(1501) Christianity’s use of the hero/villain mythotype
Fictional literature from the earliest days of mankind’s written history is full of stories of heroes who must confront an antagonist, a villain, an evil being who is trying to thwart the benevolent mission of the champion. In Christianity, this role i filled by Satan, Lucifer, or the devil, who along with his demon followers are a figurative thorn in the side of God. This evil empire of beings is what is commonly used to deflect the blame away from God for many of the malevolent things that happen.
But would we expect a universe with a real god to also have an opposing supernatural evil entity? Is there some specific reason why this is necessary? The answer is no. Christianity could have skipped the antihero motif and simply revealed a god who made his presence felt and his standards understood. A god who does not interfere with the natural physical forces, implying that random events, sometimes of an unpleasant nature, will occur.
The people who wrote the Bible didn’t understand that earthquakes, hailstorms, diseases, and lightning were natural processes but rather thought that they must have been produced by sentient beings- either an angry god or an evildoer. Thus, they invented the person of Satan to satisfy their ignorance.
So, it’s not enough to say that Satan is a highly improbable being, based on a modern scientific viewpoint. It is also true that he is totally irrelevant based on that same perspective. The fact that Christianity used the hero/villain mythotype, common to all other fiction of its day and beyond, is strong evidence that it is fictional as well.
(1502) The existence of debates
The internet is full of debates between theists and atheists arguing for and against the existence of the Christian God. It should impress both parties as to the significance of this situation. We are not talking about an observer god who creates the universe and then stands back and watches what happens. No, the Christian god is supposedly all-seeing and all-powerful, and is interested in what everybody is doing. He is fully interactive, answers prayers, and is known to have flooded the earth, raining down locusts on his enemies, slaying people right and left, and manipulating the rotation of the earth. This is not a hands-off kind of god.
So why, twenty centuries after this concept was fully presented, with billions of people living in the wake of this belief, with this interactive god putting his fingers into every situation, are we still debating his existence? His reality should be blatantly obvious. We should be no more debating the existence of this god than we do of the sun, or the moon, or camels.
To put this in perspective, borrowed from a commenter on reddit.com: We don’t need apologetics for houseflies. You simply point to them and say “there’s one now.” Apparently the mightier you are, the more you need middle-aged pseudo-academics to ‘demonstrate’ your existence. Quite a paradox.
(1503) The Bible’s many gods
Judeo-Christianity makes a claim that there is only one god. Although Satan has supernatural powers, he is for some reason not considered a god, albeit an evil one. But evidence from the Old Testament reveals that monotheism was an evolved concept that emerged from polytheistic beginnings. The following was taken from:
The idea that there are other “gods” who exist as real supernatural beings, albeit infinitely inferior to the only Creator and Redeemer, pervades the Bible. The Psalms fairly explode with evidence. “There is none like you among the gods, O Lord” (86:8); “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods” (96:4); “Our Lord is above all gods” (135:5); “Ascribe to Yahweh, [you] gods, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength” (29:1, my trans.); “He is exalted above all gods” (97:7); “For Yahweh is a great god, and a great king above all gods” (95:3, my trans.). And so on.
But it’s not just the Psalms. In Exodus Yahweh predicts that he will execute judgments “on all the gods of Egypt” (12:12). The author of Numbers then declares that that is indeed what happened: “Yahweh executed judgments against their gods” (33:4). There is no hint that Yahweh is the only God. Instead it is clearly implied that Egypt has her own gods, and Yahweh will defeat them.
When Yahweh gives his people the Ten Commandments, the first commandment implies the existence of other gods: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3; see also Deut. 5:7). In Exodus 23:32–33 Israel is told not to covenant with or worship other gods; there is no suggestion that the gods of Israel’s neighbors do not exist.
In Deuteronomy 4:19 the Israelites are forbidden from worshipping “the sun, the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven . . . [which] Yahweh your god has allotted to all the peoples everywhere under heaven.” In other words, they were told not to worship other gods, not because those gods did not exist, but because they were supposed to rule other peoples, not Israel.
Yahweh himself, who created and rules the other gods, would rule Israel directly. He would rule the nations indirectly through the delegated authority of other gods. This, apparently, was the original intent behind the strange passage regarding the “prince of Persia” in Daniel 10: “The prince of Persia withstood me [perhaps the angel Gabriel] twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me” (v. 13).
Something had gone terribly wrong in Psalm 82. The supernatural beings He had appointed to rule the nations justly had failed to perform. They were supposed to rule with justice, executing judgments on behalf of the poor, the widows and the rest of the nations. But because they did not judge properly, Yahweh would judge them. And the punishment was ferocious.
[Yahweh] has taken his place in the divine council,
In the midst of the gods he passes judgment. . . .
And all of you, sons of Elyon [God Most High]
Instead like Adam you shall die,
And like one of the ‘Shining Ones’ you shall fall.”
“Arise, O Yahweh; Judge the earth!
May you take possession of all the nations!”
If these “gods” were really human beings, verse 7 would not make sense, for all humans die like Adam. Why would this be a special punishment? Instead, there is a hint in this verse of cosmic rebellion against Yahweh. It calls to mind Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, where the king of Babylon and prince of Tyre are condemned for their rebellious pride. In Isaiah 14:13–14, the rebellion is explicit. The “Shining One, son of Dawn” (the same phrase used here in Ps. 82:7) tried to place himself above “the stars of El [the highest God, or Yahweh]” to “sit enthroned in the Mount of Assembly (of the gods),” to “be like Elyon [the fuller name for the Most High God].”
The drift of these passages is that the gods—which are sometimes regarded in the Hebrew Bible as fallen angels and arguably are the genesis of Paul’s “principalities and powers”—are condemned to death not simply because of their failure to rule with justice, but more importantly, for their rebellion against their Maker, Yahweh. Their unjust rule of the nations was simply one of many expressions of their rebellion, which was the principal reason for Yahweh’s discipline.
Christians later came to see these two stories in the prophets as allusions to Satan’s fall from grace. Once created as God’s most gifted and beautiful supernatural being, Satan abused his authority and then led a rebellion against Yahweh. God punished him by limiting his authority on earth; he is still the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) but his authority is checked by God’s sovereign purposes, and his final destruction is decreed.
T. Wright calls this “creational monotheism,” which means that Yahweh rules over a cosmos thick with not only good angels but also fallen angels masquerading as the true God. Wright insists that “we have very few examples of ‘pure’ monotheism anywhere, including in the Hebrew Bible.”
For the biblical authors, these weak and beggarly “gods” helped explain why this cosmos seems to be at war, both spiritually and politically. They believed the ancient pagan religions were animated by powers hostile to Yahweh, actively fighting Yahweh’s control of the cosmos. It was no surprise to them that history is full of conflict, because its driving animus is conflict between supernatural forces, which are visibly represented by both religious and political communities.
In other words, wars between nations were really only the shadowy surface of the deeper and more fundamental combat between spiritual powers. So Samuel Huntington, the Harvard political scientist whose Clash of Civilizations claimed the real inspiration for modern wars would be cultural and religious, was making what might be seen as a biblical argument.
If originally Yahweh was considered to be just one of many gods, then the belief in these ‘other’ gods must have been fallacious. That being the case, it is an easy extension to assume that Yahweh is a false god as well.
(1504) Math of the Great Flood
In Genesis, Chapter 7, the particulars of Noah’s flood adventure are spelled out. We are told that it rained for forty days and nights and that all of the mountains of the Earth were covered to a depth of more than 15 cubits. Dr. Marty Leipzig worked out the math to determine the amount of water needed to accomplish this feat. It was calculated to be 4.525 billion cubic kilometers:
The surface of the Earth is 510 million square kilometers. The highest recorded precipitation in one hour ever measured on Earth was 0.305 meters (about 12 inches) in Holt, Missouri, USA, on June 22, 1947.
Now we have all of the information needed to compute the strength of rainfall needed to cover the mountains on Earth during a 40 day rainfall and to compare that to the highest ever recorded rainfall intensity. The first assumption is that the rainfall was constantly hard over the entire surface of the Earth for the entire 40-day period.
The formula for X= required rainfall intensity is:
4,525,000,000 km3= (510,000,000 km2) (40 days) (24hr/day) (X)
X = 0.00924 km/hr = 9.24 meters/hr, or about 363 inches per hour
So to produce the amount of flooding described in Genesis, it would have to rain over the entire surface of the Earth continuously for 40 days at an intensity of 363 inches per hour, or at a rate that is more than 30 times the highest hourly rainfall rate ever recorded. The rain would deliver an inch of precipitation every 10 seconds- an intensity that would have overwhelmed and capsized the Ark, reduced visibility to zero, and suffocated any living thing exposed.
(1505) Summary of Christianity’s problems
A religion based on a real god would be expected to produce a tableau of lofty ideals, graceful behaviors, and beneficent works. Some of these attributes can be ascribed to Christianity’s history, but there is a dark flip side to this equation. The following website summarizes some of the problems associated with Christianity and the deeds and conduct it has engendered:
This list is partly taken from Chapter 10, “20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity” from Chaz Bufe’s book, Provocations. I have condensed his list. See Reviews, Books under Bufe.
- Christianity is based on fear: The faith preaches fear of death, fear of Hell, and fear of Satan. Innocent children are taught that if they don’t obey their parents (who, of course, speak for God) they will be captured by Satan and sent to eternal torture. This is a particularly evil form of child abuse. Even adults can find it very difficult to shed this terror.
- Christians are unsure of their faith: if they were as confident of it as, for example, the appearance of the sun in the morning, they would not have to proselytize and use threats to persuade the unpersuaded. The greater their efforts, the less sure they are of their beliefs. Hence, Christianity is dishonest. No believer will admit to being unsure. Note the loud, insistent, angry tone of so many TV preachers!
- Christianity is egocentric and arrogant: It is infantile for any human to believe that he or she is personally attended to or monitored by God. It is even more arrogant to think that humanity is specially favored by the God of the universe. It is almost beyond imagining that people pray for their team to win or to find a parking spot. To think that God cares about such things is to render him trivial.
- Christianity trivializes real life: believers both care intensely that others follow their moral standards, yet claim that the afterlife is the only important thing. And why do many believers try so hard to accumulate earthly wealth? Jesus said to sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. Almost no Christians do that, proving that they are hypocrites to the core. (Not to mention voting for Donald Trump!)
- Christianity favors a we-vs.-them attitude: saved or unsaved, eternally damned or eternally blessed. How can a believer have real feelings for someone who will be damned for eternity?
- Christianity favors cruelty: The Crusades, the Inquisitions, the witch-hunters, and the evil doings of the conquistadors are only the most famous examples. Inquisitors would torture “heretics” until they confessed, with the idea that a heretic who admitted the Church’s “truth” would be saved from hell. The Bible never condemns torture or cruelty. Religious thinking is mass insanity.
- Christianity rejects critical thinking: Tertullian and Luther, among many other authorities, said that reason is the greatest enemy of faith. That’s true: someone who thinks is much less likely to swallow Christian garbage. As we see in the current fight over evolution, believers still think that the Bible is a science textbook. If so, it’s the worst one ever written. The world would be much better off if the Bible had never existed (unless even worse religious texts took its place). Christianity has never contributed to objective knowledge, but has consistently opposed advances in science and medicine. Having intolerant evangelicals in charge of war and nuclear weapons is a menace to human life.
- Christian morality is misdirected: Believers are enraged at gays, premarital sex, and any erotic behavior that they do not approve of (even while some are doing it). This distorted morality makes their moral views void. They hate abortion even when it’s a matter of a few cells, but they do not care for actual children, or childhood poverty or disease. Some Catholic charities are an exception, but their efforts are ruined because of the Church’s insane attitudes toward contraception and abortion. The Church is not pro-life, proved by their opposition to condoms, which can prevent the spread of AIDS.
- Christianity favors secular powers: Paul said that obeying the secular powers is equivalent to obeying God because he put the powers in place. The result is that the Church sucks up to governments so long as they favor the faith. Consequently, powerful religious establishments ignore the poor and downtrodden. Billy Graham was a prime example of this.
- Christianity disfavors the natural world: James Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, said that it’s proper to rape and pillage nature because the Rapture would arrive soon. He, along with all other prophesying idiots, was wrong. Nature is still here but the Rapture is not.
- Christianity neglects women, children, and slaves: Bible verses condemning women are too numerous to quote. Church officials Paul, Tertullian, and others maintained this prejudice. Children are treated as semi-human inferiors. The Bible never opposes slavery.
- The Bible is an error-filled mess: There are literally thousands of contradictions, ambiguities, and mistakes of all kinds in the so-called Holy Book inspired by God. If he had anything to do with it, he’s a moron. He also failed to teach Jesus anything about how the world works.
Taken together, these points strongly suggest that Christianity is a man-made creation that was limited by the knowledge and mores of its creators. It has certainly motivating many people to take noble and charitable actions, but on balance, it has, arguably, produced more bad than good. This is not the scorecard of a faith that was created, monitored, and overseen by an omniscient, omni-benevolent, all-powerful deity who interacts with people on an individual level.
(1506) The Great Schism of 1054
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus appointed Peter to be the head of his church and included a prophecy about its future success:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Unfortunately, Jesus’s prophecy failed. In the Great Schism of 1054, Christendom was permanently split into two warring factions- The Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Church. The following was taken from:
Eastern Orthodox Catholics and Roman Catholics are the result of what is known as the East-West Schism (or Great Schism) of 1054, when medieval Christianity split into two branches.
The Byzantine split with Roman Catholicism came about when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne, King of the Franks, as Holy Roman Emperor in 800. From the Byzantine viewpoint, this was a slap to the Eastern Emperor and the Byzantine Empire itself — an empire that had withstood barbarian invasions and upheld the faith for centuries. After Rome fell in 476, Byzantium was the only vestige of the Holy Roman Empire.
Charlemagne’s crowning made the Byzantine Emperor redundant, and relations between the East and the West deteriorated until a formal split occurred in 1054. The Eastern Church became the Greek Orthodox Church by severing all ties with Rome and the Roman Catholic Church — from the pope to the Holy Roman Emperor on down.
Over the centuries, the Eastern Church and Western Church became more distant and isolated for the following reasons:
Geography: The West encompassed Western Europe and the northern and western areas of the Mediterranean and the East took up Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.
Ignorance: The Byzantine Church knew less and less Latin and even less Latin tradition, and vice versa. So most patriarchs in Constantinople couldn’t read any Latin, and most popes in Rome couldn’t read any Greek. Byzantines in the East used leavened bread in their Divine Liturgy to symbolize the Risen Christ, and Latins in the West used unleavened bread as was used by Jesus at the Last Supper.
Different theologies: Both were valid, but each had its own perspective. The West (Latin) was more practical and, although fully believing in the divinity of Christ, put emphasis on his humanity when depicting Jesus in art — especially by making realistic crucifixes. The East (Byzantine) was more theoretical and, although fully believing in the humanity of Christ, focused on his divinity, which was much more mysterious.
Personalities and politics: Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Pope St. Leo IX weren’t friends, and each one mistrusted the other. Cerularius crossed the line when he wrote in a letter that the Latin use of unleavened bread was Jewish but not Christian. He was denying the validity of the Holy Eucharist in the Western Church. Leo countered by saying that the patriarchs had always been puppets of the Byzantine emperors.
In the end, Pope Leo and Patriarch Michael excommunicated each other and their respective churches. But more than 900 years later, in 1965, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople removed the mutual excommunications.
Eastern Orthodox branches include the Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Greek Catholic, Melkite, Romanian, and Italo-Albanian Byzantine Churches. In addition to the Byzantine, Eastern Catholics also include Maronite, Coptic or Chaldean Catholic Churches.
