1451-1500

(1451) Christians worship a god who is less moral than themselves

It is often overlooked that Christians are in a position that is both awkward and uncomfortable- they are compelled to worship a god who is DECIDEDLY less moral than themselves, or at least 99.99% of them.  How do we know this?  God condoned slavery, something that over 99% of Christians condemn.  God advocated the stoning of adulterers and homosexuals. God sentences people to eternal punishment for finite crimes.  If you think it is wrong to punish somebody for 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000 years and beyond because they did some bad things during a 75-year life on earth, then you are more moral than God.  God looks on as a young woman is raped and killed, has the power to stop it, but allows it to happen. If a human did the EXACT same thing, he would be subject to imprisonment.

The only way to explain this Stockholm Syndrome among Christians is that they have been anesthetized by theological brainwashing to avoid evaluating the moral character of god- they are zombied into thinking that whatever God does is just and noble by default.  This disconnect is beyond obvious to anyone not trapped in this constricted mindset. It is like the battered wife who feels like her beatings are justified because of her failings.

To be quite clear, if God really exists, he should be worshipping the average citizen of the 21st Century, whose righteousness, nobility, morality, and ethics greatly exceeds his own. If he was worth his salt, he would appear before us and apologize for being an immoral tyrant. And, of course, all of this is hypothetical because the god defined in the Bible thankfully does not exist.

(1452) God’s incompetent control of evolution

In Christianity, there is a large percentage of people who are either scientifically illiterate or fundamentally brainwashed to believe that the earth is only a few thousand years old and that all of the animals currently living, as well as the 99% of them that are now extinct, were instantly poofed into existence, fully formed, by a creator god. This we can summarily dismiss as being unmitigated nonsense.

There is another contingent of Christians that is better educated and understands the overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution, but these people try to hold on to their faith by positing that God used evolution and guided it over immense amounts of time to create the beings that he desired.  It is this concept that we can attack here, by showing that God’s effort was not becoming an all-knowing, all-powerful god. The following was taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2010/02/god-designed-us-like-this.html

Lesch-Nyhan syndrome causes compulsive self-mutilation. Children eat their lips or fingers, and stab their faces with sharp objects. They feel the pain, but they cannot stop themselves. Why would a loving, all-powerful creator allow anyone to be born with such an awful disease?

Lesch-Nyhan is just one of the tens of thousands of genetic disorders discovered so far. At least a tenth of people have some kind of debilitating genetic disease, and most of us will become sick at some point during our lifetime as a result of mutations that cause diseases such as cancer.

The reason? Our genome is an unmitigated mess. The replication and repair mechanisms are inadequate, making mutations commonplace. The genome is infested with parasitic DNA that often wreaks havoc. The convoluted control mechanisms are prone to error. The huge amount of junk, not just between genes but within them, wastes resources. And some crucial bits of DNA are kept in the power factories – mitochondria – where they are exposed to mutagenic byproducts. “It is downright ludicrous!” declares John Avise, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Irvine.

The human genome, Avise concludes, offers no shred of comfort for those seeking evidence of a loving, all-powerful creator who had a direct hand in designing us, as not just creationists but many believers who accept evolution think was the case. If some entity did meddle with life on Earth, it either did not know what it was doing or did not care, or both.

The condition of the human genome speaks of only two possibilities- an evolutionary process unguided by outside influence, or one that was engineered by an incompetent deity. It is left to the reader to determine which of these two is the more likely.

(1453) Debunking apologists’ excuses for Jesus’s failure to return

One of the biggest difficulties that Christianity faces is the failure of Jesus to return within the time frame suggested by multiple biblical scriptures. The faith made a testable claim, and despite desperate efforts by apologists, the writing is on the wall- it has failed the test. This, by itself, proves that Christianity is false. The following excerpt debunks the excuses Christians have advanced to address this problem:

https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/the-lowdown-on-gods-showdown-86.html

I’ll let David F. Strauss (1808-1874), the German philosopher and historian of religion, sum up the case thus far:

Thus in these discourses Jesus announces that shortly after that calamity, which (especially according to the representation in Luke’s gospel) we must identify with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, and within the term of his own generation, he would visibly make his second advent in the clouds, and terminate the existing dispensation. Now as it will soon be eighteen centuries since the destruction of Jerusalem, and an equally long period since the generation contemporary with Jesus disappeared from the earth, while his visible return and the end of the world which he associated with it, have not taken place: the announcement of Jesus appears so far to have been erroneous… Such inferences from the discourse before us would inflict a fatal wound on Christianity; hence it is natural that exegetists should endeavor by all means to obviate them.

Christian apologists have tried to sub-divide the context of this prediction, making, “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” refer only to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and not also to “the coming of the Son of Man.” They ignore the fact that Jesus’ “this generation” prediction is preceded in all three gospels by Jesus’ discussion of the “coming of the Son of Man” and intimately linked with it, contextually. Such apologists also ignore that Jesus said, “all these things,” and divert attention to Jesus’ other saying (which appears a few verses after Jesus’ long disproved prediction), that “no man knows the day or the hour.” However, they forget that “days and hours” imply nearness in time. “Days and hours” lie within a “generation.” As Strauss pointed out over a century ago:

[Naturally there is a distinction] between an inexact indication of the space of time, beyond which the event will not be deferred (a “generation”), and the determination of the precise date and time (the “day and the hour”) at which it will occur; the former Jesus gives, the latter he declares himself unable to give.

Furthermore, having admitted that he did not know the precise “day or the hour,” Jesus continued to address his listeners as though that “day or hour” could not be further than a mere “generation” away:

Therefore be on the alert, for you [his listeners, circa 30 A.D.] do not know which day your Lord is coming…at an hour when you do not think he will [Mat 24:36,42,44]

Definitely not a “day” or “hour” that was “two millenniums” from then! Compare Luke 21:36:

But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you [his first century listeners] may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.

Obviously, Jesus included the “coming of the Son of Man” among “all these things that are about to take place.”

As professor James D. Tabor explains:

In the [end-times chapters of the gospels], Mk 13, Mat 24, and Lk 21, Jesus connects the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple to the more general “signs of the end of the age”: false prophets, war and disruptions, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, persecution, and a world-wide proclamation of his message…The scheme is very tightly connected, and Jesus declares at the end that “this generation shall not pass away until all these thing are fulfilled” [Mk 13:30].

A.J. Mattill Jr. adds, concerning an important verse in Matthew’s end-time chapter:

The eutheos of Matthew 24:29 should be translated “immediately” as elsewhere [in the New Testament] and means that at once after the tribulation connected with the destruction of Jerusalem there were to occur cosmic disasters and the coming of the Son of Man to write the finis to the world drama.

To Dr. Mattill’s argument may be added these observations of Dr. Strauss:

Not only does Mark in 13:24 [a parallel to Matthew 24:29], by the words, “in those days, after that tribulation,” place the [“coming of the Son of Man”] in uninterrupted chronological succession with [the tribulation connected with the destruction of Jerusalem]; but also, shortly after the [coming of the Son of Man] is discussed in each of the narratives, we find the assurance that all this will be witnessed by the existing generation.

Another attempt to save face by Christian apologists is to reinterpret “this generation” as “that generation,” i.e., to say that Jesus was addressing a much later generation, not his own. But, this explanation is also unacceptable. Jesus used the phrase “this generation” many times, unmistakably in reference to his contemporaries. It does not refer to people born two thousand years hence:

It shall be required of this generation… [Lk 11:51]

The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation… [Mat 12:41 = Lk 11:32]

This is an evil generation… [Lk 11:29]

This adulterous and sinful generation… [Mk 8:38]

That upon you [the Pharisees] may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth. Truly, I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. [Mat 23:35-36]

The final verse listed above is nearly identical to “Truly, I say to you, this generation shall not pass away until all these things take place,” so there is no doubt which “generation” Jesus was addressing. As Christian theologian, Dewey M. Beegle, has reminded Hal Lindsey fans:

If Jesus was referring to a distant future, the least he could have done was to say “that generation” and thus give his hearers a clue that the events he was discussing would occur in some future generation, not theirs. But “this” is close to “that,” and so [Hal Lindsey fans] just add a little filler. Cover things from this end and do not worry too much about how the disciples and early Christians understood things.

Even the evangelical Christian scholar, F. F. Bruce, admitted:

The phrase “this generation” is found too often on Jesus’ lips in this literal sense for us to suppose that it suddenly takes on a different meaning in the saying we are now examining. Moreover, if the generation of the end-time had been intended, ‘that generation’ would have been a more natural way of referring to it than ‘this generation.’

So, if words have any fundamental meaning at all, then the authors of the Gospels told their readers that Jesus predicted the world to end within a “generation” of his preaching. Besides which, people predicting “the end of the world” always complain loudly about the evils of their own generation, exactly as Jesus did in the many instances cited above!

Most Christians are either unaware of this issue, simply choose to ignore it, or hold fast to the insincere apologetic campaign to reinterpret and, in the process, change the meaning of scripture. This is where tying a religion to a book is dangerous. The same book that speaks of miraculous events and illuminates a litany of holy heroes also contains a prediction- in this case a rather crucial one, and when the army of apologists resort to blatantly phony tactics, it tells us to stop the clock, the game is over- Christianity is false.

(1454) Paul in Acts is just a better version of Jesus

The author of the Gospel of Luke later wrote the Acts of the Apostles, and in this second tome, he wrote a fictitious history of Paul, the self-appointed apostle. Fictitious not only by simple examination of the ridiculous stories, but also because the narrative conflicts with what is contained in the legitimate letters of Paul. But in creating this fiction, Luke either intentionally or inadvertently made Paul out to be a superior version of Jesus- probably it’s the latter, because otherwise such an intention would have been illogical.

Here are examples of ‘Luke’s mistake’ from Richard Carrier’s book On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt, Chapter 9.

 Paul and Christ:

Paul’s story is made to be an improvement from Jesus
– Both walk the earth preaching, ending at Jerusalem
– Both are arrested over a disturbance in the temple (Acts 21)
– Both are acquitted by a Herod and a Roman Prefect (Acts 25, 26)
– Both are plotted against by the Jews (Acts 20, 23, 25) yet innocent (Acts 25, 26)
– Both are interrogated and beaten by the Priests and Sanhedrin (Acts 21)
– Both know their death is foreordained and prophesy tribulations in the church to come after (Acts 20)
– Both raise multiple people from the dead (Acts 9, 20)
– Both die and rise from the dead (Acts 14)
– Both are hailed as a god
– Paul travels a much wider area, around a much larger sea
– Paul faces greater peril from a storm at sea
– Paul’s trial spans years rather than a night
– Armies plan to assassinate Paul, and come to rescue Paul
– Jesus stirs violence in one Synagogue, Paul in two
– Paul wins new followers after his resurrection
– Unlike Jesus, Paul delivers the gospel to Rome

The parallelism between Paul and Jesus is too similar to be coincidental. Luke must have used his narrative of Jesus (largely copied from the Gospel of Mark) as a template for his story about Paul. In so doing, he made Paul out to be a superior version of Jesus. And perhaps that is appropriate in one sense- Christianity, at least as it is practiced today, is more aligned with Paul’s theology than with the biblical Jesus.

(1455) God plays with shit

Christians have a habit of dismissing anything in the Old Testament that is either ridiculous, unbelievable, or perverted, pretending that those types of passages should not be taken seriously. This is like playing tennis without the net. If there is something in the Bible that is either not true, or if true, reveals a character flaw in God, then that is a fundamental problem for the faith. In the following scripture, we are led to believe that God used animal feces in a sordid and shameful fashion to make a point:

Malachi 2:1-4

“And now, you priests, this warning is for you.  If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.

 “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it.  And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty.

Many Christians will claim that this is figurative and not something that God actually said. For biblical literalists, they will excuse God because in their minds, whatever God does is just. The substrate of both of arguments is vacant. Just admit that this was something the author made up for some purpose; it was not the voice of God- or heaven help us if it was.

(1456) Christian scholars rely on loose standards

An attempt to construct the actual history surrounding the life of Jesus, assuming he was a real person, is extremely frustrating. We live in a time when most of the recent historical accounts are more or less accurate, but trying to reach a comparable measure of accuracy from any biblical text is impossible. This problem is discussed at this website:

http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

Many problems occur with the reliability of the accounts from ancient historians. Most of them did not provide sources for their claims, as they rarely included bibliographic listings, or supporting claims. They did not have access to modern scholarly techniques, and many times would include hearsay as evidence. No one today would take a modern scholar seriously who used the standards of ancient historians, yet this proves as the only kind of source that Christology comes from. Couple this with the fact that many historians believed as Christians themselves, sometimes members of the Church, and you have a built-in prejudice towards supporting a “real” Jesus.

In modern scholarship, even the best historians and Christian apologists play the historian game. They can only use what documents they have available to them. If they only have hearsay accounts then they have to play the cards that history deals them. Many historians feel compelled to use interpolation or guesses from hearsay, and yet this very dubious information sometimes ends up in encyclopedias and history books as fact.

In other words, Biblical scholarship gets forced into a lower standard by the very sources they examine. A renowned Biblical scholar illustrated this clearly in an interview when asked about Biblical interpretation. David Noel Freeman (the General editor of the Anchor Bible Series and many other works) responded with:

“We have to accept somewhat looser standards. In the legal profession, to convict the defendant of a crime, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, a preponderance of the evidence is sufficient. When dealing with the Bible or any ancient source, we have to loosen up a little; otherwise, we can’t really say anything.”

-David Noel Freedman (in Bible Review magazine, Dec. 1993, p.34)

The implications appear obvious. If one wishes to believe in a historical Jesus, he or she must accept this based on loose standards. Couple this with the fact that all of the claims come from hearsay, and we have a foundation made of sand, and a castle of information built of cards.

