous extermination camps, run by Catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Paveliç, a practicing Catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentration camps exclusively for children!

In these camps – the most notorious was Jasenovac, headed by a Franciscan friar – orthodox-Christian Serbians (and a substantial number of Jews) were murdered. Like the Nazis the Catholic Ustasha burned their victims in kilns, alive (the Nazis were decent enough to have their victims gassed first). But most of the victims were simply stabbed, slain or shot to death, the number of them being estimated between 300,000 and 600,000, in a rather tiny country. Many of the killers were Franciscan friars. The atrocities were appalling enough to induce bystanders of the Nazi “Sicherheitsdienst der SS”, watching, to complain about them to Hitler (who did not listen). The pope knew about these events and did nothing to prevent them.

Catholic terror in Vietnam

In 1954 Vietnamese freedom fighters – the Viet Minh – had finally defeated the French colonial government in North Vietnam, which by then had been supported by U.S. funds amounting to more than $2 billion. Although the victorious assured religious freedom to all (most non-Buddhist Vietnamese were Catholics), due to huge anticommunist propaganda campaigns many Catholics fled to the South. With the help of Catholic lobbies in Washington and Cardinal Spellman, the Vatican’s spokesman in U.S. politics, who later on would call the U.S. forces in Vietnam “Soldiers of Christ”, a scheme was concocted to prevent democratic elections which could have brought the communist Viet Minh to power in the South as well, and the fanatic Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem was made president of South Vietnam.

Diem saw to it that U.S. aid, food, technical and general assistance was given to Catholics alone, Buddhist individuals and villages were ignored or had to pay for the food aids which were given to Catholics for free. The only religious denomination to be supported was Roman Catholicism.

The Vietnamese McCarthyism turned even more vicious than its American counterpart. By 1956 Diem promulgated a presidential order which read: “Individuals considered dangerous to the national defense and common security may be confined by executive order, to a concentration camp.”

Supposedly to fight communism, thousands of Buddhist protesters and monks were imprisoned in “detention camps.” Out of protest dozens of Buddhist teachers – male and female – and monks poured gasoline over themselves and burned themselves. (Note that Buddhists burned themselves: in comparison Christians tend to burn others). Meanwhile some of the prison camps, which in the meantime were filled with Protestant and even Catholic protesters as well, had turned into no-nonsense death camps. It is estimated that during this period of terror (1955-1960) at least 24,000 were wounded – mostly in street riots – 80,000 people were executed, 275,000 had been detained or tortured, and about 500,000 were sent to concentration or detention camps.

To support this kind of government in the next decade thousands of American GI’s lost their life.

Rwanda Massacres

In 1994 in the small African country of Rwanda in just a few months several hundred thousand civilians were butchered, apparently a conflict of the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.

For quite some time I heard only rumors about Catholic clergy actively involved in the 1994 Rwanda massacres. Odd denials of involvement were printed in Catholic church journals, before even anybody had openly accused members of the church.

Then, 10/10/96, in the newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany – a station not at all critical to Christianity – the following was stated:

“Anglican as well as Catholic priests and nuns are suspect of having actively participated in murders. Especially the conduct of a certain Catholic priest has been occupying the public mind in Rwanda’s capital Kigali for months. He was minister of the church of the Holy Family and allegedly murdered Tutsis in the most brutal manner. He is reported to have accompanied marauding Hutu militia with a gun in his cowl. In fact there has been a bloody slaughter of Tutsis seeking shelter in his parish. Even two years after the massacres many Catholics refuse to set foot on the threshold of their church, because to them the participation of a certain part of the clergy in the slaughter is well established. There is almost no church in Rwanda that has not seen refugees – women, children, old – being brutally butchered facing the crucifix.

According to eyewitnesses clergymen gave away hiding Tutsis and turned them over to the machetes of the Hutu militia.

In connection with these events again and again two Benedictine nuns are mentioned, both of whom have fled into a Belgian monastery in the meantime to avoid prosecution. According to survivors one of them called the Hutu killers and led them to several thousand people who had sought shelter in her monastery. By force the doomed were driven out of the churchyard and were murdered in the presence of the nun right in front of the gate. The other one is also reported to have directly cooperated with the murderers of the Hutu militia. In her case again witnesses report that she watched the slaughtering of people in cold blood and without showing response. She is even accused of having procured some petrol used by the killers to set on fire and burn their victims alive…”

As can be seen from these events, to Christianity the Dark Ages never come to an end.

For anyone who read all of this list, and still believes that Christianity has been a good influence on the world, the separation of your mental faculties from a true perception of reality is astounding. Two facts await the objective mind- Christianity is a man-made religion and, on the net, it has had a negative impact on humanity.

(1377) Early commentaries belie Josephus’ attestation of Jesus

In Josephus’ work The Jewish Antiquities, written in the final decade of the First Century, a questionably authentic reference to Jesus is presented:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
(3rd Chapter, Book 18, The Jewish Antiquities).

Christian apologists consistently use this insertion as the best evidence of the flesh and blood existence of Jesus.  But, as discussed at the following website, its authenticity is seriously eroded by the failure of contemporary commentaries to mention what would otherwise be the most spectacular story told in the entire tome.

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/07/jesus-the-man-that-never-was/

No pre-4th Century copies of Josephus’s work exist. In all reality, no pre-11th Century editions exist making any claim of a nucleus all the more implausible and the suggestion of the actual composition of the alleged sentence/sentences utterly nonsensical.

Conversely, whereas there does not exist a pre-4th Century edition of the Antiquities to prove or disprove the idea either way there does exist numerous pre-4th Century (pre- Eusebius) commentaries on Josephus’s work, including those made by Origen, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, Theophilus, Tertullian, Anatolius, Cyprian, and Arnobius who all fail to mention the suspect entry. These 3rd and 2nd Century commentaries, not least of all those made by the Christian church father, Origen (whose library and copy of Josephus was bequeathed to Eusebius), are proof in and by themselves that there never was an entry, be it one sentence or four.

Suggesting Origen, one of Christianity’s first International Marketing Managers, a man hell-bent on promoting the emergent religion he oversaw simply forgot to mention the only external source-document for the religion he was in charge of promoting is as preposterous as suggesting Ramses II forgot to mention losing his army to a fleeing Jewish Union leader.