In any event, the schism that divided Christendom right down the middle exists to this day. Although both sides accept the validity of each one’s orders and sacraments, no inter-Communion exists between the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox. That means that normally speaking, Catholics aren’t allowed to receive Holy Communion in Orthodox Churches, and conversely, Orthodox shouldn’t receive Holy Communion in Catholic Churches.
It is difficult to believe that a god who set up a church and promised to protect it against malevolent factions would sit by and watch as it split in two, then go another thousand years without any effort to restore it to its previous unity. Jesus’s alleged promise to Peter was not met. God failed to maintain his church when he supposedly had that ability to do so, but human endeavors have a history of this kind of fracturing, and this looks to be just one more.
(1507) Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder, presents a difficulty for the Christian reward and punishment scheme. Persons afflicted with DID can exhibit varying degrees of religiosity from fundamentalism to atheism, depending on which personality is dominant at the time. This would tend to negate a fair assessment of their post-life assignment to either heaven or hell. The following was taken from:
DID reflects a failure to integrate various aspects of identity, memory, and consciousness into a single multidimensional self. Usually, a primary identity carries the individual’s given name and is passive, dependent, guilty, and depressed. When in control, each personality state, or alter, may be experienced as if it has a distinct history, self-image and identity. The alters’ characteristics—including name, reported age and gender, vocabulary, general knowledge, and predominant mood—contrast with those of the primary identity. Certain circumstances or stressors can cause a particular alter to emerge. The various identities may deny knowledge of one another, be critical of one another or appear to be in open conflict.
If one aspect of an individual’s personality worships Jesus, while another considers Jesus to be a myth, how can this person be fairly judged for the afterlife? Would their time be split between the two places? To be fair, most Christians who are not afflicted with DID, in the strictest sense, often waver between belief and doubt. Is their eternal destiny determined by the chance state of their mindset at the moment of death? These questions expose the arbitrary and unworkable elements of the Christian reward and punishment scheme.
(1508) The blindness of early conversion
It is very common for ecstatic feelings to accompany initial experiences of what people feel is God or Jesus. Similarly, when someone falls hopelessly in love, and experiences the elation and hormones of being loved, it is difficult for them to see the faults in that person that friends and family may try to point out. The same is true for Christianity- one can and does dismiss, minimize, and ignore facts that may contradict the religion they have fondly embraced. This intrinsic ‘blindness’ is why it is so difficult to de-convert an individual who has recently converted to a religion or cult.
Religious clergy, and especially evangelical preachers, exploit this human susceptibility to their advantage. They play up the emotional aspect of the conversion experience while dialing down any appeal to hard facts and evidence supporting the reality of the faith. Once ensconced, the initiate will inevitably come down off from the initial high, but will then be socially and financially invested in the new belief system, fortified with an information filter that deflects all contrary evidence. The person has thus become captured into a belief scheme that defies logic, history, science, cosmology, and common sense.
Christianity is not the only religion that indulges the vulnerabilities of the human mind, but it perhaps does it better than any others. By imposing the ridiculous idea of having a ‘personal relationship’ with a being who cannot be seen, heard, or felt, it uses the blindness of love to its advantage. And this distinctly anti-intellectual strategy is a good clue that it doesn’t have any legitimate legs to stand on.
(1509) Why does God no longer speak audibly?
In the Bible, God spoke audibly to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, to Moses, to Job, to Jesus at his baptism, to Jesus and his disciples at the transfiguration, and to Paul on the road to Damascus, to name a few. These were voices that could be heard by any bystanders- in other words, they involved the vibrations of air molecules that could be detected and understood by human ears. If the technology had existed at this time, the voice of God could have been recorded.
Although many contemporary Christians claim that God or Jesus talks to them, none of them have provided recordings of these conversations. It seems that God no longer talks in a manner that involves sound waves moving through the air. These days, he only communicates within the brains of his followers. In other words, he only communicates in a way that could be… just could be…nothing more than voices in their heads- placing select words in ‘God’s’ mouth to say what they want him to say.
So, why does God no longer speak audibly? Could it be that he doesn’t want to be recorded? Or could it be because he never really spoke that way in the first place? Or better yet, because he never actually existed?
(1510) Musical instruments in heaven
In Revelation 14:2, the author discusses the use of harps in heaven:
And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps.
As discussed below, this projection of contemporary societal culture onto heavenly activity is evidence of the human origin of scripture:
The Bible’s description of musical instruments in heaven gives us more evidence that scripture is human-made and bound by human imagination rather than being divinely inspired. It is well enough that the Hebrews wrote about holy men and other people playing the lyre and other precursors to the harp, as, those instruments were growing in popularity since their adoption from Syrian culture. But it just so happens that Revelation 14:2 says that these instruments emanate from heaven itself, from the angels! Is it coincidence that heavenly beings play exactly the same instruments as popular at the time of the formation of the Jewish and Christian holy texts? Why do the hosts of heaven not play a Chinese, Australian or even an electronic or modern instrument?
The answer to these questions is that the description of heaven is culturally sourced in the time of the Hebrews and early Christians, and is therefore human and not divine in nature. The description of heaven takes elements of Human culture and projects them on to the divine. This can hardly be a phenomenon just of Jewish and Christian holy texts, but is a feature of religion worldwide. Consciously or subconsciously, the details of “divine truth” are simply made up: a form of subconscious, accidental homocentricity.”
The Bible is replete with homocentricity, and of a form that conforms uniformly to the state of human affairs at the time that it was written. This is precisely what would be expected of a holy text that was written solely by humans, whose knowledge, wisdom, and experience was limited by the boundaries of their contemporary civilization.
(1511) Life after death fantasies
The concept of life after death is a belief that has permeated nearly every human civilization dating to at least 50,000 years ago, back to the time of the Neanderthals. These fantasies have never been based on anything other than wishful thinking or the misinterpretation of dreams or other natural phenomena. The following was taken from:
This is another commonality. Sure, we don’t want to die. We also don’t want to believe that our loved ones are truly gone when they die, but this life is very likely (like 99.99999%) all there is. Again, the fact that every culture has this fantasy and that none of them have the same fantasy is pretty good reason not to believe any of them. Notice that when people talk about Heaven they never mention anyone but the people they knew in life as hanging out there? And maybe their pets. They don’t think that their granny might be in Hell or that they’ll be sharing praise duty with millions of babies that died from cholera and dysentery before society started cleaning up water supplies.
The following was taken from:
The idea of avoiding death through some kind of belief in the afterlife is one of the most powerful driving forces behind religious belief. For many people, (1) the personal desire to survive death and (2) the personal desire for social justice both conspire to make belief in the afterlife feel right. Some historians say that belief in an afterlife is one of the universal traits of primitive Human culture that led to the founding of our religions, and it continues to fuel the appeal of faith even today, in the 21st century. Actual beliefs have differed from culture to culture, based mostly on geographic location. Historically many cultures believed that all dead folk (good and bad) go to a single underworld, but Christianity and Islam developed their ideas of heaven and hell into a very black-and-white moralistic affair. Now, many people say their fear of hell is one of the reasons they follow their religion.
Most spiritual experiences throughout the rest of the world rest on the idea of continual reincarnation rather than on heaven. The concept of an ultimate scheme which redresses the moral imbalances of the world is common to religion both in the West and in the East. God, or Karma, works to make sure that good people are rewarded, and bad people taught a lesson. It teaches us that we have a powerful social instinct towards justice, and when we don’t find it in this life, it is very soothing for us to believe that it is found in the next. There is no actual evidence for any kind of afterlife and in many countries where scientific knowledge is high, belief in the afterlife has heavily declined. In 2013, only 33% of the British public said that they believe in an afterlife.
The fact that afterlife beliefs have been so ubiquitous over the course of human history sheds much doubt that any of them are factual, given that at least all but one must be false. Adding to this is the absence of evidence supporting the idea. First off, there has been no verifiable contact with any dead persons. Perhaps the most famous attempt to communicate beyond the grave was a plan concocted by the great magician Houdini. The following was taken from:
Ninety-year-old Sid Radner has had a lifelong fascination with Harry Houdini, the legendary escape artist and magician who died on Halloween.
And every year on the anniversary of Houdini’s death, Radner tries to contact his hero at the Official Houdini Seance.
“Houdini died in ’26,” Radner says, “and his wife tried to contact him on the anniversary of his death for 10 years.”
Houdini, himself, debunked mediums and proved most were frauds. He promised his wife, Bess, that if it were possible to communicate with the dead, he would come back to her, should he die first. And he gave her a code to help prove it.
But after 10 years with no success, Bess stopped trying to contact her husband. “At that point she said, ‘Ten years was long enough to wait for any man,'” Radner says.
The next problem with the afterlife theory is that science has concluded that every aspect of our consciousness is tied to the physical structures of the brain. This should not be the case if humans have a portion of their identity that survives death. We know that the ability to see, hear, and think requires a physical structure of some sort, so the only way that we could survive death would be for some supernatural being to reconstruct us. But as discussed in #1375, this new person, however identical to our previous body, would not be us.
Christianity borrowed the afterlife concept from the many pagan religions that preceded it, even though it was not a particular aspect of Judaism, meaning that Jesus, if he was a real person, probably did not believe in it. But 40-60 years later, as the gospel authors wrote their accounts, Jesus was posthumously made to support the concept. All of this combined with the fact that promising eternal bliss is a great recruiting tool should make it obvious to any thinking person that heaven is nothing more than an empty promise.
(1512) The demise of dualism
One of the principal assumptions of Christianity and many other religions is that the mind and the body are not identical and that they have a separate essence. This is called dualism. This concept is instrumental in the belief that life continues after the death of the body. This theory has been damaged incrementally by continued scientific investigation of the brain, which has identified the neurological structures that account for memory, face recognition, emotions, etc. What has eluded scientists, though, is the mechanism of consciousness- how all of these inputs come together to develop a sense of “I.” That is, until now. The following was taken from:
Nobody yet understands how a collection of mushy cells in the brain gives rise to the brilliance of consciousness seen in higher-order animals, including humans. But two discoveries give scientists vital clues to how human consciousness works.
In 2014, a 54-year-old woman went to George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates in Washington, DC, for epilepsy treatment. In extreme cases like hers, one option is to introduce electrodes into the brain regions that may be causing epileptic seizures. During the treatment, however, doctor Mohamad Koubeissi and his team accidentally found what seemed to be a consciousness on-off switch in the brain.
When electrodes near a region called the claustrum were stimulated in the woman’s brain, she stopped reading and blankly stared into space. She didn’t respond to calls or gestures, and her breathing slowed down. When the stimulation was stopped, she regained consciousness and had no memory of the lost period. This only happened when the stimulation was to the claustrum, and no other region.
The woman’s case proved to be just the evidence that Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science was looking for to advance his understanding of consciousness. Koch believes that the densely connected claustrum is the “seat” of consciousness in the brains (of at least humans and mice, which he has studied extensively).
The three giant neurons that encircle a mouse brain. (Allen Institute for Brain Science)
Now, in an announcement first reported in Nature, Koch has found additional evidence that supports his hypothesis. While studying imaging techniques on mouse brains, Koch uncovered three giant neurons—brain cells that transmit signals—emanating from the claustrum and connecting to many regions in both hemispheres of the brain. One of those neurons wraps around the entire brain like a “crown of thorns,” Koch told Nature. He believes that the giant neuron may be coordinating signals from different brain regions to create consciousness.
The neurons have remained hidden so far, because imaging techniques used to study individual neurons are still quite rudimentary. The most commonly used method involves inserting a dye into a single neuron and tracing its path by hand. The labor-intensive method has only yielded a handful of neurons mapped this way.
To make his discovery, Koch developed a method where only neurons of the claustrum were activated, in the presence of a drug. He could then study them under UV light, which caused those specific neurons to emit fluorescent light.
The 20th century has a seen a lot of progress in brain science, and some of it has been in assigning brain functions to biological parts of the organ. Consider face blindness, a condition that can prevent sufferers from remembering even what their parents or their spouses look like. We’ve learned that these people have a problem in a specific region in the brain called fusiform face area, which stops them from forming the face-to-person connection that most people take for granted.
But solving the problem of consciousness, and finding its physical pathways, has eluded scientists thus far. Though Koch’s hypothesis about the claustrum will need a lot more research to be proven, his is one of the most advanced theories pinpointing the biological origins of consciousness. If he is correct, it will be a big step forward towards understanding what makes the human experience so unique.
This is as close as science has ever come to destroying the theory of dualism and to demonstrating that life after death is highly unlikely. As such, it is a further blow to the possibility that Christianity is grounded in reality.
(1513) Sermon on the Mount was plagiarized
The Sermon on the Mount is often touted by Christian apologists as evidence for Jesus’s divinity, given that the quotations were allegedly both original and beyond anything a human would be capable of communicating. Both of these claims are groundless. At the following website, the sermon is shown to be an exercise in plagiarism by the author of Matthew from the Old Testament and the Talmud:
Proverbs 29:23 || …he who is lowly in spirit shall obtain honor.
Matthew 5:3 || Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.
Psalms 147:3 || He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
Matthew 5:4 || Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Psalms 37:11 || The meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Matthew 5:5 || Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Psalms 5:13 || You do bless the righteous, O Lord; You do encompass him with favor as with a shield.
Matthew 5:6 || Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Talmud, Shabbath 151b || Rabbi Gamliel said: “Whoever has mercy upon creatures will be granted mercy from heaven…”
Matthew 5:7 || Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Psalms 24:3–4 || Who shall ascend the mount of the Lord, and who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…
Matthew 5:8 || Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Psalms 34:15 || …seek peace and pursue it.
Matthew 5:9 || Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Talmud, Baba Kamma 93a || Rabbi Abbahu said: “A man should always try to be among the persecuted rather than the persecutors…”
Matthew 5:10–11 || Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Talmud, Aboth 5:14 || …hard to anger and easily reconciled is a kindly man.
Matthew 5:24 || …leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Talmud, Kallah, Chapter 1 || He who regards a woman with an impure intention is as if he had already had relations with her.
Matthew 5:28 || But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Talmud, Gittin 90a || The school of Shammai said: “A man should not divorce his wife unless he finds her guilty of an unseemly thing.”
Matthew 5:32 || But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress…
Talmud, Baba Mezia 49 || Rabbi Judah said: “…your ‘yes’ shall be true, and your ‘no’ shall be true.”
Matthew 5:37 || Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No”…
Lamentations 3:30 || Let him offer his cheek to him who smites him….
Matthew 5:39 || …but if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also….
Psalms 37:21 || …the righteous deals graciously and gives.
Psalms 37:26 || All day he deals graciously and lends…
Matthew 5:42 || Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
Proverbs 25:21 || If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink….
Matthew 5:44 || But I say to you: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you….”
Ecclesiastes 9:2 || All things come alike to all; there is one event for the righteous and for the wicked…
Matthew 5:45 || …so that you may be sons of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Talmud, Shabbath 133b || Abba Saul said: “Be like Him…just as He is gracious and compassionate, so you be gracious and compassionate.”
Matthew 5:48 || You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Talmud, Baba Bathra 9b || Rabbi Eleazar said: “A man who gives charity in secret is greater…”
Matthew 6:3–4 || But when you give charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your charity may be in secret…
Talmud, Berakoth 61a || Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Meir: “A man’s words should always be few in addressing God…”
Matthew 6:7 || And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 17a || Whose sin does He forgive? Him who forgives transgression….
Matthew 6:14–15 || For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Talmud, Baba Bathra 11a || After King Monbas’ family rebuked him for giving away all the family’s treasures, he answered: “My ancestors stored treasures here below, and I store treasures in heaven…My ancestors stored treasures in a place that could be reached by human hands, but I have stored [them] in a place that can be reached by no human hand…”
Matthew 6:19–20 || Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Proverbs 30:8–9 || …give me neither poverty nor riches….Lest I become full and deny You, and say: “Who is the Lord?”…
Matthew 6:24 || No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [riches].