It seems incongruous that the god of the universe would be satisfied to leave his followers with an account of his sayings and deeds that lends so much doubt as to its authenticity. A real god would have made sure to provide an accurate, reliable historical narrative that would allow everyone to have an accurate knowledge of his existence, nature, and expectations. The Bible provides none of that assurance.

(1457) Who needs God?

Christians are often exhorted to ‘let go and let God,’ as if this invisible force is potent and is more effective and powerful than mere human effort.  ‘Get out the way of God and let him run your life’ is probably one of the most damaging pieces of advice imaginable. Why? Because God does NOTHING. It only takes a moment of sincere, objective observation to understand this fact. In the following essay, the author expounds on this point:

http://new.exchristian.net/2017/01/what-good-is-god.html

Believers tell you your prayers weren’t answered because, “You didn’t have enough faith.” Why should you need any faith? How can one person’s believing something more intensely than another change the outcome of a petition to an invisible being? Why would an all-powerful deity care? Doesn’t a god realize that, when you need real help you need it now, and should receive it now, no conditions required? If Christians believe, according to their scriptures, that their heavenly father will not give a stone to his children who ask for bread, why are so many of them accepting stones and blaming themselves for absence of bread?

Did belief in God do anything for the Jewish people who prayed for deliverance in concentration camps? What good is a god who does nothing about that? Useless. If he was in any way human with super powers, he’d be prosecuted and maybe, executed, as guilty of genocide.

Did all the prayers and sacrifices to all the gods prevent the collapse of god-worshiping civilizations? Has a god ever stepped in and stopped religious wars? Has God ever clarified the dogmas that keep dividing believers for centuries, thus preventing them from engaging in sectarian warfare? If you say there is no god who fits the definition of “good,” but rather “indifferent,” the pieces fit together logically. Anything else requires denying the evidence (Of course, denying evidence is meat and potatoes for faith.)

If “God helps those who help themselves,” who needs God?How many trusting believers have killed others when God told them to, and had to pay the price for obeying? Did God show up in court to defend them? God is a useful way for them to walk away from responsibility. How many women have acquired abusive and/or unfaithful husbands because they trusted, please God, to send them a “Christian man?” They “know in my heart he is Mr. Right” just as sure as they know in their hearts their God is real. So why did they make such a bad choice? Is it because “God” is an option who tells believers what they want to hear? A Father who gave a damn wouldn’t steer his daughters in the wrong direction. Better such women shouldn’t have trusted faith and listened to their friends.

After tornadoes, hurricanes, massive flooding, and other major disasters, who has to pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, rebuild our structures and lives? We do, that’s who. We rescue and help each other, so where’s this bodiless spirit when push comes to shove? Prayers, far from moving mountains, don’t even move a scrap of trash from a destroyed environment.

This humans helping humans goes for everything we value: freedom, livelihood, safety, cleanliness, etc. Whatever we can’t do for ourselves, we look to human support for. “In God we trust” is total bullshit, especially on currency, always minted by governments. A ten dollar bill gets you ten dollars, nothing more nor less. You’ll wait forever for a god to turn prayers into hard cash, or water into wine. Even with infinite faith, it’s not happening. Who needs God?

If “God helps those who help themselves,” who needs God?

We are living in a strange reality where the majority of the people believe in an invisible man who never does anything.  Sane, intelligent people giving lip service, money, time and much more to a guy who never shows up, never delivers the goods, doesn’t keep his promises, and shows utter contempt for human suffering.  If anyone wants to see a theatrical metaphor for this situation, attend the play ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett. It depicts two men having a slavish, unrealistic expectation of an appearance of a man who promises to rescue them from their plight.  That’s where Christians live, in a make-believe world where, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, an invisible being exists to provide comfort, aid, and deliverance from mortality.

(1458) Casting lots

Throughout the Bible, Jews and Christians are seen to be using a random gambling technique to ascertain the will of God concerning an impending decision.  It is commonly called ‘casting lots’ and roughly compares to the coin flip at a football game to determine which team gets first preference whether to receive the opening kickoff or defer to the second half. What this reveals to an objective observer is that God’s voice is not being heard reliably by his followers, so an artificial crutch is needed to cover up this problem. The following was taken from:

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

 Casting of lots occurs relatively frequently in the Bible, and many biblical scholars think that the Urim and Thummim served this purpose. In the Hebrew Bible, there are several cases where lots were cast as a means of determining God‘s mind:

In the Book of Leviticus 16:8, God commanded Moses, “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.”

According to Numbers 26:55, Moses allocated territory to the tribes of Israel according to each tribe’s male population and by lot.

In Joshua 7:14, a guilty party (Achan) is probably found by lot and executed.

In the Book of Joshua 18:6, Joshua says, “Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.” This action is done in order to know God’s will as to the dividing of land between the seven tribes of Israel who had not yet “received their inheritance”. (Joshua 18:2).

Also in the First Book of Samuel 14:42, lots are used to determine that it was JonathanSaul‘s son, who broke the oath that Saul made, “Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies.” (1 Samuel 14:24).

In the Book of Jonah 1:7, the desperate sailors cast lots to see whose god was responsible for creating the storm: “Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.”

Other places in the Hebrew Bible relevant to divination:

Book of Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from Yahweh and 18:18: The lot settles disputes, and keeps strong ones apart”.

Book of Leviticus 19:26 KJV “… neither shall you practice enchantment, nor observe times.”[1] The original Hebrew word for enchantment, as found in Strong’s Concordance, is pronounced naw-khash’ in English. The translation given by Strong’s is “to practice divination, divine, observe signs, learn by experience, diligently observe, practice fortunetelling, take as an omen”; and “1.to practice divination 2.to observe the signs or omens”. Times in the original Hebrew is pronounced aw-nan’ in English. Its translation in Strong’s is “to make appear, produce, bring (clouds), to practise soothsaying, conjure;” and “1. to observe times, practice soothsaying or spiritism or magic or augury or witchcraft 2. soothsayer, enchanter, sorceress, diviner, fortuneteller, barbarian…”. In the Hebrew-Interlinear Bible, the verse reads, “not you shall augur and not you shall consult cloud”.

Deuteronomy 18:10 “let no one be found among you who [qasam qesem], performs [onan], [nahash], or [kashaph]”.[2] qasam qesem literally means distributes distributions, and may possibly refer to cleromancy. Kashaph seems to mean mutter, although the Septuagint renders the same phrase as pharmakia (poison), so it may refer to magic potions.

In the Book of EstherHaman casts lots to decide the date on which to exterminate the Jews of Shushan; the Jewish festival of Purim is a remembrance of the subsequent chain of events.

In I Chronicles 26:13 guard duties are assigned by lot.

To Christian doctrine perhaps the most significant mention of lots is in the Book of Psalms22:18 “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” This came to be regarded as a prophecy connecting that psalm and the one that follows to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, since all four gospels (for example, John 19:24) tell of the Roman soldiers at Jesus’s crucifixion casting lots to see who would take possession of his clothing. (That final act of profanation became the central theme of The Robe, a 1953 film starring Richard Burton.)

One other notable example in the New Testament occurs in the Acts of the Apostles 1:23–26 where the eleven remaining apostles cast lots to determine whether Matthias or Barsabbas (surnamed Justus) would be chosen to replace Judas.

The frequent use of cleromancy by the followers of the Hebrew god indicated that this god was not communicating with them. Otherwise, such a technique would have been unnecessary and ridiculed for its pagan origins. (The most egregious use of his technique was to throw a woman accused of sorcery into a river and if she survived it would confirm that she was a witch and should be burned at the stake.  Talk about a no-win situation!) A god who fails to communicate with his followers is most likely a god that doesn’t exist, and the casting of lots points strongly in this direction.

(1459) Ezekiel prophetically warns of Paul’s heresy

Christianity was hijacked by Paul, the self-appointed apostle, who changed the doctrines of the biblical Jesus, assuming Jesus was an actual person, and invented a religion that placed himself as the central prophet.  Because of unrelated historical events, Paul’s religion became the predominant form of Christianity. The prophet Ezekiel provided a prescient warning. The following was taken from:

http://www.justgivemethetruth.com/problem.htm

Paul was a Pharisee.  One day he had a ‘revelation’.  He changed his name from Saul to Paul, and straightway preached his revelations about the ‘Christ’ in the synagogues.  Paul continued to have new ‘revelations’ that spoke ‘of’ and ‘for’ a Christ, but he was glaringly silent about the actual life of Yahushua (Jesus) and his teachings.  In Paul’s epistles we find him using the words ‘Christ, Son of God, grace, redemption, resurrection, etc.’, but we learn little or nothing about Yahushua and his actual teachings.  They’re virtually absent from Paul’s epistles.  What we learn about are Paul’s revelations.  Roughly 50% of the New Testament (13 epistles) is from Saul, a man who neither knew Yahushua in the flesh, nor was instructed by the apostles.  Rather, he taught by unsubstantiated revelation, Ezekiel 13:2-9.

[Here is the text of Ezekiel 13:2-9: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken?

“ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.]

Paul considered himself the ‘apostle’ to the Gentiles, primarily because his doctrine (called ‘that way’, Acts 19:9, 23) was rejected by Jewish Christians and the Asian churches alike; and he was forced to seek converts who knew nothing of Yahudim (Jewish) customs and the Law.  Paul’s doctrine was adverse to the teachings of Yahushua; and he was often in conflict with James, Peter, and John; the real apostles.  And by the way, Paul was not an apostle.

Paul spent an inordinate amount of time defending himself and his teachings from accusations of guile, lies, and covetousness.  None of the real apostles were so accused.  Paul’s core philosophy of justification by faith and abolition of Torah Law stands in opposition to Yahushua’s statements in the gospels.  Paul thought nothing of lying or practicing pagan customs if it meant gaining a new convert to his own brand of salvation, Romans 3:7, I Corinthians 10:14-21, 9:19-22.

Paul’s words speak for themselves.  His use of personal pronouns in his epistles (I, me, my, mine) is three times that of any other writer.  Paul urged his followers to follow him.  He preached by revelation.  Paul preached his doctrine in the ‘name’ of Christ, but his teachings were not in alignment with Yahushua’s teachings, John 5:43.

This is a serious problem for Christianity.  There is no legitimate testimony- not from Jesus, not from any of his disciples (all attributions to such are forgeries), and nothing written by any eyewitnesses, whether they be followers or skeptics.  We are only left with Paul and a bunch of foreign non-eyewitnesses that were immersed in the fictional narrative styles that dominated the era. The author of Ezekiel warned us of this situation and it came to pass exactly as stated.

(1460) General anesthesia proves non-existence of a soul

Christianity and other religions have foisted the idea that human life does not end at death, but continues in some form afterwards. The reason this concept became necessary is because none of these religions could produce enough (or any) tangible benefits in this life, such as to make them salable. So the unfalsifiable offer of immortality became an attractive way to gain followers.

At the time that these doctrines were being developed, there was some evidence to support their truth. Dreams were seen as the manifestation of a conscious existence independent of the physical body.  But since those times, dreams have been proven to involve physical activity in the brain.  In addition, a new technology emerged that decimated the claim of an immaterial soul- general anesthesia.

The following is taken from:

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1271543-overview

General anesthesia (GA) is the state produced when a patient receives medications for amnesia, analgesia, muscle paralysis, and sedation. An anesthetized patient can be thought of as being in a controlled, reversible state of unconsciousness. Anesthesia enables a patient to tolerate surgical procedures that would otherwise inflict unbearable pain, potentiate extreme physiologic exacerbations, and result in unpleasant memories.

The combination of anesthetic agents used for general anesthesia often leaves a patient with the following clinical constellation:

Unarousable even secondary to painful stimuli

Unable to remember what happened (amnesia)

Unable to maintain adequate airway protection and/or spontaneous ventilation as a result of muscle paralysis

Cardiovascular changes secondary to stimulant/depressant effects of anesthetic agents

If humans have a soul, it should be able to operate under the conditions of general anesthesia- especially since it is assumed to work even when the brain is completely destroyed. In other works, the soul should not be affected by any physical stimulus. But under general anesthesia, the patient is totally unconscious, remembering nothing during the entire time of administration. If there was something immaterial about our consciousness, it should continue to exist during the operation.

Christians often point to accounts of near death experiences (NDEs) to promote the concept of an afterlife.  But during NDEs, the brain is not anesthetized, but continues to operate precariously in a state of anoxia, rendering neural activity and memories still functional. The better test of immaterial consciousness is general anesthesia, and the verdict is emphatically negative.

(1461) Multiple religions can exist only if they are all false

Imagine a room filled with magicians, each trying to impress the audience with the skills of their trade. They take turns displaying their tricks, deceptions, and illusions. Now imagine that a magician who truly has magical powers enters the scene, a person who has the ability to override the natural physical laws.  He does trick after trick without the normal sleight of hand movements, curtains, smoke, or other similar devices that magicians typically use to obscure their actions. Soon, the other magicians and the audience notice that something is different about this magician.  He is working true magic.

The next week, they all come together again, and the true magician again displays his powers, this time in even more spectacular and graphic glory. The regular magicians start to cower and semi-apologize for their acts, which are by comparison lame and sophomoric.   Week after week goes by, and soon the regular magicians stop coming because they don’t like the feeling of being upstaged, and, anyway, the audience only wants to see the true magician, who by now has received incredible press and the confirmation by scientists that something supernatural is happening.  So magic is now being done by only one magician, the only one who truly has magical powers.