Once history erases this non-biblical reference to Jesus, there is not much left to account for his place in history.  What is evident if nothing else is that if Jesus did exist as a real person, his influence was far less profound than what most Christians generally believe.  This creates a stark contradiction between the purported claims of dazzling miracles and a resurrection from the dead against the apathy and indifference of contemporary historians.

(1378) Supernatural beliefs remain unverified

The tendency of humans to accept unsupported claims of the supernatural is well documented. Although diminishing, it still pervades today’s scientific and technologically-advanced society.  The following is taken from:

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/07/supernatural-beliefs-the-trillion-dollar-fraud/

Think of the amazing number of supernatural beliefs held by people:

Gods, goddesses, devils, demons, angels, heavens, hells, purgatories, limbos, miracles, prophecies, visions, auras, saviors, virgin births, immaculate conceptions, resurrections, bodily ascensions, faith-healings, exorcisms, salvation, redemption, messages from the dead, voices from Atlantis, omens, magic, clairvoyance, spirit-signals, divine visitations, incarnations, reincarnations, second comings, judgment days, astrology horoscopes, psychic phenomena, extra-sensory perception, telekinesis, voodoo, fairies, leprechauns, werewolves, vampires, zombies, witches, warlocks, ghosts, wraiths, poltergeists, dopplegangers, incubi, succubi, palmistry, tarot cards, ouija boards, levitation, out-of-body travel, magical transport to UFOs, Elvis on a flying saucer, invisible Lemurians in Mount Shasta, Thetans from a dying planet, etc., etc.

That’s about 60 varieties — and you can probably think of others I overlooked.

All these magical beliefs are basically alike. There’s no tangible evidence for any of them. You can’t test supernatural claims; you’re expected to swallow them by blind faith. The only “proof” for them is that they were “revealed” by some prophet, guru, astrologer, shaman, mullah, mystic, swami, psychic, soothsayer or “channeler.”

Well, considering the human brain’s vaunted power of logic, you’d think that people everywhere would reject magical assertions that can’t be verified. But the opposite is true. Billions of people embrace them. Almost all of humanity prays to invisible spirits and envisions a mystical realm. Virtually every leader invokes the deities. Supernaturalism pervades our whole species, in one form or another.

Of the 60 supernatural beliefs listed above, 22 are incorporated into some aspect of Christian theology.  Yet, all 60 belong in the same bucket- none have been substantiated by anything resembling evidence of a convincing nature.  While Christianity shuffles its 22 supernatural concepts, the other 38 find plenty of credulous followers as well.  If ANY of these beliefs are true, in world  awash with 7.5 billion people carrying 4.2 billion photo and video-capable smart phones, you would expect by now that at least some of them would have been shown to exist.  But none have. Not a single supernatural claim has been verified. Which means that Christianity is still 22 supernatural beliefs short of proving its truth.

(1379) Hell is eternal

Although it is not a universal belief in Christianity, the most prevalently held doctrine is that Hell is eternal, and there are scriptures that support this claim.  The following was taken from this apologetics website:

https://carm.org/hell-eternal

The Bible teaches that there is a fiery hell, a place that Jesus warned people about.

“And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire,” (Matt. 18:8).

Eternal fire is real.  Jesus said it was.  In fact, Jesus spoke a great deal about hell.  It is what Jesus came here to save us from.

There will be a Day of Judgment when all people will face God.  Those who are not covered by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross will be cast out into hell where they will undergo eternal punishment.  “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46).   In this verse, the same word “eternal” is used to describe the punishment of the wicked as well as the eternal life of the believer.  The punishment is endless as is the eternal life of the believer.  That is why the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4) is so important, because it saves people from eternal damnation.

This is the core truth for scripturally literate Christians. So  after 413,784,548,932,001,658,779,357,501,654,851,323,882,298,704,141,396,448,605,384,045,855,909,846,118,307,784,852,004,192,852,336,942,356,484 years of being tortured, it will be just the BEGINNING of paying for the sins committed during our 80 years of life.  Yes sir, God puts Hitler to shame.

(1380) The Bible highlights God’s limited communication skills

It is extraordinarily contradictory for Christians to claim that God is omnipotent and at the same time take note of this God’s primary means of communication- the Bible.  A disjointed, contradictory, cobbled-together, myth-ridden, poorly-translated, heavily-interpolated, plagiarized tome of 66 books written mostly by unknown and obviously biased authors. Is it possible for an all-powerful deity to present his message in such an impotent, confusing, and contradictory manner? The following is taken from:

http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Bible_reviews

THE BIBLE collects together ‘the Word of God’ as delivered to humankind.

It is fact that this ‘delivery’ was confined solely to a highly localized community.

Somewhere about 1440-1450 CE, the printing press was invented. The printing press therefore appeared nearly one and half millennia after `Christ’.

It took considerably longer until literacy was widespread.

Thus whole civilizations, communities, groups, nations, families, individuals, cultures on other parts of the Earth came and went without any opportunity whatsoever to know about this `Christ’ and His so-called `redemptive message’, `knowledge’, `moral codes’, `guidance as to life and conduct’ and so on.

Why does a `God’ powerful enough to Create and Sustain the entire universe – all its content, its extent, its phenomena, its stupendous physical manifestations, communicate `His Word’ to humankind in a manner that is, in terms of its mode and extent of communication, factually and manifestly indistinguishable from a local, parochial man-breathed myth left to spread through only-too-human means?

Why are so very many people deserted by ‘The Lord Jesus Christ’ – never remotely having the chance to know about ‘The Christ’, his `universal moral codes’, his strictures, guidance, `redemptive purpose’ etc?

Why does the `Almighty’ communicate with such limited power? It is because this is a parochial man-created myth that spread merely through man-limited capability.

And Jesus just happens to appear in the very locality on Earth that was already surrounded by, and awash with, many similar deity myths. These end up in The Bible. ‘The Lord Jesus Christ’ is constructed from plagiarized and reheated god myths.

It takes little more than a brief, dispassionate analysis of the Bible to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that it is a product of human design and not the inspired work of a god. The Bible is the best evidence that Christianity is not true.