Psalms 147:9 || He gives to the beast his food, and to the young ravens that cry.
Matthew 6:26 || Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…
Psalms 37:4 || Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Matthew 6:33 || But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
Talmud, Sotah 48b || Rabbi Eliezer said: “He who has only a morsel of bread in his basket, and asks: ‘What shall I eat tomorrow?’ is a man of little faith.”
Matthew 6:34 || Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself….
Talmud, Berakoth 9b || Moses said to God: “Lord of the universe, sufficient is the evil in its time!”
Matthew 6:34 || …let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
Talmud, Shabbath 127b || Our Rabbis taught: “He who judges his neighbor favorably is himself judged favorably.”
Talmud, Sotah 8b || Rabbi Meir said: “The way one measures others will be meted out for him.”
Matthew 7:1–2 || Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
Talmud, Arakin 16b || Rabbi Tarfon said: “…for if one says to him: ‘Remove the speck from between your eyes,’ he would answer: ‘Remove the beam from between your eyes!’ ”
Matthew 7:3–5 || Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the beam that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother: “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Proverbs 23:9 || Do not speak in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.
Matthew 7:6 || Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you.
Jeremiah 29:13 || You shall seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Matthew 7:7 || Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Talmud, Shabbath 31a || Rabbi Hillel said: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Law; the rest is its commentary. Go and learn it!”
Matthew 7:12 || So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Psalms 6:9 || Depart from me, all you workers of evil…
Matthew 7:23 || And then I will declare to them: “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.”
The Sermon on the Mount appears again in Luke, but not in Mark or John. It is certain that Luke copied it from Matthew. This means that the most revered story in Christian literature is the plagiaristic contrivance of one man. Jesus, if he existed, never made this speech.
(1514) Timing of receiving the Holy Spirit
Christianity celebrates the holy day of Pentecost as the occasion when the disciples were infused with the Holy Spirit as described in Acts 1:1-4:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
This alleged event occurred after Jesus had ascended to heaven. However, in the Gospel of John, before Jesus ascended, it is documented that he ‘breathed’ the Holy Spirit onto his disciples, and that they received it at that time.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
It is evident that the authors of John and Acts did not get their signals straight, and thus they produced a discrepancy in the Christian story. The apologist will simply claim that the disciples received a second and more powerful dose the second time around, but one must wonder why Jesus failed to deliver the full dose when he was right there physically with them.
(1515) Paul acknowledges Jesus was not historical
Historian Richard Carrier has demonstrated that Paul, according to words he wrote in his letter to the Romans, did not believe that Jesus was an historical figure. In the following excerpt, he is refuting apologist Jimmy Akin on this point:
Akin closes by claiming my statement that “Paul says no Jews could ever have heard the gospel except from the apostles (Romans 10:12-18)” is false. Well, this is easily tested. Let’s look at what Paul says there:
[H]ow are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
“Sent” in that last sentence being apostalôsin, the verb form of “apostle.” Paul is thus saying there is no way anyone can ever have heard of Jesus unless they hear it through an apostle.
This entails they can’t have heard it from Jesus–as for example supposedly thousands of Galilean and Jerusalemite Jews had done (according to the Gospels). Paul is adamant here, and absolute. He thus is not aware of anyone having heard the preaching of Jesus from Jesus himself (except the apostles). Paul therefore has no knowledge of Jesus having a ministry, or preaching to anyone except his apostles. Which Paul only ever says Jesus accomplished by revelation (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:3-8; Gal. 1; 1 Cor. 9:1; Rom. 16:25-27; etc.).
Indeed, Paul basically says here that it is impossible for anyone to have heard of Jesus (and what he preached) except from apostles (and those who heard it from apostles). In the very first line he says the Jews never even heard of Jesus (or from Jesus, depending on the meaning of the genitive) until the apostles preached him. So even the knowledge that Jesus existed could only be reported by apostles. Paul evidently couldn’t imagine Jews having heard about Jesus from anyone else, like the thousands of supposed non-apostolic witnesses to his ministry, or having heard of Jesus directly from Jesus, such as having seen him and heard him in person, as many Jews of Paul’s day would have…if Jesus existed in the ordinary historical sense.
Note that Akin again betrays his lack of knowledge of Greek here, or else his failure to check the Greek before pontificating an ad hoc argument, as his interpretation of this passage is not even remotely plausible. He weirdly thinks Paul is making a distinction between preachers and apostles, when in fact he is equating them. Indeed, no such distinction exists anywhere in Paul, nor makes any sense in the context of Paul’s understanding of the gospel.”
Consistently throughout his letters, Paul fails to establish Jesus as a flesh and blood historical figure, but rather as a spiritual being who is the subject of a celestial drama- a drama that includes him being crucified by demons and then resurrecting as a sacrificial lamb for mankind’s salvation. The fact that Paul never referred to the events that would later be chronicled in the gospels indicates that he did not see Jesus in the way that practically all Christians do today.
(1516) The Bible is not pro-life
Christians carrying Bibles as they picket abortion clinics while carrying signs that say “I’m pro-life” are probably unaware that they are walking contradictions. The Bible is not pro-life. The following examples are given at this site:
Kill People Who Don’t Listen to Priests (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)
Kill Witches (Exodus 22:17 NAB)
Kill Homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)
Kill Fortunetellers (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)
Death for Hitting Dad. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)
Death for Cursing Parents (Proverbs 20:20 NAB)
All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)
Death for Adultery (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)
Death for Fornication (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)
Death to Followers of Other Religions. (Exodus 22:19 NAB)
Kill Nonbelievers (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)
Kill False Prophets (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)
Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)
Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)
Kill Followers of Other Religions. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)
Mention another God? Kill em! (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT)
Death for Blasphemy (simply speaking). (Leviticus 24:10-16 NLT)
Kill False Prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NLT) (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NLT)
Infidels and Gays Should Die (Romans 1:24-32 NLT)
Kill Anyone who Approaches the Tabernacle (Numbers 1:48-51 NLT)
Kill People for Working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)
Kill Brats (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)
God Kills the Curious (1Samuel 6:19-20 ASV)
Kill Sons of Sinners (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)
God Will Kill Children (Hosea 9:11-16 NLT)
Kill Men, Women, and Children (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT)
God Kills all the First Born of Egypt (Exodus 12:29-30 NLT)
Kill Old Men and Young Women (Jeremiah 51:20-26)
God Will Kill the Children of Sinners (Leviticus 26:21-22 NLT)
More Rape and Baby Killing (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)
Mass Murder (1 Samuel 15:2-3 NAB)
God Kills Some More (Jeremiah 15:1-4 NLT)
You Have to Kill (Jeremiah 48:10 NAB)
The Danites Kill the Next Town (Joshua 19:47 NAB)
God Promises More Killing (Ezekiel 35:7-9 NLT)
The Angel of Death (Exodus 23:23 NAB)
God Kills an Extended Family (1 Kings 14:9-16 NLT)
Mass Murder (Judges 20:48 NAB)
The Angel of Death (2 Kings 19:35 NAB)
Kill Your Neighbors (Exodus 32:26-29 NLT)
Kill the Family of Sinners. (Joshua 7:19-26 Webster’s Bible)
Kill Followers of Other Religions (Numbers 25:1-9 NLT)
Kill All of Babylon (Jeremiah 50:21-22 NLT)
Micah Kills a Whole Town. (Judges 18:27-29 NLT) (Note that God approves of this slaughter in verse 6.)
Death to the Rape Victim promoted/commanded (Deuteronomy 22:23-24 NAB)
Rape of Female Captives promoted (Deuteronomy 21:10-14 NAB)
Rape and the Spoils of War (Judges 5:30 NAB)
God Assists Rape and Plunder (Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB)
Exodus 32:27… In this scripture reference, God himself murders about 3,000 people for simply looking at a statue. Imagine going to a museum and looking in awe at a statue, then being executed for it… that is hateful! God did it! God is hateful.
Most of these Christians, when challenged, will claim that the Old Testament no longer applies, but virtually none of them realize that that is in direct contradiction of the words alleged to have been said by Jesus (Matthew 5:18) or have taken the effort to remove the Old Testament from their bibles. Any Christian who purports to be pro-life should immediately become a non-Christian or admit that they are first-class hypocrites for worshiping a god who is most definitively pro-death.
(1517) A localized god cannot be the creator of the universe
There exists a logical problem mixing the dual Christian beliefs that God was initially the god of the Jews and that he was the creator, not only of all humans, but of the universe as a whole. It is enlightening to note that the Roman Emperor Julian (CE 331-363) recognized this problem and wrote the following:
But that from the beginning God cared only for the Jews and that He chose them out as his portion, has been clearly asserted not only by Moses and Jesus but by Paul as well; though in Paul’s case this is strange. For according to circumstances he keeps changing his views about God, as the polypus changes its colors to match the rocks, and now he insists that the Jews alone are God’s portion, and then again, when he is trying to persuade the Hellenes to take sides with him, he says: “Do not think that he is the God of Jews only, but also of Gentiles: yea of Gentiles also.” Therefore it is fair to ask of Paul why God, if he was not the God of the Jews only but also of the Gentiles, sent the blessed gift of prophecy to the Jews in abundance and gave them Moses and the oil of anointing, and the prophets and the law and the incredible and monstrous elements in their myths? For you hear them crying aloud: “Man did eat angels’ food.”
And finally God sent unto them Jesus also, but unto us no prophet, no oil of anointing, no teacher, no herald to announce his love for man which should one day, though late, reach even unto us also. Nay he even looked on for myriads, or if you prefer, for thousands of years, while men in extreme ignorance served idols, as you call them, from where the sun rises to where he sets, yes and from North to South, save only that little tribe which less than two thousand years before had settled in one part of Palestine. For if he is the God of all of us alike, and the creator of all, why did he neglect us? Wherefore it is natural to think that the God of the Hebrews was not the begetter of the whole universe with lordship over the Avhole, but rather, as I said before, that he is confined within limits, and that since his empire has bounds we must conceive of him as only one of the crowd of other gods.
How is it that the god that favored the Hebrews and only them for tens of centuries is any different from the gods that did the same for other tribes and civilizations? As Julian says, it appears that such a god is just another one of the crowd of gods that have been worshiped throughout human history. Wouldn’t the arrival of a ‘real’ god look different than the others? Wouldn’t it be expressed by a planet-wide rather than a localized manifestation? The Emperor Julian figured this out, and it is lucky that we have any content from his writings as most of it was burned by the Christianized ecclesiastical forces that gained power shortly after he died. His voice of reason reverberates to this day.
(1518) Describing God
Christians worship a god that they believe has three parts- a father, a son, and a spirit. The son took on an earthly body for about 30 years, and the spirit produced a wind at the Pentecost. The father walked around the Garden of Eden after the fall, and was seen by a few prophets in the Old Testament. Let’s focus on him,, the father, and ask these questions about his characteristics:
- Does God have a body? If so, does it look like a human as suggested by the scriptures?
- How big is God’s body?
- Is God a male, or a female, or hermaphroditic?
- If God is a male, does he have a penis? If so, why?
- Does God have a specific location in space? Where might that be?
- Does God have long or short hair?
- Does God have emotions- as suggested by scripture?
- Does God watch everything happening, even evil acts such as the Holocaust? If so, does he have the power to stop them? If so, is there a reason he chooses not to?
- Does God speak all 6500 human languages fluently?
- Does God dwell in some inaccessible dimension?
- How does God decide which prayers to answer?
- Why does God hide himself? Why has he been so silent for the past 2000 years?
- Does God interfere in sports or politics?
- Can God listen to 20 million prayers being stated simultaneously?
- Does God take any days of rest anymore?
- Which denomination is God most pleased with? Does he lend more favors to that group?
- Can God visualize the entire universe in real time, rather than being restricted by the speed of light as humans are?
- Can God speak in audible, recordable sounds?
- Why does God allow false religions to proliferate?
- Does God engineer all human fertilizations? If so, why does he allow most of them to fail spontaneously?
- Does God hate homosexuals?
- Does God have control of the weather? If so, why does he not respond to any weather-related prayers?
- Does God inform world leaders on when to go to war?
- Did God create hell? If so, does he believe it is moral to place people there?
- Does God believe in demons- his son did?
- Does God believe in capital punishment? The scriptures suggest yes, emphatically.
- Does God believe that men are higher order creations than women?
- Why does God need middle-age, pseudo-intellectual, quasi-academic men to ‘demonstrate’ his existence, when houseflies need no such support?
- Is God concerned about the growing army of atheist authors, debaters, and bloggers?
- Is God itching to send his son back to the Earth?
- Is God learning anything new, or does he already know everything?
- Is God worried about science learning too much about the universe?
- Is God embarrassed that the Andromeda Galaxy is on a collision course with our Milky Way?
- Why did God make the universe in such a way that it appears not to have been designed by an intelligent architect?
- How old is God? His son? The spirit? Were all three created at the same time? If so, why were the son and spirit not revealed to his chosen people?
Each of these questions is unanswerable, other than taking wild guesses. And this is a good reason to conclude that this god is not a real being, and that worship of such an amorphous, indecipherable deity is not logical. We rightfully don’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster, or Big Foot, because the evidence for such is so vanishingly slim, but billions of us believe in a being who is much less plausible and who is supported by no tangible evidence whatsoever- and whose characteristics are virtually unknown.
(1519) Jesus mistakes sin forgiveness
Most Christians are taught to believe that their sins are forgiven by praying to God and by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Virtually none of them believe that a priest or pastor or any human being is the final arbiter of granting them this absolution. However, Jesus did not agree:
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
He said something similar in two verses from Matthew:
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
It is clear from these scriptures that Jesus intended that the process of sin forgiveness would be administered by his human representatives- that an ecclesiastical figure could make that critical decision independent from God or Jesus. Almost all contemporary Christians reject this doctrine, including Paul the Apostle. The only vestige of this philosophy is the Catholic practice of Confession, where a priest hears the petition of congregants as they enumerate their sins. However, it is not the practice of any priest during this procedure to refuse forgiveness- as is suggested by Jesus. These scriptures represent an embarrassing inconsistency for Christianity.
(1520) Parallel to Pythagoras
A fish story told in the Gospel of John is suspiciously similar to one told five hundred years earlier about the Greek philosopher Pythagoras (570-495 BCE). The following was taken from:
I came across an interesting subject and found it intriguing, so I thought I would present it to the forums to get some input and thoughts on the subject. It’s the alleged parallel between the Jesus of the New Testament (6 B.C.E.-33ad?) and Pythagoras of the 6th Century BCE.
I will quote an excerpt from an article by Dr. Joshua David Stone:
“There is an interesting story about Pythagoras that was told that demonstrates His remarkable powers. Pythagoras, in His travels, apparently one day came across some fishermen who were drawing up their nets which were filled with fish. Pythagoras told the fishermen that He could tell them the exact number of fish they had caught, which the fishermen thought to be an impossible task, given how many were caught in the nets. The fishermen said that if He was right they would do anything He said. They counted all the fish and Pythagoras was totally accurate in His estimate. He then ordered the fishermen to return the fish to the sea and for some mystical reason none of them died. Pythagoras paid the fishermen for the price of the fish and left for Crotona. Incidents like this caused Pythagoras’ fame to spread. During one of His lectures in Italy it was said that He gained 2000 disciples from that one lecture alone.” http://www.iamuniversity.ch/Pythagoras-and-Biosophy
In this story, though it is not mentioned in this excerpt, Pythagoras counted 153 fish. Take note of that number especially. The number 153 was most significant for being the denominator in the closest fraction known, at the time. Now we go to the story of Jesus and the fishermen in John 21:1-11.
“After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.”
