1551-1600

(1551) Betty Crocker

If you tell Christians that Jesus probably didn’t exist, they might make the claim that “most New Testament scholars confirm that Jesus existed and that if Jesus didn’t exist then we would know about it.”

You then have to remind them, or more to the point, argue with them, that New Testament scholars are using the New Testament as their source (which is fallacious, circular reasoning), that the few extra-biblical sources they reference are weak and apparent forgeries, and that they are mostly practicing Christians with their jobs and careers on the line. But you could also tell them that even in this day and age, there exists widespread belief in people who never lived.  A great example….Betty Crocker.

In Dr. Richard Carrier’s book On The Historicity Of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt; (Chapter 6, page 235) he writes:

“In 1945 Betty Crocker was rated in a national survey as the second most admired woman in America, and to this day a street is named after her in Golden Valley, Minnesota, where she still lives. Her father was William Crocker, a successful corporate executive in the food industry, and she started her career answering letters on cooking questions for her father’s company, then acquired her own national radio show where she delivered cooking advice for twenty-four years. Later she had her own television show, while making appearances on other TV shows and in TV commercials to promote her products. I ve seen actual video tapes of her cooking and speaking, and her picture still adorns various General Mills baking products. She has also published several cookbooks, and now has her own Website. All that is 100 percent true. And yet she doesn’t exist. She was never born, never lived, never spoke, never appeared on TV, and never wrote a word. Others simply wrote or appeared in her name. Welcome to the world of the mythical corporate mascot.”

Jesus might very well be an ancient version of Betty Crocker. If something of this nature happened in the 20th Century, then it is even more likely to have happened in the 1st.

(1552) Script mining versus prophecy fulfillment

Christian apologists as well as their non-critical fans often trot out the claim that Jesus fulfilled 350+ prophecies from the Old Testament. This is used as a proof that Jesus was the messiah foretold many centuries earlier. And it is undeniable that there are many parallels between the reported deeds, actions, and sayings of Jesus and what is written in the Old Testament.

This would seem to offer some evidence for the messianic status of Jesus, as well as his alleged divinity. However, there is a much simpler and more plausible explanation for the existence of these parallel stories. The writers of the gospels mined the Old Testament scriptures for ideas, themes, quotes, and so forth to embellish and legitimize their writings. This is not unusual- Joseph Smith, in the 19th Century, copied large portions of the Book of Isaiah while developing the Book of Mormon.

Script mining and plagiarism are age-old methods used by authors seeking inspiration. It started as soon as the first person wrote something after reading what something else had written. It was employed generously by the Old Testament-literate gospel authors, and now, centuries later, it has been conveniently misinterpreted by Christians as a sign of prophecy fulfillment.

(1553) The strongest argument

Instead of laboring over scriptural research, church history, archaeology, and relevant scientific information, perhaps the best way to test the authenticity of Christianity is to observe the world in which we live. Does it seem consistent with the claims of Christianity? As an extension to Reason #2, the following was taken from:

https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/to-pray-or-to-sacrifice-a-goat-820.html

When you wake up tomorrow morning and leave your house, take a quick look skyward before you get into your car to drive off. Can you really imagine, for instance, seeing Jesus descending from the heavens—perhaps casting a luminous specter over the local Dairy Queen—ready to separate the righteous from the wicked? Is that the kind of world in which we live? Or do we live in the more prosaic, albeit still amazing, world that science has illuminated for us? Do we live in a world rife with miracles and prodigies and magic and supernaturalism? Or do we live in a world that, although deeply mysterious due to our continuing ignorance, operates according to a comprehensible natural order that allows for no convenient, anomalous miracles?

This is a subtle but eminently powerful argument against the truth of Christianity. And it is probably the strongest argument.  The incriminating evidence is available to everyone every minute of every day. And it is screaming loud and clear- THE WORLD WE LIVE IN IS NOT THE WORLD OF CHRISTIANITY.

(1554) God flunks the design of the human eye

Christians who claim that the human eye is evidence for intelligent design, preferably by their imagined deity, are barking up the wrong tree. They are trotting out an example that is a major embarrassment to their cause. The following is taken from:

https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/using-intelligent-design-to-show-that-there-is-no-god-the-creator-915.html

Believers in Intelligent Design claim that the human eye is too complicated to have evolved from anything simpler. They say that if it had evolved there would, for example, be some creatures that had only half an eye, which, so they say, would be useless because it wouldn’t work. They argue that only a complete eye, such as the human eye, can be of any use.

Evolutionists have answered these claims by arguing that the human eye could have evolved. Beginning with a light sensitive patch of skin, plus a few million years of evolution, a working human eye–or something very similar–could result. And even though the intermediate results might not have been very good, they would have been better than nothing.

In fact, even half an eye is useful; it is better than no eye at all. Having half an eye is a better survival strategy than not being able to sense light at all. Being able to detect the difference between light and shadow would increase a creature’s awareness of its surroundings and of approaching dangers. Since it would aid survival, that is all that evolution needs to eventually produce a human eye.

Believers in Intelligent Design assume that features such as the human eye are perfect for the job they do. This must be so, they say, because they were created that way. However, the human eye is not perfect. It does a good-enough job to be extremely useful, but it is very far from being perfect.

Professor Greg Downey of Macquarie University, in a lecture on the evolution of the human eye, made the comment that if a first year engineering student handed up a plan for the human eye as a design for an organ of seeing s/he would be immediately failed and told to redo it properly. If a first year engineering student could do better, what does that say about the creator? (This question will be discussed in more detail below.)

One of the worst design faults in the human eye is the way in which information from the light sensitive cells of the retina are passed to the brain. The output of the light sensitive cells is actually taken from the front, in the direction from which the light is coming and entering the cell. This means that the connection from the light sensitive cell to the nerve cell partly blocks off the cells in the retina, reducing its efficiency and sensitivity. Worse, those nerves then pass across the front of the retina, again blocking off some of its sensitivity. All the nerve cells exit the eyeball through one fairly large opening. This means that part of the retina has no light sensitive cells, thus producing a blind spot. We don’t usually notice this blind spot because the brain fills in the gap by extrapolating from the data coming from other nerves. But it is there, and its existence can easily be shown by a simple experiment that can be found in any book that discusses the eye and vision.

I have no reticence in saying that any competent designer of the human eye would have avoided these problems by taking the nerves out of the back of the light sensitive cells in the retina. No exit hole for the nerves would then be necessary and there would be no blind spot in a person’s vision, and no loss of sensitivity due to the nerves blocking off some of the retina. It seems safe to say that the human eye was not designed by a creator with the engineering competence of a first year engineering student In fact I would go so far as to say that the designer was completely incompetent, yet this is the incompetent design that believers in Intelligent Design want to lay in the hands of their God, the alleged Creator of humankind.

The manner in which the human eye is constructed is the expected outcome of an unguided evolutionary process. It indicates not only that the human eye evolved over time but also that a perfect creator was not guiding the proceedings.  Both of these conclusions emphatically suggest that Christianity is a myth.

(1555) A universe of false beliefs

Christianity was born and thrived in a world of alternative facts and false beliefs. Reality was no barrier to the development of dogma that incorporated all sorts of supernatural shenanigans. Whenever it seems unlikely that people could be so easily duped into accepting fakery, it is instructive to see how much foolishness still exists today. The following was taken from:

https://godlessmama.com/

This is a modified and updated version of a similar list I posted in February 2016.  The bad news for some people will be that they see some of their closely held beliefs being contradicted here.  For my part the bad news is that the list is not only still relevant but required an update.  Still, there are some things that simply must be said (and more than once, apparently).

  • 9/11 was not an inside job.
  • It wasn’t a “false flag” either.
  • Neither was Sandy Hook.
  • Neither were the shootings in Orlando, Charleston, San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Ft. Hood, or anywhere else.
  • In fact, there is no such thing as a “false flag” (a la Alex Jones).
  • The moon landing really happened.
  • So did the Holocaust.
  • Lizard people aren’t real.
  • Fluoride in the water supply is good for your teeth.
  • The earth is not flat.
  • And it is 4.54 billion years old.
  • And it goes around the sun, not the other way around.
  • There are no chemtrails, just contrails.
  • The Illuminati do not control the music industry.
  • Pizzagate is bullshit.
  • GMOs are just as safe as conventional foods.
  • Organic isn’t healthier.
  • It’s not better for the environment either.
  • Prayer doesn’t work.
  • Astrology doesn’t work either.
  • Neither does homeopathy.
  • But vaccines do.
  • And they don’t cause autism.
  • InfoWars is not news.
  • Alternative medicine is not medicine.
  • Big PharmaTMis not suppressing a known cure for cancer.
  • Including pot.
  • No, seriously – pot does not cure cancer.
  • Everything is made of chemicals.
  • Trump’s inauguration crowd was not the biggest in history.
  • Humans were not healthier 50,000 years ago than they are today.
  • Not 5,000 years ago or 500 years ago either.
  • Guns don’t make you safer.
  • Gay sex does not cause earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, tsunamis, fires, volcano eruptions, landslides, stock market crashes, train derailments, bridge collapses, oil spills, or anything else.
  • There is no Deep State.
  • Taxes are not theft.
  • Microwave ovens don’t turn into cameras.
  • Nuclear power is safe.
  • The Big Bang really happened.
  • And it happened 13.8 billion years ago.
  • Anthropogenic climate change is real.
  • All life on earth evolved from a common ancestor via natural selection.
  • There is no evidence for ghosts, an afterlife, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, ancient aliens, alien abductions, reincarnation, telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance, precognition, the soul, demons, spirits, angels, witchcraft, or magic.
  • There almost certainly is no god.

We live in an ocean of misinformation and false beliefs, even though we have highly advanced mechanisms for storing, transferring and vetting information.  This was not so in the time that Jesus allegedly walked the earth.  It is not surprising that most of the people who currently  believe in the divinity and savior status of Jesus also believe in many of the above listed delusions and conspiracy theories. The perception of truth and reality is not an intuitive exercise- it takes a large degree of conscious effort. Most theists who undergo this process end up as atheists.

(1556) The Beatles analogy

If someone today wrote about the many scenes of hysteria that surrounded the Beatles rock group during the 1960’s, but that nothing written by anyone during that decade mentioned anything about the Beatles, would there be a reason to doubt the veracity of such a claim?  Yes, of course. Well, the exact same problem exists with the stories of Jesus during his sojourn as a Jewish preacher in Palestine. The following is taken from:

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

Where are the contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life?

“There is not a single contemporary historical mention of Jesus, not by Romans or by Jews, not by believers or by unbelievers, not during his entire lifetime. This does not disprove his existence, but it certainly casts great doubt on the historicity of a man who was supposedly widely known to have made a great impact on the world. Someone should have noticed.”

– Dan Barker

The Gospel story, with its figure of Jesus of Nazareth, cannot be found before the Gospels. In Christian writings earlier than Mark, including almost all of the New Testament epistles, as well as in many writings from the second century, the object of Christian faith is never spoken of as a human man who had recently lived, taught, performed miracles, suffered and died at the hands of human authorities, or rose from a tomb outside Jerusalem. There is no sign in the epistles of Mary or Joseph, Judas or John the Baptist, no birth story, teaching or appointment of apostles by Jesus, no mention of holy places or sites of Jesus’ career, not even the hill of Calvary or the empty tomb. This silence is so pervasive and so perplexing that attempted explanations for it have proven inadequate.:

– Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle

“What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references – nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death – even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era – there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time – the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.”:

– Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, pp55-56, 2001[1]

It may surprise Christians to learn that there are no contemporary historical documents for ‘Jesus, the Christ’. Even though there are writings that have survived from the time periods, before, during and after Jesus, and the Christian church has these records! The writings of Paul are not contemporary accounts: they do not appear until years after the purported time of Jesus and they include a concession that Paul never actually met Jesus. The Gospels come much later (as evidenced by the fact that Paul never cites them) and there is good reason that all four of the surviving, accepted Gospels are based on Mark, which in turn is likely to be a form of ‘Midrash‘, not historical documentation.

While some apologists attempt to wave this problem away by claiming that “Jesus” would not have been a noteworthy figure, this apologetic tactic contradicts what the Gospels say about Jesus. One cannot hold, at the same time, that the Gospels are true eyewitness accounts of actual events, AND that the Jesus figure in those works would not attract the attention of men like Philo, Pliny or Seneca. It’s an absurd contradiction.

Even the relatively sober account of Jesus found in the first gospel, The Gospel of ‘Mark’, presents us with a Jesus who garnered quite a bit of attention. Consider for example, Mark 2:1-12, where the crowd coming to see Jesus is so great, that a paralytic has to be lowered through the roof of a building Jesus is in, in order for Jesus to see him. Elsewhere Mark tells us that the crowds that Jesus drew were so overflowing that he has to lecture from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus travels from Bethany to Jerusalem, throngs of people line the roads to welcome him. Mark also tells us of how Jesus performed miracles before thousands: on two different occasions Jesus feeds thousands through miracles.

In short, ‘Mark’ gives us a ‘Jesus’ who is bigger than the Beatles, and I believe the Beatles analogy is a good one: we even have a nice parallel between the story of Jesus’ lecture from a ship at Galilee, and the Beatles famous ‘rooftop’ audition, where they were forced to play an impromptu concert on a rooftop, lest the crowds that would rush to see them cause a riot. In both cases, the crowds had reached, hysterical, historically noteworthy, proportions. Yet, John E. Remsberg, in ‘The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence’ makes the curious observation that no one from this era wrote a single word about the Jesus Hysteria. Remsberg notes: “(While) Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library, (no where)… in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged brief passages in the works of a Jewish author (Josephus), and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.”

If there did not survive much of anything written in the time and place of Jesus’s alleged ministry, then the lack of contemporaneous commentary would be understandable.  But there are many such written documents and their silence concerning Jesus is a disturbing problem for Christianity. Jesus, if he existed at all, was nowhere nearly as popular as the Beatles.

(1557) The strange selection of Paul

The most important human figure in the development of Christianity was Paul or Tarsus. His letters could be used, minus the gospels, to establish the entire suite of Christian doctrine. However, it is problematic to consider why this man was selected by God for this mission.

Paul had heard the message of Christ and had rejected it.  In other words, he met the definition of person destined to spend eternity in Hell.  And not only that, Paul was an anti-Christian who campaigned in the persecution of Christians and even, according to Acts, oversaw the stoning death of an influential Christian (Stephen). In other words, Paul had exercised his free will and had made a decision that Jesus was not the son of God, and that worship of him was not only invalid, but a reason for punishment up to and including death.

Why would God select such an individual to be his prominent spokesperson? Did God circumvent Paul’s free will?  Did Paul in any way deserve his reprieve from certain eternal misery? Why did Paul get involuntarily saved while billions of others, much more deserving, do not receive a similar life-changing vision?

The selection of Paul was indeed strange and exceedingly unfair by any reasonable standard. By definition, God can do whatever God wants to do; he is not bound by modern rules of ethics. But anyone thinking about this situation should ask themselves: Is It more likely that God chose an undeserving man who was actively working against his glory, or that a man who had a simple hallucination or dream changed his mind about Jesus?

(1558) Jesus’s will is different from God’s

A verse tucked away in the New Testament Gospel of Luke contains an alleged quote of Jesus’s that does not square with conventional Christian doctrine:

Luke 22:42

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

A nearly identical verse is found in Matthew 26:39. Jesus supposedly made this plea during his final moments as a free man, while in the Garden of Gethsemane, surrounded by his disciples. It clearly indicates that Jesus’s will was not to be captured, while it was God’s will that he be so. This appears to contradict the concept that Jesus was God.

The apologetic response is that Jesus was speaking as a man at that time, and not as God. Christians often refer to Jesus’s dual nature- both fully man and fully God. So one might presume using that logic that Jesus’s man-side desired to remain free while Jesus’s God-side desired that he be captured and eventually executed. And, under stress, Jesus’s man-side overwhelmed his God-side. This theory has some merit, but it is far less likely than the alternate theory- that the authors of Luke and Matthew viewed Jesus as being a separate being from God, and therefore not part of a trinity or binary relationship with God, but rather as a normal human being who had been blessed by god to work miracles and to be used as a human sacrifice.