(1381) God: from the sublime to the ridiculous

There is a serious mismatch between the cosmic grandiose of an all-powerful universe-creating deity and the frivolous, foolish, and trivial details that were supposedly important to him.  The following is taken from:

http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Bible_reviews

The entity that created and sustains the entire universe, including: super-giant stars, super-massive black holes, countless galaxies, neutron stars, red giants, super-nova, hyper-nova, stupendous physical, biological, chemical, geological phenomena, huge terrestrial and gaseous planets, and so on and so on, was obsessed with:

burning flesh, circumcision, sexual practices, Semitic rituals, pig meat, reciting tedious and elaborate lists of family names, incest, oxen goring men needing to be punished, the eating of blood and fat, the eating of shellfish, bodily discharges, beard trimming practices, hair length, crushed testicles, eunuchs, cloth garments … the list is much longer and includes: a man who refuses to impregnate his widowed sister-in-law is put to death by The Lord [GE 38:8-10].

Universal `Truths’ passed to man by `The Almighty The Lord God’? Or merely the parochial preoccupations of ancient Semitic tribes and scribes? Think about it.

It doesn’t take a lot of rumination to understand that this is a serious problem for Christianity. It relegates God to a personage of such pettiness and boorishness, that if the same attributes were present in a current-day person, they would be summarily dismissed from inclusion among polite company. No, more specifically, this person would probably wind up in prison or a psychiatric ward.  Yet, this is the god that Christians worship, as if he is a paragon of sagacity and transcendence, while their own holy book demonstrates the exact opposite.

(1382) The flip side of the Lazarus story

The story of Jesus raising the 4-days dead Lazarus in the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John is one of the most cherished and oft-repeated tales among Christian circles. The fact that it is fictional beyond a reasonable doubt escapes all but the most liberal of the faith. But what is often missed is that the story itself does not paint Jesus in the best of lights. For sure, it elevates his powers beyond anything told in the other three gospels, but it also suggests that Jesus was callous and egotistical in a fashion that delivered a lot of unnecessary pain, suffering, and anguish. The following was taken from:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-lazarus-stunt.html

My biggest problem with Jesus in John’s gospel, one I sensed in my distant youth as a critical Bible student, is that he simply isn’t real. Jesus here is an artificial, contrived figure—a tediously written, poorly developed character in an inferior novel. But if we grant that John got it right, that this is what Jesus was really like, then the case can be made that our exaggerated hero was sometimes a real jerk.

This becomes obvious when we read John 11 without rose-colored glasses. How can even the most pious Jesus fans not be taken aback by the story of Lazarus in this chapter? This is one of the most famous episodes in the gospels, with one of the most stupendous miracles. Yet Matthew, Mark and Luke, writing much earlier, somehow never got wind of it. The shortest verse in the Bible (at least in most English versions) is here, verse 35: “Jesus wept,” and of course, this gets a lot of mileage as proof of Jesus’ compassion.

But that’s not quite the whole story: Jesus knew that Lazarus was sick—he received a message from Lazarus’ sister—but delayed going to his bedside. He let him die so that he could pull a stupendous stunt to boost his own reputation and get people to believe! John makes this explicit in verses 14-15: “Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’” He’s glad he wasn’t there? Please, if you’re going to take this story at face value, then admit that this is obnoxious behavior.

And, in fact, Martha, Lazarus’ sister, gets in a zinger, upbraiding Jesus for his neglect. If you’d been here, Lord, he’d be alive. Sure, yes, I believe you’re “the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (11:20-27).

When Mary arrived on the scene, she also complained, (v. 32): “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Maybe even John himself sensed that Jesus had been callous in not showing up sooner, and thus makes a point of telling his readers how upset Jesus was that Martha and Mary were distraught: “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, ‘Where have ye laid him?’ They said unto him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept” (11:33-35).

This was a voice-activated resurrection (11:43-45): Jesus “cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’” We are not told if Lazarus was as annoyed as Martha and Mary had been that Jesus had let him die.

When this story is taken at face value, Jesus is a seriously compromised hero. The story is much less of a burden if we acknowledge that it is theology-soaked fiction: The only reason that John includes the story is to give Jesus a dramatic occasion for pronouncing, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Don’t forget that this is the gimmick of the Fourth Gospel: the promise, made repeatedly, that the faithful will get out of dying if they just believe.

The author of the Gospel of John made a mistake when concocting this story. It could have told in way that had Jesus responding as quickly as possible to the supplication while still preserving an elaborate display of his powers. As long as we are playing in the realm of fiction, this kind of gaffe is what is termed an ‘unforced error.’

(1383) Christian salvation theory fails a test of logic

The salvation theory of Christianity is presented as a wonderful and undeserved gift offered essentially free of charge by a compassionate and loving god.  And if the salvation being offered was simply a chance to overcome the oblivion of death, this reward would carry substantial merit. But that’s not the game plan for Christianity.  You are being saved from something much worse than death itself- a punishment of everlasting torment- to be administered (unnecessarily) by the very same god.

This elicits the analogy of the Mafia boss who confronts a restaurant owner and says “this is a nice restaurant, and it would be a shame if anything happened to it. So for a monthly payment we will ensure that it remains protected (from us destroying it).”

But to be more precise, the Christian salvation offer could still work if the punishment in hell was outside the control of God, that is, if another equally powerful agency or god was sentencing people.  Then an offer of salvation would make sense.  But when a god both creates the torture chamber and the way to avoid it, it devolves into a logical fallacy that destroys the validity of the faith.

Some apologists might argue that Satan, not God, sends people to hell, but that contradicts the doctrine of God’s preeminence as an all-powerful ruler of the universe. Allowing Satan to mete out his punishment is the same as such a god doing it himself.

(1384) No good way to recognize the existence of a god

If a god exists there should be some way to recognize its existence as well as its effect, if any, upon our world. But when Christian apologists weigh in on this issue, they inadvertently nullify all of the potential pathways to such a discovery. The following is taken from:

http://articles.exchristian.net/2007/02/blind-mans-bluff.html

I have talked before about the concept of God and love. And when we compare what God does to what humans do—well, it doesn’t seem very loving. But when I point that out, I am met with shock—“Who are you to question God? Were you there when he made the foundations of the earth? His love is so much different, so beyond our comprehension (he died for you!) that it is nothing like it in the natural world.”

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by love.

Or, when the question of love is brought up, I am informed that I am forgetting that God is just. But what does his justice look like? “Just” means in accordance with a law. What law does God have to follow? And, when he is merciful, he is deliberately not following the law. In other words, God is not bound by any justice or mercy at all. Since I cannot even see God, talking about some law beyond God (which he does or does not have to follow) that I see even less becomes meaningless.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by justice or mercy.