Between the stories we see a few parallels. The one that strikes me the most is the number 153 and the role it played in the story. Both stories include fishermen, nets, fish, and the number 153. I see 2 possible theories to this parallel. It could be that the writer of John was using the number 153 as a “generic” term for “many fish”, since it was a common number at that time or, possibly, we have a writer using the Pythagoras narrative to rewrite the story of Jesus as a means of proclaiming his divinity. This appeared to be a common phenomenon in the times of Jesus and after. I remain agnostic on the subject for now. Perhaps with more study I can come to a more solidified conclusion. Please share your thoughts and theories!
The 21st Chapter of John was undoubtedly written by a different person than the one or ones who wrote the first 20 chapters. It seems certain that his account of the disciples’ miraculous fish catch was plagiarized from the Pythagorean tale. This is an example of how pagan influences filtered into Christianity.
(1521) The Ascension of Isaiah
Many biblical scholars have conjectured that the Apostle Paul did not see Jesus as being an earthly figure- that is, the human Jesus who is described in the gospels (The gospels were written after Paul had written his epistles and conducted his missionary travels.) An early Christian text, The Ascension of Isaiah, adds evidence to this theory, proving that there existed a subset of Christians who held this belief, and that it likely existed long before any of the gospels had been written. The following was taken from:
There survives a strange early Christian text hardly anyone knows about called the Ascension of Isaiah. Like the book of Daniel, it is a forgery, purporting to derive somehow from the ancient prophet Isaiah, recounting his mystical ascent into the heavens, where he saw and learned in advance the secret things of the Christian gospel. The original version of this text doesn’t survive. We have later redactions, complete with a kind of’ pocket’ gospel tacked in. Though extant manuscripts date from the fifth to the twelfth century, all the evidence we have for this text and within it indicates it was originally composed sometime in the first or second century CE.
The earliest version in fact was probably composed around the very same time as the earliest canonical Gospels were being written. It thus includes some very early Christian belief, almost as early as anything in the New Testament.
Key to understanding this text is the evidence that it’s been tampered with. Even apart from the manuscript evidence confirming this, the text itself confirms it. In the first part we’re told that high above in the firmament of this world there are copies of all the things on earth, and there the ‘rulers of this world’ fight over who will control the earth below. As I’ll demonstrate in Chapter 5 (Elements 34-38) this was a popular belief, and one accepted by Paul and the author of the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews—both in the New Testament. And with this in mind God commands his Son (here a preexistent divine being called Lord Christ, and soon to be dubbed Lord Jesus Christ) to descend ‘to the firmament and to that world, even to the angel in the realm of the dead’ (10.8) and to take ‘the form of the angels of the firmament and the angels also who are in the realm of the dead’ (10.10) so ‘none of the angels of this world shall know’ who he is (10.11), and thus (Isaiah’s guiding angel explains) ‘they will think that he is flesh and a man’ (9.13, a line not present in all versions, see below), in a ‘form’ like Isaiah’s (8.26, likewise not present in all versions), and then ‘the god of that world will stretch forth his hand against the Son, and they will lay hands on him and crucify him on a tree, without knowing who he is’ (9.14). And then ‘he will arise on the third day and will remain in that world’ for one and a half years (9.16)—thus fulfilling the predictions of Daniel (see Chapter 4, Element 7). although in no way conforming to any account in the New Testament (even in Acts 1.3 Jesus sticks around after his resurrection barely more than a month). Indeed, that Jesus hung around after his resurrection for a whole year and a half would have sounded patently absurd even then, begging the question: what is really being said here?
Notice that up to this point in the story nothing is ever said about Jesus visiting earth or being killed by Jews or Romans—or conducting a ministry for that matter (of any sort at all). The ‘they’ who will think he is a man and not know who he is and kill him are only ever said to be Satan and his angels. No other subject is mentioned for that pronoun, nor is any other implied. God clearly intends Jesus to do nothing more than go to the firmament, and for no other reason than to be killed by Satan and his sky demons, then rise from the dead and conduct affairs there for over a year (doing what, it’s not said), and then ascend to heaven. In other words, instead of conducting a ministry on earth, Jesus is commanded to go straight to the firmament and die, and rise from the dead, and then remain where he had died for a year and a half (9.16; cf. 10.12-14; although the duration is omitted from some versions), and then ascend to the heavens. The ‘tree’ on which he is crucified (9.14) is thus implied to be one of the ‘copies’ of trees that we’re told are in the firmament (7.10).  Certainly no mention is made here of this happening in or anywhere near Jerusalem.
The existence of this text is a Rosetta Stone for understanding the likely process by which Christianity came into being. It began, like many other pagan religions, as a belief in a mystical spiritual battle that took place above the terrestrial plane of the Earth, in outer space, so to speak, and involved a savior figure who was killed and rose again to provide a means of salvation to mortal men. After a time, the drama was brought to Earth in the form of a fictional biographical saga (the gospels) to give the story a more acceptable historical setting. Once the shift was made from the skies to the ground, it was a matter of time before people began to believe in the earthly Jesus as being a factual reality.
(1522) Contradiction about the Canaanite expulsion
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. Aside from this heinous and barbaric atrocity, a notable contradiction exists that has escaped most of the Judeo-Christian flock. It is discussed at this site:
Here’s Zeta kraut on the Hebrews being asked by their god to slaughter the Canaanites so they could take their land away from them:
Since coveting the land of others is supposedly a no-no for the ancient Israelites, what better excuse is there to claim that their god gave the land to them? Why is it that an omnipotent god who could simply speak into existence trillions and trillions of celestial bodies in less than a day could not create a piece of new land for his “Chosen People” instead of exterminating the Canaanites? It is very obvious that this is simply fabricated history arising from wishful thinking.
I also find the racist concept of “Chosen People” obnoxious. Maybe Yahweh had no choice because he was assigned by a higher god (Deuteronomy 32:8-9) to take charge of the ancient Israelites?
Here is Deuteronomy 32:8-9
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.
Yahweh is not only the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully (Richard Dawkins), but he is also spectacularly inept. He resorted to genocidal slaughter to do what he could have done benevolently with a twitch of his nose.
(1523) Yahweh is not perfect
Christian apologists stretch credulity to make it seem like biblical prophecies have been fulfilled. But all it takes is one clear unambiguous failure to show that the god of the Jews, Yahweh, was not the perfect god he claimed to be. The following was taken from:
The experts don’t seem to be impressed with the accuracy of the prophecies in either the Jewish or Christian holy books. If they were, we would find the following statement somewhere in public university world history textbooks and on the internet:
“Historians of all backgrounds are shocked by the amazing accuracy of the prophecies in both the Jewish and Christian Bibles which so accurately predicted future events.”
You won’t find this statement anywhere, Don. Why? You seem like an intelligent man. If biblical prophecies are as accurate as you and most conservative Christians believe they are, why don’t most experts see this?
Lastly, in order for you to prove that Yahweh is who you say he is, you must prove that ALL biblical prophecies have been fulfilled. Proving that one has been fulfilled is not sufficient. One fulfilled prophecy could be just a one in a million stroke of luck. However, I can prove Yahweh is NOT who and what he say he is with just one FAILED prophecy!
The prophet Ezekiel predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the city of Tyre. Guess what? He didn’t! He spared the city. Alexander the Great destroyed the city four hundred years later, but that was NOT the prophecy.
Yahweh blew it. Yahweh made a mistake. Yahweh is not perfect. Yahweh, therefore, is not the perfect god he says he is. To me, that is evidence that Yahweh does not exist. To me, that is evidence that Yahweh is a man-made invention.
Here is the prophecy in question:
In the eleventh month of the twelfth year, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, ‘Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper,’ therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. She will become plunder for the nations, and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the warhorses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. The hooves of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.
Most prophecies are so vague that it gives Christian apologists enough wiggle room to pull the wool over the doubts of most intellectually curious Christians. But this prophecy is too explicit and too much of an obvious failure to be dismissed flippantly. It represents a failure of Yahweh, either directly, or indirectly, in that he failed to prevent this false prophecy from being placed into his holy book. In either account, it is evidence that he is an imaginary entity.
(1524) Thomas and Jesus
The disciples of Jesus are sometimes referred to as the ‘Twelve,’ though after Judas’s betrayal, they were then called the ‘Eleven.’ After Jesus ascended to heaven a new disciple, Mathias, was selected to replace Judas. In the following scriptures from Luke and John, a discrepancy can be seen concerning the location of Thomas when Jesus first appeared to the disciples after he had resurrected:
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
In the Luke passage, the use of the term ‘the Eleven’ indicates that all of the original disciples minus Judas were present, and further, it is clear that this is the first appearance of Jesus to his disciples after his resurrection. This indicates that Thomas was present at this time.
However, in the John passage, Thomas was not present at the first appearance and later expressed doubts about the reality of Jesus’s resurrection. And it wasn’t simply that Thomas was temporarily outside the room at the time of Jesus’s appearance, as the scripture indicates that it was a week later before Thomas received his initial audience with Jesus.
Therefore, the story in John of a doubting Thomas cannot be true if the story in Luke is also true. This contradiction is an indication of two made-up stories without adequate coordination between the authors.
(1525) Quantum mechanics refutes the Kalam causal argument
In the following excerpt, it is explained that not all effects have a cause, thus refuting the argument often posed by theist apologists that the universe must have had a creator:
I often lurk on religious debate forums, and one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that various arguments presented by Christian apologists seem to go in and out of fashion, not unlike bell bottoms and baggy pants. At the moment, something called the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) seems to be in vogue. KCA is a modern riff on the classical cosmological argument, which goes back to antiquity. The Kalam variation goes like this:
Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
The universe began to exist;
The universe has a cause.
If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful;
An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.
I’ve never understood how you get from “uncaused cause” to “personal creator”, and I’ve particularly never understood how you get from “personal creator” in general to Jesus in particular. I have yet to find an apologist willing to even try to explain that one to me. I think I scare them.
But it turns out that the cosmological argument in general, and the KCA variation in particular, can be debunked before you even get to that question because it is simply not true that whatever begins to exist has a cause. There are at least two examples in nature of things that begin to exist without causes. Vacuum fluctuations are the spontaneous creation of particles and their associated anti-particles. Normally these just annihilate each other almost immediately after their creation, but in some circumstances they can create observable effects, so there is no question that they really do happen. The second example is radioactive decay, in which an atom of one element emits a particle and in the process becomes an atom of a different element. Both vacuum fluctuations and radioactive decay are random events. They have no cause. And yet they result in things beginning to exist.
This is yet another example of how advances in science are narrowing the need to assume that any sort of supernatural force exists in the universe. It undercuts one of the foundations of Christianity- that our existence must have been caused by a god, even if it is conceded that this god set off the Big Bang and then simply watched what happened. Science is closing in on a set of natural explanations for everything, meaning that scientifically-literate Christians will find it harder and harder to see evidence for their deity.
(1526) Christian doctrine was pushed by a pagan emperor
Much of the future direction of Christianity was decided at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. There, a Roman emperor, Constantine, presided over and influenced the outcome from his bully pulpit. Although it is often stated that Constantine converted to Christianity, this is a false assumption. He used Christianity as means to control and unite the empire, but was himself a murderous pagan all the way to his deathbed. Yet, largely because of his hegemony, the Christian doctrine of the trinity became an orthodox tenet of the faith. The following is taken from:
As emperor, Constantine was in the unusual position of deciding church doctrine even though he was not really a Christian. (The following year is when he had both his wife and son murdered, as previously mentioned).
Historian Henry Chadwick attests, “Constantine, like his father, worshipped the Unconquered Sun” (The Early Church, 1993, p. 122). As to the emperor’s embrace of Christianity, Chadwick admits, “His conversion should not be interpreted as an inward experience of grace . . . It was a military matter. His comprehension of Christian doctrine was never very clear” (p. 125).
Chadwick does say that Constantine’s deathbed baptism itself “implies no doubt about his Christian belief,” it being common for rulers to put off baptism to avoid accountability for things like torture and executing criminals (p. 127). But this justification doesn’t really help the case for the emperor’s conversion being genuine.
Norbert Brox, a professor of church history, confirms that Constantine was never actually a converted Christian: “Constantine did not experience any conversion; there are no signs of a change of faith in him. He never said of himself that he had turned to another god . . . At the time when he turned to Christianity, for him this was Sol Invictus (the victorious sun god)” ( A Concise History of the Early Church, 1996, p. 48).
When it came to the Nicene Council, The Encyclopaedia Britannica states: “Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination” (1971 edition, Vol. 6, “Constantine,” p. 386).
With the emperor’s approval, the Council rejected the minority view of Arius and, having nothing definitive with which to replace it, approved the view of Athanasius—also a minority view. The church was left in the odd position of officially supporting, from that point forward, the decision made at Nicaea to endorse a belief held by only a minority of those attending.
The groundwork for official acceptance of the Trinity was now laid—but it took more than three centuries after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for this unbiblical teaching to emerge!
It is ironic and a red flag for Christianity to realize that one of its central dogmas is the influenced product of Constantine, a pagan Roman emperor, whose motivation had nothing to do with religious truth, but rather to unify warring factions of clergy. Christians today, 1700 years later, owe much of their religious belief to this cruel and brutal dictator.
(1527) Paul’s illogical post-conversion actions
A great deal of contemporary Christian doctrine is dependent on the letters of Paul to various First Century churches. It is problematic that Paul never met Jesus, but it is especially disturbing that he also made no attempt to investigate the life and ministry of Jesus. After his revelatory conversion, this should have been the first order of business. The following is taken from:
So picture this. Paul experienced his dramatic Damascus Road conversion to Christ—he never gives the exact details in his letters—those we find in three fictionalized versions in the Book of Acts. Wouldn’t you think that, after bouncing back from the trauma of hearing Jesus from the sky (which included being struck blind), he would have rushed back to Galilee or Jerusalem to find the disciples? Surely there were apologies to be made for his persecution campaigns, and surely he would be desperate to learn as much as he could about Jesus, whom he had never met.
But no, Paul bragged to the Galatian Christians about not getting his information from disciples and eyewitnesses. All he knows came from “revelations.”
What? Let that sink in. Why aren’t Christians massively suspicious about this? Why would you pay any attention whatever to a man who hallucinated his way into this new Jewish cult?
This represents a red flag for Christianity. Paul should have been curious to find out all he could about Jesus from the disciples and other eyewitnesses. And much of what he learned should have become prominent features of his letters. His failure to do so indicates that he was a delusional renegade who attempted to steal the movement for his own devices, and therefore his doctrine was most assuredly a distortion of whatever truth might have existed.
(1528) Christians are polytheistic
This is not an exegesis on the Trinity, but rather a discussion about the undeniable scriptural declaration of the existence of the devil, Lucifer, who is considered to have supernatural powers and who rules the Earth, wreaking havoc, and causing people to sin and deny Jesus. Lucifer meets all of the qualification for a god, albeit an evil one, but nevertheless a god by any objective definition. Therefore, Christians are polytheistic. The following was taken from:
Where do bad things come from? I have actually heard these Christians respond to that question with this: “The Earth belongs to Satan, not God”.
HUH?? Satan? The bad guy? He owns the Earth?
God gave us up to the Devil? Temporarily or permanently?
Or did Satan “win” Earth in some cosmic battle?
Consider Satan; the Devil, the Dark Angel, AKA Lucifer.
If you believe in Hell, you believe in Satan. They are inextricable.
And you are practicing polytheism. Yes you are.
You believe in at least TWO GODS. Not just one.
I know, I know, you’re in total denial and insist that I’m wrong.
But consider this. You do not have to worship Satan,
you do not have to believe that he is more powerful
or even AS powerful as God. He can be less powerful than the “main” God.
Just recognize Satan’s existence.
If you simply believe that Hell and the Devil exists, you believe in two Gods.
Yes you do. You believe in a Greater God and a Lesser God.