It is hard to imagine that this verse would have been written in this way if the authors had viewed Jesus as being divine. It would probably have read something like:

“Father, as we are one in purpose, my time has come.”

(1559) The more closely a church follows the Bible, the more hateful it is

There is a wide gulf of disparity between the Westboro Baptist Church in Wichita and Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston. Both claim to be following the word of God and doing God’s will. But they are focused on totally different things. The Westboro Baptist Church emphasizes strongly the biblically-prescribed punishments due homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators, and idolaters.  Osteen’s church is centered on spreading love and forgiveness, charity, and personal growth. The ironic truth is that the despicable Westboro Baptist Church is more closely following the Bible than the inspiring Lakewood Church. The following is taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2017/04/the-false-reality-why-christianity.html

The more closely a church follows the bible the more hateful, prejudiced, and archaic the congregation becomes. But, as I found out for myself, people don’t go to church to learn about what the bible says. Most Christians haven’t even read the bible, only verses here and there from the sermons and usually only from the New Testament. Anyone who has read it, I find it hard to believe that they are ok with all of the terrible things it promotes. The bad parts are simply ignored or explained away. So, rather than the foundation of the Christian belief system, which is what I thought it was, the bible seems to be more like a symbol. Something people can use to give them meaning for the things that happen in their lives, especially if they’ve gone through a tragedy, finding a verse that seems to apply to their situation.

The Bible clearly states that unfaithful sinners will be sent to hell, and this is proclaimed loud and strong by the Westboro congregants. But you won’t hear that message at Lakewood, where a non-biblical message of universal forgiveness is more likely to be presented. So we have the paradox that the church that closely follows the Bible is also the one that virtually everyone agrees is reprehensible, and the one that deviates from the Bible is the one that nearly everybody sees as being positive and uplifting.  It should be obvious that this situation would be reversed if indeed the Bible was the word of God.

(1560) St. Genevieve

Five hundred years after the alleged ministry of Jesus, a story was written about St. Genevieve (approx. 420-510 CE), a peasant girl who became the patron saint of Paris.  As described below at this website, there is a strong parallel between the stories written about these two people:

https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/lecture.html

In 520 A.D. an anonymous monk recorded the life of Saint Genevieve, who had died only ten years before that. In his account of her life, he describes how, when she ordered a cursed tree cut down, monsters sprang from it and breathed a fatal stench on many men for two hours; while she was sailing, eleven ships capsized, but at her prayers they were righted again spontaneously; she cast out demons, calmed storms, miraculously created water and oil from nothing before astonished crowds, healed the blind and lame, and several people who stole things from her actually went blind instead. No one wrote anything to contradict or challenge these claims, and they were written very near the time the events supposedly happened–by a religious man whom we suppose regarded lying to be a sin. Yet do we believe any of it? Not really. And we shouldn’t.

As David Hume once said, why do such things not happen now? Is it a coincidence that the very time when these things no longer happen is the same time that we have the means and methods to check them in the light of science and careful investigation? I’ve never seen monsters spring from a tree, and I don’t know anyone who has, and there are no women touring the country transmuting matter or levitating ships. These events look like tall tales, sound like tall tales, and smell like tall tales. Odds are, they’re tall tales.

But we should try to be more specific in our reasons, and not rely solely on common sense impressions. And there are specific reasons to disbelieve the story of Genevieve, and they are the same reasons we have to doubt the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus. For the parallel is clear: the Gospels were written no sooner to the death of their main character–and more likely many decades later–than was the case for the account of Genevieve; and like that account, the Gospels were also originally anonymous–the names now attached to them were added by speculation and oral tradition half a century after they were actually written. Both contain fabulous miracles supposedly witnessed by numerous people. Both belong to the same genre of literature: what we call a “hagiography,” a sacred account of a holy person regarded as representing a moral and divine ideal. Such a genre had as its principal aim the glorification of the religion itself and of the example set by the perfect holy person represented as its central focus. Such literature was also a tool of propaganda, used to promote certain moral or religious views, and to oppose different points of view. The life of Genevieve, for example, was written to combat Arianism. The canonical Gospels, on the other hand, appear to combat various forms of proto-Gnosticism. So being skeptical of what they say is sensible from the start.

A hagiography is the term used to describe the biography of a saint or religious person. It is nowadays considered a pejorative reference to stories written by authors who were heavily biased or reverential to their subjects. The anonymous people who wrote the histories of St. Genevieve and Jesus were ensconced in this literary genre, and its use was ubiquitous during the early days of Christianity. Hagiographers were not historians and the tales they present are mostly fiction or highly exaggerated truths.  There is no reason to conclude the gospels are any more reliable than the myths attached to St. Genevieve.

(1561) God fails important prayer test

The litmus test of any religion claiming the presence of a supernatural being that listens to and answers prayer is the efficacy of such prayers. The probability that such a deity exists can be effectively measured by conducting scientific studies of prayer.  These meta studies have convincingly shown that prayers have no effect whatsoever.  The following website discusses an ingenious make-or-break test to determine if God is capable of communicating clearly and consistently with his ardent followers:

http://new.exchristian.net/2017/04/why-has-science-failed-to-find-god.html

Another intriguing statistical test of prayer was conducted online in 1999-2000 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Respondents were asked whether they approved or disapproved of same-sex marriage. They were then told to pray and ask whether god approved or disapproved and rank how sure they were that god had given them a definite answer. About half said they approved of same-sex marriage and the other half said they didn’t. However, 43 of the 49 who said they got an answer from their prayers said they were either “very sure” or “certain” “that they had accurately determined the will of God.” Interestingly, in every single case, whether the respondent approved or disapproved of same-sex marriage, their prayers “confirmed” that god agreed with them. Given these results, I think that we can be pretty sure that no god was involved in this study.

God failed this test and was given an “F.” Anyone who believes in God must have a way of explaining this result, which usually includes highly credulous mental gymnastics. The writing is on the wall and anyone with clear eyes can read it: The God of Christianity does not exist.

(1562) The missing miracle

When observed as a whole, the Bible contains a whopping contradiction concerning God’s assistance to his ‘chosen people.’ First it must be conceded that we are dealing with stories that are mostly or fully fictional, but, as a united, collated book, it should still display a reasonable degree of consistency.

In the Book of Exodus, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt and God worked many incredible miracles, specifically 10 supernaturally-devised plagues against the Pharaoh and his people, to enable Moses and his people to escape to the Holy Land.  A few centuries later, the ‘chosen people’ were again enslaved, at least economically and psychologically, by the Roman occupation of their land.  And just like in Egypt, God came, this time in the form of Jesus. But there was no deliverance.

This is the missing miracle. Jesus/God arrived at a time of supreme dissatisfaction among his chosen ones, each one of them dreaming of the day that they would once again by masters of their own existence. Being God, Jesus had the power to deliver them from the Romans just as he had done while they were enslaved in Egypt.  But he didn’t.

This is the miracle that would have been needed for Judeo-Christianity to have a measure of credibility. For the god of the universe to have arrived on Earth in the form of a Jewish man and fail to deliver his kindred souls from the clutches of a pagan occupying force is unthinkable. The same God who rescued his people from Egypt utterly failed to accomplish the same in Palestine. In fact, the situation for the Jews only worsened over the next four decades. This inconsistency exposes the soft underbelly of the Bible and erases any semblance of its relationship to reality.

(1563) The faith conundrum

There exists a conflict that hits squarely at the heart of Christian theology.  Jesus stated that faith is required for any prayer to produce a miraculous outcome, and faith is also necessary to gain entry into heaven.  However, Christians have historically failed to produce any verifiable miracles from prayer, indicating, according to scripture, that they lack the requisite faith- the same faith that would be needed for them to gain eternal life.

Matthew 17:14-20

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

The following was taken from:

https://www.gotquestions.org/faith-work.html

Our salvation depends solely upon Jesus Christ. He is our substitute, taking sin’s penalty (2 Corinthians 5:21); He is our Savior from sin (John 1:29); He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). The work necessary to provide salvation was fully accomplished by Jesus Himself, who lived a perfect life, took God’s judgment for sin, and rose again from the dead (Hebrews 10:12).

The Bible is quite clear that our own works do not help merit salvation. We are saved “not because of righteous things we had done” (Titus 3:5). “Not by works” (Ephesians 2:9). “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). This means that offering sacrifices, keeping the commandments, going to church, being baptized, and other good deeds are incapable of saving anyone. No matter how “good” we are, we can never measure up to God’s standard of holiness (Romans 3:23Matthew 19:17Isaiah 64:6).

The Bible is just as clear that salvation is conditional; God does not save everyone. The one condition for salvation is faith in Jesus Christ. Nearly 200 times in the New Testament, faith (or belief) is declared to be the sole condition for salvation (John 1:12Acts 16:31).

If Christians cannot move mountains, heal amputees, or really do anything of a miraculous nature through prayer, then they must be lacking the faith needed to make these things happen. In that case, they also do not meet the doctrinal requirement for eternal life in paradise. It would seem at least that nobody alive today has earned that celestial ticket.

(1564) Brain damage correlates to religiosity

A recent scientific study has discovered a link between damage to a certain part of the brain and the tendency to be overly religious. This finding has implications questioning the legitimacy of the Christian reward/punishment scheme.  The following was taken from:

http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/study-finds-link-between-brain-damage-and-religious-fundamentalism?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#link_time=1494145972

Scientists found that damage in a certain part of the brain is linked to an increase in religious fundamentalism. In particular, lesions in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex reduced cognitive flexibility – the ability to challenge our beliefs based on new evidence.

The researchers, led by Jordan Grafman of Northwestern University, utilized data gathered from Vietnam War veterans as part of the Vietnam Head Injury Study. They compared levels of religious fundamentalism between 119 vets who had lesions and 30 veterans who didn’t.

The study further confirms that the prefrontal cortex is associated with religious beliefs and is the latest in a number of recent studies that look to find the neurological basis for religion.

“The variation in the nature of religious beliefs are governed by specific brain areas in the anterior parts of the human brain and those brain areas are among the most recently evolved areas of the human brain,” said Grafman.

How free these areas are from disease, in particular the part known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, may determine a person’s mental openness – necessary to appreciate the “diversity of religious thought.” The prefrontal cortex was previously linked to having a cognitive function in spiritual experiences.

The scientists specify that they are not stating religious people overall are mentally inflexible or that belief is caused by brain damage. There are many cognitive processes involved in forming beliefs. But in some people, the system of “belief revision” may become suppressed due to brain damage.2

The researchers define fundamentalism as a cognitive approach that “embodies adherence to a set of firm religious beliefs advocating unassailable truths about human existence.“ They write in their paper that the appeal of such a rigid way of thinking is in promoting “coherence and predictability” within a religious group. People in fundamentalist groups tend to value strong commitment to their community, rejection of other beliefs, often combined with science denial and violence. Deliberation becomes victim to conviction.

Based on this research and the salvation criteria generally supported by scripture and the opinions of clergy, the misfortune of sustaining a brain injury could ironically shift a person’s eternal home from hell to heaven.  What this finding represents is another example of how one’s attitude to spiritual matters is not fully within conscious control.  Under game theory, this is a failure of epic proportions for a scheme that purports to separate individuals into only two bins, one replete with hideous torture, the other with pacific bliss…..FOREVER.  Christian theology only works if everyone has an equal opportunity to acquire the requisite faith. They obviously don’t.

(1565) Jesus did not explain the New Covenant

Christianity argues that Jesus’s death and resurrection represented a New Covenant for mankind that replaced the Old Covenant given by God to the Jews a few thousand years earlier.  The New Covenant replaced the 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law with the redemptive power of Jesus’s blood. This critically important change in God’s interaction with the Jews and, by extension, those Gentiles who joined the movement, should have been explained by Jesus post-resurrection. Despite the record of Jesus meeting the remaining disciples after his resurrection, the gospels do not record him revealing this important information.  The following is taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/6akip4/jesus_said_nothing_after_his_deathresurrection_to/

After Jesus’ resurrection, He was around for 40 days before His ascension and interacted with many people. He met with all 11 disciples on at least 3 different occasions and even ate with them.

If you wish to interpret 40 days as “a long period of time” instead of literally 40 days, that doesn’t change the issue.

The changes described by Paul from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, as they pertain to Jews, reportedly took effect upon the resurrection of Christ (or possibly upon His death), but the disciples continued to follow Mosaic Law and even Paul continued to endorse Mosaic Law. Paul was accused of teaching contrary to Mosaic Law which he adamantly denied.

PLEASE NOTE: I’m not referring to the inclusion of Gentiles into the religion. I’m referring to all the things that Jesus’ death/resurrection is now believed to have changed for Jews under Mosaic Law.

If after Jesus’ resurrection, Jews were no longer under Mosaic Law, why didn’t Jesus say that to His disciples during His 40 days and 3 meetings with them? When they sat down to eat, if He had said “Guys, you don’t have to do that ritualistic hand washing any more”, the follow up questions would have provided the most significant scripture ever written and the foundation of modern Christianity (the New Covenant) would have been written in red instead of being scattered throughout some letters written by a regular man.

The fact that these changes occurred gradually over decades, weren’t observed by the disciples, weren’t mentioned by Jesus during His post-resurrection meetings with His disciples and others, and were denied by Paul when he was accused, at least invites suspicion.

It seems rather certain that if a new covenant was being offered, Jesus would have been the first to announce this breaking news to his disciples and that his words to this effect would have been faithfully recorded in the gospels.  Absent this fact, ‘inviting suspicion’ is putting it mildly.

(1566) From stoning to tassels

One of the strangest and most reprehensible segues in all literature occurs in Numbers, Chapter 15.  God commands killing of a man for violating a ridiculous rule and then immediately becomes concerned about a trivial detail related to his followers’ attire.

Numbers 15:32-41

While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.”  So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.’ ”

Of course, these verses will never be read in Christian churches, and most Christians are completely unaware of them.  Nevertheless, they are in the Bible- the book they hold up as the ultimate standard for defining human morality.

(1567) The baby killing test

Most Christians view that Bible as the singular inspired work of God, placing it in a different and more exalted category above all other literary works of men.  Being a masterpiece of the creator, everything in the Bible must be true, fair, and righteous.  Given that, the following is a thought experiment that tests that hypothesis:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/DebunkingChristians/Page21.htm

Christians, I’d like to ask you an interesting question.  I’d like to know whether you personally AGREE or DISAGREE with your God on the following commands:

Do you AGREE with your God that the innocent babies and infants living in the cities that God wants to punish should be dashed against rocks and walls and floors so that they die instantly?

 “Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” (Psalms 137:9)

 “The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” (Hosea 13:16)

“Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.” (Isaiah 13:15,16)

“Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.” (Isaiah 13:18)

Christians, do you AGREE with your God that the innocent pregnant women living in the city that God punishes should have their stomachs ripped open savagely so that both the woman and fetus die a horrific bloody death?

“At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.” (2 Kings 15:16)

Just tell me whether you AGREE or DISAGREE with your God on these commands.  Please don’t sidestep the question!  I know you can’t answer this cause either answer will make you look bad.

Now I’m going to be civilized here and offer you a way out of this no-win situation here.  And that way is if you are ready to concede that God never commanded or wrote any of this, and therefore these were written by men who had savage and barbaric beliefs and ways that were their own creation due to their primitive animal like nature.

Now think about it.  Do you really think that an all loving, merciful, wise God would give such orders?  Can’t you just admit that these words are merely the works of a savage tribe of Israelites who were warlike and barbaric?  It should be s obvious to you by now!

Christians, Visualize THIS!  Could you do it?