And I am informed that God defines absolute morality. But then I view actions in the Tanakh that go against the moral intuition he allegedly gave me. Things like asking a person to perform human sacrifice to prove their loyalty. Genocides. Hardening hearts. When I ask about those things, that don’t seem very moral to me, I am told I must accept God as moral, and while it doesn’t appear moral, God had to have a moral reason for it.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by morality.

I have no way to verify if God is speaking the truth. If God is bound by truth, and I ask, “Can you lie?” he must answer “No.” But if he is NOT bound by truth, and I ask, “Can you lie?” he can still answer “No”! Same question. Same answer. Two completely different Gods. No way to verify whether God is telling the truth.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by truth.

If I am talking to a young earth creationist, I am informed that God could make the stars appear to be billions of light years away, and make the earth appear to be billions of years old, by creating it looking old. But it really is young. And I am told by old earth creationists, that God didn’t mean “day” when he inspired the author of Genesis 1, but rather God meant “a long, long time” and that God created light before he created the sun. Which is completely contrary to science. But God did that because he did not want it to be too easy for us to believe in creationism.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by science.

I am told by Christians that Mormon scriptures are not from God and the Qur’an is not from God, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is not from God. That certain books, although esteemed as canonical at one time, like 1 Clement, Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas, are not inspired either. And now, we have questions as to whether the ending of Mark, or the Story of the Adulterous woman is inspired. In fact, the Christians can’t seem to agree on a method by which we can determine a certain string of words is inspired or not.

All of which doesn’t matter, because even without holy writings, I will still be held responsible.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by writings.

The Muslims have miracle stories of their own. So do Hindus. And Catholics have a weekly sighting of Mary, in cooked items or bridge underpasses. Mormons and Seven-Day Adventists have moving stories of personal testimony by which they tell of life-transformations because of their God. But those are the wrong Gods. The humans have it wrong, I am told.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by testimonies.

Finding  a god is only the first step to becoming a Christian, as that god might well have nothing to do with Christianity. But for an unbiased and perspicacious person, taking that first step is an exercise in frustration. It is a fool’s errand that ends in ‘success’ only when a person throws up their arms and simply, and somewhat arbitrarily, descends on a ‘solution,’ which is all too often the same solution that was passed down from their parents.  The existence of a god does not necessarily imply Christianity, but the absence of one destroys it. And the fact that there is no reliable method to detect the presence of a god suggests strongly that one does not exist.

(1385) Jesus confirms he is separate from the Holy Spirit

It is a fundamental Christian doctrine that the three manifestations of God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) are one and the same being, one god, light from light, true god from true god. This should imply that an attack against any of the three is an attack on all three. By the 4th Century, denying this concept of the Trinity was considered blasphemy. But in the Gospel of Luke, we find evidence to dispute this doctrine:

Luke 22:47-48

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

This clearly establishes that Jesus is the ‘Son of Man.”  In the following scripture, a critical distinction is made between Jesus and the Holy Spirit:

Luke 12:8-10

“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

A Christian should wonder why blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would carry such weight compared to the exact same attack against Jesus, if they are actually the same god. Indeed, from the scripture it is clear that dishonoring Jesus is not also an attack against the Holy Spirit. This establishes that they are separate beings and not co-equal parts of the same god. So while Christianity claims it is monotheistic, its scriptures say otherwise.

(1386) Four gods

In a 2006 survey of American believers, it was found that the public’s image of god was more or less evenly distributed among four archetypes- defined by a whether god is benevolent or not, crossed with whether or not he is engaged in individual lives. The following was taken from:

http://www.askanatheist.org/articles/americasmanyfacesofgod.html

According to a Baylor University study released 9-Sept-2006, Americans believe in 4 different types of gods:

31.4% believe in an Authoritarian God who is very judgmental and engaged

25% believe in a Benevolent God who is not judgmental but engaged

23% believe in a Distant God who is completely removed

16% believe in a Critical God who is judgmental but not engaged

The results also shows relationships between the 4 god types and race, geographic regions and education:

African-Americans believe overwhelmingly in an Authoritarian God (53.4 percent)

Easterners tend towards belief in a Critical God; Southerners tend towards an Authoritarian God; Midwesterners believe in a Benevolent God; and the West Coast believes in a Distant God.

Individuals with lower educations and lower incomes tend towards more engaged images of God.

If God was real, then it would be most probable that his fundamental attributes would be expressed sufficiently in scripture and his ‘works’ for the majority of people to have an overall consensus of what those are. If God was not real, then we would expect to see a large distribution in the images of God, reflecting the attitudes and characteristics of each group of individuals.  What we observe is the latter case.

(1387) Christian tampering with Jewish scripture

Early Christians were motivated to authenticate Jesus as the promised Jewish savior despite heavy resistance from scripturally-literate Jews who rightfully pointed out the failings of Jesus to meet the requirements of the Messiah.  So, the Christians would often insert fraudulent passages as they were copying the scriptures to create evidence pointing to Jesus as the true savior. The following was taken from:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/aa0_ot.htm#text

Like the Jewish scribes who had not always been careful of the truth, neither were Christians. Early Christians tampered with the Septuagint, but this tampering was exposed by comparison with the original Hebrew. Christians then accused Jews of suppressing the truth in their Hebrew versions. But the Jews had largely stopped tampering with their ancient texts by the end of the first century AD and were thus routinely vindicated by the evidence. For example, in the Septuagint, Psalm 96 was amended to include an apparent prophecy about the Lord ruling from the tree (i.e. the cross). The fact that Jewish versions included no such line was explained away by the fact that the perfidious Jews had removed it from the text. In fact it was the Christians who had been responsible for the tampering, a fact easily confirmed by comparing the texts with older copies in both Greek and Hebrew.

Christians also inserted a line in Jeremiah to foretell Christ’s descent into Hell “The Lord God remembered His dead people of Israel who slept in the earth of the grave, and He went down to them to preach to them His salvation”. This fraudulence has been quietly dropped, but the writings of the Church Fathers confirm that they believed it to be genuine and thought that the Jews had tried to suppress it. We will come across a number of other attempts by Christians to insert convenient text — often either retrospective prophecies or justifications for novel doctrines.