A God of good, from which all good things come,
and a God of evil (called “the Devil” or “Lucifer”, etc)
from which all bad things come. There is nothing incorrect about this;
if you are a Christian and you believe in the existence of God and Satan,
you are, by definition practicing Polytheism; the belief in multiple gods.
There are two theological problems involving the devil. First, it’s incomprehensible why a loving, all-powerful god would allow a rogue, terrorist god to go free and destroy people’s lives and eternal fate. And, second, the belief in Lucifer makes it difficult to defend the concept that Christianity is monotheistic. This makes Christianity out to be an illogical, polytheistic religion. The invention of the devil was a colossal mistake in the formulation of the religion.
(1529) The test of false prophets
Throughout religious history, there have been many self-proclaimed prophets who told fabulous and highly dubious stories about their visions, visitations, and supernatural deeds and experiences. They gained followers, most of whom never received any evidence of the veracity of these claims, but who were willing to risk their lives and livelihoods on the hoped-for chance that it was all true. Looking at this situation objectively, there is no reason to conclude that the Apostle Paul was any different from all of the charlatan prophets that Christians uniformly reject. The following was taken from:
Consider everyone throughout history and around the world who have claimed to be prophets but weren’t/aren’t accepted by traditional Christians: Joseph Smith of the Latter-Day Saints, Muhammad of Islam, the Dali Lama of Buddhism, L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, etc., etc., etc.
Why do Christians discredit these individuals as being false prophets? Why not just have faith in any of them? They all fail the test of reason. Christians understand that common sense tells you their stories were fabricated. They would tell you that all the other prophets’ stories are scientifically impossible based on what we know about how the universe operates. It’s obvious God didn’t give Joseph Smith magical golden plates. It’s obvious an angel riding a flying horse didn’t reveal Himself to Muhammad. It’s obvious the Dali Lama wasn’t reincarnated. It’s obvious L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer desperate for a pay check who wrote the most profitable fantasy story he could think of. Why is it obvious? Because God told us? No. Atheist and Christians alike all over the world have figured out that those stories aren’t historically accurate, because we put them to the test of reason and evidence and found the claims of false prophets lacking.
We know these things to be true, and yet when Christians look at their own religion they don’t practice what they preach. Take the apostle, Paul for example. Paul saw God on a journey from one place to another just like Muhammad. Afterwards magical scales formed on his eyes until he made it to the end of his journey where they were miraculously removed. Afterwards he was imbued with the authority of God, and angels helped him along his way. God even caused an earthquake to get him out of prison.
The double standard is obvious. Paul’s story is full of magical events that are impossible. Not only that, but his message is full of the same kind of culturally relative social standards that betray the humanity of other false prophets. God may be unknowable, but common sense tells us that the creator of the universe would never command us to kill the infidels any more than he would tell us that women aren’t allowed to speak in church or wear jewelry.
If any sane person carefully studies the letters of Paul as well as the Acts of the Apostles (the fifth book in New Testament canon), they should realize that the story simply does not add up. It is a tale divorced from the reality of our existence, and yet it is replete with all of the mythological features and fanciful imagery necessary to conclude that it is fictional beyond reasonable doubt. The world today operates on the same platform as it did 2000 years ago – the same physics, the same chemistry, and the same biology. There is no reason to credit magic then while at the same time discrediting magic today (as well as every other prophet not associated with Christianity).
(1530) Mind control
If Christianity was true, it would sell itself and not need to employ any deceitful methods to boost its membership. If it was false, it would be necessary to employ many such techniques to control the minds, thoughts, and actions of its followers- just to stay in business. That is exactly what we observe. At the following website, a list of 15 of these techniques is presented.
- Mandatory, regular attendance
Mind control techniques and hypnosis don’t last forever. Perpetual manipulation requires perpetual renewal. That’s why Coca~Cola won’t let you turn around without seeing a Coca~Cola billboard. Of course, no cult could send their followers to basic training every single week for a full re-indoctrination, but they don’t have to; all they need is one hour a week for refresher training.
- Big, fancy, majestic buildings
A Catholic once told me that the reason Catholic churches are so majestic is because it helped illiterate peasants understand the majesty of the Lord. Even if that were the intention (which I’m sure it wasn’t), the reality is that churches are artistic masterpieces meticulously designed to overwhelm the senses and make the viewer feel euphoric and humbled. Just standing in an empty cathedral can put you in a trance state.
If you’re surrounded by images of people who made bigger sacrifices than you to the in-group and were justly rewarded then you’ll feel pressure to conform with their ideology without anyone having to say a word to you. Also, you’re instinctively going to transfer your awe and respect for the building to the building’s owner or spokesperson.
- Hierarchical leadership
Every cult has a hierarchical leadership structure because the point of having a cult is to have followers who will revere the leaders and give them all their money. Cult leaders get people to follow them by claiming to be envoys of God. Every church does this.
Many churches won’t allow you to officially join until you undergo a ritual that symbolically changes you from a member of the lost, miserable outsiders into a saved, superior member of the in-crowd. But you’ll only be allowed to be a follower at the servile end of the pyramid shaped authority structure. The only way to become a leader is to either start your own cult or work your way up the ranks. This stacks the ranks with true believers who will defend the leader and give his social authority legitimacy.
- Charismatic leaders
The biggest red flag you might be involved with a cult is if the organization revolves around a professional charismatic leader. When you go to church you’ll sit down and listen to a charismatic marketer give a 45 minute infomercial. Even if everyone from the preacher to the congregation have the best intentions the end result is the same. Poor people are swindled out of their money, and the charismatic leader gets to live like a demigod surrounded by obedient followers.
- Trance stimulation
When you enter your ornate church on Sunday morning, one of the first things that’s going to happen is you’re going to sing hymns with the congregation. The majestic music, combined with the majestic building and the thrill of performing an action in unison with other members of the in-crowd will work you into a trance state that will make you susceptible to hypnosis. If you’re singing about being willfully obedient then you’re just hypnotizing yourself, and you’re hypnotizing the people standing around you listening to you sing about the virtue of willful obedience, servitude, sacrifice and faith. Even if that’s not the intent, that’s the outcome. Even if you don’t know it’s happening, it’s happening. Even if everyone was forewarned and knew it was happening it would still work on some of the participants.
- Repetitive drills and consequences for nonconformity
In addition to singing, a good cult would require its victims to perform rote physical drills like marching, dancing, kneeling or clapping. The moment you participate in a drill you’re being obedient. You didn’t just kneel or march or clap. You followed an order without thinking about it, and the more you do that the more likely you are to do it again. Eventually the charismatic leader won’t be asking you to do calisthenics. He’ll be asking for money or a favor. What’s more interesting than that though. If you can get a group of people used to following your orders and acting in unison you can eventually give the whole group an order, and they’ll act in unison. That would give you the power to tell a group of people to go build a house or go burn a house down.
- Separating the in-crowd from the nonbelievers
It’s common practice for cults to tell their recruits that the world can be divided into two kinds of people: those who are inside the group and those who are outside the group. The people inside the group are always saved and admirable. The people outside the group are always lost, unworthy and detestable.
If you believe this, then you’ll base your identity on your affiliation with the group, and you won’t want to spend time with people whose clearer perception of reality could endanger your faith in the group.
- The call to action is to entrench yourself in the group and base your life on its doctrine.
Church can be a lot of fun, and you can experience a lot of genuine moments of happiness with the people you love, but the Sunday morning agenda always centers around the sermon. The point of the sermon is to deliver a message, and the message is that you need to base your self-worth on your membership in the group and demonstrate obedience to the group’s ideology. You’re told this will bring you closer to God. Mostly it brings you closer to the group and the offering plate.
- The charismatic leader manipulates your emotions
Charismatic leaders will try to mesmerize you with the way they dress and talk. They guilt trip you. They make impossible promises and horrific threats. They get the crowd worked up into a vulnerable, irrational frenzy right before they deliver an ultimatum.
- You’re given an ultimatum
The point of every cult service is to build up to the moment where the charismatic leader makes a call to action. The call for action is to either give money, take your commitment to the cult to the next level, humiliate yourself or at least honor those who do. This is brazen manipulation, and it works. Creepy cult leaders know that, and quaint suburban pastors know that.
- You’re encouraged to humiliate yourself and mimic others
If a cult leader can convince his flock that he has more spiritual authority than them and they are unworthy in the eyes of God, then his control over them is almost guaranteed, Then the followers will have total trust in their leader when he tells them that the only path to salvation is to do whatever the cult asks of them.
- You’re asked for money, and your worth is tied to the amount of money you give
Most church leaders don’t expect every member of the congregation to devote their lives to the church like a hard core cult. Many preachers are happy if they can just get everyone to put money in the collection plate every week. That’s as unethical as selling people fake lottery tickets.
If anyone asks you for money…they probably just want your money. If they demand money from you and threaten you and your family for not paying up, then you’re can be even more sure they just want your money. If the person asking you for money is wearing a suit that cost more money than what you’re wearing…then don’t give that person any more money.
- Socializing with the in crowd
The most effective way to control the minds of a group of followers would be to lock them in an isolated compound together where the charismatic leader could control every aspect of their lives like the military does to its members. In suburbia that’s just not possible. So the trick is to keep your in-group together as much as possible and get them to willfully ostracize themselves from the rest of society as much as possible.
I’m not saying that if you hang out with your bowling buddies when you’re not bowling then that means you’re forming a cult. But when a charismatic leader organizes constant events that keep his donors together…you can predict the outcome.
- Using indoctrination techniques in your own time and policing your peers
The amount of Coca~Cola advertisements you’ve seen in your life attests to how quickly the effects of manipulation can fade and thus how important it is to constantly top-up your message in your victim’s short term memory. One way television commercials do this is by getting a jingle stuck in your head. If you walk around all day repeating the advertiser’s custom-designed message in your head then you’re doing the advertiser’s job of reminding you of the message. Churches tell you to read the Bible constantly and to fill your house with Biblical themed merchandise. If they can get you to eat, sleep and breathe church doctrine then you’ll become your own snake oil salesman. Then you’ll do the charismatic leader’s job of manipulating you for him.
Cults need a constant stream of new victims in order to finance the charismatic leader’s lifestyle. So…if you run into an organization that is constantly having recruitment drives to get people to come listen to an infomercial where they’re asked to give money at the end…don’t go there. You know what’s going to happen, and it only ends well for the charismatic leader…assuming he doesn’t get too drunk on power and do something crazy.
When you are selling an invisible product that does nothing, there must exist a strategy to make your enterprise a success. Billions of people have been duped into believing in a fictional god, along with his fictional son, by using the same tricks of the trade used by traveling salesmen and commercial entities, whose products by the way are much more authentic than those offered by Christianity.
(1531) The absence of simplicity
There is a line of reasoning that suggests that the more intelligent a person is, the simpler and shorter his/her communication will be on any given topic. Assuming God to be an infinitely intelligent being, and using this argument, we would expect his inspired thesis to humans to be concise, uncontroversial, timeless, and easy to understand, resulting in few if any arguments among humans as to his intentions. Of course this is not the case. The Bible is hopelessly complex and confusing and all too often focused on irrelevant matters, such that the underlying message is muddled and hard to pin down, resulting in unending controversy and occasional violence. The following is taken from:
The Bible in English has nearly a million words. Have you ever stopped to marvel at that? Why did God need so much space?
Let’s explore the idea that not only is this a surprisingly large number of words, but it’s a clue that Christianity is false. Why would a perfect god need a million words? Couldn’t he have gotten his message across at least as clearly (or more clearly) with a tenth as many words? Or even a thousandth as many?
Just a page or two of instructions would be enough to teach you how to be a vegan. That’s a lifestyle with strict rules—why would it be any more difficult for a perfect god to convey its message in the same space?
For comparison, the U. S. Constitution was written by humans and has defined the government for several centuries. It has just 4500 words. The U. N. Declaration of Human Rights has less than 1800 words. The Humanist Manifesto, 800.
The constitution of a god
Pare away the fluff and think about what a perfect god’s constitution might convey.
Personal details about the supernatural: the number of gods, name(s), and relationship to each other if more than one.
The fundamentals of non-obvious morality: slavery is good/bad, abortion is okay/forbidden, vegetarianism is mandatory/optional, and so on
The afterlife: what happens, if anything, when people die? If there’s a supernatural realm that we should know about, how does it fit with and interact with our own?
The god(s) purpose for each person. What, if anything, should we be doing to satisfy them?
What, if anything, we should know about the future
The Bible is just a rambling story that goes on and on. It was written by people and looks like it. There’s no hint of any supernatural guidance.
Take the book of Revelation as an example, a psychotic, Dalí-esque horror show. There are 24 elders around the throne of God, with the four living creatures. There’s a scroll with seven seals and different events with the breaking of each. There’s the seven trumpets and different disasters with the sounding of each. There’s the seven bowls with different disasters with the pouring of each. There are four horsemen and seven spiritual figures including a dragon and the Beast. Each punishment is lovingly detailed, as the novella drones on and on.
Or look at the practice of Christianity today. Why is there a Bible Answer Man—shouldn’t God’s message be so clear that there would be no questions to answer? Why are there 45,000 denominations of Christianity today, and why were there radically different versions of Christianity such as the Marcionites and Gnostics in the early days? Why did Paul have to create Christianity—shouldn’t Jesus have done that? Jesus wrote nothing.
The more involved the story, the more you need to explain. Did Jesus have a human body or a spirit body? Why does God do immoral things in the Old Testament? Why isn’t God’s existence obvious? Why does God care just about the Israelites but later decide to embrace the whole world? Why doesn’t the world look like it was created by an omniscient and loving god? And what the heck is the Trinity?
The church convened 21 ecumenical councils to try to make sense of this. The discipline of systematic theology tries to tie up all the loose ends, but why would the study of a perfect god need this?
The Christian rebuttal is obvious, and I’ve already gotten a lot of this in response to a recent post: How do you know that this is what a god would do? How do you know that a perfect god would even want us to clearly understand his plan?
This is true and irrelevant. I’m given the claim that the Christian god exists, and I must evaluate it. I can’t peek at the answer in the back of the book, and I can’t give up and get the answer. The buck stops here. It seems to me that a god that chose to make itself known would do so simply and unambiguously. There would be a clear statement of his plan, like the constitution above. Contrast that with the Bible—the entire story about all the stuff God did and how he got angry and then the Israelites did something stupid and then Jesus saved the day is unnecessary. Maybe it’s inspiring and maybe it’s great literature, but the entire Israelite blog is not needed to serve a perfect god’s goal.
Another possible response: But the core of Christianity can be distilled into a tract! If you insist on a brief version, there it is.
But this merely hides the problems. The Bible is still there, and it being a composite of manmade books, picked from an even larger set of candidates, means that the contradictions, tangential history, and unanswered questions remain.
I’m arguing for a different genre. A perfect god would itself give us a simple, unambiguous constitution. We have instead a book written by and focused on the people rather than the god, which is strong evidence that there is no actual god behind it.
The Bible’s length, complexity, random focal targets, and contradictions, along with its highly questionable moral trajectory, does not look like anything a god would write or inspire others to write. It has the distinct signature of a product created by many different people, each with their own style, interests, beliefs, and superstitions.
(1532) Jesus is analogous to Dracula and Vlad the Impaler
The fictional tale of Dracula (a book written in 1897 by Bram Stoker) was loosely based on a real historical figure- Vlad the Impaler (1431-1477), the Romanian prince who had a penchant for blood and used impaling methods to dispatch his enemies.
We know that Vlad was a real person who did many bad things, but his exploits were greatly exaggerated in the fictional character of Dracula. Nevertheless, many people came to believe that Dracula and vampires were real beings, and this belief persists in some small measure to this day. This draws a parallel to Jesus, who probably was loosely based on Jesus ben Ananias, an eccentric high Jewish priest who died in 70AD, or others, in Mark, the original gospel, which the other gospel authors copied from, but which was never intended to be taken literally, since the whole story is written in ring style (which fictional stories were written in at the time of the 1st Century, before and after).