Christians, in my previous post entitled “DO YOU AGREE WITH GOD?!” I asked whether you AGREED or DISAGREED with your God that INNOCENT babies and infants should be smashed against rocks and walls and pregnant women should have their stomachs ripped open so that they and their infant die together, as he commanded in the Bible.  In response, a lot of you responded by saying that you do agree with your God or you implied that you agree by saying that “God is always right and just”.  Alright, now here’s what I want you to do now.  Close your eyes and try to visualize the following:

 Suppose you lived in the Old Testament era, and God commanded you to capture a city and then afterward he commands you to take the babies and dash them against the walls or rocks.  Now try to visualize yourself going into one of the captured cities’ homes and doing one of the following:  1) From a warm crib, you pick up a LIVING BREATHING flesh and blood baby who is smiling :):):) at you, and then taking it and with all your strength throwing it against the wall as hard as you can!!!!!!  Or, 2) imagine taking the warm LIVING BREATHING flesh and blood smiling :):):) baby and carrying it outside to the edge of a cliff with rocks below, and then purposely DROPPING the warm blooded baby right off of it!!!!!!

CAN YOU really do that???  COULD YOU HONESTLY bring yourself to throw a living breathing baby off the cliff???

 Now, I know that a lot of you can’t (hopefully) so why don’t you give yourselves a break and just admit that God would never have commanded these things, and therefore these Old Testament stories never happened, and these books in the Bible are not the word of a loving God, but of fallible men?  Please give yourselves a break and remove your guilt, uneasiness and doubt, and just admit the plain truth.  Stop forcing your mind to believe things that your heart knows not to be true.  It’s not really that hard if you try.  I’ve done it before, and so can you.

A rubber band can stretch only so far before it breaks and the credulity that a Christian is burdened with must expand very close to that snapping point. Once you get over that hump and realize that some parts of the Bible were written by men who were not inspired by God, then it becomes easier to see the Bible for what is really is:  a 100% human creation that has nothing to do with any supernatural beings.

(1568) Paul’s fate

Paul, the Apostle (CE 5 – 65) was the only person according to the Bible that God selected  for his service using a forceful interventional method. Paul was supposedly en route to Damascus to locate and arrest Christians to be taken back to Jerusalem as prisoners when an encounter with Jesus turned his life around.

This story is highly suspicious (for one) because it seems unlikely that Paul could have had the capability and resources to manage the arrest of anybody, much less a group of individuals, while transporting them 200 miles on foot back to Jerusalem. It is more likely a story that was made up to add luster to his conversion, which likely occurred sometime around CE 36.

Paul encountered many problems during his ministry journeys, including a shipwreck. He enumerated some of his tribulations in 2 Corinthians 11: 23-28:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

But what is most troubling for the premise that Paul was specially chosen by God for the critical mission of fleshing out Christian doctrine was his ultimate arrest and martyrdom in Rome.  This sequence of events began in CE 57. Then, he was arrested in Jerusalem and went through a series of legal troubles before eventually being sent to Rome where he was initially under house arrest. Sometime between CE 64 and 68, he was executed, perhaps by beheading. He was likely around 60 years old.

The story of Paul over the period of his ministry appears to be similar to every other Christian past and present- a mix of success and failure, achievement and setback, joy and depression, with a twinge of calamity- the expected outcome of the probabilistic nature of living a normal life.  Where this runs into trouble for Christianity is that Paul was supposedly God’s chosen one, his favored representative, the one that God selected to be his chief post-Jesus communicator.  Given the alleged fact that he is unlimited in powers, God should have supernaturally protected Paul throughout his ministry. But he didn’t.

Any skeptic can see this clearly. It appears to be millions of times more likely that Paul was just a regular person who converted to Christianity and then started to proselytize his newfound faith- enjoying no special protection or guidance from an all-powerful God. The fact that God failed to safeguard his uniquely chosen apostle is evidence that the story of Paul’s miraculous conversion is false and that everything he wrote was of his own creation.

(1569) Language miracle and a failed prediction

In the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, a story is told of the Pentecost where people from many different countries miraculously heard everyone else speaking in their native languages.  But what was more troublesome for the believability of Christianity is that a prediction of the end times was predicated on this event.  Here is the scripture in question:

Acts 2:5-21

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.  These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

 “ ‘In the last days, God says,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your young men will see visions,

your old men will dream dreams.

Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

and they will prophesy.

I will show wonders in the heavens above

and signs on the earth below,

blood and fire and billows of smoke.

The sun will be turned to darkness

and the moon to blood

before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

And everyone who calls

on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

The following was taken from:

http://www.biblicalnonsense.com/chapter14.html

The book of Acts tells the reader a story in which a gathered crowd simultaneously understands all the speaking disciples in every language (Acts 2:1-6). While that sounds quite deranged, it’s not the point I intend to make because apologists often rely on the divine miracle fallback. When the men in the audience accused the speakers of drunkenness, Peter reminded the crowd of what Joel understood God to say. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God” (Acts 2:17). Peter’s speech goes on to explain how unusual events were to be expected when the world was about to end. Thus, he was obviously under the impression that they were living in the final days on earth. Even so, we’re still here. It’s hardly likely that “the last days” have been the past 2000 years when the earth was supposedly only 4000 years old at the time Peter made this prediction.

Thus, in this short segment of Acts, we have two major issues. One is that a miracle is presented that has no sensible explanation other than invoking the type of magic that seems to no longer exist today. Churches routinely use translators, the same as the United Nations.  The other is that this alleged event was supposed to be a harbinger for the end times. Nope. Two fails, Christianity is sinking.

(1570) Egyptian gods at work

Christianity holds that Yahweh is the only god in existence, even though he appears to be divided into three parts. However, there exists scripture in the Old Testament that demands explanation. It appears that some other, perhaps lesser, god was assisting the Egyptians during the events that led to the Passover.  The following is taken from:

http://www.biblicalnonsense.com/chapter14.html

Moses and Aaron are apparently well known throughout the region for the magic tricks that God teaches them. God demonstrates to Moses how to cast his rod to the ground in order to make it become a serpent. The transformation frightens him, but the serpent becomes a rod again when he grabs it by the tail. God also shows Moses how to make his hand become leprous. He can reverse the spell by touching the leprous hand to his body (Exodus 4:2-7).

 When the hour arrives for Moses and Aaron to impress the Egyptian Pharaoh, they perform the rod trick. However, the Pharaoh’s magicians are able to follow suit by transforming their rods into serpents. Aaron’s serpent rod then eats all the other serpent rods (Exodus 7:10-12). In a second attempt to outperform the Pharaoh’s magicians, Moses and Aaron transform an entire river into blood by touching it with their rods. Again, the Pharaoh’s magicians are able to replicate the feat. Moses and Aaron, refusing to give up, induce an aggregation of frogs to emerge from the waters and occupy the land. Yet again, the Pharaoh’s magicians demonstrate the same gimmick. In a fourth attempt to demonstrate God’s overwhelming power over Egypt, Moses and Aaron are able to create lice out of dust. Since the creation of life ex nihilo proves too difficult for the magicians, they concede that Moses and Aaron have the true power of God. As an encore, the victorious couple produces plagues of flies, cattle death, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the eventual killing of all the firstborn male children previously mentioned in The Darker Side Of God (Exodus 7-11).

Within the confines of orthodox Christian doctrine, the events described above are troublesome. They point to the presence of another supernatural deity or god-like agency that was assisting the Egyptian magicians to nearly match the tricks of Moses and Aaron.  Although most all skeptics and many Christians concede that this episode is fictional, it remains a part of the Bible, and God allegedly sculpted the scriptures to achieve his desired product. The fact that an example counter to monotheistic dogma is embedded in the scriptures is evidence that supernatural supervision of the Bible did not occur.

Some Christian apologists will claim that Satan was responsible for the powers displayed by the Egyptian magicians.  This might be a tidy way to rationalize the affair, but it leaves much room to contemplate why Satan’s feats are no longer on display. All in all , this story is a problematic sticking point for anyone who takes Christianity literally.

(1571) Hippocrates and Jesus

One way to measure the authenticity of Christianity’s claim that Jesus was God is to compare his knowledge with that of his contemporaries, or in the case to be discussed, someone who lived long before – Hippocrates, who was a Greek physician considered to be one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine.  As can be seen in the post below, this mortal man was more knowledgeable about the causes of epilepsy than the creator of the universe:

http://www.biblicalnonsense.com/trc/e3.html

I could elaborate on the difference between the Greeks and Hebrews for the rest of the book without adequately drawing deserved contrast between the two groups, pointing out for example how Plato and Aristotle argued for their positions while Jesus merely gave assertions and threatened those who did not accept them, or how Democritus appreciated the vastness of the universe while any Hebrew thought he was the center of it, but I will instead put the issue to rest with one undeniably moving final observation.

Hippocrates, the aforementioned father of medicine who lived from approximately 460-370 BCE, once said, “Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it.” Yet four hundred years after the mortal Hippocrates realized that there had to be a natural, rational explanation for the mysterious medical condition, Jesus was allegedly curing epilepsy by casting out demons. Hippocrates realized that people attributed epilepsy to demonic possession only because they did not understand it. This leads us to perhaps the most important question I will pose in this book. How is it that the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe sent a messenger, the savior of all humanity, who knew less than an ordinary man who had been dead for centuries? How could Hippocrates have a better understanding of the world than Jesus? Why should we hold Jesus as a superior teacher? It does not make sense.

Some Christians will rationalize that Jesus obviously knew the true causes of epilepsy but didn’t want to disabuse the hoi polloi of their preconceived notions and therefore feigned an exorcism while actually curing the organic cause of the affliction. This overlooks the fact that if this was true, Jesus reinforced a medical misunderstanding that would serve to retard incentives to find the true cause, while providing posterity the example of performing a useless, ineffective ritual.

(1572) Creating god in one’s image

A study conducted by Nicholas Epley in 2009 found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs. This evidence appears to negate any possibility that Christians are communicating with a singular supernatural entity.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2009/11/30/creating-god-in-ones-own-image/#.WSXd92jyuUk

He showed some 145 volunteers a strong argument in favour of affirmative action (it counters workplace biases) and a weak argument opposing it (it raises uncomfortable issues). Others heard a strong argument against (reverse discrimination) and a weak argument for (Britney and Paris agree!). The recruits did concur that the allegedly stronger argument was indeed stronger. Those who read the overall positive propaganda were not only more supportive of affirmative action but more likely to think that God would be in the pro-camp too.

In another study, Epley got people to manipulate themselves. He asked 59 people to write and perform a speech about the death penalty, which either matched their own beliefs or argued against them. The task shifted people’s attitudes towards the position in their speech, either strengthening or moderating their original views. And as in the other experiments, their shifting attitudes coincided with altered estimates of God’s attitudes (but not those of other people).

For his final trick, Epley looked at the brains of recruits as they in turn attempted to peer into the mind of God. While sitting in an fMRI scanner, 17 people had to state how they, God or an average American would feel on a list of social issues, including universal health care, stem cell research, euthanasia, abortion, sex education and more. As before, their answers revealed a closer match between their beliefs and those they ascribed to God, than those they credited to the average Joe or Jill.

The brain scans found the same thing, particularly in a region called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) that’s been linked to self-referential thinking. The mPFC is more active when we think about our own mindsets than those of others. Epley found that it was similarly abuzz when the recruits thought about their own attitude or God’s, but lower when they considered the average American. The three images below show the differences in brain activity between the three tasks and you can see that the ‘God’ and ‘self’ scans had little to distinguish them.

The results suggest that similar parts of the brain are involved when we consider our own beliefs and those of God – Epley thinks this is why we end up inferring a deity’s attitudes based on those we hold ourselves.

Brain scans don’t lie and they reveal what most skeptics have inferred from their own theistic to atheistic evolution- that voices from God are voices originating from inside their brains.  This would appear to negate any credence paid to any individual who claims that God has communicated directly with them- i.e. prophets, saints, and visionaries.

(1573) Finding the black cat

Evidence for the Christian god, as revealed by theologians and regular Christians, boils down to the Bible and the inner feelings of the faithful. What’s missing from this formula are tangibly detectable events or conditions that defy a natural order governed by dispassionate physical forces.  These should be ubiquitous if God is as defined by Christianity- an interested, manipulative, all-seeing and powerful overlord.  Otherwise, we are finding an invisible cat that doesn’t meow or drag in snakes from the backyard. The following is taken from:

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2017/05/theology-is-now-little-more-than-branch.html#more

One of the most common pushbacks I hear from theists is that reliable, verifiable data about God cannot be obtained because God cannot be detected by the tools of science. Which would have to be utter nonsense if it is true that God acts in human affairs, e.g., cures your nephew’s cancer, saves one person from a plane crash that killed 100 others, helps a baseball player get home runs. How can it possibly be true that the most awesome, ubiquitous force in the Cosmos, who supposedly helps people all the time, “can’t be detected by science.” That makes no sense whatever. Theists are playing games with us: “Oh yes, God is there, but only people with theistic sensibilities have access.” How convenient.

Theism is a gigantic pooling of ignorance. Its knowledge of God is an illusion, and thus Sam Harris’ comment that is the title of this post: “Surely there must come a time when we will acknowledge the obvious: theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance” (The End of Faith,p. 173). I suppose that theology can cling to some legitimacy as a study of human guesswork about God, but, beyond that, it’s just smoke and mirrors. Theology’s ignorance about God remains absolute—not that the profoundly pious don’t keep trying to make their case: A theologian is like a man going into the depths of a cave at midnight on a moonless night, without a flashlight, searching in the darkness for a black cat that isn’t there, and yelling, “I found it.”

The metaphor is apt- you follow the spelunker into a dark cave and when he announces that he found the cat, while offering no indications of such, you ask him to point to the cat so you can see it. When only he can see it, you conclude without hesitation that there is no cat.

(1574) Matthew meant to be allegorical

One of the principal reasons that Christianity is false is that the first two canonical Gospels, Mark and Matthew (on which Christians base Jesus being historically true), were not meant to be taken literally.  Rather, they were written as allegorical prose. The church altered the manuscripts to hide this fact so that people could not detect the allegorical characteristics of the original writings.  This was done to convince people that the Gospels were based on a real flesh and blood person in order to indoctrinate and recruit more misinformed followers.

What evidence do we have for this? Well we have Origen, one of the most influential figures of Christianity in the 3rd century.

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

As Dr. Richard Carrier wrote in his peer reviewed historical analysis On The Historicity Of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason For Doubt. (Chapter 10 page 405-406)

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

“Given any plausible prior probability (especially an initial prior of 50/50), this difference in consequents entails a very high probability that Mark composed this as an allegory for the entire gospel. We should conclude then that he did. This story is fiction.

Adding weight to this conclusion is manuscript evidence that the story either acquired or originally had the name Jesus Barabbas . Thus we really had, most improbably of all, two men named Jesus Son of the Father, exactly the same name. The odds of that being history are very small indeed; but the odds of it if it was an intentional fiction are effectively 100%. In the early third century, Origen not only attests to there being Greek manuscripts of Matthew that read that way, he himself makes the connection between Barabbas and the scapegoat at Yom Kippur, saying of the Barabbas narrative in the Gospels:

“You see! You have here the goat who is released alive into the wilderness, bearing in himself the sins of the people who were shouting and saying Crucify! Crucify! He is therefore the goat released alive into the wilderness, while the other [i.e. Jesus] is the goat dedicated to God as a sacrifice to atone for those sins, making of himself a true atonement for those who believe.”

Origen also sees Barrabas as symbolic of Israel’s sin, since Barrabas ‘is figuratively the Devil’, and Israel has adulterously chosen him as her husband instead of her true groom, Jesus.”

In citations 43-44 (page 406 OHJ)

“43-

In Mt. 27.16-17: see Merritt, ‘Jesus Barabbas’, p. 57; Reuben Swanson, New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines against Codex Vaticanus: Matthew (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), pp. 279-80; also in several Armenian, Georgic and Syriac manuscripts, demonstrating that even in Greek the variant existed as early as the fourth century (we have it attested in several later Greek manuscripts as well), and Origen reports that he saw it in Greek manuscripts of the early third century. In these manuscripts Barabbas is named Jesus Barabbas twice (in two distinct verses: 27.16 and 27.17), which cannot be accidental; therefore either a scribe deliberately changed his name to Jesus Barabbas in both verses (indicating the scribe understood the mythic symbolism and intended to make it even more clear) or that is what Matthew originally wrote. The latter is the more probable hypothesis (see following note). Matthew often improves on Mark in this way, though the copy of Mark that Matthew derived his text from may also have said Jesus Barabbas , since the evident tendency to delete them from Matthew could also have purged them from Mark. But even if Matthew added them, that entails Matthew understood the mythic symbolism (and thus intended to make it even more clear), since there would be no other reason to add them (either by Matthew or later scribes).