This is a metaphor for the world’s religions.  Each religion is like a magician, claiming to have magical powers, but always operating behind a wall of plausible denial- where all claimed miracles are easily debunked by disinterested parties. Now imagine the arrival of a true religion- one that actually operates under the authority and power of a supernatural deity.  It would soon display manifestations of miraculous phenomena that would dwarf anything emanating from the false religions.  In a matter of a few years, all of the false religions would die out as everybody would flock to the only religion that produces tangible results.

So, just as multiple magicians can co-exist and continue to work as long as all of them are incapable of true magic, so a multitude of religions can exist under the assumption that they are all false. When a true magician or religion enters the scene, it dominates and drives all of the fake ones off the stage. Even philosophy-only sects would die out in the face of a true religion. The long-term existence of multiple world religions indicates that they are all false.

(1462) The fate of Jews after death

Christianity is like a tree without roots. The foundation of the faith is a god who chose the Jewish people and systematically ignored or killed all others. This god supposedly established an everlasting covenant with his chosen people and enjoined them to follow over 600 laws that he created for them. If they were faithful to these commandments, he would provide help and sustenance.  He never promised them an afterlife, just good things in this life.

Now, along comes Jesus, and he throws a wrench in the gears. He introduces a new place that has been created for bad people- a torture chamber of sorts that will punish the wicked for eternity. But at the same time, he introduces another place that he has created- heaven, where the people who believe in him go to enjoy bliss and happiness forever. But, to his chosen people, he withholds a sufficient degree of evidence they would need to believe in him. So the vast majority of the chosen people reject Jesus but continue to faithfully follow the rules he engineered for them, thinking that they are doing the bidding of God.

Where this story runs into a dead end, is what happens to these observant Jews after they die? It  seems incongruous that God would sentence them to everlasting torture, but a strict reading of the New Testament suggests that is exactly what will happen. The following is the thought of a typical Christian.

https://www.quora.com/What-do-Christians-believe-happens-to-Jewish-people-when-they-die

When Jesus started his ministry, He went to synagogues and taught the Jews there.  Because he was teaching that the Jewish leadership was corrupt and had lost track of the meaning of obedience to God, the Jewish leadership was opposed to Jesus and his teachings.  Eventually, they would succeed in killing God’s son.  None of this surprised God.

When the apostles started spreading the teachings of Jesus they went first to the Jewish nation.  On the day of Pentacost, the Bible said that 3,000 Jews were saved (Acts 2).  Once, Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. “

Jewish people, who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and being baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38), will be saved.   Those that reject Jesus, will not.  You either believe the Bible, or you don’t.

Imagine God sending a Jew to hell, a place that is never mentioned in all of the Jewish scriptures.  This would be like sentencing a person to death for violating a law that was never published or communicated. Some Christians will say that Jews are saved nonetheless, ignoring this scripture:

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Notice that he doesn’t tack on ‘except those who continue in faith to follow the Law.’  There is no comfortable solution for Christianity. Either way, there is a serious theological problem. This is what happens when the tree is cut loose of its roots- it may grow for a while, but sooner or later it will die. Christianity cut its roots out from under itself, and this move will eventually prove to be fatal.

(1463) Multiple endings to the Gospel of Mark

Christian history relies precariously on the authenticity of the Gospel of Mark, which was used extensively by the other gospel writers. If Mark inserted fiction into his account, then it spread throughout the other gospels as well, leaving no dependable footprint of what really happened. One of the major problems with this gospel is that there are multiple endings existing in the various ancient manuscripts. Each ending imparts a different message, leaving in doubt what the original author intended. This adds an uncertainty on top of another uncertainly- we don’t know if the original author was trustworthy or had dependable sources AND we don’t even know for sure what he actually wrote. The following table showing the various endings was taken from this site:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_16

Version Text
Mark 16:8[25](undisputed text) And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
Longer ending 16:9–14[26] Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

Freer Logion (between 16:14 and 16:15)[27] And they excused themselves, saying, This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things dominated by the spirits.[28] Therefore, reveal your righteousness now. — thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ responded to them, The limit of the years of Satan’s power is completed, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who sinned I was handed over to death, that they might return to the truth and no longer sin, in order that they might inherit the spiritual and incorruptible heavenly glory of righteousness.
Longer ending 16:15–20[26] And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Shorter ending[27] And they reported all the instructions briefly to Peter’s companions. Afterwards Jesus himself, through them, sent forth from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen. (Greek text[29])

One thing should be obvious:  An almighty God intent on delivering a message to mankind would not permit any ambiguity- and certainly nothing on this scale. This is an overwhelmingly indubitable sign that this mess was nothing more than the result of a sloppy human undertaking.

(1464) Dismissing better documented miracle claims

Christians accept the miracle claims of the Bible while dismissing similar claims that are more recent and more reliably documented. An example is provided at the following website:

http://www.digitalfreethought.com/blog/2015/06/24/christianity-how-good-is-the-evidence/

There are much better cases of supernatural activities that we don’t accept.  For instance, we all dismiss the well documented and attested cases from the Salem Witch trials.  Cases in which evidence was given under oath, and in front of constables and judges with heaps of depositions about neighbors changing shapes and dancing with the devil.  We pooh-pooh those cases but blindly accept the story of Jesus’ resurrection with NO contemporary evidence at all; indeed with no evidence at all other than anecdotal evidence in the form of ancient manuscripts written by scientifically illiterate and superstitious peoples.

This would be similar to dismissing a peer-reviewed scientific paper in favor a blog written by a person with no degree in the field being discussed.  Of course, many Christians also do this when the subject intercepts their cherished beliefs- such as evolution, cosmology, and climate change. This ‘acceptance bias’ is irrational and only serves to invalidate the claims of those who practice it.

(1465) The failure of testable claims

Christianity promotes a lot of claims that cannot be tested, such as the existence of a heaven and a hell. However, it also makes a few claims that, on their face, can be construed to be testable.  One such claim is that God is omnipotent. That combined with Jesus’s promise to answer sincere prayers, and we are in business. The following was taken from:

http://www.digitalfreethought.com/blog/2015/09/21/lets-have-some-testable-claims-for-a-change/

How do you test something? You test it on its claims. Imagine showing a Zippo lighter to a caveman.

Caveman: “What does it do?”
You: “Produces fire.”
CM: “Bullshit.”
You: “I’m serious. Watch. <flick>”
CM: “Well, I’ll be damned.”

This, in a nutshell, is my major problem with religion(s). They make UNtestable claims. Or testable claims for which they refuse to acknowledge failure. One such claim is the “OMNIPOTENCE” claim. Most major religions include omnipotence among the super powers of their star figure. Taking Christianity as an example, they imbue God, or Yahweh, with this characteristic. Omnipotence. Can do ANYTHING. Created the universe from nothing with a whim of his omnipotent mind/ego. Poof. Universe. Complete with animals and water and light and taxes. None of this evolution shit.

Now, it’s not difficult to come up with tests for omnipotence. But the bar has to be high enough. Auntie Brain Tumor that rallies for six months after the Dr. gives her two weeks to live, is NOT a miracle. There was a statistical likelihood, however small, that ABT would surprise everyone with her grit. But six months later, she’s still on the wrong side of the grass.

No, we need a test for omnipotence that is unequivocal. That ISN’T a statistical probability or likelihood. All we have to do is imagine impossible things. An omnipotent god would be capable of not just the unlikely – but the IMPOSSIBLE. We should see at least SOME instances of the impossible, indicating that there is something more at work than luck and good fortune.

All tests that could validate the existence of an omnipotent prayer-answering deity have failed. This despite all of the potential trials, billions of people, 20 centuries of time, and the recent developments in recording technology.  This means one of two things- either the omnipotent god doesn’t answer prayers or he doesn’t exist.

(1466) Editing out a contradiction

Editing, deleting, and adding scripture was rampant during the early days of Christianity.  Based on a comparison of ancient manuscripts, it is easy to see that some of these changes were probably inadvertent, while others were surely deliberate. But that activity has passed, right? Wrong. Newer versions of the Bible have been massaged to mask over indelicate matters or downright contradictions. Note the differences between the various versions of Genesis 2:17:

New International Version
but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

New Living Translation
except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

English Standard Version
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

New American Standard Bible 
but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

King James Bible
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

International Standard Version
but you are not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because you will certainly die during the day that you eat from it.”

Note that the two ‘new’ versions merely state that Adam will die if he eats the fruit, implying that he will die at some later time  as a result of disobeying this command. And, of course, we know that Adam did die, so it all seems okay.  But when we look at the earlier versions of the Bible, it is clear that God stated that Adam would die on that same day that he ate the fruit. This did not happen, so it represents a contradiction.  Someone reading the King James Version notes that there is something amiss, while someone reading the NIV sees no problem.

The important point is not that God lied about the consequences of breaking his rule, because this story is just a fable. What is significant is that bible translators still feel empowered to change scripture from the original Greek if it is necessary to remove a problem.  The fact that this is still being done today suggests that similar and probably much more extensive editing of this same nature was being done in the first few centuries of Christianity.  So the original Greek versions were massaged and, on top of that, we see alterations made in the translations from the most reliable extant manuscripts. This leaves the legitimacy of scripture in grave doubt.

(1467) The six stages of scriptural development

Many Christians accept without reservation that what they read in the Bible is the literal truth, just as, if not more, accurate that a news report in their local newspaper. This is nonsense. It is instructive to examine the six stages that were needed to deliver the story to contemporary Christians:

  1. The eyewitnesses– Purportedly, there were many witnesses of Jesus’s miracles and teachings, but such witnesses are notably unreliable and were probably more so in the First Century. They had no cameras or recorders, and further were mostly illiterate so they couldn’t write down any notes. It was strictly memory. Some of what they thought they saw was mistaken, and over time, years perhaps, the memories mutated, became grander, either deliberately or by human nature.
  2. The repeaters of the story– Many people did not directly witness any of these events, but were told about them by those who claimed that they did. Following the script of the iconic game of ‘telephone’ they mostly got the details mixed up, and probably added much content to make the stories wore ‘tellable’ and exciting. It is these people who were mostly used as sources by the original authors (most of the eyewitnesses were dead by the time of the first gospel- around 70-75 CE).
  3. The authors– The people who wrote the gospels had verbal information from the repeaters (#2), but also had an agenda that they wanted to express. For instance, the author of Mark was from Rome and wanted to present the story in a mostly pro-Roman fashion that would appeal to the pagans, while the author of Matthew was an observant Jew and wanted to make the point that Christians still needed to observe Jewish law. So each author distorted what he received from the repeaters to fit his own needs.
  4. The copyists– The scribes were responsible for copying the scriptures, supposedly word for word. But, of course, they made a lot of mistakes and in many cases deliberately changed, inserted, or deleted certain passages. As a result, we have multiple versions of the same scripture, generally with no reliable means of determining which is the most accurate.
  5. The canonizers– Church leaders met in a series of conferences in the Fourth Century to determine which books should be considered part of the Bible. This was mostly decided by a popular vote. Many books were rejected because they didn’t present the message that the majority wanted to be promulgated. Some of the rejected books might have been more accurate and less aggrandized than the ones that made it in. Nevertheless, the canonizers represented another filter between us and the truth.
  6. The translators– Most of the original text was written in Greek, so it needed to be translated into modern languages. Much of this effort was done diligently, but even today there are examples where modern translators make changes in the wording to remove contradictions or bring the story more in line with a modern understanding of the world.

It is through these six filters that we view Christian history, and it is more than certain that the truth did not survive the journey. We are left with a book that has no more historical credibility than the Iliad and the Odyssey.

(1468) Reason and philosophy are dissed by Christian elites

In every aspect of our daily lives, we are enjoined to use reason and critical thinking skills to navigate our way through the myriad decisions that are continually confronting us. But in the arena of religion, this strategy is tossed aside.  Such as when Paul made this comment:

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

If Christianity were not false, then why would it promote not using philosophy (which we know to be based on critical thinking and reason) while at the same time promoting what Martin Luther suggested in his quotes insinuating that “Reason is a whore” and the devil’s work:

http://joshuasowin.com/archives/2008/02/29/martin-luther-on-the-whore-of-reason/

“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom… Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”

—Martin Luther, Works, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148.

“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

—Martin Luther, Table Talks in 1569.

“Heretics are not to be disputed with, but to be condemned unheard, and whilst they perish by fire, the faithful ought to pursue the evil to its source, and bathe their heads in the blood of the Catholic bishops, and of the Pope, who is the devil in disguise.”

—Martin Luther, Table Talks (as quoted in Religious History: An Inquiry by M. Searle Bates, p. 156).

But if Christianity is just another religion that tells you not to doubt and not to think and just to have faith then how could it possibly be real? The use of critical thinking and reason has proven that most of the Bible’s Old Testament and much of the New Testament is false, so to demand a recusal of such techniques is a backhanded way of admitting defeat.

To highlight this point, many Christian universities and institutes force their professors to sign documents that bind them into not accepting anything that goes against Christianity, or ever promoting anything that does.

https://newrepublic.com/article/116858/bryan-college-forces-its-faculty-swear-historical-existence

The suppression or use of alternate facts to defend a doctrine is the most effective way to prove that the doctrine is false.

(1469) Consequences of religion displacing science

In the United States, Christianity has indoctrinated a generation of its young people to distrust science and hold fast to religious traditions and spirituality.  The repercussions of this trend have historical precedence, as discussed by Neil deGrasse Tyson:

http://scientificliteracymatters.com/2017/02/neil-degrasse-tyson-addresses-the-current-scientific-illiteracy-crisis/

“Americans overall are bad at science. Scared of math. Poor at physics and engineering. Resistant to evolution. This science illiteracy,is a threat to the nation.

The consequence of that is that you breed a generation of people who do not know what science is nor how and why it works,” he said. “You have mortgaged the future financial security of your nation. Innovations in science and technology are the (basis) of tomorrow’s economy.”