Dracula was not supposed to be taken literally, but millions of people for the past 120 years have come to believe in vampires. They write stories about them and produce movies and television shows, all because of a fictional book. This has occurred in the ‘enlightened’ era of the 20th Century, so it stand to reason that this sort of morphing of fiction into reality might have been much more prominent in the 1st Century.
The equivalence can be stated as follows:
Supernatural son of God Jesus = Supernatural Dracula the vampire
Jesus ben Ananias = Vlad the Impaler
Gospel of Mark = Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Matthew, Luke, John, Acts and Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ and everything after the Gospel of Mark = Every Dracula movie, TV show, or movies that depict Dracula
People believe in Jesus and Christianity = People believe in Dracula and vampires
Jesus ben Ananias turned into the son of God, the Messiah = Vlad the Impaler turned into the lord of the vampires
This is a convincing argument to show Christians how an irrelevant person’s identity was hijacked to become something supernatural and powerfully important and significant. A Christian apologist will protest this argument by saying that most people understand that vampires are fictional and that it just fun to think of them as being real. But the same could be said about Jesus- most people of the time realized that the stories about him were fictional. It just so happened that the small fraction of gullible people who literally believed in the Jesus story came to predominate the Roman world through a series of circumstantial events. The vampire myth tended to die out in the wake of a scientifically awaking world; otherwise it might also have risen to become a stable belief system.
(1533) Christianity is a sick belief system
If often flies under the radar just how outdated, crass, morbid, and immoral the religion of Christianity appears in the eyes of anyone who looks at it without the aid of rose-colored glasses. An indoctrinated mind is usually blind to these blatant problems- which are nicely summed up below:
It is all about death and torture. The symbol for it is the torture device used to kill their leader. And his torture and death was the best thing ever. They buy toys for children celebrating what, if true, was the largest, most horrific, mass murder ever. (Noah and the Great Flood). They honor the guy that tied up his son and was ready to murder him because he heard voices. The story of Job is told as if it was something other than a bar bet between God and the Devil. The story of a father who sends his two daughters out to be gang raped is told as a good thing. People being punished for the sins of their fathers, fathers, fathers, fathers, etc. is told as if it is understood to be just. Some look at a newborn and admire how perfect he is, if we just cut the end off of his penis.
Telling young children if they do not obey completely they will suffer the worst torture ever, is thought to be good parenting. The most holy thing they have is a statue of a bloodied, dying man, nailed to a post. How can any human in this day and age look at this and not be freaked the fuck out? On top of all this, is the belief that a person can do any crime, and sin, and be forgiven. Well except for blasphemy. You can rape 100’s of children to death, nuke 1/2 of the world, torture the rest, and still go to heaven. But say “Screw the Holy Spirit” and it’s off to eternal torture for you. To quote my father “What the fuck is wrong with people anyway?”
People who embrace Christianity are not well individuals. They might be healthy, happy, loving, and productive citizens, but they are not well- their minds are locked inside a contorted view of reality that renders impossible a holistic expression of universal harmony.
(1534) Facts needed to convince an atheist
At the following website a list is made of facts, conditions, and observations that would give pause to an atheist and make him or her reconsider their lack of belief in a god or in Christianity is particular:
- If evolution were false.
- If God appeared to me or made its presence known to me.
- If we were not made of “star stuff.”
- If a natural disaster were stopped in its tracks.
- If the efficacy of prayer could be conclusively demonstrated as superior to natural remedies.
- If we were to observe a true medical miracle.
- If miracles like the ones crowding the Bible had occurred since the arrival of video cameras and modern methods of recording and preservation.
- If we found two cultures who had independently received an identical revelation.
- If divine messages were embedded within our mathematical or physical laws.
- If there were not 10,000different genetic disorders, and counting.
- If the infant mortality rate (IMR) dropped faster than could be accounted for by scientific advances.
- If the people of one religion experienced dramatically less suffering relative to all others.
- If we did not have such a somber record of mass extinctions.
- If our own species had not been jerked to the precipice of extinction multiple times in our relatively brief time on this planet.
- If the Bible were non-discrepant, free of error and internally consistent.
- If the Bible, or any alleged holy text, read as though it were divinely inspired.
- If the biblical texts were purely preserved.
- If we had a more reliable historical record of the life and deeds of Jesus.
- If Christianity were not so divided and had not repeatedly found itself on the wrong side of history, all the while citing divine revelation.
If Christianity is true, ALL of these conditions should be met, but in reality, NONE are observed to be true. This is a strong indictment against the claims of Christianity. It hits at the heart of the core doctrine in two ways- it makes the faith exceedingly unlikely to be true based on the utter lack of tangible evidence, and in the infinitesimally small chance that it is true, it renders its deity to be a moral monster for withholding evidence and then brutally punishing rational people for their lack of belief. In this instance, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
(1535) Christian ‘born again’ meme was plagiarized
The Christian concept of being ‘born again,’ a theme presented in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, was stolen from the pre-existing religion of Mithraism. The following was taken from:
Nicodemus also misunderstands Jesus’ mysterious teachings that one must be “born from above” or again to enter the kingdom of God. Taking Jesus quite literally, Nicodemus asks, “How can a man be born when he is old can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (3:4). The allegorist-minded reader can smile along with John and rest assured that as one “chosen” they can understand the message of Jesus although Nicodemus does not. Further, Nicodemus plays the fool in order to strengthen and legitimize the underlying spiritual journey of being born anew. The Johannine Christians were particular in isolating themselves from the Children of Darkness, i.e., anyone who was not “born from above.”
Early Christians most likely practiced then-common spiritual journeys that were widespread and written extensively about in Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Jewish and Christian literature. Grese writes:
[John 3:3 and 3:13] are concerned with heavenly journeys, and only the meaning “born from above” fits this connection…. Jesus is the only one with access to the heavenly secrets…[which] demonstrated [the Christians] superiority over those who surrounded them.
The early Christians, like all of their religious contemporaries from whom the Christians drew their converts, desired to verify their religion by making a spiritual journey and seeking the divinity on the higher planes of existence where he dwelled. The Logos, dwelling therein from the beginning, could be “felt” by this heavenly trip through the higher planes. Jesus is made to say in John that unless one undertake this journey, they cannot achieve everlasting life. The liturgy of the Eucharist that John prescribes to the converted in being “born again” is necessary “so that the speaker might gaze upon the immortal beginning (Jesus) with the immortal (Holy) spirit … and be born again in thought.”
Some modern Christian believers are familiar with this concept of being born again through a spirit and regard it as unique to Christianity. The just-quoted text however is from the pagan Mithras Liturgy, a guidebook of sorts that assists in the Eucharist and prepares the sojourner for his heavenly journey. It advises the seeker of the Sun-god (father of Mithras) to pray saying:
[F]irst beginning of my beginning, …spirit of spirit, the first spirit in me, …now if it be your will, …give me over to immortal birth and, following that, to my underlying nature, so that, after the present need which is pressing me exceedingly, I may gaze upon the immortal beginning with the immortal spirit, …that I may be born again in thought.”
Many Greek and Roman texts survive which describe similar transformations that are necessary before one may ascend to heaven. In John, we find this merging between this unique Mithraic Eucharist ritual and the Jewish Messiah of Jesus. John’s Jesus acts as the Mithraic communicator in the heavens (where Jesus was born and lives) and has Jesus promise to send the Holy Spirit as the vehicle for such a heavenly bonding (16:7).
In Reason #502, it was discussed how the Eucharist (Last Supper) was stolen from Mithraism. The concept of being born again is another example of Christian plagiarism from pagan sources. It exposes the fact that Christianity is not unique and is most probably a human-fabricated religion.
(1536) John’s gospel removes Jesus’s humanity and Jewishness
In the three gospels that precede John, Jesus is portrayed as the Jewish savior and his human needs and characteristics are accentuated. In John, this portrayal is changed dramatically and Jesus is made into a walking deity with little hint of being Jewish at all. The following is taken from:
John was written for the Greek Christian of the beginning of the second century. These recent converts were more educated, wealthy, and despised the Diaspora Jews who resided in their cities and who enjoyed the respect of Rome. John removes the offensive references to Jesus as a Jewish Messiah that are particular to the earlier gospels, in order to present the Logos in more palatable form. In so doing, John creates a simulacrum that is barely human. The earlier Synoptic traditions are emphatic in presenting Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, descendant of David, and eschatological messenger of the end of the world where God collects his Chosen People. John removes the unpleasantness of Jewish genealogy as well as all references to Palestinian and Davidic descent.
Jesus is distanced from the Jews who are the children of darkness:
Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:41-44)
Jesus is made to condemn the Jews as Satanic by John, while the Christians are now the Essenic ideals of the Children of Light with a special gnosis of revelation in understanding the Logos in its true form. John’s nonhuman “superman” loses several qualities that we are familiar with from the Synoptic tradition. Notably, the birth narrative of Jesus is missing, we are told in the prologue only that “in the beginning” Jesus coexisted with God and that he is “full of grace and truth.” John feels that to inform us of the particularly human trait of birth, even if virginal and thus not actuated by lust, would not be fitting of a God who is the Word. Human characteristics that Mark informs us of, such as the need for cleansing through baptism (1:9) or the Temptation (1:13), are conspicuously absent from John. To John’s author, Jesus has no need for cleansing, he is already without sin. Likewise it would be foolish to narrate the temptation in the wilderness, for Satan is obviously no match against God and John’s intended reader would be confused over such an idea. By the time John was first written at the end of the first century, the tales of Jesus grew to such an extent that Jesus was now fully transformed into a Hellenized god.
There can be no serious controversy that the Gospel of John describes a different person from the man lionized in Mark, Matthew, and Luke (the synoptic gospels). It is a fundamental axiom of history that earlier accounts of events tend to be more accurate than what comes along later, owing to the fact that myth-making is a time-honored human tendency. On this basis, we can emphatically discount anything written in the Gospel of John as being historical in nature. This represents a fatal blow to a religion that takes most of its contemporary theology from this book, and without which would be rudderless in a turbulent sea.
(1537) Gospels fail to reveal sources
Unlike most historical writers who wrote contemporaneously, the authors of the gospels failed to provide an explanation of how they obtained their information. This is an indication that these books are comprised of hearsay or deliberate fiction. The following was taken from:
Ancient historical works at their beginning (or somewhere else within the body of the narrative) are often prefaced with statements from the author about the period they will be investigating, the methodology they will be using, and the types of sources they will be discussing. None of the Gospels, with the exception of a very brief statement at the beginning of Luke, even come close to following this convention. Furthermore, the opening of Luke is hardly substantial enough to consider it of the same caliber as actual historical prose. As scholar Marion Soards (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 1827) notes, “The initial four verses of the book are a single Greek sentence that forms a highly stylized introductory statement typical of ancient historical writings … After this distinctive preface, however, the narrative shifts into a style of Greek reminiscent of the Septuagint.” As such, while Luke mimics some of the conventions of historical writing at the beginning of the gospel, the rest of the narrative reverts into the storytelling typical of the other Gospels.
Consider the very sparse information that the author of Luke (1:1) provides about his written sources (none of whom are identified in any capacity): “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us.”
Such a statement is not of very much help. We can tell, however, from source analysis that the author of Luke derived a large portion of his material from the Gospel of Mark (another anonymous text even more silent about where it obtained its material). Now, contrast this with the introductory discussion of a historical author—Dionysius of Halicarnassus—in how he lays out the sources that he used for his Roman Antiquities (1.7.1-3):
Thus, having given an explanation for my choice of subject matter, I wish now to discuss the sources that I used when setting out to write my history. For perhaps readers who are already familiar with Hieronymus, Timaeus, Polybius, or any other historian that I mentioned a short while ago as being careless in their works, when they do not find many things in my own writings that are mentioned in theirs, will suspect me of fabricating them, and will want to know where I learned of such things. Lest anyone should hold such an opinion of me, it seems better that I should state in advance what narratives and records I have used as sources. I sailed to Italy at the very time when Augustus Caesar put an end to civil war, in the middle of the one hundred and eighty-seventh Olympiad [30 BCE], and having spent twenty-two years in Rome from that time to the present, I learned the Latin language and familiarized myself with Roman literature, and during all this time I remained devoted to matters bearing upon my subject. Some of my information I learned orally from the most educated men whose company I shared, while the rest I gathered from the histories that were written by esteemed Roman authors—such as Porcius Cato, Fabius Maximus, Valerius Antias, Licinius Macer, the Aelii, Gellii and Calpurnii—as well as other men who are noteworthy. Setting out with these works, which are similar to the Greek annalistic accounts, as my sources, I then put my hands to writing my history.
This is but a snippet of Dionysius’ extensive introduction about methodology, in which he gives an account of how he came upon his sources, how he learned the relevant languages, names his sources, and even explains why some of his readers will not be familiar with the information in his narrative taken from Roman sources that were less known in the Greek world. The Gospel of Luke does not even come close to this level of historical rigor and the other Gospels are even less substantial.
This exposes a layered problem for the gospels. They were written by unknown non-eyewitnesses, in foreign lands, without citing sources, while generously plagiarizing each other. They possess none of the attributes that would identify them as reliable portrayals of history.
(1538) The evolving story of Peter’s calling
Peter (Simon, Cephas) was Jesus’s most important disciple and the one he selected to be his principal representative to lead the new church. It would be expected that the story of how Peter became a disciple is consistent throughout the gospels. This is not the case:
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Essentially, the same story is told in Matthew 4:18-20. But everything changes in Luke 5:2-11:
He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
And yet another story is told in John 1:35-42
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
So, in Mark and Matthew, Peter was called with nothing more than a simple command from Jesus. In Luke, this story is greatly embellished with the addition of a miraculous fish catch. Then in John, the fish stories are dispensed and Peter starts out as the brother of a disciple of John the Baptist and then is recruited as a consequence of that connection. There is no way to reconcile these stories and that fact speaks volumes for how the gospels cannot be considered reliable history.
(1539) Gospels written for the less well educated
A comparison of the gospels to historical accounts written around the same time reveals a difference in the style and sophistication of the writing. It appears that the target audience for the gospels were people who were not highly educated. The following is taken from:
While a high school-level education in history coursework is universally taught to inhabitants of modern Western nations (still not as well as I would like), historical writing was very exclusive in antiquity. In order to fully evaluate and appreciate historical prose, one had to be educated, literate, trained in oratory, and skilled at critical thinking. Authors writing to such an audience had to demonstrate their research ability, credentials, and methodology. As scholar Pheme Perkins (in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 1743) explains, “Greco-Roman biographies were addressed to a social and literary elite, which may explain why the Gospels, addressed to a much broader audience, do not match them very closely.”
The Gospels in contrast are written for a far less educated and critical audience. Far from the refined prose of Greek historical writing, the Gospels are written in a low language register in the Koine dialect. For anyone who reads ancient Greek, the difference in quality between a historian like Thucydides versus the authors of the Gospels is on par with comparing an elevated English work like Shakespeare’s Hamlet to a far simpler text like J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Historical writing was simply far more complex and rhetorically polished (as well as much more critical and analytical), whereas the Gospels read as basic stories, which were taught to encourage the faith of people who probably already believed and trusted in Christianity.
The low level of prose exemplified in the gospels hints at the fact that they were never intended to be rigorous accounts of actual history. Instead, they were designed to be propaganda vehicles for an emerging faith.