44-

Origen, Homily on Leviticus 10.2.2. That manuscripts included it is mentioned in Origen, Commentary on Matthew 121, where he also gives the reason why the name Jesus was then being removed from manuscripts: it was considered inappropriate to associate the name Jesus with a sinner. And indeed, the name Jesus is conspicuously absent from the Gospels (apart from the Jesus), despite that being one of the most common names of the time (even in Acts only one other person is ever even mentioned as having the name: Elymas the Sorcerer’s father was supposedly named Jesus, according to Acts 13.6-8; and that is probably a literary invention).”

So there you have it.  Origen, a friend of the church and one of its biggest advocates in history, is openly expressing how Matthew read before the church altered it to disguise its allegorical DNA.  This evidence suggests that the church deliberately altered the gospels in such a way as to present an allegorical story as actual history. The motives for this deception are clear and they disclose the fact that Christianity is a false religion.

(1575) Evolution of apology

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, but when such evidence is not available, a rationalization, or in modern terms, apologetics, is needed to bridge the gap.  What is historically interesting is how this process evolves as new information is revealed. The following was taken from:

http://www.thereligiouscondition.com/e11.html

The fact of the matter is that those who argue that the Bible is an allegorical, metaphorical, or symbolic book belong to a generation that has merely retreated from the position of their predecessors. Apologists for religion have changed over the years, just as apologists for other pseudoscientific disciplines have incorporated new interpretations for more recent evidence that debunks their disciplines. The first ghost photographer was found to be a fraud when living people started showing up in his pictures, but this doesn’t discourage the field from forming new explanations for subsequent ghost photographs. The first spirit-rapper confessed that the otherworldly sounds in her sessions were the popping of a joint in her big toe and not communications from the dead, but this doesn’t discourage the field from continuously pressing the validity of subsequent ghost whisperers. The first footage of Bigfoot was admitted to be a hoax by the man who made the suit and the man who wore the suit, but this doesn’t discourage the field from forming new explanations for subsequent films. The first verifiable crop circles were made by two men who confessed to having invented the whole idea in a pub, but this doesn’t discourage the field from forming new explanations for subsequent crop circles. Abductees alleged that the first space aliens told them that they came from Mars and Venus, but once scientists determined those worlds to be inhospitable to life, abductees talked of subsequent abductors hailing from far away solar systems. In this same manner, once science destroyed a literal reading of the Bible, the book retreated into the realm of symbolism and other such explanations.

Excluding evangelical nonsense, rational Christians have had to back off of the literal interpretation of the Genesis creation story, the Tower of Babel explanation for the various languages, the story of Noah and his ark, the earthquake and zombie apocalypse at Jesus’s death, and many others. This only happened because humans became better informed about the nature of reality.

Modern apologetics continues to evolve in order to explain the failure of scientific studies to reveal the efficacy of prayer, the ongoing discovery of the Bible’s many contradictions and interpolations, the continuing failures of end-time predictions, and the seemingly random instances of human tragedy and suffering. The more we find out about the world, the more irrational the explanations become. This is not the trajectory of a process that will eventually zero in on a core truth- rather it is the harbinger of a belief system on its last legs.

(1576) Christians and charity

One way to measure the truthfulness of Christianity is to see the effect its inception had on the philanthropic attitudes of its followers.  A gospel of love and peace, infused by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, should have caused a sea change in the way people interacted with the world, setting a shining example of exemplary altruistic behavior.  This did not happen. The following is taken from:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12453

Let me dispel a common myth: no, Christianity did not bring the idea of charity to the Western world.

The concept of charity and concern for the poor was already fully developed before the Christians borrowed the notion from their pagan and Jewish peers. It’s evident in Jewish wisdom literature, Cynic discourses, Stoic and even Epicurean moral theory, Aristotelian generosity and magnanimity, and the Greco-Roman institutions of philanthropia and euergetism. (On the role of influences on Christianity explaining its features generally, see On the Historicity of Jesus, Element 30, pp. 164-68). The idea of charity, welfare, the common good, sharing wealth, helping the poor was heavily ingrained throughout all ancient societies before Christianity. The Christians added nothing new. All they did was boast of being better at it. Which may have been as dubious a claim then as now. The data show poverty only increased under the Christians. For almost a thousand years.

In fact social welfare in antiquity was extensive, often including subsidized and sometimes free medical care, food supplies, educational scholarships, income subsidies for the poor, and disaster relief (on some of this, see Chapter 8, and index, “charities,” in my Science Education in the Early Roman Empire); as well as access to fresh water (which required massive outlays for aqueducts and associated delivery and storage systems), and other urban infrastructure, like roads and libraries, which were free to the public. Public baths and toilets were not free, but heavily subsidized for the benefit of the poor, and sometimes indeed free (on holy days). Private charities were likewise everywhere, from burial and dinner clubs, to guilds and religious fraternities, to secular and sacred hospices. Advanced hospitals with hygienic arrangements, scientific medical staff, medicinal gardens, baths, latrines, and libraries were free to slaves and soldiers—and may have been available to the public for a fee, just as today (Science Education in the Early Roman Empire, p. 109, n. 286); otherwise, healing temples provided scaled-fee services with all the same features (Asclepius, 2.173-80; Charity & Social Aid in Greece and Rome, pp. 132 & 172, n. 156), with a big dose of fake “miracle medicine” of course; but that’s also what the Christians sold, so again, little difference.

Christians were no different from the pagans. Within just a few centuries the Christians became defenders of continuing material and social stratification, rather than champions for ending poverty. In other words, they became pretty much just like the pagans they claimed to be superior to. And they never really had anything better to offer as models for benefaction and charitable action.

A current-day example is readily observed:  80% of Christian evangelicals voted in 2016 for the United States political party that promised to end a program providing affordable health care to poor and indigent people through the use of subsidies largely paid for by extra taxes on the wealthy. This quintessential expression of Christian ideals was brutally rejected by the most fervent Christians. If Jesus is actually speaking to these people, how could this have happened?

(1577) Jesus studies are burdened by flawed scholarship

As much as scholars and preachers express confidence that Jesus was a real person who is accurately described in the gospels, the reality is that these are just opinions based on personal desire, prior indoctrination, and the use of fatally flawed documents. The state of Jesus studies is an embarrassing mess. Most Christians in the pews have no idea just how messy it all is. The following is an excerpt written by Robert Conner:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/125993290/Faking-Jesus

That Jesus Studies is rife with flawed scholarship, special pleading, fideism, rank speculation, manufactured relevance, careerism, homo‑phobia and the misogyny that homophobia implies, sectarian allegiances, personal agendas, fraud and simple incompetence should come as no surprise to anyone conversant with the field. Indeed, whether Jesus Studies is even an academic discipline as usually understood is debatable and that Jesus Studies has precious little to do with history is certain.

Mainstream scholars have understood for quite some time that the gospels are not history by any modern definition. It is widely con‑ceded that the gospel authors were writing decades after the events they purport to relate, that the writers were pseudonymous, that they were not eyewitnesses, that both the provenance and intended audience of each gospel is a matter of conjecture, and that the primary sources on which the gospels are ultimately based are un‑known and unknowable. It is universally conceded that no original exists for any gospel and that the gospels that have survived are copies of copies that preserve variant wording.

The gospels were not even written in Palestine where the events of Jesus’ life took place. In the year 66 C.E., long-standing tensions between immiserated Jews and pagan gentiles exploded in the First Jewish-Roman War, one of three such conflicts.  From the Jewish perspective the war got off to a promising start- Jewish revolutionaries initially inflicted heavy casualties on Roman troops. However, Vespasian invaded Galilee in 67 C.E., moving south toward Jerusalem after subjugating town after town, and after Vespasian was recalled to Rome, his son Titus laid siege to Jerusalem and utterly destroyed the city in 70 C.E. The war smoldered in the hills to the south for three additional years before the last Jewish garrison at Masada fell. All in all, over a million Jews were killed in the fighting or died from disease and starvation and according to the historian Josephus some 97,000 were captured and enslaved. In fact, it appears many thousands of those slaves were put to work quarrying the stone for the Flavian Ampitheater, generally known today as the Colosseum.

In short, the cities of Jewish Palestine were defeated, the capitol destroyed, and the population decimated and dispersed before the first canonical gospel was written. It is conjectured that the gospel of Mark was composed in Rome, Matthew in Syria, and John perhaps in Asia Minor. Given that an average lifespan in the 1st Century likely amounted to less than fifty years, that decades had passed since Jesus’s crucifixion, and that a devastating war had supervened, where were the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and career? Dead, quite likely, or enslaved and scattered abroad.

Confabulation is a compensatory mechanism observed in subjects with essentially intact mentation but with serious gaps in memory. Confabulators fill in missing memory with invented narrative that changes with each retelling, thereby revealing the lacunose nature of their memory, and interrogation of the gospel accounts reveals that they are confabulations in this technical sense. The writers of the gospels were basically faking it, but lacking eyewitnesses, what choice did they have?

The early communities of believers for whom the gospels were composed had a very imperfect memory of Jesus of Nazareth. The gospels contain no account of Jesus’ physical appearance, a scant, almost certainly apocryphal, record of his early life, and no coherent explanation of his thinking, assuming, of course, that Jesus’ thinking was coherent to begin with.

The incompatible infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke are clear examples of confabulation; the inconsistencies large and small be‑tween the gospel accounts also betray defective institutional memory. The fact that Mark is quoted nearly in its entirety by Matthew and Luke—Matthew quotes or paraphrases some 600 of the 661 verses in Mark—and that another primitive gospel, Q, appears to have sup‑plied the bulk of the narrative not derived from Mark, indicates that the authors of Matthew and Luke were not eyewitnesses, nor did they have access to firsthand accounts. In fact, it is nearly certain that “the greatest story ever told”contains no direct eyewitness testimony from any contemporary of Jesus. Eusebius says of Mark, the putative author of the earliest gospel, “he had not heard the Lord, nor had he followed him…”

Although the teachings of Jesus are the supposed core of  Christian belief, there are multiple, incompatible, differences of opinion amongthe experts about what, exactly, Jesus taught. The lack of consensus among Jesus scholars about what Jesus taught, or even about what Jesus actually said, is a well-known intellectual scandal. More on that issue in a bit.

The dates of Jesus’ birth and death can only be estimated, the length of his career is unknown—it may have been as short as a year—and the earliest gospel, Mark, ends with an empty tomb but no trace of the resurrected Jesus. I have suggested elsewhere that the post mortem appearances of Jesus in the gospels of Luke and John read suspiciously like ancient ghost stories and I am not the only person to have commented on that amazing coincidence. Although I believe that Jesus was a real person about whom we actually know very little, the claim that Jesus and his career are pure invention persists and however unlikely we may regard it, there is no way to definitively overturn that claim.

In the absence of hard evidence for Jesus, scholars are forced to use faith to fill in the gaps. The problem is that faith in the absence of any contemporary evidence (prayers being answered, unusual phenomena, valid miracles, etc.) leaves a gap too wide to bridge for any clear-thinking, logically-inclined skeptic.  The overwhelming likelihood is that the Jesus portrayed in the gospels is a myth based on a real person or simple made up out of thin air.

(1578) Arguments for a soulless existence

Christianity depends on the existence of a material-less essence of our identity that survives death and experiences either rapture or terror in an afterlife.  The term ‘soul’ was invented to describe this quality of human existence that manifests as one’s consciousness and sense of self.  This all happened before the modern-day understanding of how the brain functions. As a consequence, a conflict now exists between science and religion on this matter. The following was taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/excultist/comments/5axqlx/the_soul/

There is very clear and abundant scientific evidence for the non-existence of the soul. The soul is thought to be a spiritual or non-material entity of some sort, composed of some kind of “life force” which has never been detected or observed by science, and which is indestructible and thus continues to exist even after the death of the body to which it is originally attached.

If it were true that the human mind, personality, and consciousness are produced by a soul rather than by a brain, then the mind would also be indestructible. Nothing done to the brain would in any way damage or alter the mind, since the mind is indestructible and survives even death, in order to eventually make its way to the afterlife of heaven or hell, or in some religions, to be reincarnated.

However our actual experience is that everything done to the brain does affect the mind. Even such a (seemingly) minor change as overheating the brain by a few degrees can result in unconsciousness. Why? The soul cannot be overheated since it has no temperature, being non-physical in nature. If the brain is damaged by concussion or other injuries, or by surgery, or by stroke, or by brain cancer, or by degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, some part of your normal mental functioning is lost. Why would that happen? Supposedly, even if you die in a state of complete senility, having the mental capacity of a 3 month old baby, your soul emerges from your corpse with a mind that is fully intact and ready to enjoy the pleasures of heaven and to sing the praises of God. If your mind had remained intact, why were you senile before dying? If the mind was produced by the soul all along, it would logically follow that any damage to the brain caused by Alzheimer’s disease or by anything else, would have no effect on your mind since it can have no effect on your soul, which is indestructible.

Indeed, if the mind is produced by the soul and not by the brain, there would then be no explanation of the purpose of the brain. What does the brain do, anyway? That would be a huge medical mystery. Why would the human body evolve a large organ, that consumes a lot of biological resources, which has no apparent function?

Psychotropic drugs and alcohol are another means of influencing the mind which would be inexplicable if the mind was produced by a soul rather than by the biochemical processes of the brain. Chemicals cannot affect the soul, since the soul is not composed of chemicals or of anything material. The soul is a ghostly spiritual essence. So why do drugs have the power to create euphoria, or hallucination, or to reduce your inhibitions, and so forth? They affect the brain, and thereby affect the mind. This again is a clear indication that the mind is produced by the brain, not by the imaginary soul.

Furthermore, it is possible to examine the functions of the brain in considerable detail using the technology of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Scientists can observe mental processes, emotions, and even individual thoughts by this means, it is that detailed. And once again, if the mind existed in the soul rather than in the brain, then the whole MRI technology would tell us nothing about the mind, since MRI only gives information about the brain, and can’t examine the soul which remains stubbornly invisible despite all efforts to see it.

When we consider the concept of the soul in the context of modern medical and neurological knowledge, the soul is an obviously ridiculous idea. In the ancient world, there was little agreement about the function of the brain. Aristotle, the greatest authority of the ancient world, claimed that the purpose of the brain was to cool the body and dissipate excess heat. That is why the concept of a soul seemed plausible. The human mind has to come from somewhere. Now that we have very detailed knowledge of the human brain and the way in which it produces the human mind, the concept of the soul is completely obsolete. It is no more reasonable to think that the human mind is produced by the soul rather than the brain, than it would be to think that lightning is a weapon hurled by angry deities, rather than being a high voltage discharge of static electricity.

However religious people cling to the idea of the soul because without a soul there can be no afterlife, and without an afterlife people have to face the unpleasant reality that they are going to eventually cease to exist. Many people don’t like that idea. So belief in the soul can be very comforting. Not only do you get to exist forever, but you will be reunited in heaven with all the people (and even pets) whom you love, who died before you did. It is such a beautiful dream. That would mean that both death and loss of loved ones are just illusions, and that you never really die and never really lose anybody. That would be nice. But it isn’t true.

Without a soul, humans are no different from giraffes, skunks, or centipedes when it comes to the ability to survive a physical death. Indeed, there is no reason to conclude that our experience of life will be different after we die than before we were born. The Christian belief in a soul has no merit.