The double deception of inserting a false scripture and then accusing the Jews of deleting the same scripture is appalling. It reveals the desperation of early Christians to legitimize their faith in the wake of events that otherwise seemed counter to what everyone had expected regarding the Messiah.  This trickery is exactly what would be expected to cover the tracks of a fraudulent human enterprise.  If it was from a god, no such machinations would have been needed.

(1388) To be childlike or not

In Mathew 8:1-2, Jesus said:

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul wrote:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians before the Gospel of Matthew was written, but if Paul had been more aware of Jesus’s ministry and message, he likely would not have penned this statement. It is another example of how little Paul knew about Jesus other than that he died on a cross.

So a Christian is torn between becoming like a child or putting the ways of childhood behind them.  Or to hedge their bets, perhaps going half and half.

(1389) The Bible’s confused attitude toward disease and hygiene

If the Bible was inspired by an infinitely-intelligent and knowledgeable god, then it would be expected to contain advanced (for its time) perspectives of disease and hygiene. It doesn’t. The following was taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/11/the-bibles-confused-relationship-with-science-2-of-2/?ref_widget=trending&ref_blog=friendlyatheist&ref_post=what-we-can-learn-from-the-paris-attacks-without-ignoring-the-elephant-in-the-room

The Bible says that unclean land animals such as rabbits, pigs, horses, and bear are not only unclean to eat but also to touch. If you touch the carcass of one of these, you are unclean until evening. (Leviticus 11:28)

If you touch a dead person, you’re unclean for a week and must go through ritual purification (Numbers 19:11–12).

A man who has a nocturnal emission is unclean. Seven days after his last emission he must bathe in running water (Lev. 15:13). The rules are the same for a menstruating woman (Lev. 15:28).

Cover your poop because it grosses God out (Deuteronomy 23:13–14).

Take seriously the appearance of leprosy. Anyone found to be a leper must be shunned. (Lev. 13)

Don’t touch dead bodies? Bury your poop? Yes, that’s good advice, but who needs to be told this by God? The Bible is hardly a medical authority and couldn’t even provide the simple recipe for soap. The healings of Jesus the Great Physician teach us that illness can be caused by evil spirits or sin, despite what modern medicine says.

As for being shocked by naughty body parts, this advice does little to improve health, and the recommended bathing is just a ritual cleansing. Without soap, it doesn’t do much more to get rid of germs than the required sacrifice of two birds.

Concerns about leprosy are valid, though this shows no knowledge beyond the common sense of the time.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that these unscientific, ritualistic superstitions did not emerge from the mind of a supreme deity. They are completely encompassed within the bounds of societal knowledge existing at the time. This is hard evidence that the Bible is a human creation.

(1390) A reclusive god is to blame for emotional pain within families

If God is real, then he is to blame for the countless tragedies resulting from family warfare over the question whether he exists or not.  Almost everyone is aware of a family member or friend who has been marginalized, ostracized, shunned, or abandoned over a difference in belief.  Usually, it involves parents emotionally separating from a child who fails to accept the family’s faith.  None of this would happen if God made his existence obvious.  The following was taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2016/08/christian-carnage.html

While Christians can be physically abusive (and certainly we see this throughout history), the sword of Christianity more often slashes at the heart. It cuts asunder the love of a father for his son, a sister for her brother, a grandmother for her grandchild (Matt. 10:36).

Christians cast aside their most sacred relationships, no longer providing emotional support and acceptance of their loved ones, in a bid to gain heaven from violent gods who (some Christians believe) plan to torture the Christians’ child, sibling, or grandchild. Rather than offering love that never fails (1 Cor.13:8), Christians oftentimes possess only conditional love that says, “Believe like I do, think like I do, talk like I do, act like I do–then we can be friends and get along. Otherwise I won’t even eat with you” (1 Cor. 5:11).

Yes, Christians fling away their own flesh and blood for three beings (Yahweh, Jesus, and Holy Spirit) they aren’t even sure exist–all so they themselves might possibly, if their gods turn out to be real, receive riches after they die. They throw their family under the bus in hopes of personal gain. Maybe they don’t expect seventy-two virgins, but the concept is the same.

That’s violence! And not just on the part of the gods but also on the part of the Christians who thrust the “sword” into their family members and slice off their familial bonds.

Yes, all of the Abrahamic religions are violent. They always have been. Even Christianity, as stated, has a history of bloodshed. But the emotional carnage of Christianity is no less harmful. And it continues to this day, even in the homes of esteemed Christians.

So what to make of this? If God is real, his subterfuge of hiding from, teasing, and tantalizing humans, keeping them in the dark, requiring faith in the absence of evidence, and thereby splitting humans into large banks of believers and unbelievers, has wrought incredible pain both within families and among friends.  That is… if God is real.  But if he is real, could he be indifferent to this heartless circumstance? – Probably not- so… let’s be honest- he probably doesn’t exist.

(1391) God deliberately pursued a losing proposition

Christianity suggests that God set up or guided to fruition a human civilization on Planet Earth for the purpose of making billions of individuals, then testing them with the consequence of assigning each to an afterlife of either eternal bliss or eternal torture.  This makes sense only if this god was limited in his vision and could not anticipate the high failure rate of this endeavor.  The following is taken from:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Christian_Problems.htm

Plus, if I were an all-knowing God and knew BEFORE I created the world that the majority of the people on Earth would suffer through life and end up in the eternal torment of hell afterward (since most people do not become Christians in their lifetime), I would certainly not create such a world. No sane person would create something knowing in advance that the bad that would come out of it would far exceed the good. No sane person would go through with that, let alone an all-wise God. Think about it: If you knew before setting up a business that you’d incur a loss of $75,000 and reap only $25,000 in profit (based on 1/4 of the world’s population claiming to be Christians), would you go through with it? Get real.

Would a magnificently all-wise, all-powerful, and benevolent deity create a world of intelligent beings knowing in advance that pain, suffering, and eternal torment would visit the vast majority of them? Certainly not, and neither would any human do anything like this in an analogous fashion. Christianity therefore suffers a major test of logic- it simply does not make sense. A god would not create a cauldron of misery and torment when he had the capability to make something much more merciful and compassionate.  Humans, on the other hand, boxed in by the realities of an indifferent universe, would be more or less constrained to invent such an incompetent deity.