America’s decline isn’t unprecedented, Tyson said. Just look back 1,000 years ago at the Middle East, where math and science flourished in Baghdad. Algebra and algorithms were invented in the Middle East. So were Arabic numerals, the numbers we still use today.

But when a new cleric emerged during the 12th century, he declared math and science to be earthly pursuits, Tyson said, and good Muslims should be concerned about spiritual affairs. The scientists drifted away, and scientific literacy faded from that part of the world. Of 655 Nobel Prizes awarded in the sciences since 1900, Tyson said, only three have been awarded to Muslims.

Things that seem harmless can have devastating effects,” he said.

Europe dominated science in the centuries that followed. You can see its influence today, Tyson said. Just look at currency: European paper money has carried the pictures of famous scientists. The former German currency bore the picture of the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and his most famous contribution, the bell curve.

“It is a not-so-subtle message from the government that math matters,” Tyson said. “If it’s on your currency, it is part of your culture. You think it. You feel it. Whether or not you’re a scientist or a mathematician, you’re not going to be the person to stand in their way when they’re trying to get math and science done.”

The United States had its own scientific golden age in the last half of the 20th century. The space race and the Cold War drove scientific invention. Popular culture was full of flying cars, monorails, cities of tomorrow and world fairs that celebrated progress and invention.

“You didn’t need special programs to try to convince people that they should like science,” Tyson said. “It was already writ large in headlines. You don’t do that without science, technology, engineering and math. And everybody knew it.”

Today, Tyson said, too many Americans mistake clouds for UFOs, believe in alien abductions, reject evolution (known to scientists as the foundation of biology), fear the number 13 and negative numbers, and freak out about supermoons that really aren’t any bigger than regular old full moons.

If national leaders and local school boards want to ignore science, Tyson said that’s fine with him. (It’s not fine with us at Scientific Literacy Matters)

But, he said, let’s say he’s the chief executive officer of a corporation that’s looking for a site for its headquarters.

“It’s not going to be in your state,” Tyson said. “The future companies need science literacy for their R&D, for advancements, for innovation. And so your state will fade among the 50. That’s a consequence.”

When religion is promoted, science falters, and when science falters, people suffer. No true religion would have the effect of increasing the suffering of the people who practice it, but that is what has happened and what is happening right now. In the United States, the most religious states are the poorest and unhealthiest. This is not a coincidence. Christianity is a false religion and whenever a large percentage of people is fixated on a myth, the well-being of  society takes a turn for the worse.

(1470) Genesis author missed a very important point

In the Book of Genesis, Chapters 6 through 9, a story is told of a world-wide flood that was survived only by one man’s (Noah) family and two or more representatives of the world’s land animals. It is not the intent of this point to list the reasons why this is a fictional fable. Rather, it is to point out that an enlightened (God-inspired) author should have included discussion of the shock and surprise that Noah would have experienced when animals he had never before seen or knew existed in his 500 years of life came to board his ship.

To this list of animals that would have been strange to Noah and his family we can add gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, kangaroos, penguins, cobras, elephants, the Amazon Royal Flycatcher, polar bears, lions, leopards, cheetahs, ostriches, anaconda, tapirs, giant tortoise, and koalas, to name just a few. Noah should have been absolutely floored and overwhelmed at all of these exotic animals arriving from seemingly (to him) another world.  Here is the scripture from Genesis 7:13-16:

On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.  The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

The scripture is missing something similar to the following:

This included many animals that Noah had never before seen and he was astonished at the diversity of animals that God had created. Since Noah had no experience with these alien animals, he asked God for directions how to feed and care for them.

It seems that the Genesis author didn’t know anything about the fact that there were millions of animal species boarding the ark that Noah would have never before seen. This is excusable if it is simply taken as fictional lore, but Christians claim that the Bible is inspired by God or the Holy Spirit, so an omission of this sort is evidence against their assertion. That is, even fiction, if inspired by God, should reflect knowledge on this level.

(1471) Evolution and Christianity cannot both be true

Christianity claims that a purposeful and compassionate god created and controls the universe and that he is both omnipotent and omniscient.  If the theory of biological evolution is true, then any god that exists would necessarily not be purposeful with regard to the creation of humans, and would certainly not be compassionate, and these criticisms only become worse if this god is assumed to possess omniscience and omnipotence. The following is taken from:

http://www.atheismandthecity.com/2013/12/why-im-atheist.html

The haphazard cruelty of evolution makes it impossible to accept the belief in a traditional omni-god who is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving. I’ve even formulated this into an argument. When you look at the full picture of evolution and you consider the 3.5 billion years during which this unfolding drama played out, when there were millions and millions of species that evolved only to be snuffed out and pushed into evolutionary dead ends, and during which time there was at least 5 mass extinctions in which some 70-95 percent of all the living species on earth at that time went extinct, I’m being asked by theists to believe that this was all part of a divine creator’s plan who was sitting back and taking pleasure in watching millions of species (whose evolution he allegedly guided) get wiped out one after the other, and then starting all over again, and then wiped them out again and repeated this process over and over, until finally getting around to evolving human beings – which I’m told was the whole purpose of this cruel and clumsy process.

Am I to believe for example, that the meteor that ended the reign of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago that allowed mammals to evolve to be the dominant species was all part of god’s ingenious plan that he hatched even before creating the earth? Am I also to believe that god did something like this at least 4 other times, each time with a different planetary-wide cataclysm that resulted in millions of species suffering and dying? And am I to believe that an all-knowing and all-loving deity also made it so that as this evolutionary process played out, consciousness would arise so that these miserable animals would become aware of their pain and suffering that god was causing? Just think about our hominid ancestors, who for about 6 million years consciously suffered and died from diseases, floods, droughts, famines, predators, and themselves, for absolutely no logically necessary reason before human beings even evolved. You would predict such a grim scenario under naturalism, but you certainly wouldn’t under the “all-loving” watchful eye of a theistic god. This is perhaps one reason why so many theists today still reject evolution.

So we’ve got a problem here: An all-loving deity is logically incompatible with gratuitous conscious suffering. Given our evolutionary past and the suffering it required, god would have to be either incompetent, indifferent or intentionally cruel. Grant a creator and you must grant that. There’s no logical way out of it. So honestly ask yourself, given the haphazard cruelty of our evolutionary past, what worldview does it make better sense under, theism or naturalism? The answer is obvious. It’s naturalism. Thus, the traditional omni-god fails. And as per the logic of the ontological argument, the omni-god must be compatible with every possible world. If a world existed that is not compatible with such a being, that being cannot exist. That world is our world. So here the evidence clearly favors naturalism over theism by a long shot.

The truth of Christianity depends on the truth of creationism, because only in that reality does the Christian god possess the qualities assigned to him.  As the years pass by, the evidence for evolution piles up and is so overwhelming that many Christians, including the Catholic Church, have admitted to the truth of it.  But what they don’t realize, by not thinking deeply enough, is that they have adopted a contradictory world view that is logically inconsistent and therefore false.

(1472) New science proves that free will does not exist

Christianity states that each person is responsible for their own fate, whether that onus eventually lands them in heaven or hell.  This theological doctrine, to be fair, demands that every person has free will- the ability to control their thoughts and actions.  If, instead, we are machines that operate like programmed computers, such that we don’t have free will, then the award and punishment meted out by Christianity is unfair and cannot be the design of a benevolent god. We now have scientific evidence indicating that our sense of free will is just an illusion. The following is taken from:

http://www.atheismandthecity.com/2013/12/why-im-atheist.html

First and foremost in many world religions (though not every version) is the idea that humans have libertarian free will. We are free, moral agents, it is believed, who make decisions uncorrupted by external determinants and we can be held accountable by god for those decisions. What is the evidence that theists provide that we have free will? It’s common sense! That’s often how it goes, although they will sometimes couple this notion with arguments that the mind must be separate from the body. I too once thought free will was paramount; we all basically do. It just seems so properly basic. But physics and neuroscience say otherwise. Neuroscientists using fMRI scans have repeatedly shown that our brains “decide” for us up to seven seconds before we become consciously aware of our decisions.[3] It appears then, that free will is really just an illusion and our conscious perception of having free will seems to actually be the moment we become aware of what our physical brains have already decided.

Of course it is true that not all theists believe we have libertarian free will, but the ones who do usually throw up a purely philosophical argument against determinism whereby they claim it’s incompatible with the libertarian free will their theistic worldview requires. Yes it is incompatible, but so is evolution with young earth creationism, but that doesn’t refute evolution. The only hope for the one who wishes to retain the notion of free will is in quantum indeterminacy. Many of the interpretations of quantum mechanics like the Copenhagen Interpretation, declare quantum events to be random and non- deterministic. However, others like the Many-worlds view are deterministic. No one knows for sure which interpretation is correct, but if quantum events are random and probabilistic, then what we call our “free will” is really just the result of a random quantum process that is probabilistically determined by the laws of quantum mechanics, and hardly anyone would call that free. As physicist Sean Carroll wrote on the subject, “The fact that quantum mechanics introduces a stochastic component into physical predictions doesn’t open the door for true libertarian free will.”

So let’s now see if we can determine what worldview these findings make better sense under. If dualism were correct, our immaterial minds/souls would be consciously aware of our decisions before our physical brains registered them because dualists hold to the notion that the soul uses the physical brain to accomplish its will. Under naturalism, we’d expect our physical brains to indicate what our decisions will be before we are consciously aware of them, just as the data shows. So as far as what worldview better corresponds with the data from neuroscience on consciousness and decision making, it’s clearly naturalism.

Atheists often make the claim that they did not decide to become an atheist, it is just something that happened beyond any desire on their part. Science now bears out the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. It is like we are riding along inside a robot that is reacting to its stimuli according to a computer algorithm, but as we experience each thing the robot says and does, we erroneously think that we are controlling it.  Actually, we are just going along for the ride. It is this illusion of free will that caused the creators of Christianity, as well as other religions, to create dogma consistent with the idea that each person is in full control of their lives, and that therefore the awards and punishments, generally in an afterlife, are fair and deserved. Science now refutes that claim and provides evidence that Christianity does not operate on a level playing field.

(1473) Early Christians manipulated the historical record

There’s a lot of evidence that a major effort at censorship was conducted in the early days of Christianity to get rid of any documents that cast doubt on the veracity of the new faith.  The following is taken from:

http://www.atheismandthecity.com/search/label/Christianity

It is interesting how there are numerous gaps in the historical record for time periods that are critical to the story of Christianity. Using scholarship from On The Historicity of Jesus, some examples include:

In the Roman History of Cassius Dio, all the years between 6 to 2 BCE are gone. That gap begins exactly 2 years before King Herod’s death, in accordance with Mt. 2:16, and ending 2 years after it (there was uncertainty among Christians when exactly Herod died). In volume 58 covering the years 29 to 37 CE a reference to an event (in 58.17.2) that was described in a section that was deleted some time between the years of 15 and 30.

The Christian scholar Hippolytus in the early 3rd century wrote a Refutation of All Heresies in ten volumes. At the end of the 1st volume he mentions that he’s about to explain the secret doctrines of the mystery religions which would have included passion narratives of savior gods, miraculous births, deaths and resurrections, but the 2nd and 3rd volumes are missing. Volume 4 goes right into astrology.

In the beginning of the 1st century, Ovid wrote an elaborate poem, the Fasti, describing all the festivals throughout the year in Rome, and what went on in them and why. The annual Roman festival of Romulus where his death and resurrection were reenacted in public passion plays was held on the 7th of July. Only the first half of the poem survives covering January to June. The texts cuts off precisely before the month in which the passion play survives.

In Plutarch’s Moralia, a huge multivolume library of treatises on diverse subjects, one of the volumes is Tabletalk. There, he discusses the equivalence between Yahweh and Dionysus, linking Jewish theology to the mystery religions when suddenly the text cuts off. The surviving table of contents indicates there were several sections remaining on other subjects besides this one.

In the Annals of Tacitus, of which we have only 2 surviving manuscript traditions, there is a gap in the text covering the middle of 29 CE to to the middle of 31 CE. The year 30 is regarded by many Christians as the years of Christ’s ministry and crucifixion.

Silence on Jesus, Christians, Christianity and its origin:

Philo of Alexandria wrote 5 books about his embassy to Caligula after the year 36 and the events precipitating it, and only 2 survived. One of the 3 missing volumes covered the persecution of the Jews under Tiberius, one was on Pilate, and the other was on Sejanus at Rome. All 3 of these may have had embarrassing silence on Jesus.

Emperors Vespasian and Titus published commentaries on their government service which included persecution of the Jewish War and Christians are never mentioned.

Seneca the Elder wrote a History of Rome covering the 1st century BCE to the year 40 CE. Seneca the Younger wrote a treatise On Superstition some time between 40 and 62 CE that criticized every known cult at Rome, even those trivial or obscure, including the Jews, but never mentions the Christians. Seneca was also the brother of Gallio whom Christians are brought on trial before in Greece according to Acts 18:12-17.

In the 3rd century, Marius Maximus, notorious for extensive quotations of official documents, wrote biographies of the emperors of the second century. The second century saw several imperial engagements with Christianity, yet he never once mentions or digresses on the origins or treatment of Christianity.

In the 1st century we have the fragmentary remains of Satyricon of Petronius which mocks several religions and its narrative, even poking fun at crucifixion, and never mentions Christ, Christians or Christianity. None of the early pagan religious novels mention Christians.