(1579) Matthew, the awful historian

There are so many things wrong with the Gospel of Matthew that it cannot be fully covered in a short essay. But this person clearly had no intent to present an account of factual history. The fact that most Christians dismiss this assertion is appalling, given what biblical scholars have learned and surmised about this text. The following is taken from:

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2017/05/who-hell-hired-matthew-to-write-gospel.html

But it takes only a few examples from Matthew’s gospel (among many) to blast any claim that he wrote history—or that he even knew how to. Yes, I’m picking on Matthew here, but Mark, Luke and John are absolutely no better. So here goes.

Example 1: So, okay, I’m going first for the low-hanging fruit, the passage that nonbelievers like to quote for its sheer absurdity, Matthew’s report of what happened when Jesus died, 27:52-53: “The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.” Christians, please don’t waste any of your It’s-A-Miracle energy on this one, unless you want to push Matthew as the inventor of Halloween. It’s no use trying to turn a tall tale into anything more than that. None of the historians who chronicled the period report a horde of corpses stalking Jerusalem. Mark didn’t either, and when Luke and John surveyed Matthew for what to copy, they left it out. These two verses in Matthew are the only mention in the New Testament of this “event.” Matthew made stuff up.

Example 2: Look what Matthew does to Mark 1:13, i.e., the temptation of Jesus: “And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.” Matthew expands this to eleven verses (4:1-11), and adds a conversation between Jesus and Satan. Where does this information come from? Clearly there could have been no eyewitnesses—and there is no hint whatever that Jesus wrote any of it down. And we find the dramatic detail that Satan whisked Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple and to a “very high mountain.” Industrial Light and Magic™ could be hired to create the film versions of those flights. Matthew made stuff up.

Example 3: Matthew had a knack for landing on Old Testament verses that had nothing whatever to do with Jesus. The 8th century BCE preacher Hosea, reflecting on Israel’s past, wrote (Hosea 11:1), “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” As in, the Exodus. But Matthew ignored the first part of the verse, and invented the story of the baby Jesus being taken to Egypt. His only reason for spinning this yarn was to make the wild stretch that “out of Egypt I called my son” applied to Jesus. Mark had never heard of this. Neither Luke nor John—who scanned Matthew for useful material—saw fit to repeat it. Matthew made stuff up.

Example 4: After going to all the trouble, in his opening chapter, of tracing Jesus’ descendants back to King David (a crucial pedigree for claiming that Jesus was the messiah), Matthew then spliced in the story that Jesus didn’t have a human father after all. Again, he had landed on a text in the Greek version of the Old Testament that had nothing whatever to do with Jesus, Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son” –and it was a mistranslation to boot. The original Hebrew was simply “young woman.” Did Matthew have anyone check his work? You can’t have both “descended from King David,” and “born of a virgin.” Matthew made stuff up.

Example 5: Where did Matthew get the Sermon on the Mount? Mark didn’t know about it, and John chose not to repeat it in his gospel. Luke trimmed it considerably, which must have meant that he didn’t consider Matthew’s source infallible. And he felt free to change the wording. Matthew had written, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” but Luke wrote, “Blessed are you poor.” Matthew wrote, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” but Luke shortened this to “Blessed are you that hunger now.” We can see that author tinkering played a role here, but what were the sources? Are we to suppose that the peasants and disciples who heard Jesus speak carried around pads of paper and pencils? No. Are we to suppose that the words of Jesus were handed down by word-of-mouth accurately for 50 years before Matthew wrote them down? No. Richard Carrier has pointed out that the Sermon on the Mount “…cannot have come from some illiterate Galilean. In fact, we know it originated in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic…these are not the words of Jesus. This famous sermon as a whole has a complex literary structure that can only have come from a writer, not an everyday speaker.” (On the Historicity of Jesus, pages 465 & 466) Matthew made stuff up.

Example 6: Do pious readers even pay attention? Matthew gets really silly in 21:7, where we read about Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem: “…they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garment on them, and he sat thereon.” He has Jesus riding on two animals! Why? Because the text that is being “fulfilled” is Zechariah 9:9, which is an example of parallelism in Hebrew poetry, i.e., restating an idea in a second line using different words: “…your king comes to you…humble and riding on an ass, on a coal the foal of as ass.” Geez, don’t take things so literally! The other gospels writers settled for Jesus riding on a colt. Matthew made stuff up.

By the way, Matthew was a blatant plagiarist as well. He copied about 90 percent of Mark’s gospel—without telling his readers he was doing so. He had no idea that his gospel and Mark’s would one day be bound together in gazillions of Bibles. Ooops.

Who would have thought that “gospel truth” would be so hard to find in the gospels?

When you think of all of the absurd imagery and stories that exist only in Matthew’s gospel that yet are considered factual by gullible Christians, it boggles the mind to understand how such an obvious fabrication could retain a measure of credibility in a modern, scientific world. This says more about the human mind than anything else.  For thinking persons, the Gospel of Matthew should be read as a fairy tale.

(1580) The existence of multiple languages

The fact that there are approximately 7000 languages currently being used, as well as many that are extinct, provides evidence against the type of god posited by Christianity. Whether one believes in the Genesis creation story or in a guided evolutionary process, such a creator god would most probably have also created a single language that would be spoken universally by all humans. The following was taken from:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12390

Of course all languages in this sense are the invention of a mind. That’s why no descriptive languages existed before people did. Which is rather an argument against there being a god. After all, if there has always been a Mind, why aren’t we all speaking the same one language He invented? Why aren’t we just born knowing a language; why do we have to spend years learning one as a child? And why did we have to invent all the languages? And when we did, why did we come up with completely different languages? (The Tower of Babel tale is a silly myth. So if you are still wearing that tinfoil hat, you need to learn some science.)

It is improbable to think that God would sit back and watch as humans created thousands of contradictory languages that come and go when he had the ability to create and imbue his specially-designed language for all of humanity. On the other hand, a world without such a god would be expected to have created thousands of languages as each tribe or civilization matured linguistically, i.e., exactly what we observe.

(1581) The comparison of skeptics

In almost every religious debate, an atheist is matched against a religious person in a battle of ideas.  What is strikingly different in the approach taken by each side is the type of skepticism that is being used.  This comparison reveals the following: the true skeptic (atheist) is operating in an open field of inquiry while the pseudo skeptic (Christian) is encased in a closed system. The nature of this dynamic suggests where the truth likely lies. The following was taken from:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/characteristics.php

All pseudoskeptics will claim to be true skeptics. But regardless of how they define themselves, a pseudoskeptic is a pseudoskeptic if their characteristics and behaviors fit the traits of one. So it doesn’t matter what they call themselves, because actions speak louder than words. Here is a comparison chart of the differences between the traits of a true skeptic vs. a pseudoskeptic:

True Skeptics / Open-Minded Skeptics

  • Questions everything and takes nothing on faith, even from cherished established institutions.
  • Asks questions to try to understand new things and are open to learning about them.
  • Applies critical examination and inquiry to all sides, including their own.
  • Withholds judgment and does not jump to rash conclusions.
  • Seeks the truth and considers it the highest aim.
  • Thinks in terms of possibilities rather than in preserving fixed views.
  • Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides.
  • Acknowledges valid convincing evidence rather than ignoring or denying it.
  • Possess solid sharp common sense and reason.
  • Are able to adapt their paradigms to new evidence and update their hypothesis to fit the data.
  • When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones.
  • Accepts that there are mysteries and revels in trying to understand them.
  • Views science as a tool and methodology, not as a religion or authority to be obeyed. Understands the difference between the scientific process and the scientific establishment.
  • Acknowledges that the scientific establishment is subject to politics, corruption, control, censorship and suppression, as all human based institutions are – and therefore must be critically examined and scrutinized, rather than taken on faith, especially in the light of contrary evidence to their claims.
  • Will admit they are wrong when the evidence calls for it.

PseudoSkeptics / Closed-Minded Skeptics

  • Does not question anything from established non-religious institutions, but takes whatever they say on faith and demands that others do the same.
  • Does not ask questions to try to understand new things, but judges them by whether they fit into orthodoxy.
  • Applies “critical thinking” only to that which opposes orthodoxy or materialism, but never to the status quo itself.
  • Immediately judges as false and debunks anything that contradicts their paradigm.
  • Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending their views.
  • Cannot think in terms of possibilities, but sees their paradigms as fixed and constant.
  • Are willing to lie and deceive to discredit their opponents.
  • Automatically dismisses and denies all data that contradicts materialism and orthodoxy.
  • Are judgmental and quick to draw conclusions about things they know little or nothing about.
  • Scoffs and ridicules what they oppose instead of using objective analysis and examination.
  • When faced with evidence or facts they can’t refute, uses semantics, word games and denial to try to obfuscate the issue.
  • Unable to adapt their paradigms to new evidence, and denies data which doesn’t fit into them.
  • When all conventional explanations for an unexplainable phenomenon are ruled out, are still not able to accept paranormal ones.
  • Dislikes mystery and uncertainty, and insist that all unknown phenomena must have a mundane explanation.
  • Views the scientific establishment as a religion and authority to be taken on faith and never questioned or challenged. Does not understand the difference between the scientific process/methodology and the scientific establishment institution.
  • Assumes that the scientific establishment is objective and unbiased, and free of politics, corruption, control, censorship and suppression for no other reason than blind faith in authority.
  • Will never admit that they are wrong no matter what, regardless of evidence.

When truth is on your side, you can afford to be liberal in your approach to different ideas, open to all evidence from corroborated sources, and always willing to change your mind.  When you are defending a falsehood, the default approach Is to ‘circle the wagons,’ shield your eyes and ears, and proclaim victory.

(1582) Snake oil

Snake oil is a proverbial substance with no real medicinal value that is sold as a remedy for a condition or a disease. It has no real worth or value with respect to its marketing claims. When viewed broadly, Christianity is a form of snake oil. The following was taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/6fzowp/prove_that_god_doesnt_exist/

The whole structure of religion seems suspiciously like snake oil. First you convince people that they have a flaw somehow, are born ‘sinners’, then you tell them that you sell the only cure. The reward for obeying the mortal men claiming to speak for god is always conveniently out of reach of scrutiny, to be gotten after you die. Seen from the outside without emotional attachment it is clear that this is just a way of controlling people.

In short, Christianity is a solution in search of a problem.  To gather more followers, Christianity designed a problem that was sure to capture all people- the ‘sinful’ act of being born.  Once that hook has been set, you only need to pull the string and start counting the money.

(1583) God fails to stop evil done in his name

The following quote reveals an embarrassing simple reason to doubt the existence of the Christian God:

People do evil things in the name of God. Does God have a moral obligation to stop people from doing evil things in the name of God? None of the regular apologists here have tackled this question. – Mattapult

It is somewhat easy to argue that God should not be expected to stop all of the evil deeds of mankind, given that he supposedly wants us to have free will, including the freedom to sin and thus be judged by his harsh standards. But when the evil is performed in the name of God or Jesus, as it has on countless occasions over the past 20 centuries, does it not seem untoward of a supreme deity to allow such actions to happen unabated?

If God is real, he apparently has no problem with people misinterpreting his tenants while killing, raping, or enslaving others. When evil is done in the name of God, who according to Christianity is omnipotent, then God himself is directly responsible for the atrocity.  Of course, the much more likely truth is that this god does not exist and that evil people are opportunistically using this fantasy as a means to justify their selfish and brutal actions.

(1584) God’s accommodation failure

Whenever someone possessing knowledge that greatly exceeds that of the audience to which he is addressing, an accommodation must be made to make the communication effective and understandable.  For example, a parent answering a child’s query about where babies come from might simply state that they come from the love of a daddy and a mommy. In like manner, if God was the ultimate author of the Bible, we might expect the use of such an accommodation to speak on the level of the people of biblical times.  This is an angle of argumentation often used by apologists to explain why the Bible is devoid of knowledge that did not already exist at the time.

Jesus, as described in the gospels, employed this tactic although it was inconsistent with his alleged character, and there are logical problems,  as described in this excerpt:

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2007/08/accommodation-theory-of-bible.html#more

It is well known that Jesus expressed a high view of Scripture in the New Testament. He accepted the divine authority (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10), imperishability (Matt. 5:17–18), divine inspiration (Matt. 22:43), unbreakability (John 10:35), supremacy (Matt. 15:3, 6), inerrancy (Matt. 22:29; John 17:17), historical reliability (Matt. 12:40; 24:37–38), and scientific accuracy (Matt. 19:4–5). To avoid the conclusion that Jesus was actually affirming all this to be true, some critics insist that he was merely accommodating himself to the accepted Jewish belief of the day without attempting to debunk their views. These erroneous views were a starting point for what he wanted to teach about more important matters of morality and theology.

Accommodation is contrary to Jesus’ life. Everything that is known about Jesus’ life and teaching reveals that he never accommodated to the false teaching of the day. On the contrary, Jesus rebuked those who accepted Jewish teaching that contradicted the Bible, declaring: “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? . . . Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matt. 15:3, 6b).

Accommodation is contrary to Jesus’ character. From a purely human standpoint, Jesus was known as a man of high moral character. His closest friends found him impeccable (1 John 3:3; 4:17; 1 Peter 1:19). The crowds were amazed at his teaching “because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matt. 7:29).

Now that I can at least claim not to be a moron, let me explain the problem, again, this time more forcefully, okay? I understand that if God exists he must adapt if he is to communicate with human beings, okay? I have no problem seeing this. I merely claim that what we see in the Bible goes far beyond mere adaptation. He has allowed us to believe in errors, both scientific and moral, and that’s what I object to in the Bible, if it’s a true revelation from God.

What Geisler says about Jesus must apply to God for obvious reasons, and I edited out a large chunk of text that went on and on about how Jesus’ actions and teaching would never allow him to accommodate for error. Point taken…or point to be consistently applied?

Apologists claim God accommodated to human beings in describing how he created the universe using timeless “phenomenal language.” See the Hebrew Universe diagram . And yet it is crystal clear God could have described the universe differently in order to teach human beings about the vastness and age of the universe. Apologists will claim that such an ancient cosmological description of our universe was not important for God to correct; since all he wanted to do was to let humans to know that it was HE who created it (others will try fruitlessly to defend it literally). But when we reflect on the Galileo affair and the irreparable harm it did to the Christian faith once astronomers understood the vastness and age of the universe, one can only shake her head in utter amazement God didn’t foresee that because he didn’t do this it would make many of us doubt the Bible. I am an atheist because this very problem started me down the road of doubt. And I wrote a book and I now blog daily against Christianity, among others. Does God really not care about the fact that he didn’t tell human beings the truth about the universe?

You see the problem now? What best explains this? If God exists, what was so wrong to tell these ancient people about the true age and vastness of the universe, or in giving them the knowledge of penicillin right from the start, or by unambiguously condemning slavery? By not doing so, God has produced many unbelievers who don’t see any true divine revelation in the Bible! And here’s where my previous comment applies, when I wrote, “I suppose then the Bible was also accommodating to its hearers when God never condemned slavery, or witch, heretic and honor killings either, eh? Can God justify all of this accommodating? Why must God accommodate to his creatures? Why can’t he simply tell them the truth, especially since because he didn’t, there have been so many problems, including the Galileo affair, and the fact that we who want to assess the Bible’s accuracy in today’s world doubt it’s from God because of this. This God is not too smart for an omniscient being.

In fact, there is nothing in the Bible that could not have been written by a person without divine revelation in that era at all. Everything reflects the age in which it was written. Why is that?”

It is impossible to believe that an omnipotent deity could not predict the incredible embarrassment that his church would encounter when scientists such as Galileo discovered truths that conflicted with scripture or the understanding of the clergy.  There is a long litany of such incidents, including that of Giordano Bruno, who understood that the stars were in fact distant suns. How could the Christian God not have seen this coming, and not provide mankind a little bit of astronomy?  But, if God is not real, then all of this makes perfect sense.

(1585) Atonement analogy

To illuminate the absurdity of the Christian atonement doctrine, that being that Jesus, as God, sacrificed himself so that those (and only those) who somehow accept this sacrifice can have their sins forgiven and enter the kingdom of heaven, let’s consider the following example:

A son steals money from his father so he can buy some candy. The father discovers this fact and confronts the son:

Father: Son, you have committed the sin of stealing. I am disappointed in you.