(1392) A painless hell is still an absurdity

God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Paul, the prophets, ministers, pastors, priests, and laypersons have all made it clear that when a person checks into hell, they don’t check out. It is a permanent and everlasting sentence. Although hell has been typically described as a place of intense physical punishment, if not outright torture, many modern-day Christians have gravitated to a more euphemistic (and highly flexible) interpretation of the scriptures to assert that it is merely a separation from God, and may, in fact, not involve any pain whatsoever. This idea seems to satisfy the more compassionate members of the faith who don’t want to consider their god to be crueler than themselves or more brutal than any despotic ruler who has ever lived.

But even if we accept this concept of a ‘humane’ hell, a significant problem remains- it is ETERNAL. Apparently, God feels fine to separate for trillions and trillions of years a man from his wife because one of them did not (could not) accept the truth claims of the gospels. The same for a child who fell away from the family tradition. This would be similar to putting a child in prison for life without visitation rights for stealing a stick of gum. It doesn’t compute at all.

Christians should not be allowed to get away (as if they’ve solved the problem) with their unscriptural claim that hell is just a separation, because any separation that is eternal is still a wildly disproportionate punishment. And to argue that hell is not forever, which might be the next desperate tactic, would be to admit that the Bible is heavily flawed:

Matthew 25:46:

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

But for the sake of argument, let’s make one more unscriptural concession and agree that hell is a place where sinners are sent to be annihilated- that is, they will be delivered immediately to oblivion, killed, and become non-existent. This  doesn’t solve the problem either because it is still a form of eternal punishment- by denying a person the experience of eternal happiness with their loved ones- all based on an unfortunate choice they made in a relative ‘microsecond’ of time on earth.

The peddling of fear through the invention of hell might have helped recruitment, but it is a fatal poison to the future lifespan of Christianity.

(1393) Jesus was not famous

In Mark 1:27-28, Jesus is portrayed as causing a sensation around Galilee and becoming famous quite early in his ministry.:

All the people were amazed and began to ask one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him!” And the news about Jesus spread quickly thought the whole region of Galilee.

Later, he worked incredible miracles that were witnessed by many, undoubtedly increasing his fame as he stretched his ministry to Judea and Jerusalem.  This would have generated a plethora of various letters and documents written by contemporary witnesses. But it didn’t. The following is an excerpt from Bart Ehrman’s book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium:

“What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references – nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death – even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era – there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time – the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.”

This offers compelling evidence that Jesus was either a mythical figure or he was not well known.  In either case, it can be assumed that the gospel accounts of his life and ministry were significantly exaggerated.

(1394) Jesus could heal only those persons who had faith

It is understandable that contemporary faith healers ply their trade only in church settings because their healing powers result solely from a placebo effect among those who believe in the power of the healer. If this was not so, we would have faith healing wings in every hospital. There is evidence in the Bible that Jesus was also constrained in the same manner- that his ‘healings’ occurred only among those who had faith in his capability to heal them. Consider the following verse:

Mark 6: 4-6

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

There appears to be a connection between the ‘lack of faith’ of the people and the fact that Jesus ‘could do no miracles’ except for a few people who presumably were among the faithful minority. This offers a clue that Jesus was a standard (fraudulent) faith healer who played on the superstitions and gullibility of the people he ‘healed.’  This would explain why he seemed to heal only a few people with minor afflictions and not those who were suffering from the major causes of death at the time- tuberculosis, small pox, malaria, and typhoid.  Any ersatz faith healer interested in protecting his reputation would avoid those with afflictions that could not be immediately ameliorated with a hypnotic suggestion. It appears that Jesus, if he was a real person, did the same.

(1395) A broad study of religion leads to atheism

Most Christians view the world’s religious landscape with blinders on, focusing strictly on biblical exegesis. There is very little study of other religions, either contemporary or ancient. Unfortunately, this applies also to most biblical scholars and the full range of clergy who have divinity degrees. It is a small subset, perhaps 1%, who have undertaken a comprehensive analysis of the entire evolution of religion on our planet. These have a unique perspective- a perspective that leads directly to atheism. The following is taken from:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2016/11/atheism.html

What about the 1% who have grounded their work in a broader, “History of Religions” training? What conclusions arise from a correct academic study of the Bible? Over the last century, we have turned on the lights, observing the larger topography of world religions through the ages and millennia. A simple, obvious observation has come into clear view. We see a complex genetic “tree” of religious influence, offspring religions, and religious cross-pollination through times and places that shows direct analogues with all other fields of cultural production: music, sculpture, literature, folklore, etc.

That is to say, theism, as one of many observable patterns in religious history, evolves, adapts, conflates, and syncretizes with much the same malleability and traditional quality as any other wholly man-made cultural product (e.g., poetry, fashion, painting, etc). All gods are but human constructs, ever-evolving products of human cultures through times and societies. The biblical texts, rather than providing an alleged revelatory origin of one particular deity, that is, as codified in the “book,” register in various snapshots various theistic expressions arising out of diverse ancient (loosely coupled) societies over many centuries. The theistic “ideas” inscribed in the book were all part of a larger complex, a delta or marshland, if you will, of theistic streams and tributaries in ancient cultures.

This great river network of ideas ever evolved and synthesized prior, even more primitive constructs in prehistoric spiritism and superstition. The diverse biblical texts reflect peculiar fusions of such myth and belief taken from various ages and contexts, all associated with one of many ancient deities in the human pantheon. Such cultural phenomenology is the study of religious anthropology, a methodological approach pioneered in the grand work of Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer in his The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion (1890). At nearly the same time, German-American anthropologist Franz Boas concluded similarly in his years of study of such phenomena:

It would seem that mythological worlds have been built up, only to be shattered again, and that new worlds were built from the fragments.

Recognizing the mythological essence of theism, that is, as a wholly human-made construction, we may dismiss all gods as non-existent. How so? What if one deity actually does exist? The argument, in light of the above considerations, approaches, indeed surpasses absurdity. The same person may foolishly ask how one may prove the non-existence of a fully operational McDonald’s on the darkside of the moon or the non-existence of aliens disco dancing to the Bee Gees in some distant galaxy. Just as McDonald’s restaurants and disco dancing arise as inherently human cultural constructions, so also are the gods. Whatever is the case, we can confidently dismiss all religious mytho-systems as untrue, the all-but-arbitrary coping products of human cultural imagination.