(1540) The gospels lack sufficient detail
Skeptics of the Christian religion often present arguments that suggest that much of the gospels is nonfactual, but that is only half the story of why the scriptures fail to support the authenticity of conventional Christian dogma. Even if all the statements in the gospels are true, many requisite details are left out- details that are needed to have a complete understanding of what actually happened. The following excerpt from Dale Allisons’s book Resurrecting Jesus, pp 337-339, was extracted from this website:
Most of the past – surely far more than 99 percent, if we could quantify it – is irretrievably lost; it cannot be recovered. This should instill some modesty in us. Consider the weeks following the crucifixion. We have only minuscule fragments of what actually transpired. What, for instance, do we really know about the resurrection experience of James? First Corinthians 15:7 says that he saw the risen Jesus. And that is it. What Jesus looked like, what he said, if anything, where the encounter took place, when precisely it happened, how James responded, what state of mind he was in, how the experience began, how it ended [Edit by JWL: whether he ever recanted] – all of this had failed to enter the record. Almost every question that we might ask goes unanswered … Yet they are the sorts of questions historians often ask of old texts. The fact that we cannot begin to answer them shows how emaciated historically – as opposed to theologically – the Gospel narratives really are. Even if we naively think them to be historically accurate down to the minutest detail, we are still left with precious little. The accounts of the resurrection, like the past in general, come to us as phantoms. Most of the reality is gone … Even if history served us much better than it does, it would still not take us to promised land of theological certainty.
Christianity hangs on two threads, either of which can derail its acceptance by objective minds. First, the stated claims themselves appear to be fanciful artifacts of literary fiction, and, second, the narratives leave out so many important details that there exists a wide range of realities that could successfully conform to them. For example, we don’t know what happened to the grave-risen saints after they entered Jerusalem, and we don’t have anything close to a clear understanding of Jesus’s resurrection or how it was observed or attested to by witnesses. It is inconceivable that a sincere god would provide such a murky message to humans who depend on it to make a decision that decides their eternal fate.
(1541) Overuse of miracles in the gospels
One of the hallmarks of fictional literature is the over-telling of spectacular and supernatural happenings. Even though some of these elements exist in various secular accounts of First Century history, it is normally kept at the fringe of the narrative and not at its core. In contrast, the gospels lack credibility because of an overuse of this literary genre. The following is taken from:
Simply because ancient historical authors conducted more rigorous research does not entail that they were skeptical of the supernatural. Unbelievable stories still crop up in the writings of Greek and Latin historians, ranging from Herodotus (8.36-41) claiming that, when the Persians attacked Delphi, its armaments came alive of their own accord and defended the temple (just like in the seventh Harry Potter movie!), to Josephus (The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3) claiming that a cow gave birth to a lamb as an impending sign of Jerusalem’s destruction, to Suetonius claiming (Galba 1.1) that a single lightning bolt had, before Nero’s death, struck the Temple of the Caesars and simultaneously decapitated all of the emperors’ statues, even dashing the scepter from the hand of Augustus’ statue (that is one heck of a lightning bolt!). Of course, I do not believe such stories and their placement in these narratives does make me less trustful of their authors. But fortunately, for ancient historical authors, these ridiculous tall tales are usually at the fringe rather than the core of the narrative.
The Gospels, in contrast, simply narrate unbelievable claim after unbelievable claim about a guy who can feed whole crowds with one tuna sandwich, cause dead saints to rise from their graves, himself resurrect from the dead, and then fly into space in broad daylight. These unbelievable tall tales make up the bulk of the narrative. As philosopher Stephen Law points out, following the principle of contamination, the frequency of these unbelievable stories cast doubt on even the mundane details in the narrative. It is not as if their genre is relatively historical, but merely peppered with a few miracles here and there. Rather, the Gospels are entirely fantastical and legendary. The Gospels are so contaminated by unbelievable claims that they should be treated as untrustworthy until there is good reason for believing specific details.
Another thing that should be noted is that, while ancient historians occasionally report miracles, they often use specific grammatical constructions that distance themselves from affirming the stories and make clear that they are only reporting claims. The historian Titus Livy, for example, in reporting some of the miracle stories of regal Rome, frequently uses terms like ut dicitur (“as it is said”) or ferunt (“they claim”) to specify that he is not endorsing these claims, but only recording that they were made. One such example is when Livy (1.39) discusses the tale of how the king Servius Tullius’ head, when he was a child, caught on fire while he was sleeping, but did not harm him, as it was a sign that he would be a future king. Livy’s careful use of the verb ferunt (“they claim”) indicates that he is distancing himself from gullibly believing in this fable. The Gospels, in contrast, just throw out miracle after miracle, asking us to believe every single one of them, in a manner that presumes far less critical thinking on the part of the reader.
The prolific reports of miracles would not necessarily be viewed as evidence that the gospels are fictional if there existed contemporary eyewitness documents attesting to them. But there are none. This fact combined with the use of a stereotypical mythical literary device is an indication that the gospels are mostly fiction.
(1542) God’s abominable dealings with Samson
In Judges Chapter 14, a story is told about Samson’s intended nuptials with a Philistine woman, something akin to a mixed-race marriage. The way God meddles in this transaction is both macabre and laughably absurd. The following is taken from:
Another story about God’s troublemaking involves Samson, who decides to marry a Philistine girl even though his parents object because of their concern that the Philistines are pagans and are ruling over Israel. Is this a case of true love being blind to cultural and political differences? No, it turns out that God is using Samson as a pawn. When Samson insists that the Philistine girl is the only one for him, “his father and mother did not realize this was the Lord’s doing, because he was looking for an opportunity to stir up trouble with the Philistines.” (Judges 14:4)
God’s strategy works. Just before his wedding, Samson’s groomsmen guess a riddle he had put to them; therefore he has to pay them the prize on which they had agreed, which was a set of linen robes and clothes for each of the thirty groomsmen. In order to pay them the prize, Samson goes out and murders thirty men and takes their clothes. And he does this because “the Lord’s spirit empowered him” to do it. (Judges 14:19) No, I am not making this up–according to the Bible, God encourages the murder of thirty innocent men to facilitate payment of a debt, with the objective of stirring up trouble between the Philistines and Israelites.
Samson is so angry about the riddle outcome that he leaves his fiancé with her father. Sometime later he returns to her father and says he now wants to have sex with his intended bride. The father, meanwhile, had given her to another man, but offers to substitute her attractive sister. This annoys Samson, so he burns down the Philistines’ grain stores, vineyards, and olive groves. That gets a good fracas going between the Israelites and the Philistines, which is just what God had intended.
(1543) The Bible is inconsistent on incest
Although the Bible is often extolled by Christians as the ultimate authority on morality and ethics, it often falls short of meeting that ideal. One area where it fails miserably is on the subject of incest- as it both prohibits and permits this practice. The following is taken from:
One example is the biblical attitude toward incest. The founding line of the Israelite tribes was full of incestuous relationships. Abraham married his half sister Sarah (they had the same father, Terah). Evidently God considered this to be a good union, as he repeatedly blessed Abraham, and Abraham became the patriarch of all of Israel; Jesus was a direct descendant. So if you’re contemplating sex with your half-sister, the Bible supports that. But wait a minute–the Bible also says, “Cursed is the one who has sexual relations with his sister, the daughter of either his father or mother.” (Deuteronomy 27:22) And, “If a man has sexual intercourse with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or his mother, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace. …he will bear his punishment for iniquity.” (Leviticus 20:17) So if you consider sex with your half-sister to be sinful, the Bible also supports that view. Take your pick.
In a similar vein, God has no problem with Jacob concurrently marrying two sisters, Leah and Rachel, daughters of Jacob’s uncle Laban. As he did with Abraham, God blessed Jacob at great length. However, the Bible also says: “You must not take a woman in marriage and then marry her sister as a rival wife while she is still alive, to have sexual intercourse with her.” (Leviticus 18:18)
One more: Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed. Their children were Moses and Aaron, who played major roles in God’s plans for the Israelites. You probably get the pattern by now–in another place in the Bible marriage to one’s aunt is forbidden: “You must not have sexual intercourse with your father’s sister; she is your father’s flesh.” (Leviticus 18:12)
The Bible contains many other inconsistencies concerning conduct and morals. As with the biblical mandates that are obviously wrong, it falls to religious authorities to try to paper over these inconsistencies and promote the right course of behavior. Again, we are not following the words of the Bible; we must instead listen to the words of some person who is represented as an authority.
Apologists become twisted like pretzels in their attempts to explain this incongruity. For the skeptic, it’s easy- human authors writing without divine guidance inevitably produce contradictions when one author is unaware of what someone else has written or who is aware but declines to follow the lead of the other author. The incest examples are just the tip of the iceberg, and they all reveal the fact that the Bible is not the work of a supernatural deity.
(1544) Resurrection riddles
Attempting to piece together all of the information provided by the gospels concerning the alleged resurrection of Jesus leads to a lot of head scratching. How to make sense of it confuses all but those with incurious or highly inculcated minds. The following is taken from:
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the prime claim on which the building of Christian faith is established. However, the data we have about it and, in general, regarding what transpired in the days following the crucifixion (they all come from the only extant source: the New Testament) pose a considerable number of riddles for which we do not find convincing answers in the framework of traditional, fundamentalist biblical interpretation. A different interpretive perspective is proposed in this article from which it is certainly possible to give an answer to many of those enigmas:
- What sense does it make that the resurrection of Jesus, the momentous event of the Christian faith, should take place without any witnesses?
- Why was the risen Jesus not seen by anyone other than his own followers?
- Why did the apostles “doubt” in the presence of the risen Jesus or go so far as not recognizing him? (Matt. 28:17; Luke 24:13-32)
- If Jesus had repeatedly predicted his resurrection (Matt. 16:21; 20:19, etc.), how can we explain that the apostles should consider the women’s news of the resurrection as “nonsense” (Luke 24:11) and refuse to believe it? (Mark 16:11)
- If the apostles themselves reacted with unbelief to the news of the resurrection, how can we explain that the Jewish leaders, who considered Jesus an impostor (Matt. 27:62-67), should offhand believe that news, not even caring to cursorily check? (Matt. 28:12-13)
- Why is the ascension recorded only by Luke, a second-generation Christian who had not personally met Jesus (Luke 1:2), whereas Matthew and John, who were allegedly privileged eyewitnesses of that solemn, emotive farewell, do not even mention it?
- Since it is the most important event of the Christian faith, how can we explain the remarkable differences that exist among the various evangelists regarding what transpired on the resurrection day?
- How can we understand that certain passages should present the risen Jesus as a spiritual being who would go through walls, appear and disappear at will and who had the appearance of “a spirit” (Luke 24:37, KJV), etc., whereas others state that he was flesh and blood, a man who could eat and who preserved the wounds of the crucifixion, etc.?
Providing convincing answers to questions such as the above is difficult from a biblical fundamentalist viewpoint, but things are easier from a more open and realistic interpretive perspective, a perspective that can bring us closer to what actually happened in the days following the crucifixion.
The Gospels were written after the great national catastrophe that the Jewish-Roman war represented for the Jews. This war eliminated nearly every vestige of the sojourn of Jesus of Nazareth upon this Earth. The evangelists were nameless second- and third-generation Christians who had not personally met Jesus. To carry out their task, they availed themselves of preexistent fragmentary writings and traditions that, by then, no doubt already contained some bogus data, some of which they approved of and included in their narratives.
The seminal event, the defining moment, the crux upon which all of Christendom either rises or falls is hopelessly mired in an array of baffling conundrums. The pathetic manner in which it was documented leaves any attempt to determine what really happened frustratingly impossible. Yet when Christians attend Easter services, the resurrection will be presented as a well-established fact, or at least one for which faith is a high-percentage bet. To the outsider, the objective observer, or a person following a different religion, the view is reversed- it is obvious that something is rotten in the state of Denmark- the very scriptures that purport to detail this miraculous event, when read in amalgam, point to an indisputable conclusion- the resurrection is a superstition-laded myth.
(1545) Ezekiel was a crazy shaman
One of the important figures in the development of Judeo-Christianity was the author of the (6th Century BCE) Book of Ezekiel, a 48-chapter tome that represents the 26th book of the Christian canon. This work is replete with prophecies, tall tales, and visions. But one thing it lacks is coherence and a sense of sanity. To be polite, Ezekiel was crazy, and he is merely representative of a lot of the prophets who developed the foundations of Judaism. The following is taken from:
One of the biggest ironies involving those who virtually worship the Bible is the fact that they often haven’t read much of it. If they had, how could they fail to notice that Ezekiel, one of the major prophets, was not only a lousy prognosticator, he was an absolute lunatic as well.
Of course, the same might be said for most of the other prophets. Ezekiel is merely the most extreme example. The earliest Hebrew prophets were ecstatics, dervishes in the ancient Middle Eastern mold. They had the same nature and served the same purpose as a tribal shaman. All of these imparted their messages with bizarre histrionics that captured peoples’ attention and suggested a unique connection to the supernatural. In the case of Ezekiel, many scholars have suspected the bizarre behavior was not entirely an act; but when one’s mental imbalance is expressed in religious terms it’s not surprising when the unsophisticated mistake lunacy for a kind of transcendent holiness beyond their understanding.
But let’s take a look at some of the peculiar things Ezekiel did. Judge for yourself whether he was playing with a full deck.
He eats a scroll in Ezekiel 2:9-10 & 3:1-3. He builds a mini city model and a fort, and like a little boy plays army with them (4:1-3). He lies on his left side for 390 days, then on his right side for 40 (4:4-6).
He apparently eats a feces sandwich (4:12-15). He shaves his head and beard when neither was fashionable nor kosher (Leviticus 19:27) and performs a silly ritual with it (Ezekiel 5:1-2). He issues Yahweh’s terrorist rant in 6:3-7, 10:12. He goes utterly berserk in Ch. 23, frothing about “whoredoms,” “bruised breasts/teats/paps” and “nakedness.” To make some sort of unnecessary point, he refuses to mourn when his wife dies (24:15-18).
All of this, in addition to bizarre visions of no predictive value or utility (Ch. 1) and bouts of hysterical aphasia (3:26; 24:27), was, of course, as everything else is, from Yahweh. Ezekiel’s aberrant behavior was only part of the story. He also issued a series of nationalistic rants against all of Israel’s neighbors, calling for horrible things to happen to them. All of these were recorded as prophecies, but none of them have come to pass. Setting aside the ugliness of his intentions, let’s take a look at them.
In Ch. 26 he speaks against the city of Tyre. He says many nations will unite against it (V. 3) and it will be desolate (V. 19), uninhabited (V. 20) and be no more, never to be found again (V. 21). He specifies that Nebuchadnezzar would be the agent of God’s wrath to accomplish this (V. 7). While Nebuchadnezzar did attack Tyre, this is something any amateur pundit could have guessed, so it shouldn’t count as a prophetic fulfillment. Furthermore, Nebby did not scrape it clean like the top of a rock (V. 4 & 14). Not even Alexander the Great’s conquest– which Ezekiel failed to foresee–did that. And despite Ezekiel’s prophecy, Tyre continued to exist in New Testament times (Acts 21:3). And it still exists today under the name Sur.
In Ch. 29 Ezekiel weighs in against Egypt. He says Yahweh will make it “utterly waste and desolate (V. 10); “No foot of man … nor … beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited for forty years” (V.11). “I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations” (V. 12). “At the end of forty years will I regather the Egyptians” (V. 13). Clearly, none of this has happened. And lest any apologist try to claim that it will happen at some future time, Ch. 30, verse 3, says “the day is near” (in Ezekiel’s time). And it is hardly fair to seek retribution against a much later Egypt that is ethnically distinct from the Egypt of Ezekiel’s time and not responsible for ancient Israel’s grievances. Plus in 32:11 he says “The sword of Babylon shall come upon thee.” That cannot occur now, unless one employs the fudge of claiming it refers to modern Iraq. And how can anyone take Ezekiel seriously when he says the valleys will be filled up to the mountaintops with their dead (32:5) and they’ll irrigate the land with blood (32:6)?