Son: Father, can you forgive me if I promise to never do that again.

Father: Not quite. First I must burn myself with this cigarette. (He proceeds to burn himself with the lighted end of the cigarette.) In great pain, the father says, “Son, see what I have done for you?”

Son: OK, so now you can forgive me?

Father: Not quite. First you must accept my sacrifice as the punishment for which you deserve; otherwise you will remain in your sin.

Son: OK, I accept that you have burned yourself and taken the punishment that was due to me.

Father: You have met the requirement. Your sin is forgiven.

The Christian doctrine of blood atonement is ridiculous. This is obvious to anyone who is not brainwashed or indoctrinated beyond their logical senses.  It was dreamed up during a time when people believed that killing an animal was the only way to have their gods forgive their sins.  Although mankind has evolved well beyond this era of primitive superstition, the legacy of religion has dragged the atonement doctrine vestigially into the present time.  It takes a clear thinking mind to see the obvious.

(1586) The Bible fails language history

For the Bible to be accepted as the word of God, it must meet the criteria of being historically and scientifically accurate.  In the field of linguistics, the Bible fails miserably and is seen to be the product of men who had no concept of the manner in which languages develop and evolve.  The points addressed at the following website make this case:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/6mwdbb/seen_through_the_lens_of_modern_scientific/

  • The claim that human linguistic diversity finds its origin in a one-off historical divine intervention, as opposed to the well-studied scientific mechanisms of linguistic change. (Genesis 11:7-9)
  • The claim that linguistic diversity leads to dispersion, as opposed to the other way round (Genesis 11:7-90). When different languages coexist in a small area of space this generally leads to widespread multilingualism/the creation of a lingua franca, not to the nations in question parting ways. On the contrary, it is precisely geographical isolation which tends to lead to linguistic diversity.
  • The claim that Lamech made a Hebrew pun on Noah’s name (Genesis 5:29) in a time when the Hebrew language did not yet exist. To assume that Hebrew is the “original” pre-Babel language would be to contradict Semitic (and Afro-Asiatic) comparative linguistics in its entirety.
  • The claim that Moses wrote the Pentateuch in Hebrew in a period when Hebrew in the form we know it did not exist. In fact, some of the most formative sound changes which characterise North-West Semitic languages are implemented systematically throughout the Pentateuch even though they took place after the Pentateuch is supposed to have been written. (Disclaimer: I am not an expert on Semitic comparative linguistics, but if I interpret my sources correctly this argument is sound)
  • The claim that the Israelites spent several centuries in Egypt (Exodus 12:40–41). When languages spend long periods of time in close proximity they tend to influence each other, often very strongly. The fact that Egyptian has left no traces in Hebrew of any significance – except for sporadic vocabulary items more plausibly explained as the result of trade contacts – strongly argues against the Exodus story as found in the Bible. As far as we can tell, Hebrew is an indigenous Canaanite language.

The Bible’s treatment of language reveals it be a parochial document, centered on its local community, and unaware of the world as a whole. This is not the product expected of an infinite deity.

(1587) The symmetry of god creation

Throughout history, every nation has created a god or gods, and they all seem to have similar characteristics. What challenges Christianity is the question of why we should believe that the god (among several) created by the Jewish nation is the only one that is real. The following quote by Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) completes this thought:

EACH nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume. All these gods have insisted upon having a vast number of priests, and the priests have always insisted upon being supported by the people, and the principal business of these priests has been to boast about their god, and to insist that he could easily vanquish all the other gods put together.

These gods have been manufactured after numberless models, and according to the most grotesque fashions. Some have a thousand arms, some a hundred heads, some are adorned with necklaces of living snakes, some are armed with clubs, some with sword and shield, some with bucklers, and some have wings as a cherub; some were invisible, some would show themselves entire, and some would only show their backs ; some were jealous, some were foolish, some turned themselves into men, some into swans, some into bulls, some into doves, and some into Holy Ghosts, and made love to the beautiful daughters of men. Some were married -all ought to have been – and some were considered as old bachelors from ‘all eternity. Some had children, and the children were turned into gods and worshiped as their fathers had been. . Most of these gods were revengeful, savage, lustful, and ignorant. As they generally depended upon their priests for information, their ignorance can hardly excite our astonishment.

These gods did not even know the shape of the worlds they had created, but supposed them perfectly flat. Some thought the day could be lengthened by stopping the sun, that the blowing of horns could throw down the walls of a city, and all knew so little of the real nature of the people they had created, that they commanded the people to love them. Some were so ignorant as to suppose that man could believe just as he might desire, or as they might command, and that to be governed by observation, reason, and experience was a most foul and damning sin. None of these gods could give a true account of the creation of this little earth. All were woefully deficient in geology and astronomy. As a rule, they were most miserable legislators, and as executives, they were far inferior to the average of American presidents.

These deities have demanded the most abject and degrading obedience. In order to please them, man must lay his very face in the dust, Of course, they have always been partial to the people who created them, and have generally shown their partiality by assisting those people to rob and destroy others, and to ravish their wives and daughters.

In science there is a concept of symmetry, and it is assumed that any break in a symmetric pattern signifies the existence of some outside force or influence that causes this effect.  In religion, symmetry exists in the fashion by which humans of all nations have created and patterned their gods to be uniformly for them and against others, among other similarities. If any of these gods were real, we would expect a demonstrable break in symmetry, indicating an outer-worldly rather than inner-worldly force at play. Unfortunately for Christianity, there is no such disturbance to the symmetry, and it is revealed to be just another human-created fantasy.

(1588) Eyewitnesses collaborate

Much of the credibility of the Bible is based on the concept that eyewitnesses relayed their observations on to others who then, over several decades, informed the eventual authors of the gospels.  This ‘telephone tag’ system of information transfer is well known to be unreliable, even in the course of a single session, much less over tens of years. But there is another phenomenon that causes a major problem right off the bat, or, in other words, within minutes after an alleged event has occurred. The eyewitnesses talk to each other and a consensus develops, often resulting in an amalgam of the most sensational and exaggerated claims.  This is discussed here:

http://theconversation.com/new-research-reveals-how-little-we-can-trust-eyewitnesses-67663

Many factors such as memory decay, poor eyesight and induced stress have already been shown to have an influence in false testimony. But these factors can only explain a small percentage of false eyewitness statements. There is another factor known as “eyewitnesses talk” which comes into play. This is where witnesses discuss what they saw with each other after the event and then change their mind about what they thought they saw based on the evidence of another witness.

Witnesses talking after an event is a pretty common phenomenon, a survey found that 86% of real eyewitnesses claim to have discussed the event with other witnesses prior to giving evidence. And this is where the process of “co-witness conformity” occurs – in other words eyewitnesses are influenced into including things they didn’t actually see in their statements.

This cross-talk among witnesses likely explains the genesis of the miracle claims in the Bible, such as Jesus feeding the multitudes or healing the sick.  This means that it’s not even necessary to invoke the four-decade gap between the events and their documentation to explain how these beliefs arose- they might have arisen within just a few minutes after the scene.

(1589) Jesus- Elijah parallels

There as so many parallels between Jesus and John the Baptist of the New Testament and Elijah and his son Elisha of the Old Testament, that a compelling case can be made that Jesus was a fictional creation of these Old Testament memes. The following was taken from:

http://jesusisamyth.blogspot.in/2010/02/two-thousand-years-ago-people-worshiped.html

Two thousand years ago people worshiped scores of gods including Osiris, Glycon, Simon, Apollonius of Tyana, Pythagoras, Orpheus, Dionysus, Zalmoxis, Kore, Samothrace, Attis, Adonis, Horus, and Mithras. Just like Jesus,  these gods’ claims to fame included being born of a virgin, walking on water, healing lepers, raising the dead, turning water into wine, and dying and rising again. However, my argument is not that Jesus was copied from “pagan” religions (though these certainly had an influence) but was a character created largely from the Old Testament itself, and in particular, the escapades of the god-like characters, Elijah and Elisha. Elijah is such an important character that he is mentioned 75 times in the Old Testament and 29 times in the New. Even the names mean the same — my God is Jehovah and Jehovah saves. And before anyone heard of Jesus, the Old Testament ends with the promise that Elijah would come again to save the world. In fact, there are over 60 themes common to both Elijah/Elisha and Jesus. When considered collectively, the following comparisons along with parts 2, 3 and 4, are convincing evidence that the Jesus of the bible was not a historical person, but a literary Frankenstein, cobbled together from dozens of pre-existing myths.

1. MIRACLE BABY BOY
Old story: A woman with an old husband was miraculously impregnated with a son by Elisha (2K 4:8-17)
New story.1: A woman with an old husband was miraculously impregnated with a son (Lk 1:5-17)
New story.2: A woman was miraculously impregnated with a son (Jesus) (Lk 1:26-31)

2. FASHIONISTA
Old story: Elisha’s predecessor* wore animal skins tied with a leather belt (2K 1:8)
New story: Jesus’ predecessor** wore animal skins tied with a leather belt (Mk 1:6)
*Elijah, **John the Baptist
3. PASSING THE MANTEL
Old story: Elijah passed the mantel to Elisha to carry on God’s work (2K 2:9-16)
New story: John the Baptist* passed the mantel to Jesus to carry on God’s work (Lk 3:1-22)
*Elijah (Mt 11:14)

4. BEHEADING
Old story: The king wanted to behead Elisha (2K 6:31)
New story: The king beheaded John the Baptist (Mt 14:10)

5. SENT SAVIOR
Old story: Elijah was to be sent to save people from God’s wrath (Ml 4:5-6)
New story: Jesus was sent to save people from God’s wrath (Mk 9:37, 16:16)

6. PRECIOUS GIFTS
Old story: Elisha received gifts because of his great power (2K 8:8-9)
New story: Jesus received gifts gifts because of his great power (Mt 2:9-11)

7. HUNTED
Old story: An angry wicked king ordered an extensive search for Elijah (1K 18:1-10)
New story: An angry wicked king ordered an extensive search for Jesus (Mt 2:3-20)

8. SENT INTO HIDING
Old story: God told Elijah to travel afar and hide (1K 17:2-3)
New story: God told Joseph to travel afar and hide Jesus (Mt 2:13)

9. HOLY RIVER
Old story: Elisha received the spirit at the Jordan (2K 2:9)
New story: Jesus received the spirit at the Jordan (Mk 1:1)

10. FORTY DAYS IN THE WILDERNESS
Old story: Elijah went 40 days in the wild with no food (1K 19:4-8)
New story: Jesus went 40 days in the wild with no food (Mt 4)

11. MINISTERING ANGELS
Old story: An angel helped Elijah with his wilderness trip (1K 19:5-9)
New story: Angels helped Jesus with his wilderness trip (Mk 1:12-13)

12. GROUPIES
Old story: Elisha led a group of men (2K 6)
New story: Jesus led a group of men (Mk 1:29)

13. THE CALLING
Old story: Elisha was working when called to follow Elijah (1K 19:19-21)
New story: Men were working when called to follow Jesus (Mk 1:16-20)

14. GOODBYES TO THE FAMILY
Old story: Elisha said he’d follow Elijah after goodbyes to his family (plow in story) (1K 19:20)
New story: A man said he’d follow Jesus after goodbyes to his family (plow in story) (Lk 9:61-62)

15. PROPHET
Old story: Elijah was called a “prophet” (1K 17:1)
New story: Jesus was called a “prophet” (Lk 7:16)

16. MASTER
Old story: A group of men called Elijah, Elisha’s “master” (2K 2:3-5)
New story: A group of men called Jesus, “master” (Mk 13)

17. SERVANT
Old story: Elijah is called God’s “servant” (2K 9:36)
New story: Jesus is called God’s “Servant” (Acts 3:26)

18. YES MAN
Old story: Elijah did as God commanded (2K 1:4)
New story: Jesus did as God commanded (Jn 4:34)

19. GOD’S SPOKESMAN
Old story: Elijah spoke for God (1K 17:1)
New story: Jesus spoke for God (Mt 7:21-23)

20. TRAVELING MAN
Old story: Elijah traveled town to town doing God’s work (1K, 2K)
New story: Jesus traveled town to town doing God’s work (Lk, Mk, Mt, Jn)

21. DRINK OF WATER
Old story: Upon entering a distant town, Elijah asked a woman to “bring me a drink of water”, worked a miracle of abundance and the woman called him a prophet (1K 17:10)
New story: Upon entering a distant town, Jesus told a woman to “give me a drink of water”, promised a miracle of abundance and the woman called him a prophet (Jn 4:5)

22. CROSSING THE WATER
Old story.1: Elijah walked across divided water (2K 2:8)
Old story.2: Elisha walked across divided water (2K 2:14)
New story: Jesus walked across the top of water (Mk 6:45)

23. SEEING IS BELIEVING
Old story: Elisha made the blind see (2K 6:20)
New story: Jesus made the blind see (Mk 8: 21-26)

24. HEALING THE LEPER
Old story: Elisha healed a man with leprosy (2K 5)
New story: Jesus healed a man with leprosy (Mk 1:41)

25. FEEDING THE MULTITUDE
Old story: Elisha used loaves of barley bread (provided by another) to feed a multitude and had left overs (2K 4:42-44)
New story: Jesus used loaves of barley bread (provided by another) to feed a multitude and had left overs (Jn  6:1-13)

26. VINEYARD MAYHEM
Old story: Elisha says a king will be killed as punishment for wanting to take over a vineyard after the owner was murdered (1K 21:1-19)
New story: Jesus says tenants will be killed as punishment for wanting to take over a vineyard and murdering the owner’s son (Lk 20:9-18)
Note: The words in the new story, “come let us kill him” echo the words of Joseph’s brothers as they plot to kill Joseph: “Come, let us kill him”.

27. ARMY OFFICER
Old story: An army officer approached Elisha for a healing (2K 5:1-15)
New story: An army officer approached Jesus for a healing (Mt 8:5-13)

28. SUPERNATURAL KNOWLEDGE
Old story: Elijah knew details of a person’s private life (2K 6:12)
New story: Jesus knew details of a person’s private life (Jn 4:17-18)

29. SUPERNATURAL SIGHT
Old story: Elisha could see a man in another place (2K 5:26)
New story: Jesus could see a man in another place (Jn 1:48-49)

30. IMMINENT SEIZURE
Old story: Elisha knew he was about to be seized  (2K 6:30-32)
New story: Jesus knew he was about to be seized (Mk 14:41-46)

31. COMMANDER OF THE ELEMENTS
Old story: Elijah controlled the weather (1K 17:1)
New story: Jesus controlled the weather (Mk 4:39)

32. AUDIENCE OF THOUSANDS
Old story: All of Israel gathered to hear Elijah (1K 18:19-21)
New story: 5,000 gathered to hear Jesus (Mk  6:30-44)

33. JARS OF WATER
Old story: Elijah gave instructions to fill 4 jars with water as part of a miracle (1K 18:33)
New story: Jesus gave instructions to fill 6 jars with water as part of a miracle (Jn  2:7)

34. MAGIC NUMBER
Old story.1: Elijah used 12 stones to rebuild the altar (1K 18:32)
Old story.2: Elisha used 12 teams of oxen to plow  (1K 19:19)
New story: Jesus used 12 disciples to build the Church (Mt 10:1)

35. FAMILY MATTERS
Old story: Elijah will be sent to unite the family (Ml 4:5-6)
New story: Jesus was sent to divide the family (Mt 7:36)

36. AT THE FOOT OF THE MASTER
Old story: A distraught woman held Elisha’s feet (2K 4:27)
New story: A distraught woman held Jesus’ feet (Lk 7:36)

37. SIGN OF SUBJECTION
Old story.1: A man bowed down before Elijah (1K 18:7)
Old story.2: 50 men bowed down before Elisha (2K 2:15)
New story: A man knelt down before Jesus (Jn 9:38)

38. HEARTLESS DISCIPLES
Old story: Elisha’s servant wanted to push away a mother distraught over her dead child but Elisha worked a miracle (2K 4:27)
New story: Jesus’ disciples wanted to send away a mother distraught over her suffering child but Jesus worked a miracle (Mt 15:21-28)

39. MAGIC MOUNTAIN
Old story: Elijah experienced a supernatural change after he and a servant climbed a mountain (cloud in story) (1K 18:42-46)
New story: Jesus experienced a supernatural change after he and 3 disciples climbed a mountain (cloud in story and Elijah appears) (Mt 17:1-13)

40. WORDS FROM ON HIGH
Old story: Elijah climbed a mountain where God spoke (1K 19:9)
New story: Jesus climbed a mountain where God spoke (Mt 17:5)

41. FINANCIAL WIZARD
Old story: Elisha worked a financial miracle (2K 4:1-5)
New story: Jesus worked a financial miracle (Mt 17: 24)

42. SAVIOR OF THE PARTY
Old story: Elisha transformed food for a group of people (2K 4:38-41)
New story: Jesus transformed water for a group of people (Jn 2:6)

43. GO IN PEACE
Old story: Elisha said “Go in peace.” (2K 5:19)
New story: Jesus said “Go in peace.” (Lk 7:50)

44. PROPHET OF DOOM
Old story: Elijah saw the future and told of coming horrors (2K 8:12)
New story: Jesus saw the future and told of coming horrors (Lk 21:10-33)

45. CURSE OF DEATH
Old story: Elisha’s curse caused death (2K 2:24)
New story: Jesus’ curse caused death (Mk 11:21)

46. RAISING THE DEAD I (The Widow’s Son)
Old story: Elijah raised the dead son of a widow (who meets him at the city gate), gave him to his mother & was called a prophet (1K 17:21)
New story: Jesus raised the dead son of a widow (who meets him at the city gate), gave him to his mother & was called a prophet (Lk 7:11-16)
The Greek for “and he gave him to his mother” is exactly the same in both accounts “kai edoken auton te metri autou”.