What are the chances that so many historical volumes and texts would have gaps covering precisely the periods where the history of Jesus mattered so much? And what are the chances that Christianity, Christians, or the origin or Christianity would be absent from so many written works covering the times and places where the religion and its followers were supposed to have existed? Could these all be coincidences? I think that is very unlikely. If the minimal mythicist view is correct that Jesus never existed, and was thus silent from the historical record, then the early Christians would have been motivated to destroy those records covering those periods where Jesus’ life details were supposed to have taken place, or, they would have been motivated to doctor records with interpolations. Once the Roman empire came under Christian control and Christianity eventually dominated Europe, Christians controlled which pieces of written history were preserved. and which were not. They had every reason to do this in a way that favored their particular brand of Christianity, which for a long time was the Catholic Church. And the Catholic Church’s version of Christianity needed a historical Jesus.

So think about this. Much of the written knowledge from antiquity was filtered through the Catholic Church that we know was motivated to omit and doctor things to suit its theology and agenda. Given this, how likely do you think it is that these mysterious and convenient gaps and silence are just a coincidence?

It seems probable that any documents, especially those external to the scriptures that would add evidence for the truth of Christianity, would be safeguarded, while those not consistent with that goal would be discarded. After all, once Christianity reached a widespread acceptance across the Roman Empire, Christians had a monopoly on the control of information. What is most telling is that very few documents exist that could be used by historians to piece together the truth. This implies that most of contemporary writings were not favorable to Christianity.

(1474) God, the abusive boyfriend

There is a striking analogy between a woman’s relationship with an abusive husband/boyfriend and the way that Christians interact with their god. The following was taken from:

http://conversationalatheist.com/general-essays/god-the-abusive-boyfriend/

Ways the Christian God is like the most extreme version of an abusive (and possibly psychotic) boyfriend:

Needs constant praise and makes you feel guilty for just being human.

Has severe jealousy issues.

He lets painful experiences happen to you that he could easily prevent, just to test your devotion to Him.

Claims credit for everything good in your life; claims nothing bad in your life comes from Him.

Threatens you with eternal torture if you ever leave Him.

He is constantly swearing that He loves you and you need Him. (Thanks Richard Collins).

Ways to tell if you are in danger of being taken advantage of in a relationship with this abusive God:

You are highly defensive of Him from even the slightest criticism of His flaws.

You talk to Him every night, and He never responds yet still expects unwavering devotion.

Inline image

Most Christians are unaware that they are worshiping an autocratic god who is treating them with a certain degree of contempt. The blend of fear and worship that you see in Christian circles is also endemic in abusive relationships, where the victim is mesmerized into believing that they are being treated fairly. But a reclusive god who punishes those who can’t find him and who demands unwavering adulation from those who do isn’t fair, and is therefore very unlikely to be real. In other words, an actual god would not act like an abusive boyfriend.

(1475) The chicken soup analogy

When someone is served chicken soup and it is diluted to an extent, the quip often cited is ‘well, maybe the chicken stuck his claw in it for a few seconds.’  This aptly describes that way that the Christian god interacted with our planet.  He just ‘stuck his toe’ into a very isolated, backwater portion of the Middle East and then left, never to be heard from again.

It’s never been adequately explained why a god who was so involved with peoples’ lives, even right down to the point of killing someone who masturbates or who dares to look back at a cataclysm, would suddenly become so uninvolved. God has been silent for almost 2000 years. A god that was real and who wanted to interact with humans would not act in this way. He would maintain a constant presence to give each generation of earthlings the benefits of his guidance, knowledge, succor, and reassuring demonstrations of his powers.

The soup is so thin these days that it’s indistinguishable from water. It looks remarkably like the chicken was never there in the first place.

(1476)  The Talmud

The Jewish Talmud, which was claimed to be written in around the 4th or 6th century AD, demonstrates to us the similarities between Christian and Jewish fiction-making from ancient literature. Both conflict each other in different ways theologically, politically, and even socially, and yet both base themselves on the same ancient fiction, which was used to prophesize a story and a Messiah.

As Dr. Richard Carrier explains in Element 5 of his book On The Historicity Of Jesus, Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt:

“First, the Talmud provides us with a proof of concept at the very least (and actual confirmation at the very most). It explicitly says the suffering servant who dies in Isaiah 53 is the messiah (and that this messiah will endure great suffering before his death). The Talmud likewise has a dying-and-rising Christ son of Joseph ideology in it, even saying (quoting Zech. 12.10) that this messiah will be pierced to death. Modern scholars are too quick to dismiss this text as late (dating as it does from the fourth to sixth century), since the doctrine it describes is unlikely to be. For only when Jews had no idea what Christians would do with this connection would they themselves have promoted it. There is no plausible way later Jews would invent interpretations of their scripture that supported and vindicated Christians. They would not invent a Christ with a father named Joseph who dies and is resurrected (as the Talmud does indeed describe). They would not proclaim Isaiah 53 to be about this messiah and admit that Isaiah had there predicted this messiah would die and be resurrected. That was the very biblical passage Christians were using to prove their case.”

The Talmud is based off the same verses in Isaiah 53 that Christians used to claim the prophecy of Jesus. This is how religions functioned in those early centuries. They both based their messianic characters off of prophecy, not fact.

What this appears to show is that the framework of Christian theology existed among the Jews prior to the alleged time of Jesus. Christians misappropriated this doctrine and applied it to either an actual Jewish rabbi or a fictional being, and started a new faith. All the while, scripturally-literate Jews understood this movement to be fraudulent, a regrettable perversion of their prophetic traditions.

(1477) Core Theory

When quantum field theory is combined with the three forces of the standard model and the general theory of relativity, it creates what is known as the Core Theory, or, in essence, the theory of everything.  This theory excludes the possibility of hundreds of alleged miracles that are reported in the Bible, letting any scientifically literate person to know for a fact that these events never happened. The following was taken from:

http://www.atheismandthecity.com/search/label/Christianity

Within this equation lies the physics of everyday human experience: eating, exercising, sleeping, dreaming, using a computer, driving a car, flying an airplane, reproducing, making decisions, meditating — everything you’ve ever done, ever seen, or ever will do (so long as you don’t travel into a black hole), and every scientific experiment that has been performed is fundamentally described by, and compatible with, this equation. There are no exceptions.

The key word above is fundamentally. That means that whatever you experience yourself doing or seeing in your everyday life is going to be either reduced to and explained by, or emerges from, the fermions and bosons described by this equation. But this means there are consequences to this equation. As all-encompassing as Core Theory is, what it restricts is perhaps the most important.

One of its consequences is that psychic phenomena like telekinesis is ruled out. There are no forces or particles that your mind can produce that can bend spoons or move objects. In other words, we don’t need to test the claims of every self-proclaimed psychic and mentalist. Core Theory unambiguously rules out such abilities. There’s no way for there to be forces that can produce the kinds of effects mentalists claim they can cause. There’s no room with in Core Theory to allow that. It isn’t that we don’t know of possible forces that might still exist “out there” waiting to be discovered that can allow spoon bending with one’s mind, rather it’s that we know all the relevant particles and forces and how they interact that are involved with the physics of everyday human experience, which telekinesis would be a part of. Any new force or particle that exists would be far too weakly interacting with the atoms that make up spoons or you and I to be able to affect them in any way like the mentalists claim they can do. This is why no psychic phenomena has ever been able to be demonstrated under any competent scientific scrutiny.

The Core Theory also excludes a god who might be located somewhere in the universe or even hiding in some inaccessible dimension from exerting any measurable force on objects on the earth. God would have to have a physical body and be in the local vicinity of whatever he intended to manipulate to have this kind of an effect.  So, not only is there a scientific theory negating God, but there are also billions of scientific tests and observations that have never found any such manipulations. This is as close as you can come to proving that the god worshiped by Christians does not exist.

(1478) Why the Socrates argument fails

Christian apologists often compare the evidence for the historical existence of Jesus with that of Socrates. In the following excerpt, it is explained why this is not valid:

http://www.atheismandthecity.com/search/label/Christianity

A popular claim by Christians towards atheists who are skeptical that Jesus was a historical figure is that we have more evidence for Jesus’s existence than for Socrates’s, and that would mean that anyone who accepts Socrates as historical figure but not Jesus is being inconsistent by unjustifiably applying a higher standard for Jesus.

So is it the case that we have more evidence for Jesus’s existence than for Socrates’s? The answer is no. Here’s why.

First it’s important to note that Jesus and Socrates share many similarities as figures. Both are highly revered. Both were considered fathers of important movements (Jesus of Christianity, Socrates of Philosophy). Both never wrote anything themselves, and for both their knowledge was spread through their disciples.

But here are the important differences:

1. Unlike with Jesus, we have dozens of eyewitness accounts who wrote about Socrates and whose names we know. In some cases we have the titles of the books and quotations of them from later works. In two cases the books survive. From Plato and Xenophon we have whole books preserved. We have nothing like that for Jesus.

2. We have eyewitness accounts from critics of Socrates. The Clouds by Aristophanes is a play written specifically to make fun of Socrates that Socrates even attended. We have nothing like that for Jesus.

So much is preserved of what Socrates said and so little of what Jesus said, despite Jesus founding a great church that became dedicated to preserving everything written about him. It’s amazing that we have no written eyewitness accounts of anything about Jesus at all given that mission of the church. You’d think we’d have volumes of eyewitness accounts, but we have none.

And that’s why we actually have more evidence of Socrates’s existence than Jesus’s, and why it is not being inconsistent to think Socrates was a historical figure and Jesus was not.

The historical existence of Jesus is not a critical point for most atheists because even if this could be proven, it would not imply that he had no father, spoke for God, worked miracles, or rose from the dead. But for Christians the question is critical, and their questionable attempts to demonstrate his existence expose the uncomfortable fact that the evidence is vanishingly thin.

(1479) An indifferent universe

A universe created by a god would have a purpose and would exhibit not only a sense of design but also an organized pattern of events. It would be the opposite of disorder and entropy. On the other hand, a universe without a god, or at least without an interactive god, would display a healthy dose of nonchalance.

Richard Dawkins echoes this sentiment in one famous quote from his 1995 book River Out of Eden, “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” (p. 133)

Any casual observer can see for themselves that the arrows of fortune, death, disease, disasters, and so on operate on an unregulated cycle. Good people often suffer. Bad people often prosper.  Disaster strikes the righteous as often as the corrupt. Prayer has no effect. Tornadoes don’t loop around churches. Genes often recombine in deleterious patterns. We are living in a shooting gallery with unruly children at the controls. This is literally the exact world we should expect to see if atheism is correct.

(1480) Scientists become more atheistic as they gain experience

In the general population, survey after survey has revealed that younger people are less religious than their elders and this trend is more of less uniform as we progress through the age groups. There is one notable exception. Among scientists, the older and more experienced scientists are less religious than their younger counterparts. The following was taken from:

http://www.atheismandthecity.com/search/label/Atheism?updated-max=2015-10-21T21:34:00-04:00&max-results=20&start=60&by-date=false

From Pew’s [2009] survey about scientists, one thing strikes me rather odd. When broken down by age, scientists who are between 18-34 are only 32% atheist, and those that are 65+ are 46% atheist. This means that as scientists get older, they’re more likely to be atheists. This is the exact opposite of the surveys of belief among the general public, which show the younger generation is more likely than older generations to be atheist.

So, what gives? Why would the demographics of scientists on god be the exact opposite as the general public on age? Could it be that people go into the sciences as theists, and become atheists the longer they stay in the field, presumably because they’re exposed to new data and ways of thinking that challenge their theistic beliefs? If that was the case it would make sense of the data. But I’m not sure. Being exposed to new data that challenges your religious views can definitely make you doubt them, and those doubts can lead to atheism, like a gateway drug.

Even if the scientific community’s belief in god was flat over the spectrum of ages, that would be a significant finding.  But the fact that the trend is reversed, as shown above, is even more remarkable. It is highly likely that when the older scientists first entered their field they were more religious than the current young scientists, mainly because of the chronological trends that have taken place over the past 30 years, so the increase in atheism among this group is magnified even further.  What this data suggests is that science, unlike other professional fields, tends over time to enlighten its practitioners as to the naturalistic mechanisms of our existence, producing an ever decreasing belief in the supernatural.  And because science is the closest thing we have to being a window into reality, perhaps we should listen to the veteran scientists who might have the most accurate vision of the truth.

(1481) Genocide of the Canaanites was unjustified

In Deuteronomy 20, God instructs the armies of Joshua to kill every single person of the Canaanite tribe so that the Israelites can live on their land. The deed is completed in Joshua Chapters 7-12. The typical Christian reaction to this atrocity is be a bit squeamish but to ultimately defer to the idea that all of God’s commands are righteous by default. However, even using standard Christian theology, the justification for this action falls apart. The following is taken from:

http://www.atheismandthecity.com/search/label/Atheism?updated-max=2015-05-24T18:49:00-04:00&max-results=20&start=80&by-date=false

It seems that for some Christians the genocidal conquests mentioned in the Old Testament are a constant thorn in their theology. I can definitely see the need for one to want to distance themselves from actually believing they were historical events commanded by an omnibenevolent deity. The most rational interpretation of those text that I think a Christian can have, as I’ve said many times, is the minimalist view that doesn’t regard them as divinely inspired. Thom Stark’s view is a prime example. In his book Is God a Moral Compromiser? he critiques the idea that the genocide on the Canaanites was justified by any reasonable moral standard.

When theists argue that the Canaanites “had it coming to them” because they performed child sacrifice, or they performed ritual sex acts, I like to kindly remind them that the Canaanites had no pact with Yahweh to solely worship him or to obey any of the Mosaic commandments. See, the thing about divine command theory (for those theists who advocate for it) is that “the morally right action is the one that God commands or requires.” This means that in the absence of any divine revelation or command, a person has no objective moral duties to abide by. Him and his society are therefore free to do as they please, whether that includes child sacrifice or ritualistic prostitution. So if the Canaanites indeed did these things, they were not violating any moral laws set down by Yahweh, and were therefore innocent of any of the charges the Israelites used to justify their genocide against them.