Given the above, is it any wonder that most Christians don’t receive a balanced religious education?  It’s like driving Ford’s all your life and concluding it’s the best car without driving any others. So, within this skein of interrelated religious traditions, how would we recognize a true religion, assuming one came into existence?  It would be precise, flawless, authentic, transcendent, unmatched, unique, prescient, prophetic, revelatory, internally consistent, and scientifically accurate- yes, we have yet to see one like this.

(1396) Seeing the broad landscape of the world’s religions

It is easy and somewhat unavoidable to see one’s religious faith as a whole unto itself and somewhat separate from the other religious traditions that have graced the earth for the past several millennia. But to step back out of our secure world and view the full history of human worship gives a perspective that tends to dwarf our parochial prejudices, and it leads to the conclusion that our faith is simply the latest version of a long evolution of supernatural beliefs. To use an analogy, it is like looking at the forest instead of an individual tree. Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) captured this idea to perfection:

I see them all. The panorama passes before me. I see them with outstretched hands—with reverently closed eyes—worshiping the sun. I see them bowing, in their fear and need, to meteoric stones—imploring serpents, beasts and sacred trees—praying to idols wrought of wood and stone. I see them building altars to the unseen powers, staining them with blood of child and beast. I see the countless priests and hear their solemn chants. I see the dying victims, the smoking altars, the swinging censers, and the rising clouds. I see the half-god men—the mournful Christs, in many lands. I see the common things of life change to miracles as they speed from mouth to mouth. I see the insane prophets reading the secret book of fate by signs and dreams.

I see them all—the Assyrians chanting the praises of Asshur and Ishtar—the Hindus worshiping Brahma, Vishnu and Draupadi, the whitearmed—the Chaldeans sacrificing to Bel and Hea—the Egyptians bowing to Ptah and Ra, Osiris and Isis—the Medes placating the storm, worshiping the fire—the Babylonians supplicating Bel and Morodach—I see them all by the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Ganges and the Nile. I see the Greeks building temples for Zeus, Neptune and Venus. I see the Romans kneeling to a hundred gods. I see others spurning idols and pouring out their hopes and fears to a vague image in the mind.

I see the multitudes, with open mouths, receive as truths the myths and fables of the vanished years. I see them give their toil, their wealth to robe the priests, to build the vaulted roofs, the spacious aisles, the glittering domes. I see them clad in rags, huddled in dens and huts, devouring crusts and scraps, that they may give the more to ghosts and gods. I see them make their cruel creeds and fill the world with hatred, war, and death. I see them with their faces in the dust in the dark days of plague and sudden death, when cheeks are wan and lips are white for lack of bread. I hear their prayers, their sighs, their sobs. I see them kiss the unconscious lips as their hot tears fall on the pallid faces of the dead. I see the nations as they fade and fail. I see them captured and enslaved. I see their altars mingle with the common earth, their temples crumble slowly back to dust.

I see their gods grow old and weak, infirm and faint. I see them fall from vague and misty thrones, helpless and dead. The worshipers receive no help. Injustice triumphs. Toilers are paid with the lash,—babes are sold,—the innocent stand on scaffolds, and the heroic perish in flames. I see the earthquakes devour, the volcanoes overwhelm, the cyclones wreck, the floods destroy, and the lightnings kill.

The nations perished. The gods died. The toil and wealth were lost. The temples were built in vain, and all the prayers died unanswered in the heedless air.

What should be observed after reading this excerpt is the incredible unlikelihood that a real, omniscient, all-powerful, merciful god would allow all of this false belief to develop along with the wasteful and tragic consequences resulting from such delusions. But even more enlightening is the obvious and persistent tendency for humans to believe in things that don’t exist- along with the ability to extrapolate that propensity to one’s own experience.

(1397) Christian prayer is irrational

Christianity promotes prayer as the central and most focused activity of the faith. Communication with God is seen as vital to the spiritual health of the believer.  But when viewed in the light of critical thinking, prayer is seen to be a fallacious exercise that by and large undermines the validity of the faith. The following was taken from:

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/heres-why-its-time-to-call-bullsht-on-prayer-requests/

Petitionary prayer suppresses critical thought. According to the Bible writers, prayer manifests faith. But “faith means the purposeful suspension of critical thinking,” says Bill Maher. “It is nothing to be admired.” Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist asks, “Why is everyone praying instead of asking why Yahweh . . . would require one of his children to be peeled out of a flaming school bus wreck with the Jaws of Life to endure excruciating skin grafts?”

Petitionary prayer undermines agency and responsibility. Let go and let God, say Evangelicals. Que sera, sera, say Latin American Catholics. If God is in charge, then whatever happens after prayer must be his will.

Petitionary prayer promotes a habit of self-deception. Even those who claim they believe in the power of prayer at some level believe otherwise, as Lawrence Krauss points out: “You are choking. I have 2 choices: 1. I perform the Heimlich maneuver; 2. I pray for you. Which do you want me to do?”

Petitionary prayer distracts from more promising endeavors. Whole industries have grown up to promote petitionary prayer, which is one of the most lucrative products sold by televangelists. What else might that energy and money do?

Petitionary prayer promotes victim blaming, including self-blame. If a perfectly loving God grants the requests of the faithful, what does that say about those whose prayers evoke no response?

Petitionary prayer teaches people to mistake abuse for love. Being forced to praise and adore a powerful person who requires vulnerable dependents to beg for what they need—even though he already knows—and who then grants or denies these requests in some inscrutable pattern, is not love. It is abuse—and as many former Christians have testified, it primes people, especially women—for further abuse.

Petitionary prayer replaces compassionate action. In her monologue, Letting Go of God, Actress Julia Sweeney gets hit with the realization that we are responsible for each other:

“Wait a minute. What about those people who are like…unjustifiably jailed somewhere horrible, and they are like…in solitary confinement and all they do is pray…this means that I…like I think they’re praying to nobody? Is that possible?’ And then I thought, ’We gotta do something to get those people outta jail!’ Because no one else is looking out for them but us; no God is hearing their pleas. And I guess that goes for really poor people too or really oppressed people who—I had this vague notion—they had God to comfort them. And an even vaguer idea, that God had orchestrated their lot for some unknowable grand design. I wandered around in a daze thinking, ’No one is minding the store!’”

It seems unlikely that a god would promote the use of prayer within the framework of his ‘true’ religion when its use is of such limited value, and which, as shown above, it actually causes a net harm to its practitioners.