48. RAISING THE DEAD II (The Child)
Old story: Elisha raised a dead child in a home (2K 4:27-37)
New story: Jesus raised a dead child in a home  (Mk 5:22-43)
Note: Jairus means “he awakens” which indicates the name of the father was chosen by the author to fit the story’s theme.

49. RAISING THE DEAD III (The Man in the Tomb)
Old story: Elisha’s bones raised a dead man in a tomb (2 K:21)
New story: Jesus raised a dead man in a tomb (Jn 11)

50. FIRE FROM HEAVEN
Old story: Elijah called down fire from heaven to kill people (2K 1:10)
New story: Jesus’ disciples asked to call down fire from heaven to kill people (Lk 9:54)

51. DUPLICITOUS UNDERLING
Old story: Elisha’s duplicitous servant asked for 3,000 silver coins & suffering followed (2K 5)
New story: Jesus’ duplicitous disciple accepted 30 silver coins & suffering followed (Mt 26:14)

52. TROUBLEMAKER
Old story: Elijah was considered “the worst troublemaker in Israel” (1K 18:17)
New story: Jesus was considered the worst troublemaker in Israel (implied) (Jn 2:13-18, 19:6)

53. WANTED MAN
Old story: The Jewish people wanted Elijah killed (1K 19:10)
New story: The Jewish people wanted Jesus killed (Mt 27:20)

54. HEAVEN BOUND
Old story: It was revealed Elijah would soon ascend to heaven (2K 2: 1-12)
New story: Jesus revealed he would soon ascend to heaven (Jn 20:17)

55. ANGUISHED PRAYER
Old story: Afraid for his life, Elijah left his servant and went off by himself, sat and prayed for God to take his life and was strengthened by an angel (1K 19:3-6)
New story: Afraid for his life, Jesus left his disciples and went off by himself, knelt and prayed for God not to take his life (but that his will be done) and was strengthened by an angel (Lk 22:39-43)
Note: Elijah falls asleep multiple times as do Jesus’ disciples.

56. DOUBLE PLEDGE OF LOYALTY
Old story: As Elijah’s “death” approached, Elisha swore (twice) he wouldn’t leave him (2K 2:4-6)
New story: As Jesus’ “death” approached, Peter swore (twice) he wouldn’t leave him (Mk 14:4-29-31)

57. MOCKED
Old story: Elisha was made fun of (2K 2:23)
New story: Jesus was made fun of (Mk 15:20)

58. DEATH CRY
Old story.1: As Elijah “died,” Elisha cried out, “My father, my father!” (2K:2:12)
Old story.2: As Elisha died, the king cried out “My father, my father!” (2K 13:14)
New story: As Jesus died, he cried out, “My God, my God…” (Mt 27:46)

59. TORN CLOTH
Old story: Upon Elijah’s death, Elisha tore his cloak in two (2K 12)
New story: Upon Jesus’ death, the Temple’s curtain tore in two (Mt 27:51)

60. UP, UP AND AWAY!
Old story: Elijah was visibly taken up to heaven (2K 2:11)
New story: Jesus was visibly taken up to heaven (Lk 24:51)

more to come…

IN CONCLUSION
The True Believer may rationalize all of this away, but there’s no disputing that there is little about the Jesus character that is unique. Further study of comparative religions reveals Christianity took all of its ideas—from the virgin birth to Jesus’ prophesied thousand year reign—from “pagan” religions. In fact, Christianity IS a pagan religion. It simply has outlasted most of its competition, aided by two millennia of persecuting them.

As the author stated above, there is no doubt that Christian apologists have some wiggle room to claim that Elijah was specifically tasked by God to adumbrate the advent of Jesus, accomplishing the themes that Christ would eventually complete. But a more reasonable explanation is that the authors of the gospels mined the Old Testament for themes to adorn their fictionalized savior. The parallels listed above are a red flag for historians trying to evaluate the historical accuracy of the gospels.

(1590) Dead men stay dead

Sometimes the most effective counter-argument is the simplest. Christianity makes the claim of a reanimated corpse in the absence of such an event having ever been verified to occur and on the basis of such shabby evidence that it would never be admissible in a court of law nor able to stand peer review.  It rests on an appeal to magic, the same sort of magic that is summarily dismissed by the faithful whenever it crops up in any religion other than Christianity. The following was taken from:

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/

Brain-dead corpses do not come back to life and fly off into outer space. Once a brain cell is dead it stays dead. This is a scientific fact. The regeneration of dead human tissue is Christianity’s core belief, therefore Christianity is false.

It’s as simple as that.

There may be an intelligent Creator, but if he exists, he (she, they, or it) has decided that the universe will operate under certain inviolable “laws”. One of those laws is that when human tissue dies it stays dead. Your Reanimation of a Dead First Century Jewish Preacher story is therefore false until overwhelming evidence indicates otherwise. Alleged eyewitness testimony of this science-defying claim is insufficient.

Given twenty centuries of time, and with a supposedly omnipotent god looking down and answering prayers, there should have been at least a few instances where dead people were raised back to life. If such an event was adequately verified to have occurred, then the story of Jesus being brought back to life might bear some credibility.  But in the absence of such evidence, belief in the resurrection of Jesus is an embarrassingly futile exercise in gullibility.

(1591) King Solomon’s gold mines

One thing that biblical literalists have correct is that if it is conceded that certain stories in the Bible are mythical, then it becomes uncertain how to separate the real stories from the fake ones.  So they desperately cling to the idea that everything in the Bible is literally true, all the while pushing back against a glacier of evidence suggesting otherwise. So, to add more ice to the glacier, we have the following information about King Solomon’s alleged gold mines:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/king-solomon-gold-mines-never-exist-2-trillion-h-rider-haggard-historians-old-testament-a7848326.html

King Solomon’s gold mines, which the Bible says helped him store wealth amounting to more than £2.3 trillion, are a complete myth, historians believe.

The biblical ruler is said to have accumulated 500 tons of pure gold from the mines, but experts now say the pot of wealth is unlikely to have ever existed.

Historians claim the Old Testament King’s story has been misinterpreted and King Solomon was in fact an Egyptian Pharaoh

Ralph Ellis, a British historian and author, said finding his lost mines is “about as likely as taking a dip in the Fountain of Youth”.

The expert spent 20 years researching the leader in a bid to uncover his hidden wealth, which he now believes never existed.

But Mr Ellis claimed there was still a “grain of historical truth” to the story.

“According to the Bible, King Solomon was staggeringly wealthy,” he said.

“Yet successive generations of theologians and archaeologists have scoured the Holy Land looking for his capital city, palace, temple and wealth without any success.

“There comes a point when we either have to accept that the biblical account is entirely fictional, or that we may be looking in the wrong location and for the wrong things.

“My research suggests that there is a factual basis for the story of Solomon and his riches, but that it was heavily amended and obscured by biblical scribes.

“A wealthy and powerful Israelite dynasty did exist, just as the Bible claims, but they were not simply Israelite kings and their capital city was not at Jerusalem.”

Mr Ellis said many archaeologists may be disappointed to hear the findings of his research.

He believes, however, that if his theory is true, then Pharaoh Solomon’s wealth must be included in the artifacts from the era at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.

This research reemphasizes that the Bible is not a history book. It is an allegorical piece of fiction designed to impart patriotism, values, and a social structure for the people of the time. It is a colossal mistake for Christians of the modern era to take it at face value.

(1592) God condemns himself

Apologists often boast that the Bible is miraculously consistent throughout, but an unbiased view of God’s command to Abraham to kill his son Isaac reveals a fatal problem that was first expounded by Christopher Hitchens. It divulges that God did not follow his own commands. The following was taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2013/05/god-condemns-himself-updated-and.html

Let’s look at the Abraham Isaac fiasco a little more. If we were to judge this event by new testament standards Abraham would be guilty of human sacrifice. Jesus tells us that if we just consider committing a sin in our mind we are guilty of it (Mat 5:28). Unfulfilled intention is as damnable as the intent fulfilling outward act itself. So, in short, we have god tempting Abraham causing Abraham to commit human sacrifice. Whether Abraham actually followed through on his intent to perform the heinous act motivated by god of sacrificing his son Isaac doesn’t matter according to Jesus who is proclaimed the son of and equal to god in the new testament.

Now, the christian god does not change (Mal 3:6) so what god considered sin in the NT applies to the old as well. As we have already seen, unfulfilled intention is as damnable as the intent fulfilling outward act itself (Mat 5:28; 1Jo 3:15). The christian god also decrees that human sacrifice is evil (Deut 12:31, 18:10; 2Ki 21:6). By the christian god’s own inspired words he judges himself guilty of tempting Abraham to commit a vile sin and thereby is complicit in Abraham’s sin of sacrificing his son Isaac. The bible says the christian god cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone with evil (James 1:13), but yet we see that god in this case did tempt Abraham with evil.

The passage Romans 13:10 is found in speaks of love fulfilling the law and specifically states that love does no harm. If love does no harm than how can anyone say that Abraham loved Isaac and that what god commanded Isaac to do was not wrong? Given this, how can god judge his act of attempted murder as fulfilling the law as this is certainly not an act of love? This is a huge despicable inconsistency. This is even more a problem in the light of Hebrews11 lauding Abraham’s murderous faith; Hebrews 11:17-19. Perhaps love is not the greatest of these out of the choices of love, hope, and faith to the author of Hebrews (1 Corinthians 13), or the author fails to realize that what Abraham did was certainly not showing love to Isaac. Abraham would be rightly found guilty of attempted murder in our modern day court of law.

The two greatest commandments are most definitely in conflict here? Must the Christian’s god’s narcissism always take precedence? Would someone who says they love you really ask something like this of you? What of Abraham’s narcissism who was obviously more concerned with “the promise” than his own son’s well-being? This is a morally disgusting story. There is nothing worthy of commendation to be found in it. It stands entirely self condemned to any clear thinking critical mind.

Does the christian god stand self-condemned? The only way to partially wiggle out of this textual conundrum, in my humble opinion, is to admit the obvious, that the bible is not infallible. Or, the christian god is not subject to his own moral dictates which would actually hold a lot of weight from the evidence provided by the bible itself; this fits the might makes right philosophy that many of the bible authors subscribe to. After all who are we to tell the potter what it can and can’t do with the clay (Romans 9:21); so just shut up and be glad it wasn’t you he was screwing with.

The fact that this story is fictional does not relieve the Bible or Christianity itself of this predicament. The Bible is a collection of books written by many different people, but the effort to compile it into a cohesive whole was either inspired of God or it was a human enterprise. The fact that such a damning contradiction lies within its pages strongly suggests the latter.

(1593) Special Pleading

The preponderance of arguments used by apologists to defend Christianity are equally available to followers of other faiths. The term for this is special pleading. John Loftus discussed this issue in his blog:

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/

This is the claim I made in a chapter for my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist. Whenever an apologist makes an exception for their own faith, that same exception can be claimed by another sect in the Christian household, or another religion. Whenever an apologist uses an argument for their faith, that same argument can be claimed by another sect in the Christian household, or another religion.

They say Christianity is unique. Aren’t all religions? They say miracles are possible. Don’t other religions say that? They say their deity answers prayers. Others claim the same thing. They say they have a subjective experience of their deity. Don’t they all? They claim a personal miracle. So do others. They quote their scriptures (or inspired people) as an authority to settle disputes. Don’t others? They claim the existence of objective morality shows their god exists. So do others, even ISIS!

They treat their own religion as special, that it has truer truth, and a better history. But in reality they’re just more familiar with their own religion. Period! They cannot see what they’re doing. They take for granted their faith is the one true one out of the myriads of religions of the past, present and future. Then taking this as the real reason for their faith, they special plead it all the way to market. But by special pleading their case they allow other religious faiths to walk through the same door. It doesn’t defend their religious faith from the myriads of others out there, which is arguing fallaciously. This shows how desperate apologists are to defend what cannot reasonably be defended, and why reasonable people cannot believe.

When all of the special pleading arguments for Christianity are removed, what remains is a skeletal structure that relies heavily on the veracity of claims made by biased, non-eyewitness, non-historians. This, combined with the lack of any present-day evidence of miracles or answered prayers renders the Christian faith extraordinarily unlikely to be true.

(1594) Borrowings from other religions

If Christianity was a religion that was founded by a god, it would have remained unique as it grew outside of its localized beginnings into a landscape that encompassed a plethora of competing religions. If, on the other hand, it was just another human-created faith, it would be expected that it would have evolved and encompassed many of the attributes, beliefs, and customs of those other religions.  It is rather decisive and inarguable that the latter of those scenarios is true. The following was taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2017/07/christianitys-pagan-borrowings.html

Seminal Tenets

One of the central tenets of Christianity is the death and subsequent resurrection in three days of Jesus, the son of god. Yet the resurrection of a god is hardly unique to Christianity. Dying and rising gods trace a long history likely based on the earth’s cycle itself where winter sees plants die off and spring sees them sprout again. There is also a natural occurrence of a three-day period with the waning of the old moon before the new crescent appears. These themes are present in many of the mystery cults that were practiced before and during the growth of Christianity. Attis, the son of Cybele, brought to Rome from Anatolia, was celebrated in great processionals until 268 AD according to Merlin Stone. She further states that Attis “was first tied to a tree and then buried. Three days later a light was said to appear in the burial tomb, whereupon Attis rose from the dead, bringing salvation with him in his rebirth.”

Image above this post is of Attis dying. In the first century, the Greek cult of Orpheus was another mystery cult gaining followers in Rome. Leonard Shlain claims that in the catacombs of Rome, “the Christ figure [appears] in postures indistinguishable from Orphic iconography.” Featured below is an amulet of the “Orpheus-Christ-Bacchos crucifixion.” Of course there is disagreement about these examples. Christian apologists say the death and resurrection of Jesus was unique. Mythicists, those who believe Jesus was not even a real person, use these examples to prove their point.

Rituals

Baptism is an important ritual in Christianity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.” Rituals with water are also common in other faiths. In Greek mythology, Thetis dips her son Achilles into the water of the River Styx which was supposed to have magical powers. But she missed his heel, thus the expression “Achilles heel” for vulnerability. Hindus wash themselves in the Ganges River at certain ceremonial times of the year. Very similar to the purpose of Christian baptism, they believe that it washes away their sins. Instead of at birth, they perform the ceremony every year.