And Stark knows this. Aside from the fact that the Israelites also once practiced child sacrifice (exodus 22:29) as the Canaanites did (but unlike the Canaanites they did so only to Yahweh), on page 32 Stark writes:

I’ll just note two problems here: (1) God never sent any prophets to Canaan to warn them of their coming destruction; not in Abraham’s time, not in Moses’s, and not in any time in between. The only thing he sent to Canaan was military spies. (2) He had to wait until their punishment was “fully deserved”? We’re talking about baby killing here. At what point is a baby’s slaughter “fully deserved”? And if Copan is going to cite “original sin” (though I’m not claiming he will), then everybody in the whole world “fully deserved” to get slaughtered. And their slaughter would have been just as “fully deserved” in Abraham’s time as it was in Moses’s.

The bottom line is that there is no justification for this act of genocide other than the greed and bloodthirstiness of those who used God to justify their dastardly crusade. Of course, it is unlikely that this massacre actually happened, but even if it’s fictional, it points out a disquieting contradiction in the description of a god who is revered to be benevolent and just.

(1482) Invalid prophecy about Judas

Christian apologists often tout the claim that Jesus fulfilled a multitude of prophecies in the Old Testament, proving that he is the legitimate messiah.  On the surface, this looks OK, but once you look closer, the devil is indeed in the details.  One good example is the prophecy in Psalm 41 that supposedly foretold the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.  Here are the relevant verses from Psalm 41:4-9:

I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord;

heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

My enemies say of me in malice,

“When will he die and his name perish?”

When one of them comes to see me,

he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;

then he goes out and spreads it around.

All my enemies whisper together against me;

they imagine the worst for me, saying,

“A vile disease has afflicted him;

he will never get up from the place where he lies.”

Even my close friend,

someone I trusted,

one who shared my bread,

has turned against me.

If you look only at the last verse (9), you could imagine that this ‘close friend’ might refer to Judas, who indeed, according to scripture, broke bread with Jesus and then turned against him. But when you look at the first verse quoted above (4), it indicates that the same person who suffered betrayal by his friend also sinned against the Lord. No Christian will admit that Jesus was a sinner. After all, that is a central tenet of the Christian faith- that Jesus led a sinless life, which was required for his sacrifice to absolve the original sin of Adam. Therefore, this so-called prophecy cannot be about Jesus, and Christians should stop repeating it in defense of their faith.

More on this subject is discussed here:

https://infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/bible.html

According to many, it was prophesied in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be betrayed by an unfaithful friend for 30 pieces of silver, which would later be thrown into God’s house and used to buy a potter’s field (Ps 41:9, Zec 11:12-13), and that this was precisely what happened to Jesus. It is said that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver but later, feeling remorse, returned the money by throwing it into the temple, and that the money was eventually used to buy the potter’s field (Mt 26:15, 27:3-10). But there are many problems with this, as follows:

(1) None of the Old Testament passages in question relate to the Messiah. In the passage from Zechariah, it is the author who is paid the 30 pieces of silver by good people for doing good work, which is just the opposite of what was supposed to have taken place in the case of Judas. Nor is there any reference to the Messiah in the verse from Psalms. In fact, it is made clear in a preceding verse (Ps 41:4) that the one who is betrayed (i.e., the author, David) is himself a sinner, so that could hardly apply to Jesus.

(2) Matthew claims (27:9-10) that the purchase of the potter’s field had been prophesied by Jeremiah, but there is absolutely nothing about that in the Book of Jeremiah, and that is why the passage from Zechariah is usually appealed to instead. It was perhaps a slip of the pen by Matthew.

(3) However, the translation of the relevant part of Zec 11:13 in the Tanakh just reads “I took the thirty shekels and deposited it in the treasury in the House of the Lord.” There is no reference there to throwing the money, nor is there any reference to a potter or to a “potter’s field”. So the alleged prophecy in Matthew does not appear in Zechariah either. It seems to be a figment of Matthew’s imagination.

(1483) Organic matter on Ceres

The building blocks of life, organic matter, has been discovered on the asteroid Ceres, indicating that life might have arisen on this dwarf planet at some time in the past. This discovery increases the estimated probability that life can originate without supernatural assistance and decreases the probability that life on Earth is the unique creation of a purpose-driven deity. The following was taken from:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ceres-harbors-homegrown-organic-compounds

Dwarf planet Ceres contains the necessary ingredients for life, new data suggest.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has detected organic compounds on Ceres — the first concrete proof of organics on an object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. This material probably originated on the dwarf planet itself, the researchers report in the Feb. 17 Science. The discovery of organic compounds, the building blocks of life, adds to the growing body of evidence that Ceres may have once had a habitable environment.

“We’ve come to recognize that Ceres has a lot of characteristics that are intriguing for those looking at how life starts,” says Andy Rivkin, a planetary astronomer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., who was not involved in the study.

The Dawn probe has previously detected salts, ammonia-rich clays and water ice on Ceres, which together indicate hydrothermal activity, says study coauthor Carol Raymond, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

For life to begin, you need elements like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, as well as a source of energy. Both the hydrothermal activity and the presence of organics point toward Ceres having once had a habitable environment, Raymond says.

“If you have an abundance of those elements and you have an energy source,” she says, “then you’ve created sort of the soup from which life could have formed.” But study coauthor Lucy McFadden, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., stresses that the team has not actually found any signs of life on Ceres.

Evidence of Ceres’ organic material comes from areas near Ernutet crater. Dawn picked up signs of a “fingerprint,” or spectra, consistent with organics. The pattern of wavelengths of light absorbed and reflected from these areas is similar to the pattern seen in hydrocarbons on Earth such as kerite and asphaltite. But without a sample from the surface, the team can’t say definitively what organic material is present or how it formed, says study coauthor Harry McSween, a geologist at the University of Tennessee.

CRATER CACHE Most of the organic compounds on Ceres have been found near the Ernutet crater, outlined in white. Purple areas indicate low concentrations of organics, and the spots of orange and yellow show higher abundance.

The team suspects that the organics formed within Ceres’ interior and were brought to the surface by hydrothermal activity. An alternative idea — that a space rock that crashed into Ceres brought the material — is unlikely, the researchers say, because the concentration of organics is so high. An impact would have mixed organic compounds across the surface, diluting the concentration.

Detecting organics on Ceres also has implications for how life arose on Earth, McSween says. Some researchers think that life was jump-started by asteroids and other space rocks that delivered organic compounds to the planet. Finding such organic matter on Ceres “adds some credence to that idea,” he says.

This is another nail in the coffin for Christianity’s claim that the Earth was specially constructed by God to create a theater in which his self-image beings must struggle between good and evil.  It is a an additional clue that we live in a naturalistic world devoid of metaphysical entities.

(1484) Jesus was hostile to his enemies

Christians often believe that Jesus was the first person to introduce the concept of doing good for those who hate you. But in truth, he was not  Also, in truth, the Jesus as depicted in the gospels did not do good or pray for his enemies, but was continually hostile to them, to the point of assigning them to an eternity of pain and anguish in hell. The following was taken from:

 http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/fe0_practical.htm

This idea is still believed by many to be quintessentially Christian. Who but the son of God could have been responsible for the following words?

Does a man become angry? You on the contrary challenge him with kindness … If someone strikes you, step back; for by striking back you will give him the opportunity and the excuse to repeat the blow.

The answer is a Roman philosopher, for these are not the words of Jesus but of Seneca (De Ira, II, 34 ). Lao-Tse was there first. He said “Do good to him who has done you an injury” (Tao Te Ching 63 ), a teaching known to Confucius around 500 BC (Analects 14:34 ). Incidentally, it is interesting that Jesus was consistently hostile to his own enemies. He never once did a good deed for a Pharisee. Except for a single occasion on the cross he never even prayed for his enemies. The description of this single occasion appears to have been a late addition to the text and may well have been added specifically to counter the charge that he never prayed for his enemies at all.

The gospel writers introduced a contradiction in their description of Jesus, making him extol the virtues of loving your enemies, while doing the opposite in real life. The only time Jesus prayed for his enemies was while on the cross, and this was recorded in only one gospel (Luke).  Otherwise, he was continually condemning and failing to help those who were not in support of his mission or those who were not of the Hebrew tribe.  How can Christians take solace in the words of Jesus when Jesus himself did not live those words?

(1485) Jesus tells followers to not resist evil

Of all the things Jesus is recorded to have said, the one that is unambiguously unique, not copied from previous philosophers, was an admonition to not resist evil. This is also one of the worst pieces of advice ever delivered to mankind.

Matthew 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/fe0_practical.htm

Jesus was apparently responsible for one new teaching, though it tends to be played down nowadays. This was the injunction not to resist evil: “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil …” (Matthew 5:39). This novel teaching authorized Christians to stand aside and watch many millions of people being tortured and murdered over the centuries. It is a license for Christians to ignore any manner of wrong, however heinous. For example it gave Christians explicit permission over the centuries to do absolutely nothing to oppose the burning of old women, the prosecution of unjust wars, pogroms, persecutions, or Nazi concentration camps. To have opposed these things would have been against the clearly stated will of Jesus, and hence unchristian. Although the injunction is not so popular now, it has been followed for centuries and still stands as Jesus” unique contribution to morality.

These words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew are ignored by practically all contemporary Christians, except those with masochistic tendencies, but they did influence the behavior of many Christians of earlier times. As stated above, this provided cover for many unscrupulous people to perpetrate evil. Needless to say, a god would never had uttered such nonsensical and harmful advice.

(1486) Logical incoherency of the afterlife

A central doctrine of Christianity is that humans will survive death in either heaven or hell, and then live there for eternity.  On the surface, this seems like a reasonable proposition. It is when you dig into the details that it begins to fall apart. In the following essay, some examples are presented why this belief is logically incoherent:

http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/fe0_practical.htm

For almost two millennia it was important to keep Christian dead bodies intact ready for their resurrection on the Day of Judgement. So what happened to those who failed to ensure that their bodies were kept intact? What about, for example, those whose ashes have been scattered from an aeroplane? And what about amputees? Do they get their arms and legs back in the afterlife? If they do, what about those who were born without limbs at all? Do they get new ones? What about Siamese twins? Will they still be joined together in the afterlife? Will it matter if they have been surgically separated during life? We might also speculate about the mechanics of bodily resurrection of those who have received organ transplants. Are they resurrected with their original organs, or the organs they possessed when they died?

Will the resurrected use these organs to think, to breathe, to eat and digest food, and to excrete the waste products? What is the purpose of genitals in Heaven? Surely the Christian God could not countenance sexual activity among the heavenly hosts? Also, when these bodies are restored, will they look like they did at death? Will some of us spend eternity as babies? According to many clergymen the answer is yes, since they still assure bereaved parents that God has a special place for little children. Will other dead people spend eternity as doddery old men and women? Are there Zimmer frames and wheelchairs in Heaven — or are we all restored to the way we were at a certain age? If so what is that age? St Augustine said it was around 30 years. Does 30 years represent current orthodoxy? If so what about those who never reached that age?

If souls are allocated at conception as some theologians would now have us believe, what happens to the souls of aborted fetuses? Developmental biologists have discovered that more than two thirds of pregnancies are spontaneously aborted at a very early stage, often without the mother even being aware of her pregnancy. The logical consequence of this is that well over two thirds of all souls are automatically condemned without ever having been born. So is the afterlife mainly populated by aborted fetuses? Are they all in Hell? Traditionally the position was even more bizarre. The Church taught that the life force was contained in male sperm (which is why it is such a grave sin to waste it). This teaching combined with modern scientific knowledge about reproduction suggests that every individual sperm has a soul. Can individual spermatozoa also expect bodily resurrection? Will Heaven be largely populated by billions of gallons of semen? Or is unbaptized semen all condemned to Hell?

Will married couples still be married? Jesus said not, but many grieving widows are given firm assurances by clergymen that they will one day be reunited with their dead husbands. What about those who have remarried after their partners” deaths? Will there be happy threesomes in Heaven?

In fact the idea of survival of the personality presents even greater difficulties. What will happen to homosexuals? What about cross-dressers, sexual deviants, depressives, neurotics and psychopaths? Will their personalities survive? Will those who died senile remain senile for eternity? What about those who were mentally handicapped during life? Will they continue to be mentally handicapped in the afterlife? What exactly is a personality anyway? Is there a one-to-one match between personalities and souls? Apparently the answer is “no” unless we accept that people with multiple personalities also have multiple souls. Perhaps everyone will be made perfect as they were or might have been at the age of thirty. But if people are to be restored to some perfect state, then it is hardly meaningful to speak of survival of the personality after death. Taking away people’s selfishness, jealousy, lust, stubbornness, greed, and so on might leave them with little personality left. A personality with all its imperfections corrected would be a different personality altogether. If a one-minute-old fetus has any personality at all, it is difficult to imagine that it would be sufficient to sustain an existence throughout eternity.

Further difficulties are presented by monstrous births. One might reasonably enquire about children who are born without a brain (it does happen). And what of those who are born with two heads and two brains (this happens too)? Babies like this who survive, as some do, generally develop two distinct personalities. Will both survive in the afterlife? And if so, what sort of appearance can they expect to be furnished with? Again, patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease can be treated by implanting fetal brain cells into their brains. In the future more ambitious brain transplants will be possible, perhaps restoring those with a deviant or pathological personality to normal. Will such people, when resurrected, possess their original defective personality or their medically restored healthy one? Will those with a severed corpus callosum (causing the two hemispheres of their brain to operate independently) have it magically repaired, radically changing their mental abilities?