Ezekiel made the same kind of gruesome prophecy about Edom (35:8-9) which, far from being utterly desolate, was eventually annexed by Judah in a far less bloody manner. No one seems to wonder how his rant, as well as the one against Egypt, squares with Deuteronomy 23: 7 (q.v.). After his symbolic, hence not real, revival of “dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones” (37:1-13) Ezekiel says the lost tribes of Israel would be regathered (37:21), but at that time they were being absorbed into neighboring societies, losing their identity irrevocably. They’re that much more lost today. Ezekiel even says that Sodom would “return to [her] former estate” (16:55), something no other prophet ever indicates. And it’s doubtful there was ever a real Sodom to begin with.
If there were any consistency and logic in the religious mind, Ezekiel would have been dismissed as a lunatic, denounced as a false prophet, and kept out of the Bible altogether. How aptly he spoke of himself in 13:1-3! His acceptance is a function of the fact that it was Ezekiel, nutty though he was, who reformulated Judaism for a postexilic Israel.
And you know, Isaiah was almost as nutty.
Ezekiel represents a stereotype for the kinds of individuals who invent religions and become leaders of these movements. This is fueled by a human tendency to view eccentricity as a sign of someone having a connection to the spiritual world. Contemporary examples are Jim Jones, Joseph Smith, and David Koresh. The problem for Christianity is that its foundation, which is undeniably the Jewish faith, was built around the ideas and hallucinations of people who were not firmly attached to reality. Whatever is constructed above a flimsy base is very unlikely to be true.
(1456) Salvation according to the Bible
Anyone can ask a pastor or priest what it takes to make it in to heaven, but it seems that a more reliable method is to conduct a careful study of the Bible. This seems sensible, but as it turns out this is likely to leave one more confused than when they began. If anything, the Bible should be crystal clear on this crucial, eternally-significant matter. But it’s not… or even close. The following was taken from:
Ever the quick study, I decided to take those Christians up on their advice and once again found myself back in the Bible trying to figure out how one is “saved.” Logic would dictate that obtaining this salvation would be fairly straightforward and laid out in one easy-to-understand book–especially if said creator of this book wanted to make sure His followers were indeed “saved.” Of course, upon investigation I found that this is not the case. One Christian denomination tells us the “saved” were predestined. One tells us that baptism is required. Another says baptism is a ritual and that salvation comes through belief in Christ’s sacrifice. Others say Christ’s sacrifice alone is enough. Yet another stresses good works or the grace of God. In fact, depending on which denomination of Christianity one subscribes to, any combination of the following bible verses can be used to justify how one is saved:
- By Hearing the Gospel & Belief in God: John 5:24: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life.”
- By Baptism: John 3:5: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.'”
- By Grace & Faith, not Works: Ephesians 2:8,9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith … not of works.”
- By Faith & Works: James 2:17: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
- By Keeping the Law: Matthew 19:17: “… if thou wilt enter unto life, keep the commandments.”
- By Belief in Christ: John 3:16: “… whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
- By Belief and Baptism: Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
- By Words: Matthew 12:37: “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
- By Calling on the Lord: Acts 2:21: “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
- Not Works but by Grace & Baptism: Titus 3:5: “Not by works … but according to his mercy … by the washing of regeneration.” (Note: some denominations will say the washing refers to Christ’s blood and sacrifice.)
- According to Proverbs 16:4: God made the “wicked” for “the day of evil” (i.e. judgment & damnation). Of course, this makes no sense in light of passages that confirm or suggest that Jesus died for a small number of the elect; or that suggest all will be saved: John 1:29, 4:42, 1 Corinthians 15:29, Hebrews 2:9, 1 John 4:14.
- Salvation Available to the Chosen Few: Matthew 7:14, 22:14, Luke 12:32, 13:24, John 6:37,65,15:16,19, Romans 8:29, 9:11-23, Ephesians 1:4.
- Salvation Available to Those Who Desire it: Matthew 7:7-8, 11:28, John 3:16, 5:40, 7:37, Acts 2:21, Revelation 3:20.
Now I’m sure some critics will say I’m taking those verses “out of context.” Well, to those critics I ask that a “context” be clearly defined and followed among Christians before you criticize my observations. If these rules were clearly defined among Christians, one would not see various Christian denominations debating the ritual of baptism, women as preachers, interpretation of scripture, and the Trinitarian concept. Putting those critics aside for the moment, this leads us to the present day state of affairs among the various denominations of Christianity. Granted, I’m no theologian, but one would think a perfect God who knows “everything” would have foreseen what these contradictions would do to his followers’ faith. One would think that a perfect God would have directed His followers to write one sacred book. One would think that this one book would detail just exactly how one is to be “saved” and that this plan would be uniformly followed–at least among Christians. More importantly, one would think that Christianity would agree on just exactly how one is “saved.” Of course, once again confusion reigns!
This might be the most significant biblically-related evidence that Christianity is false. The most important core doctrine is left buffeting in a swirling sea of uncertainty. Biblical literalists are left with the unenviable task of picking a single dish from the smorgasbord.
(1547) Stance on heaven and hell
The two most important places in Christian theology are heaven and hell. Most of the faithful believe that every human will eventually spend time in one venue or the other, most likely for eternity. It would be expected that within the 66 books of the Bible God ‘authored’ we would have an indisputable description of each location. That is, all Christians should agree on this important matter. Let’s see how that worked out. The following is taken from:
|Denomination||Stance on Heaven||Stance on Hell|
|Southern Baptists||Viewed as a paradise with Christ and God for all eternity, often depicted as being filled with mansions and golden streets.||Dante’s Inferno type hell, suffering for eternity.|
|Christian Science||Basically a state of mind.||Basically a state of mind.|
|Lutheran||Unending joy of being with God in Heaven.||Dante’s Inferno type hell, suffering for Eternity. Some sects see hell as a separation from God.|
|Eastern Orthodox||Viewed as a paradise with Christ and God for all eternity.||Precise form of punishment not known.|
|Oneness Pentecostal||The imminent return of Christ, a pre-tribulation rapture, the millennial reign of Christ, the final judgment, and the new heaven and the new earth. In other words, heaven on earth after earth is cleansed.||Lake of fire, eternal fires, Dante’s Inferno, suffering for eternity, etc.|
|Roman Catholic||Viewed as a paradise with Christ and God for all eternity.||Used to believe the level of torture in hell will be dealt in accordance with the seriousness of the individual’s sin. Most individuals who are not destined to hell first suffer punishment in purgatory where they are “cleansed” and then admitted into heaven. On July 28th, 1999 the Pope decrees that hell is: “the pain, frustration and emptiness of life without God.” (i.e., separation)|
|Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints||The highest levels of the Celestial Kingdom are reserved for Mormon couples that have been married in a Mormon temple. The couples can eventually become a God and Goddess; the husband will then be in control of an entire universe. Christians who are non-Mormons and have led exceptional lives will also spend eternity in the Celestial Kingdom.||Hell exists but very few people will stay there very long. If you have not heard Christ’s Gospel, you will exist in a spirit prison. This spirit prison is where you wait to hear the Gospel.|
|Jehovah’s Witness||Heaven on earth after earth is cleansed. Only 144,000 people will be admitted into heaven. The rest will remain on the new earth.||Hell is the grave where one waits with hope for resurrection. Hell will be destroyed after the 1,000-year reign of Christ. True sinners cease to exist.|
|Quakers||Up to individual interpretation.||Up to individual interpretation.|
|Church of Christ||It is a realm of peace and love. Much of the Biblical description of heaven is metaphorical and humans do not now know its features.||Generally, a separation from God. (some sects vary)|
|Disciple’s of Christ||Viewed as a paradise with God for all eternity.||Separation from God.|
|Episcopal Churches||Viewed as a spiritual state of being in the presence of God.||Hell is not eternal torment; rather, it’s the final and irrevocable choice made by man that ends in total non-being.|
|Methodist||Differing opinions, some interpret heaven as symbolic, others believe heaven will be in the presence of God.||Differing opinions, some interpret hell as symbolic, others believe hell will be a separation from God.|
|Presbyterian||The most current statement I could find comes from a 1974 paper on universalism adopted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. It mentions judgment and promises hope, acknowledging that the ideas of heaven & hell seem to be “in paradox.” This statement concedes how God works redemption and judgment still remains a “mystery” to man.||(See heaven)|
|Seventh-Day Adventist||Heaven will be on Earth with Jesus after the thousand-year reign. Seventh-Day Adventists believe Jesus is coming and coming soon! This is clearly predicted by the prophesied signs apparent in scripture.||There will be a thousand-year reign of Jesus with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At earth’s close, Jesus with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected and judged with Satan and his angels. Finally, fire from God will consume them all and cleanse the earth.|
|United Church of Christ||Does not teach that heaven and hell are actual places in the universe. Adherents make up their own minds about the nature of heaven and hell through scriptural precedent, though most believe that heaven and hell are states of mind.||(See heaven)|
There can be only one conclusion from the above- God has failed to instruct his followers about the characteristics of these two post-life locations. What happened is that the leaders of different sects have imagined what heaven and hell are like, with the assurity that most if not all are mistaken. This would be like someone trying to sell 10 acres in Florida sight unseen. It is quite ridiculous that Christianity is split on this issue and it speaks broadly of it human-centered origins.
(1548) The scandal of particularity
Through a series of historical coincidences, a Jewish tribal god, Yahweh, became the object of worship for billions of gentile people spread throughout the world. This is often referred to as a ‘scandal of particularity’ because the expected consequence of a celestial intervention would be an immediate worldwide phenomenon. The following is taken from:
The god of the Jews, Yahweh, is himself no different from the gods of the surrounding peoples. Like the other gods he probably began his career as a weather or mountain god, a personification of the fearful and uncontrollable forces of nature, and his main concern is the welfare of his people. In return his people have to obey him and appease him with sacrifices (this might include the occasional human sacrifice: Judges 11:28-40).
The concept of the tribal god conveniently brings us to what theologians refer to as the “scandal of particularity.” This is the very pertinent question of why the One True God chose to reveal himself to an obscure people in an obscure corner of the Mediterranean above all others. But if one is talking about a tribal god, and considering that there may be as many tribal gods as there are tribes, how can there be a scandal of particularity when clearly it is man who chooses his god and not the other way round? To put it another way, as a tribal god, Yahweh is no more unique than the Moabite Chemosh, the Assyrian Ashur, the Aztec Quetzalcoatl, or the Kikuyu Ngai wa Kirinyaga. Nevertheless, to the extent that a “scandal of particularity” is still claimed, then one must look for the answers not in the machinations of some supreme being, but in the intricate twists and turns of human history, as the discussion on Paul in the next section will hopefully demonstrate.
With the passage of time the parochial tribal god of the Jews became a universal god of the world, at least in the eyes of the Jews. This transformation, which began with the great prophets (Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel), achieved its culmination with Deutero-Isaiah, the name given to the unknown author of the last 26 chapters of the Book of Isaiah. As Deutero-Isaiah writes:
Turn to me now and be saved, people all over the world! I am the only God there is … Everyone will come and kneel before me and vow to be loyal to me. (Isaiah 45:22-23)
However, given that the Jews were still Yahweh’s Chosen People (though to see the way he allowed other people to walk all over them you wouldn’t think it), and the Temple in Jerusalem still his abode, Yahweh could still be considered a tribal god, albeit one with a serious case of megalomania.
The transformation of a tribal god to a universal god is a tell-tale characteristic of a belief system created by humans. It is close to inconceivable that a god, who understands himself to be the one and only god, would first manifest in such a parochial manner and persist in that limited manifestation for thousands of years, all the while planning to eventually become a god of all peoples. Such a tardy transition is the expected outcome of the evolution of human belief systems, not an agenda befitting an unlimited celestial deity.
(1549) The Roswell Analogy
Defenders of the Christian faith who place much emphasis on the fact that belief in Christianity became somewhat widespread within a few decades after Jesus allegedly lived would do well to consider the sequence of events following an incident that occurred in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The following was taken from:
Just about everyone is familiar with the story of what allegedly happened in Roswell New Mexico back in the summer of 1947. Historian Richard Carrier makes an interesting analogy between the Roswell UFO incident and the origin of Christianity, in what he calls the Roswell Analogy.
What really happened? A guy found a bunch of sticks and tinfoil in the desert.
What was said to have happened? Immediately afterwards people claimed it was debris from a crashed UFO.
What was said to have happened within just thirty years? A flying saucer and alien bodies crashed and the US military recovered them and they autopsied the aliens and kept it all secret from the public.
And this all happened in the 20th century, in the era of universal literacy, modern journalism, TV and radio. If such a legend can grow so fast and still have millions of believers in modern times, how easy do you think it was for a legendary Jesus to have been made up and believed in by people during antiquity, where literacy was probably 5 percent or less, there was widespread superstition, and there were no newspapers, or journalism, or mass communication?
The “tinfoil in the desert” is analogous to the “revelations of the archangel named Jesus.”
The “flying saucer and alien bodies” would be analogous to the “historical Jesus of Galilee.”
Now imagine if all we had were the stories written by the Roswell believers from thirty years later and information derived from them and nothing else. We would not know about the tinfoil. All we would know about was the testimony about the flying saucer and alien bodies that were recovered. Neither of which ever existed.
Roswell represents a real-world example of myth building, and one that occurred 19 centuries after the birth of Christianity in a modern society with pervasive information and communication systems. It shows how people tend to gravitate toward stories that align with what they wish to believe rather than to critically assess what they have been told. It is very likely that Christianity is another Roswell.
(1550) Comparing Jesus to Jehovah
Christians often dismiss the cruel and ruthless nature of the Old Testament god by pointing out the kinder nature of Jesus. Other than the inconsistency of insisting that Jesus is God and yet is more amicable than God, this excuse also misses the fact that this assertion is untrue on many important points. The following is taken from:
Some among the faithful would object to my characterizing God in this way. They’d make claims that this is the Old Testament image of God, and that the New Testament presents a kinder deity.
Does it, really?
A quick comparison of Jesus’ New Testament statements with Jehovah’s Old Testament vows shows quite the opposite.
- Jehovah states that he will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, down to the third or fourth generation (Exodus 20:5, repeated in numerous other OT passages) while Jesus brings it all the way up to the generation he visited (Luke 11:49-51).
- Jehovah sanctioned stoning as a punishment for some sins (Numbers 15:32-36; Leviticus 24:10-16) while Jesus prescribes an eternal burning hell for all sins (Mark 3:28-29; Matthew 10:28; Luke 16:19-31). Stoning, though unforgivably violent and brutal, is at least temporary.
- Jehovah’s threats of punishment were directed primarily against his own people, as we see in the examples above. Jesus, however, expands his curse of hell to the entire world of nonbelievers (Mark 16:16).
- Jehovah destroyed the ‘sinners’ of Sodom and Gomorrah with a rain of fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24-25). Jesus threatens to make the fate of some cities even worse (Matthew 11:20-24).
- Jesus’ promises of good things also exceed those of Jehovah. Whereas the former God promised peace and fertile soil, the New Testament God promises eternal riches. The stakes are higher, the manipulation greater, the costs more dear. In an interesting twist, avarice is now used as motivation.
This comparison of these two images is important, for two key reasons. First, it is the New Testament under which Christians operate. That is, it provides the context for their belief and actions. It dictates how they live their lives and how they treat people. Secondly, the delusion of a more gentle God being presented in the New Testament only worsens matters. It increases the extent of our denial, and it further skews the justification offered for the punishment administered.
Christian apologists have been lying about the nature of the biblical Jesus for centuries, and most of the faithful have taken this message to heart, without conducting an independent study of the scriptures. The fact remains that the Jesus figure is just as bad as or worse than the tyrant god of the Old Testament. It’s just that he wraps it into a prettier package with a flowery bow. There’s no way around this- eternal punishment is as bad as it gets.
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