Characters

The three wise men or magi who came to portend the future birth of Christ were given the names of Melchio, Balthasar, and Gasper in medieval times as the Bible does not name them. Magi are part of the Persian belief in Zoroastrianism. Today’s word magic is related to the powers they possessed. Kenneth Davis in his book Don’t Know Much about Mythology states they “would keep watch until a great star would appear signaling the coming of a savior.

Many of the Catholic Saints, such as Radegund, Milburga, Macrine, Wilpurga were named after grain goddesses. In a previous post, I told the story of Radegund.  In this legend, Radegund passes by a farmer and tells him to say to anyone that follows that he has seen no one since he sowed his field. As Radegund leaves the crop sprouts and grows to full size. When the men arrive at the field, the farmer tells no lie when he repeats what Radegund told him to say. This is similar to many other myths about the grain goddess.

Appropriations of space

St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 8th century CE, when spreading the Christian religion in England, stated that he had come to the conclusion that the temples where people worshiped gods other than the Christian god should not be destroyed. “The idols are to be destroyed, but the temples themselves are to be aspersed with holy water, altars set up in them, and relics deposited there. For if these temples are well built, they must be purified from the worship of demons and dedicated to the service of the true God… And because they have a custom of sacrificing many oxen to demons, let some other solemnity be substituted in its place such as a day of dedication or the festivals of the holy martyrs whose relics are enshrined there.”

I had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral of St. Clemente in Rome. The structure where worship occurs today was built just before 1100. But as you take the stairs you descend to a 4thcentury basilica that was the converted house of a Roman nobleman. What is really amazing it that when you keep descending, you see what archeologists have uncovered and preserved – the altars involved in the worship of Mithra(s).

Megalithic stones, known as dolmens or menhirs, have been found throughout the world and date from as early as 7000 BCE. One of the more well-known compilations is located at Stonehenge in England where it is thought to have been a burial ground as are other such constructions. The largest collection of dolmens and menhirs is in Carnac, France. Philippe Walter, author of Christian Mythology: Revelations of Pagan Origins, states that the Christian promoters who encountered these stones, which were still worshipped by the druids, transformed them into stone altars. In addition, they created the baptismal font based upon the ancient sacred fountain. Trees in the forest, where worship often occurred, were “transformed into the pillars and columns of a stone nave, with their ornaments of leafy capitals.”

Dates

The Council of Nicea in 325 established the date of the celebration of Easter as the first Sunday following the full moon of the spring equinox which was a date celebrated in several pagan religions. Why are eggs associated with this holiday? Because it is based on Eastre – a goddess of spring. What better way to celebrate the rebirth of spring than with eggs and bunnies!

One theory of the date of Christmas, December 25 is that it is based on the Winter Solstice and the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. This date was not fixed as the birth of Jesus until the reign of the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine, in 336 CE.

Saints were often associated with dates, characters, and symbols of pagan practices. Some surmise that the pig is associated with Saint Anthony because of the sacrifice of the pig in the pagan celebration of Carnival. Carnival was a religion that preceded Christianity whose calendar was based on periods of 40 days. It is interesting that Lent is forty days before Easter and Ascension is forty days after Easter. Lent prohibits the consumption of meat eating and may have been established to “exorcise this pagan figure as well as the table customs she encouraged.” The goddess he refers to is Carna.

Halloween is still celebrated today, but has come under some prohibition in certain Christian faiths and rightly so as it was based on the Celtic festival of Samhain when “people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.” Pope Gregory III made November 1 All Saints Day to honor the saints, thus October 31 became “All Hallows Eve” which of course we now know as Halloween.

This is just a small sampling of the similarities between Christianity and the other religions and practices it supplanted.

Christianity therefore fails (miserably) the test of independence from man-made religions and is exposed to be man-made in its own right.  This is a litmus test and its result allows anyone with a clear mind to conclude that Christianity has no connection to the supernatural.

(1595) Lack of early writings

One of the major pitfalls of Christianity’s legitimacy is that its foundational documents were all written decades after the alleged events took place.  Some of Paul’s letters were written about two decades later while the supposed historical biographies of Jesus (the gospels) date to at least four decades later.  There is a simple reason for this- the early Christians were convinced that Jesus would be returning very soon, so soon that the need to write down anything about the faith for future generations seemed unnecessary.  They were also convinced that saving for the future, marrying, and defending their earthly possessions were a waste of time.

Now, in the hypothetical, we have to see this situation through the eyes of Jesus, or God, as he watched what was happening.  Jesus clearly knew that he was not planning to return anytime soon.  Why would he have not therefore encouraged (through the Holy Spirit?) his followers to document and safeguard the details of his ministry and teachings while they were still fresh in the minds of the eyewitnesses and not yet distorted by tellings and re-tellings?

Had Jesus done this, we would be left with much more relevant and believable accounts of the faith.  The fact that it did not happen is evidence that this Jesus story is nothing more than an ill-conceived myth.

(1596) The Bible is wrong about the Canaanites purge

Science has demonstrated that the Bible is wrong about the purported extermination of the Canaanite tribe by the Israelites.  This is yet another example of how the Bible is failing to stand up to advances in science and historical discoveries.

“Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the Lord your God”(Deuteronomy 20:16–18, NASB)

The following was taken from:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/bible-canaanites-wiped-out-old-testament-israelites-lebanon-descendants-discovered-science-dna-a7862936.html

It is a command that led the leading atheist Richard Dawkins to claim that the God of the Old Testament was “a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser … a genocidal … megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”.

For God had ordered the Israelites to slaughter the apparently sinful Canaanites, saying: “You shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them.” And, according to the Bible, they did just that.

However, a new genetic study has found that the Canaanites actually managed to survive this purge of their traditional homeland, passing on their DNA over the centuries to their numerous descendants in modern-day Lebanon.

Scientists managed to extract enough DNA from the remains of five people – found in the former Canaanite city state of Sidon and dated to about 3,700 years ago – to sequence their entire genome.

They then compared this to 99 modern Lebanese people and discovered they had inherited about 90 per cent of their genetic ancestry from their ancient forebears.

A paper about the study in the American Journal of Human Genetics said that there had been “uncertainties” about the fate of the Canaanites.

 “The Bible reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of its people; if true, the Canaanites could not have directly contributed genetically to present-day populations,” the researchers wrote.

“However, no archaeological evidence has so far been found to support widespread destruction of Canaanite cities between the Bronze and Iron Ages: cities on the Levant coast such as Sidon and Tyre show continuity of occupation until the present day.

“We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age.”

The degree of genetic closeness between the ancient Canaanites and modern Lebanese people was something of a surprise as the area was repeatedly fought over and conquered by various different groups throughout history, although some of them did leave genetic traces that survive to this day.

One of the researchers, Dr Marc Haber, of The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: “The present-day Lebanese are likely to be direct descendants of the Canaanites, but they have in addition a small proportion of Eurasian ancestry that may have arrived via conquests by distant populations such as the Assyrians, Persians, or Macedonians.”

He added that it had been a “pleasant surprise” to be able to extract and analyse DNA from human remains that were nearly 4,000 years old, particularly as they were found in a hot environment.

The Canaanites are roundly condemned in the Old Testament – they were the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities destroyed with fire and brimstone directly by God, according to the Book of Genesis.

While the Bible says they were wiped out by the Israelites under Joshua in the land of Canaan, later passages suggest there were at least a few survivors. Some Biblical scholars have argued the passages are hyperbole, but the genetic research would appear to indicate the slaughter was much less extensive than described.

Also known as the Phoenicians, the Canaanites proved to be great seafaring traders and established colonies across the Mediterranean.

They are also credited with inventing the first alphabet, although ironically few written records have survived the passage of time, so accounts describing them largely come from enemies and rivals, such as the Israelites, Egyptians and Greeks.

The researchers said they hoped genetic techniques could help shed more light on the region’s history.

Dr Claude Doumet-Serhal, a co-author of the paper and director of the Sidon excavation site in Lebanon, said: “For the first time we have genetic evidence for substantial continuity in the region, from the Bronze Age Canaanite population through to the present day.

“These results agree with the continuity seen by archaeologists. Collaborations between archaeologists and geneticists greatly enrich both fields of study and can answer questions about ancestry in ways that experts in neither field can answer alone.”

The Bible’s fallacies are defenseless against advances in science, and its integrity continues to erode as more is discovered and learned.

(1597) Christianity’s unbroken record of failures

If Christianity was true, it would be a dazzling sensation, adorning the world with amazing insights, powers, miracles, and beneficial solutions.  But when the scorecard is marked, all we can see is one failure after another.  Christianity has failed spectacularly to live up the ascendancies that its claims would be expected to produce. The following is taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/07/christianitys-unbroken-record-failure/

Show one scientific truth about nature or new technology that was discovered first in the pages of the Bible.

Show one disease eliminated from the earth or one missing limb restored through prayer.

Show one person who can preach the gospel in every human language.

Show one Bible prophecy or interesting prediction by a Christian prophet that is accepted as fulfilled by non-Christians.

Show one supernatural event in the Bible that is accepted by historians.

Show one earthquake or volcano that was halted by an incantation or holy relic.

Show one tsunami or plague whose damage was undone by divine action.

Show any supernatural claim within Christianity that is accepted by non-Christians.

An unbroken record of failure

The Bible has stories of people miraculously cured of disease, but so might a book of fairy tales. The Bible has no discussion of how to avoid germs, no advice to boil water, no sanitation rules for the placement of latrines. It doesn’t even have a recipe for soap.

Jesus could have eliminated plague and smallpox and saved the lives of billions, but instead he withers a fig tree and does less curing of disease in his career than a typical doctor does today. The Bible makes clear that every believer will be able to perform the works of Jesus and more, and yet no medical miracle claims are validated by science.

Some in the early days of the Pentecostal movement claimed the Holy Spirit gave missionaries fluency in any language, though that claim is a little too testable. The “gift of tongues” today usually refers to a gibberish utterance in no human language.

God hasn’t guided his most cherished creation past problems like war, genocide, slavery, prejudice, pogroms, overpopulation, and environmental disasters. Nor has he helped undo the damage from natural disasters. Faith has never moved a mountain, though the Bible says that it will. And prayer doesn’t do anything measurable.

A religion that fails to deliver what it promises or fails to at least manifest in a way consistent with its claims is beyond doubt a false proposition.  An unbroken string of failures is not the expression of something that is true.

(1598) King James translation reveals human hands

Many Christian groups hold up the King James translation of the Bible as being the inerrant work of the Holy Spirit, and use it exclusively in their services and Bible studies, while viewing the later translations as being corrupted.  However, discovery of a draft of the King James translation has revealed it to have been a typical work of fallible humans, replete with side notes, controversy, a political agenda, as well as puzzlement over how to interpret the source documents.  If indeed it had been the work of the Holy Spirit, the words would have flowed effortlessly and flawlessly to the translators hands. The following was taken from:

https://www.ancient-code.com/ancient-draft-manuscript-of-the-bible-found-reveals-shocking-details/

Some argue that this ancient manuscript proves how the Bible is in fact a work of fiction. The King James Bible was created after King James I ordered 47 translators to produce an ‘authorized’ version of the Bible that would support the English Church over Puritan influence in earlier texts.

Kept hidden away for centuries among ancient manuscripts lodged in the Cambridge college remain an ancient manuscript which turned out to be the EARLIEST known DRAFT of the King James Bible—arguably the most widely read work of literature in the English language.

But why does this matter so much? Well, the Bible is a compilation of ancient early texts and translations, and this ancient manuscript shows how one of the translators in charge of translating the King James Bible—Samuel Ward—made several drafts and corrections—based on earlier versions of the Bible—in order to obtain the King James Bible.

Author Samuel Ward was one of a team of seven men in Cambridge who worked on the translation of the King James Bible.

The manuscript was discovered by American scholar Jeffrey Miller who came across some 70 handwritten papers believed to date back between 1604 and 1608 in ancient archives, containing biblical commentary, with Greek and Hebrew notes. The manuscript had eluded researchers in the past because it was mislabeled—remaining undetected and without any study for centuries.

The King James Bible is the English translation of the Christian Bible made for the Church of England which begun in 1604 and was completed in 1611. The books of the King James Version contain the 39 books of the Old Testament, as well as intertestamental section containing 14 books of the Apocrypha, and the 27 books that make up the New Testament.

The KJB is the result of 7 translators working in teams working in London, Oxford, and Cambridge. King James I ordered them to produce an ‘authorized’ version of the Bible that would support the English Church over Puritan influence in earlier texts.

Many authors argue that entire sections of the original texts of the Bible were cut out from the ‘finished product’ and notable people and events were entirely omitted from the finished text.

Writing about the discovery, Miller— from Montclair State University in New Jersey—indicates how Ward’s ‘draft’ “helps to reveal about one of the 17th century’s most extraordinary cultural achievements.”

“It points the way to a fuller, more complex understanding than ever before of the process by which the KJB, the most widely read work in English of all time, came to be,” added Miller.

Discoveries like these raise questions on how much translators influenced the final product and whether or not, the King James Bible is today an ancient text based on the actual truth and events that occurred thousands of years ago.

If God failed to ensure the inerrancy of the King James translation of the Bible, which he surely would have known would be the standard resource for English-speaking Christians, then it is harder to believe that celestial inspiration was provided to the original authors of the Bible.  The confusing struggle of the King James translators is further evidence that the Bible was the work of human beings- without the helpful assistance of the divine.

(1599) Names of the apostles

Jesus allegedly chose 12 men to be his apostles, and there is no scriptural basis to conclude that any of them were replaced until after the crucifixion (when Matthias replaced the now deceased Judas Iscariot).  Therefore, it should be observed that the gospels consistently identifiy these men.  Nope.

Mark 3:16-19

These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Matthew 10:1-4

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Luke 6:13-16

When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

While Mark and Matthew agree about the names of the twelve apostles, Luke  leaves out Thaddeus and adds another Judas, the son of James. Aside from some desperate hand waving by Christian apologists, this registers as a solid contradiction.

(1600) Minimum requirements for salvation

Human enterprises are always careful to define in a precise manner the minimum requirements needed to achieve a certain goal, such as to start a bank account, achieve citizenship, or obtain a law license.  So it would seem that God would likewise be exact in spelling out what is needed for a person to be accepted into his holy paradise. This is where we run into trouble…..big trouble. The following was taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/6qrrfs/god_directs_his_followers_to_spread_a_message_but/

Jesus came to spread His message of salvation to the world. He sent His disciples out into the world to spread that message and save souls. He sent the Holy Spirit to help guide to an accurate understanding, those who earnestly seek the truth. And He provided prayer as a method of communication between He and His followers.

Given all the above, it seems reasonable to expect a universal agreement among “real” Christians as to the basic minimum requirements to receive salvation. Any misunderstandings should easily be resolved through prayer and guidance by the Holy Spirit.

NOTE: I’m not talking about minor doctrinal differences. I’m talking about the basic minimum requirements to receive salvation, anything less being insufficient to receive salvation.

I’ve heard many combinations of answers from Christian regarding what is required for salvation, including;

It can’t be put into words.

There are no requirements because God chooses who He wants to save.

Simply believing in Jesus. (whatever that means)

A certain amount of faith in Jesus.

Belief and baptism if physically possible.

Belief plus a certain amount of works.

A complete change in lifestyle.

And many more dealing with stuff like unforgivable sin and losing your salvation.

Since all of the above opinions cannot simultaneously be accurate, and since God would not intentionally mislead His followers away from salvation, it must be assumed that either;

The majority of Christians are not earnestly seeking an accurate understanding of God’s truth, regarding the basic minimum requirements to receive salvation, through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit,

or

God is not answering.

So the most important element of human life, whether a person will spend eternity in bliss or torture, is a blurred line.  It is impossible to believe that such a critically significant demarcation is left to the wonderment of fallible human minds, rather than having a clear message being delivered from infallible celestial sources. Humans make blurred lines; a god would make it distinct.

Follow this link to #1601