This is but a small sample of the problematic issues that complicate the doctrine of the afterlife. Along with these, add the fact that our brains operate solely on a physical platform that is destroyed after death. What is left is a vanishingly small probability that any of this talk of heaven and hell can be real.

(1487) The difference between multiple eyewitnesses and someone claiming such

Many Christian apologists use Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15:3- 8 to affirm that there were 500 people who saw the resurrected Jesus, and use this ‘fact’ to support the claim of the truth of the resurrection.

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, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

The following is taken from:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/

Here’s a Christian named Angie on Facebook about testimonial evidence of the resurrection of Jesus:

Angie: “One method of determining good evidence is the testimony of others. Courts use testimony all the time and consider it in making decisions. We have the testimony of several hundred people who saw Jesus after his death and burial. This must be considered in believing or denying this event. One day there might be an explanation of this, but not yet.”

My response:” Would you and others keep your facts straight? We don’t have evidence 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus. What we have is someone SAYING 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus.”


Angie: “What’s so preposterous about one’s testimony? Used all the time in court as respectable evidence.”

My answer: “We have no way to cross-examine this testimony. How do we know the results would not be exactly as we found out with Joseph Smith and Mormonism? You’re asking us to accept non-cross examined testimony from a couple of different writers in the ancient distant past, and that’s not reasonable for extraordinary miraculous claims.”

In the absence of the identification of who these people were, without any written records produced by any of these alleged witnesses, and without the means to cross-examine Paul on his statement, we are left with no other option but to dismiss the claim and consider it to be almost certainly false.  There is a big difference between someone saying that 500 people saw something and affidavits from 500 people all claiming that they saw the same thing.

(1488) All known gods are human inventions

When you consider the undisputed fact that humans have invented thousands of false gods over the course of history, combined with the fact that no one has ever produced compelling evidence for their particular god, i.e. the type of evidence that can reliably convert followers of other gods, it becomes logically obvious that ALL gods are human inventions. This theme is explored below:

http://www.digitalfreethought.com/blog/2016/08/04/six-word-we-are-afraid-to-speak/

I haven’t counted but I’m pretty sure I have asked far more than 1,000 people why they believe in God. And, without a single exception, I have always seen the same result.

The result is that people give me no reason or they give me reasons that rely on fallacious logic or are epistemologically unreliable. I have also spoken to dozens of atheists who have asked believers the same question and they consistently report the same result that I find. Without exception.

Thousands of books have been written about gods but, to my knowledge, none has managed to offer even a single evidentially and logically sound reason to believe any particular god exists.

I am a cautious man and I hate to jump to conclusions based on inductive logic but there must come a point where we draw a line and recognize we have conducted enough trials. Just as a man dropping a stone a tens of thousands of times must eventually conclude that dropped stones fall to the ground, surely it is now time to draw the conclusion that humans have no good reasons to believe their gods are real.

We learn of gods when stories are passed from person to person by word of mouth or by the written word. But did anyone, from the first person to talk about a god to the last to hear of it, EVER have evidentially and logically sound reasons for his belief?

It’s vanishingly unlikely. Because, if there ever were good reasons, why have the good reasons been lost and only the bad reasons retained? We should expect the opposite. We should expect the billions of human minds these ideas have passed through to act as an effective filter to eliminate bad reasons and retain the good ones.

The only reasonable conclusion is that there never were any sound reasons to believe in gods; which is another way of saying: ALL known gods are human inventions.

This may be a conclusion we are afraid to voice but it is not as radical as you may think. Even the most dedicated god-believer knows that thousands of gods have been invented by humans–he just hopes that his own god is the single exception. But the compelling weight of evidence is that there are no exceptions.

Gods are our babies, we conceive them, we birth, nurture and protect them. But still they grow old, and eventually they die. Let them go.

The god of Christianity is on his last legs. He has had a very successful run, but he’s now being battered by the rising technological sophistication of a scientific society and the emerging philosophical interpretation of moral behavior that transcends the bounds of his alleged characteristics. This god was invented at a time when humans had little understanding of the universe or themselves… and it shows. His death will come before the end of this century.

(1489) The Jews were not taught about heaven or hell

It is a precept of Christianity that God first made contact with the Jews and only offered ministration to the Gentile population after the death of Jesus.  This is a big problem in its own right. But what is potentially an even bigger problem is that God failed to inform his chosen people, the Jews, about the existence of heaven and hell. Considering that people are destined to spend eternity in one of these two places versus only 75 or so years in an earthy existence, this omission is crying out for an explanation.

In fact, God has still not informed the Jews. The only apologetic avenue for a Christian is to assert that heaven and hell were not created until after the time of Jesus and/or that the Jews are given an exemption from the requirements for entering heaven. This is a convoluted and highly improbable scenario. What is more likely is that Christians of the First Century made up these places and put words in the mouth of Jesus to legitimize them- to cause hope and fear. The carrot and stick method has been used by hucksters for all of human history to sell fraudulent products.

(1490) The inefficient creationist god

About half of all Christians deny the science of evolution and hold to the belief that God made all of the species of animals and presumably plants from scratch. That one day out on the savannah, suddenly out of nowhere, poof, a couple of zebras appeared in a split second. And elephants, tigers, cheetahs, and so on, then monkeys, Neanderthal, and humans, all appearing like magic out of thin air. Likewise, in California, a grove of sequoia trees suddenly popped into existence.

Despite the ridiculousness of this proposition, there is actually a more central problem. Creationists believe that all of God’s creation occurred in a six-day period about 6,000 years ago. But scientists have determined that over 99% of all species that have ever lived have gone extinct.  So, the creationist must concede that God created dinosaurs, saber-tooth tigers, the woolly mammoth, and the cave bear, to name a few, knowing full well that they would not survive. In all, God must have made about 5,000,000,000 species during his creation week, while only about 10,000,000 remain alive today.

Most creationists explain the extinction of animals by saying they didn’t make it onto the Ark during the flood. But this does not explain why a god would create 500 animals for every one animal that he would eventually deliver to the Ark. Why would an all-powerful god be this wasteful, and for what purpose? To drown out 499 out of every 500 animals he created?  It makes no sense unless it is seen as it is- a stupid, recycled myth from earlier times. And as for the other half of Christians who believe that God guided evolution to the same end point, a similar problem exists- they worship a wasteful, inefficient god, and, when compared to the creationist god, one who is even more callous toward suffering, pain, and torment by placing billions of animals into the gory arena of the survival of the fittest.

Unsupervised evolution is by far the most probable explanation for the history of life on this planet.

(1491) The asymmetry of god claims

Most atheists are loathe to claim that there are no gods, understanding that such a claim can never be proven.  Instead they assert that there is insufficient evidence to believe that a god exists. On the other hand, theists are usually not reluctant to make a claim that a god does exist, though acknowledging that absolute proof is not available.

The claim that a god exists is not just the flip side of the claim that a god does not exist. There is a break in symmetry, because there exists a possibility that a god’s existence could be proven, assuming that such a god decided to make its existence indisputably known.  However, the claim that a god does not exist can never be proven to be true- it can only be proven to be false in response to the same potential event that a god manifests itself.

This is the probabilistic rule of a ‘missed opportunity.’ The fact that no god has done what is assumed to be within its capability of doing lowers the probability that such a god exists. Meanwhile, this same missed opportunity strengthens the probability that no gods exist.

To summarize, the claim that a god exists cannot ever be proven to be false, it can only be proven to be true.  The claim that a god does not exist cannot ever be proven to be true, it can only be proven to be false. In the absence of a manifested god, this asymmetry shifts the probability in favor of there being no god.

Using simple math, if we assign a starting probability of 0.5 to the existence of a god, and further a probability of 0.5 that if such a god does exist that it would make its existence known in an undisputed manner, then if no god has ever manifested itself in this way, the probability that a god exists is reduced to 0.25, meaning that the probability that a god does not exist is raised from its starting value of 0.5 to 0.75.

As an analogy, suppose there are 10 rocks in a forest and Person A states that he believes that there is a gold pendant under one of the rocks. Person B does not believe this to be true.  As it turns out, 5 of the 10 rocks lie beyond a private fence with a ‘NO TRESPASSING’ sign. This fencing happened recently and after Person A had developed his belief. Persons A and B agree to look under the 5 accessible rocks to see if there is a gold pendant under one of them. They do so, but no pendant is found.  This missed opportunity has an effect on Person A’s claim, reducing the probability that he is correct, though not proving him to be incorrect.  It also bolsters Person B’s lack of belief.

Therefore, Christians must deal with the missed opportunity that their belief in an all-powerful god could have been proven by a simple, effortless act by such a deity. It hasn’t happened, so they are left holding on to an embarrassing apologetic excuse that their god is for some reason determined to remain hidden.

(1492) Christians dismiss all other resurrection stories

Almost all self-professed Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead while at the same time disbelieving all other religious claims of resurrection.  This is despite there being no more evidence for Jesus’s achievement.  The following was taken from:

http://www.digitalfreethought.com/blog/2015/05/29/why-dont-atheists-believe-in-the-resurrection-of-jesus-christ/

Christians, if you really believe that resurrection is possible, then do you believe all the other resurrections stories that supposedly happened throughout History?  Julius Ceasar, Augustus Ceasar, Apollonious of Tyana and Antinous, Jabbi Judah, Kabir and Sabbatai Sevi have all had resurrection stories told about them.

Take for example Lahiri Mahasaya:

“A nineteenth-century Hindu guru named Lahiri Mahasaya died in 1895 and was cremated after reportedly telling his followers that he would rise again. Afterwards it was said that he appeared to three followers, each individually. These meetings were said to have been rather brief, occurring in three different cities at about the same time. It was also said that Mahasaya’s body appeared to be transfigured.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

And more recently, Sri Yiketeswar:

A “Hindu guru named Sri Yukteswar died and was buried in 1936. One of his chief disciples, Paramhansa Yogananda, tells us that one week after seeing a vision of the Hindu avatar Krishna and more than three months after his master’s death, he witnessed a flesh and blood appearance of the dead Yukteswar while he was meditating. He reports that he touched his teacher’s body and then had a two-hour conversation with him, chiefly about the nature of the afterlife.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

And in 2001, A Christian Minister in Nigeria, Daniel Ekechukwu, supposedly died in a car accident and came back to life after two days, and is still alive today.

Then there are those that claim to be the reincarnated person of Jesus himself:  David Koresh, The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, Alan John Miller and many, many more.

The members of those religious sects believe those stories to be just as true as you believe the Bible stories are. But you don’t believe their stories any more than you would believe UFO abductions, or Bigfoot sightings; and those should be more credible, theoretically, since they don’t involve supernatural phenomena.  However, any wild story of supernatural occurrences should not be credited with veracity until some very good evidence has been presented.

Rationally considered, resurrection and/or reincarnation are pretty outlandish claims.  Nobody in the history of the world has ever been scientifically demonstrated to have actually done it.  There is no mention of Jesus’ resurrection anywhere in historical documents outside of the bible.  (Although there are mentions of Jesus and early Christians, it’s plain that those were simply repeated from earlier stories passed down through many tellers.)

NOR is there any extra-biblical mention of any of the other supposed “resurrections” that took place on the same day that Jesus resurrected.    According to Matthew chapter 27:52-53

“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.”

You would think that someone outside of the Bible would have written about that!

The fact that there have been so many false resurrection claims throughout history makes the Jesus story appear to be just one more added on to the list.  Without any supporting independent evidence, it can be confidently dismissed by all thinking persons.

(1493) What Christianity has yet to prove

The Christian religion stands or falls on the truth of many of its assertions about the characteristics of its god, the history of this god’s interaction with humans, the existence of miracles, and the presence of interactive metaphysical beings. To date, it has failed to prove any of these claims. The following was taken from:

http://www.digitalfreethought.com/blog/2013/11/

Christianity has yet to prove:

1)  That souls exist and that every person has one

2)  That souls can, and do, contain our mind, memories and identity independent of the brain

3)  That souls survive the death of our bodies intact

4)  That they will continue to live on for an eternity

5)  That there are places for souls to go after death

6) That the specific places, Heaven and Hell, actually exist.  (Each one would have to be separately proven.)

7) That anything supernatural exists

8) That any kind of supernatural intelligence exists

9) That any such supernatural intelligent being is capable of interacting with the Natural Universe at all.

10) That the universe was actually created by such a supernatural intelligence

11) That these supernatural beings are actually GODS as we understand the word, and not just aliens that can manipulate advanced technology

12) That one of those gods is actually the god of Christianity; Yahweh

13) That He is the only god

14) That He created Man without ancestry, thereby proving that evolution isn’t real

15) That mental telepathy (prayer) is real

16) That Yahweh is actually listening, and cares

17) That magic is real, i.e. that God, Jesus, or the prophets (or anyone) could say words which bend the laws of physics to make things come into existence

18) That miracles or prophecy is real, and actually took place, AND if so, that they were gifts from Yahweh

19) That the specific magical beings of the Bible (angels, demons, Satan, cherubim, the talking serpent, etc.) are real or have EVER existed, and that the stories about them in the Bible are true.

20) That SIN exists and that we need salvation from it

21) That we must be “saved” from sin by the simple act of believing. (I.e. the Tinkerbelle effect).  Or that we can be saved at all

22) That fruit can actually hold the knowledge of Good and Evil, or any abstract knowledge for that matter, and can transfer it to the one who eats it

23) That ANY supernatural being is capable of having a child by a human mother

24) If so, that that child was, indeed, the Jesus of the Bible

25) And that Jesus was the one prophesied as the CHRIST.  (Even the Jews who believe most of the other claims, don’t believe that.)

Indeed, nothing has been demonstrated to be true. But it is the trick of Christianity and other religions to be sure to not make any claims that can be falsified. So looking through this list, a typical Christian will say that these assertions cannot be proven in this life, and that you must accept them on faith.