(1398) Christianity must concede some obvious truths

We no longer live in a world absorbed by superstition, but rather in an increasingly technical and scientific civilization. The mismatch between the phantasmagorical tales of the Bible and the realities of a sophisticated high-tech culture becomes more glaring every year. To maintain any semblance of authenticity, Christianity must concede some obvious truths. The following is a quote from Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899):

The dear preachers must give up the account of creation—the Garden of Eden, the mud-man, the rib-woman, and the walking, talking, snake. They must throw away the apple, the fall of man, the expulsion, and the gate guarded by angels armed with swords. They must give up the flood and the tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues. They must give up Abraham and the wrestling match between Jacob and the Lord. So, the story of Joseph, the enslavement of the Hebrews by the Egyptians, the story of Moses in the bullrushes, the burning bush, the turning of sticks into serpents, of water into blood, the miraculous creation of frogs, the killing of cattle with hail and changing dust into lice, all must be given up. The sojourn of forty years in the desert, the opening of the Red Sea, the clothes and shoes that refused to wear out, the manna, the quails and the serpents, the water that ran up hill, the talking of Jehovah with Moses face to face, the giving of the Ten Commandments, the opening of the earth to swallow the enemies of Moses—all must be thrown away.

These good preachers must admit that blowing horns could not throw down the walls of a city, that it was horrible for Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter, that the day was not lengthened and the moon stopped for the sake of Joshua, that the dead Samuel was not raised by a witch, that a man was not carried to heaven in a chariot of fire, that the river Jordan was not divided by the stroke of a cloak, that the bears did not destroy children for laughing at a prophet, that a wandering soothsayer did not collect lightnings from heaven to destroy the lives of innocent men, that he did not cause rain and make iron float, that ravens did not keep a hotel where preachers got board and lodging free, that the shadow on a dial was not turned back ten degrees to show that a king was going to recover from a boil, that Ezekiel was not told by God how to prepare a dinner, that Jonah did not take cabin passage in a fish—and that all the miracles in the old Testament are not allegories, or poems, but just old-fashioned lies. And the dear preachers will be compelled to admit that there never was a miraculous babe without a natural father, that Christ, if he lived, was a man and nothing more. That he did not cast devils out of folks—that he did not cure blindness with spittle and clay, nor turn water into wine, nor make fishes and loaves of bread out of nothing—that he did not know where to catch fishes with money in their mouths—that he did not take a walk on the water—that he did not at will become invisible—that he did not pass through closed doors—that he did not raise the dead—that angels never rolled stones from a sepulchre—that Christ did not rise from the dead and did not ascend to heaven.

All these mistakes and illusions and delusions—all these miracles and myths must fade from the minds of intelligent men.

My dear preachers, I beg you to tell the truth. Tell your congregations that Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch. Tell them that nobody knows who wrote the five books. Tell them that Deuteronomy was not written until about six hundred years before Christ. Tell them that nobody knows who wrote Joshua, or Judges, or Ruth, Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles, Job, or the Psalms, or the Song of Solomon. Be honest, tell the truth. Tell them that nobody knows who wrote Esther—that Ecclesiastes was written long after Christ—that many of the prophecies were written after the events pretended to be foretold had happened. Tell them that Ezekiel and Daniel were insane. Tell them that nobody knows who wrote the gospels, and tell them that no line about Christ written by a contemporary has been found. Tell them it is all guess—and may be, and perhaps. Be honest. Tell the truth, develop your brains, use all your senses and hold high the torch of Reason.

Christianity could survive the surrender of these myths- though in a different manifestation as a philosophical tradition based on the ideals of altruism, compassion, and kindness. These things are real and they bring actual comfort to people in need. And if these acts of mercy were accomplished in honor of a mythical literary figure from the Bible, no one would protest such motivation.

(1399) Conception of Jesus

Christian doctrine, based on (interpolated) writings in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, holds that Jesus was not conceived in the normal manner, but was miraculously birthed by the copulation of a mortal woman with the Holy Spirit (1/3 of the God team). How this worked in the mechanical sense is what makes it very unlikely that this dogma is anything other than the fertile imagination of Iron Age minds.

It is abundantly clear that after this miracle of conception, the pregnancy unfolded in the usual fashion, including a delivery that would seem normal to an observer, minus the star, wise men, and other appurtenances befitting a king’s birth. But going back in time, the natural sequence stops at the very moment the egg cell was fertilized. What happened?  Did god insert a sperm cell and if so, what was the DNA signature of this cell?  Was it Semitic? How did God insert the sperm cell into Mary’s vagina?  Did she feel anything? How and when did Jesus himself enter into the fertilized cell- or did he wait until later, perhaps at the birth? Was Jesus aware when he was a womb-bound fetus?

During the 1st Century, people thought that the man delivered the entire package, or seed, of the new human being and that the woman was simply the ground or field upon which it grew, similar to planting a seed for an olive tree. This made the idea of a god-made man more understandable than if conception had been known to be the merger of genetic material from both partners.  God simply inserted a proto-human into Mary’s womb and that was it. But when the 23 chromosomes of Mary’s egg cell is merged with a manufactured sperm cell bearing 23 chromosomes with a DNA signature that most likely didn’t match that of any known human, it makes the story much less believable.

These unanswerable questions send a message- that the easiest, best, most likely explanation is that the virginal birth of Jesus is a myth. Whether or not Jesus existed is not certain, but if he did, he certainly had a human father and was conceived in the normal way.

(1400) Jesus speaks an anachronism

In Mathew 23:35, Jesus is alleged to have stated:

“And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zecharias son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”

The problem is that the murder of Zecharias was documented by Josephus as occurring during the siege of Jerusalem in CE 70, long after Jesus died. The following is a quote from Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899):

It is certain that these words were not spoken by Christ. He could not by any possibility have known that the blood of Zacharias had been shed. As a matter of fact, Zacharias was killed by the Jews, during the seige of Jerusalem by Titus, and this seige took place seventy-one years after the birth of Christ, thirty-eight years after he was dead.

There is still another mistake.

Zacharias was not the son of Barachias—no such

Zacharias was killed. The Zacharias that was slain was the son of Baruch.

But we must not expect the “inspired” to be accurate.

This represented an error in time committed by the author of Mathew. Some apologists insist that Jesus was making a veiled prophecy, knowing in advance that this murder in the temple would later take place. But the wording of the verse clearly intends to convey that it was a past event.

Follow this link to #1401