Suppose you are on a trail trying to reach a shelter. The trail parts into three paths and at the beginning of each of these three paths there stands a person saying that his path is the correct one that leads to the shelter. You ask for evidence, but none is given.  Each person says that you must have faith that they are telling you the truth.  Which one do you believe?

The entire Christian enterprise is a house of cards. It is well summed up by this quote from Paula Kirby:

Religion is one lie after another: the lie of original sin, the lie of eternal life, the lie of hell, the lie of answered prayer, the lie that life can have no meaning without religion, the lie that religion is the source of morality, the lie of creationism, the lie of a spy-in-the-sky who hears your every word and reads your every thought. And to this list we must add the lie that it views men and women as equal. It has got away for so long with the kind of lunatic word-games that allow death-by-torture to be presented as an act of love, and eternal torment in the flames of hell to be seen as a necessary act of justice, that we should perhaps not be surprised that it has also managed to dupe its followers into seeing the systematic suppression and silencing of women as an act of liberation and equality. Nevertheless, it is a lie, like all the others: a cynical and wicked lie. It is time women everywhere woke up to it.

(1494) Extracting legitimate evidence for Christianity

Non-believers over the centuries have been routinely pelted with volleys of ersatz reasons to believe in Christianity, supplied earnestly and with compassion, but always lacking the qualities needed to satisfy the mechanisms of critical thinking. It is as if an attempt is being made to gear down the logic centers in the brains of the skeptics.  In the following quote, Paula Kirby, speaks to this issue:

https://www.onfaith.co/onfaith/2009/10/12/where-is-the-evidence-of-god/2024

It seems to go without saying that a person of faith cannot be open-minded. It is indeed in the very nature of faith that it has to be absolute, and that willingness to doubt religious dogma is inherently sinful. A person of faith must set aside such failings as open-mindedness, the pursuit of evidence, and the rejection of beliefs which cannot be substantiated: faith demands that claims be taken, accepted, defended and propagated on, well, faith, and this closed-mindedness (for what else can we call the refusal to doubt?) is then praised as a virtue, to be eternally rewarded hereafter.

A skeptical non-believer, however, is under no such constraints.

The skeptic merely refuses to accept that for which there is no evidence. The moment evidence is provided, we will be happy to accept it and to change our minds accordingly. This is not the fluffy open-mindedness of the ‘spiritual’, the ‘New Age’, or the ‘seeker’. This is not an open-mindedness that says, ‘I can imagine it, therefore it must be possible’. This is genuine, healthy open-mindedness: a mind that is open, but judiciously so, as opposed to a yawning chasm that has no filter for sifting out the genuine from the phony, the rational from the irrational, the true from the false.

So this is what it would take to convince me that there is a god: evidence. It doesn’t matter what kind: any evidence at all would suffice.

But let us be clear. By ‘evidence’ I do not mean conjecture -‘We are all steeped in Original Sin and stand in need of redemption’ – because we can all conjure up all sorts of stories that others cannot disprove.

I do not mean ignorance – ‘Well, science doesn’t have all the answers’ – because the existence of things we do not yet understand is not evidence for God, as the gods of volcanoes and earthquakes and thunder could attest, if it weren’t for their now-undeniable non-existence. Besides, of course science doesn’t have all the answers: this is what spurs it on to greater and greater endeavors. But if science cannot yet answer a particular question, why should we assume that religion can?

I do not mean wishful thinking – ‘But my faith is such a comfort to me!’- because the comfort you derive from your belief in God no more points to an external reality than does my neighbor’s belief that the arrival of the moon in Scorpio bodes well for her finances.

I do not mean threats – ‘An eternal lake of fire awaits those who do not believe’ – for you cannot make me fear that which you cannot demonstrate the reality of – especially when the self-serving nature of the threat is so patently obvious.

I do not mean presumption – ‘But your life can’t have any meaning or purpose without God’ – since your apparent inability to find purpose or meaning in your own family, friends, career, interests, ability to influence the world for the better, learning, joy, laughter, personal growth, compassion, and awe at the beauties of the world around you in no way reduces my ability to find my life entirely fulfilled and made meaningful by these things.

I do not mean grotesque fear and distrust of your fellow man – ‘Without God there would be nothing to stop us from killing one another’ – since it is perfectly clear that the vast majority of us, believers and non-believers alike, happily comply with society’s rules and feel no urge to murder, rape or steal; and that religious belief has all too often added to the weight of human cruelty rather than militated against it.

I do not mean your subjective feelings – ‘I know in my heart that it’s true!’ – for neuroscience is casting an ever more piercing light on the workings of our brains and revealing our feelings to be hugely unreliable guides to external reality: which is why they always need to be backed up with real, proper, testable evidence before they can be trusted.

I do not mean the rejection of all normal standards of reason and truth-seeking – ‘The Bible must be true because the Bible says it is!’. Whether we are talking about history or science or a court of law, there is a reason why we seek evidence before we reach conclusions. There is a reason why we test that evidence, challenge it, try to find alternative explanations for it. And that reason is that the truth matters. God is not a subjective proposition: either there is a god, or there is not. The standards of assessing the objective truth of a claim apply here every bit as much as they do to every other field of inquiry.

Show me one tangible piece of evidence that there is a god – the kind of evidence that we demand for any other claim – and I will happily assess it with enough open-mindedness to satisfy the most demanding of judges.

But of course, once you have done that, your work will really just be beginning. For then you will have the task of demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that it is YOUR god you have just provided the evidence for, and not Baal, Mithras, Marduk, Atum, Ptah, Vishvakarman, Unkulunkulu or any of the other thousands of deities available to choose from.

Good luck! Until then, I shall remain a skeptical non-believer. Albeit an open-minded one.

It is obvious that a person with an open mind is best suited for seeing reality in its most accurate portrayal.  A person of faith is necessarily close minded and has only a thin chance of seeing reality- in the unlikely event that the rigid faith belief just happens to be aimed correctly.

(1495) God, the racist

One would expect a righteous deity to treat all humans more or less equally, not considering any race superior to any other.  Christianity suffers a measure of damaged credibility on this score because their god picked the Jews as his chosen ones, at least initially.  But beyond that problem, there is another even more disturbing issue- the way God administered the practice of slavery  differently for Jews versus non-Jews:

Leviticus 25:39-46

“ ‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

“ ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

This scripture is repugnant on two levels- that God endorses the practice of slavery, and slavery for life no less, and that he differentiates the rules for his chosen people. Most Christians are unaware of this scripture and their priests and pastors want to keep it that way. But it is in their Bibles. They are worshiping a slave-endorsing racist.

(1496) Marital redemption

As if the terms for Christian salvation are not already murky, Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, did his best to muddy the waters even further:

1 Corinthians 7:10-16

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

What Paul is saying here is that a husband or wife who is a non-believer can be saved if his or her spouse is a believer. But if the non-believing spouse leaves (divorces) then they are no longer saved.  Paul never talks about hell, and it’s apparent that the doctrine of hell did not exist at the time he wrote this letter (CE 51, it would not be until 20 years later that hell would first be codified with the Gospel of Mark).

This scripture introduces another layer of vicarious redemption.  The believing spouse is saved by the sacrifice of Jesus and the non-believing spouse is saved because he/she just happens to be married to a believer. So in effect, he is saved by a double vicarious redemption.

If a non-believing husband decides to divorce his believing wife, but dies before the divorce is finalized, does he go to heaven or hell? When does he officially become bound for hell?  The arbitrary nature of this doctrine is mind-blowing.

Note that Paul qualifies this paragraph by saying that it comes from him and not the Lord.  What is a Christian to make of that? Isn’t all of scripture supposed to be inspired by God?  Evidently, Paul didn’t understand that he was writing scripture- he just thought he was writing a letter.

God is supposedly not the author of confusion, but the question of spousal redemption is just that, and it’s highly unlikely that it emanated from the mind of a boundless deity.

(1497) You say… God says

The following graphic lays bare a big problem that for some reason seems to pass over the heads of most Christians:

you say god says

Christians worship a god who disagrees with them on many crucial points- a god who is at odds with their beliefs, knowledge, and sense of what is right. This is not a trivial problem. It represents a towering logical disconnect. There is a massive industry of clergy who try to keep the faithful from thinking about these matters.  Christianity works best by keeping the congregation singing songs, reciting creeds, hearing carefully selected biblical verses, and, for heaven’s sake, making sure they don’t apply critical thinking skills. It is a form of hypnosis, and most Christians are walking around in a fog. Once you get out of the fog, the truth hits you smack dab in the face.

(1498) Christianity originated from a bunch of losers

If Christians knew about the pathetic conditions that caused the creation of their religion, then maybe they wouldn’t be so proud.

As discussed in Reason #525 regarding cargo cults and how Christianity follows the same patterns, it should be pointed out even further that when religious believers experience things that cause cognitive dissonance, that they will often be in complete denial, or they will simply alter their views to support their belief by altering the world around them in their own minds.

This is what happened with Christians when they had no choice but to alter their beliefs from Judaism because the Romans had beaten them down so badly and had so thoroughly debunked what the Bible said and what it prophesized, that their denial itself is what created Christianity.

As Dr. Richard Carrier points out in Element 29 of his book On The Historicity Of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt, when quoting Peter Worsley’s study of cargo cults in his book The Trumpet Shall Sound, Page 230, with his comparison of what causes cargo cults and how Carrier has shown Christianity to be no different:

http://astore.amazon.com/richardcarrier-20/detail/1909697494

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0805201564/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487947061&sr=8-2&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=peter+worsley&dpPl=1&dpID=51GFJr–ynL&ref=plSrch

“3. And there is a third type of social situation in which activist millenarian ideas are likely to flourish, which is when a society with differentiated political institutions is fighting for its existence by quite secular military-political means, but is meeting with defeat after defeat, such that when the political structure of a society is smashed by war or other means, or fails to answer the needs of a people who wish to carry on the struggle, then a prophetic, often millenarian, leadership is likely to emerge. In other words, when the military solution to oppression and social dysfunction so consistently fails and is so obviously unlikely to succeed, social pressures produce apocalyptic, non-militarized grassroots movements instead, which arise from a retooling of the dominant native religion. Apocalypticism (both its eager expectation and its florid description through revelation and pronouncement) becomes a way to passively voice discontent with the ruling powers and re-envision a better society, proclaiming that God himself will bring it upon us soon—rather than taking up arms to bring it about directly, a solution already seen to be incapable of success; and since it must happen, as God would not abandon his people. God must be waiting in the wings.”

So what we have here is evidence that Christianity, like many other beaten down religious believers before and after, stems from a religion shared by several ‘serial losers.’

When the Romans conquered Judea and all the promises and prophesies in the Hebrew Bible were shown to be utterly crushed and impossible, this created a revised belief, simply because they needed to have a belief.  So when Paul and the other apostles came along with their evolved messianic tales, many of the beaten down loser followers of the Jewish faith embraced it.

If Christianity were true then it would have come from a line of ‘winners’ because they would have had God on their side. Not a bunch of ‘losers’ who were in denial.

(1499) Forgery made to make Jesus divine at birth

It is well known among biblical scholars that beliefs concerning the divine nature of Jesus evolved over several centuries.  Christians of the First Century would have been unfamiliar with the beliefs of Christians in the Fourth Century.  A forgery in the Gospel of Luke is a good example of this evolutionary process. The following was taken from:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_bibl.htm

 Luke 3:22: This passage describes Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. According to Justin Martyr, the original version of this verse has God speaking the words: “You are my son, today have I begotten thee.” Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, and other ancient Christian authorities also quoted it this way. 1 The implication is that Jesus was first recognized by God as his son at the time of baptism. But a forger* altered the words to read: “You are my son, whom I love.” The altered passage conformed more to the evolving Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God at his birth, (as described in Luke and Matthew) or before the beginning of creation (as in John), and not at his baptism.

It is obvious that promoting the evolving doctrine took precedence over scriptural fidelity.  Many tweaks to scripture were made to conform to the changing theology.  Some of those were identified, luckily, but many more were lost to history, leaving the intent of the original authors open to question.

(1500) Atom smasher proves that ghosts don’t exist

Although a good number of people believe in ghosts and even claim to have seen them, the results of experiments conducted at the Large Hadron Collider (located near Geneva, Switzerland) suggests (or actually comes close to proving) that they don’t exist. The following was taken from:

http://www.sciencealert.com/a-physicist-just-explained-why-the-large-hadron-collider-disproves-the-existence-of-ghosts

Recent polls have found that 42 percent of Americans and 52 percent of people in the UK believe in ghosts – a huge percentage when you consider that no one has ever come up with irrefutable proof that they even exist.

But we might have had proof that they don’t exist all along, because as British theoretical physicist Brian Cox recently pointed out, there’s no room in the Standard Model of Physics for a substance or medium that can carry on our information after death, and yet go undetected in the Large Hadron Collider.

“If we want some sort of pattern that carries information about our living cells to persist, then we must specify precisely what medium carries that pattern, and how it interacts with the matter particles out of which our bodies are made,” Cox, from the University of Manchester, explained in a recent episode of BBC’s The Infinite Monkey Cage.

“We must, in other words, invent an extension to the Standard Model of Particle Physics that has escaped detection at the Large Hadron Collider. That’s almost inconceivable at the energy scales typical of the particle interactions in our bodies.”

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was also on the show, replied, “If I understand what you just declared, you just asserted that CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, disproved the existence of ghosts.”

“Yes,” said Cox.

In other words, the realm of particle physics that could enable an afterlife presence of our consciousness should have been detected by now at the Large Hadron Collider. The fact that it hasn’t suggests not only that ghosts don’t exist but also that the claims of Christianity are false.

Follow this link to #1501