1601-1650

(1601) The Fourth Dimension

Given our understanding of physics, the qualities of space-time, and the limit to the speed at which information, or light, can travel, a problem exists for defining the location of the Christian god.  Any assumption that places God in a specific location in the universe results in the impossibility of this god being able to see and control everything at once.  This leaves scientifically-literate Christian apologist with two options: God is everywhere or he is lurking in a fourth spacial dimension.

The idea that god is everywhere leads to the rather un-Christian-like meme that the universe IS God, but few would think that the universe as a whole can hear and answer prayers. There has to be something more concrete. So this leads to the last line of defense- God inhabits a fourth dimension that humans cannot see or access, but from which God can see and manipulate events at will. To get some idea of what this might entail, watch the following video where Carl Sagan explains the relationship between two and three-dimensional space:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7K5KjOdLD8

As can be deduced from this video, even if God or his angels live in the fourth dimension, they would be expected at times to enter into our three-dimensional space and manifest as objects that suddenly appear out of nowhere and then disappear into thin air.  Aside from unverified anecdotal claims, these types of events are not occurring. But if God actually inhabits this extra dimension and has before and presumably continues to materially affect our existence, this seemingly magical phenomenon should be a common occurrence. Thus, we have evidence that God is not a 4-dimensional creature, and the conundrum of his location continues to haunt Christianity.

(1602) The evolution of Yahweh

Few Christians understand or even care to understand the historical development of the Christian god.  In fact, they purposely avoid any type of critical investigation into their god belief.  It is simply taken as a ‘given’ about which all of the other aspects of reality revolve.

However, it takes only the use of a few hours of unbiased study to realize that the god that Christians worship is actually a mental construct of humanity that has evolved over time to take on greater and more impressive attributes.  Thus it is with Yahweh, the incompetent and limited deity that eventually gave birth to the all-powerful ‘God’ that Christians revere. One thing is for sure- gods don’t evolve, but human imaginations certainly do. The following was taken from:

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2014/08/the-evolution-of-god-from-yahweh-in-box.html?m=1

The God of modern Christian theology is a philosophically supercharged God far removed from the physically limited and dimwitted Yahweh whose identity has as much in common as a horse and buggy does with a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4.   Ironically, Christian apologists such has WL Craig totally ignore this primitive and limited tribal God in favor of the easy to defend modern concept of a nameless figure that has evolved from the New Testament whose image is rooted in the pagan Classical Tradition.

 When a person “becomes a Christian”, it’s not the ancient Near Eastern tribal Yahweh they are presented with, but a slick modern super deity with few links to the Old Testament . . . known simply as God with a capital “G” who is really an anthology of Classical pagan attributes taken on after having absorbed the myths of other ancient Near Eastern Semitic gods.  This apologetically hopped up deity which grew out of the ideals of Neo-Platonism is constantly gathering apologetic power be they from the Summa Theological concepts of Thomas Aquinas to Karl Rahner’s Systematic Catholic Theology to Barth’s Protestant Church Dogmatics and on to Alfred North Whitehead’s Processed Reality.  The evolution of God is now considerably much like the woman Lucy in the current hit movie of the same title or a God who continues to acquire any philosophical protection the best apologists can mentally bestow upon him.

Though many conservative Christians don’t believe in evolution, they truly hold a double standard as most don’t seem to realized how evolved and philosophically advanced their God has apologetically traveled from an ancient tribal confused deity whose mental ability lost the first two humans he created in the small garden of Eden (Genesis 3:  8-9) to presently a hopped up revolutionary polytheistic (Trinitarian) Father figure.

Gone are the direct syncretic links to Classical religions which required God to breed with a human (the Virgin Mary) in order take on humanity, to be sacrificed as a blood atonement only then to reabsorb himself back into an indefinable Trinity concept.  The illogical is made logical though an uncritical line of reasoning called theology which continues to use confused ignorance running under the rubric of faith to explain how a single God can now exist both in Heaven and on earth at the same time while its third appendage (the Holy Spirit) can actually live inside the physical hearts of billions of believers as they fight amongst themselves over who and what God really is and what theological doctrines he really wants.  Truly, the Christian God has become much like a Harley Davidson motorcycle which basic model is advertised along with hundreds of (theological) add-on accessories to make your Harley bike (your God) a real extension of yourself and a God that can never be apologetically outdated due to an endless supply of custom accessories (apologetic add-ons).

Indeed, this tribal deity has come a long way from the highly crude and limited anthropomorphic god which at one time lived in a box (3) being so limited in power and knowledge he had to be carried from place to place so as to know what was happening, to an ever-evolving mental concept that has mega functioning super hero powers so great he is said to now be indefinable and incomprehensible by the very Christians who believe in him.  Should an atheist ever be able to get one over on this supreme mega superhero, there’s always the waste basket figure of Satan created as god’s personal historical escape dumpster.  For Christians (since God is constantly in the process of becoming) he should doctrinally carry the modern commercial disclaimer; “Subject to change without notice!”

In the final analysis, this Super Mega God (as defended by Christian apologists today) has been synthesized in the philosophical test tubes of countless thinkers from the primeval Hebrew scribes to the complex mental sophistications of full time Christian philosophers whose income is directly proportional to the non-stoppable God they create.

The evolution of Yahweh is an incontrovertible sign that he is a fictional figure thrust upon a gullible population that is either too lazy or too indifferent to figure out that they have been scammed.  This god that can’t be seen or heard, has no specific location or size or shape, who never answers prayers or does anything at all, nevertheless enslaves the minds of billions of people. It is really quite ridiculous.

(1603) Magic

There are countless claims among religious traditions, as well as unspecified anecdotal accounts, of magic- where something has happened that violates some physical law of the universe.  The parting of the Red Sea in Exodus is a good example.  And there has been an army of magicians who have entertained audiences for millennia. But what has never happened to date is a scientifically proven instance of magic. And it’s not that scientists or lay persons have not been looking, hoping, and being somewhat biased in the search for it. It remains the privilege of a reasonable, intelligent person to assert that magic has never been demonstrated to exist.  This is a problem for Christianity- for it would take just that, that we live in a magical world, for a rational person to take the magic-laden claims of Christianity seriously.  The following quote of Timothy R Campbell was taken from:

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

I am not sure that one can utilize math or reason or probabilities when dealing with claims of miracle or magic. After all, any event that can be seen as statistically possible would then not be magic. Resurrection -and John flying to the moon through self-propulsion- are impossible without magic, but would certainly be possible if magic was possible. Once someone shows definitively that magic is possible, THEN the statisticians can review their estimates!

There are too many interactive agents of magic in Christianity, with angels and demons, a god and a devil, exercising their influence, to believe that not even a single, provable, peer-reviewed, magical event has ever occurred. Christians can cling to their anecdotal stories, but justifiably skeptical persons will remain on the sidelines until that first undeniable demonstration that something magical has actually happened.

(1604) Men twice as likely to be atheist as women

A Pew Research Center survey in 2016 revealed overall that men versus women tend to identify as atheist by a margin of 59 to 41, whereas, in the United States, the margin was even wider (68 to 32).  There may be many causes for this disparity, including perhaps that men tend to be more outspoken (though many studies suggest that women are more likely to reveal their inner feelings). But this raises the question: why should there be any difference at all?  Assuming Christianity to be true, is being born a male a liability, predisposing you to a greater chance of being sent to Hell? The following was taken from:

http://www.pewforum.org/2016/03/22/women-more-likely-than-men-to-affiliate-with-a-religion/

More than two-in-three atheists are men in the United States (68%) and Uruguay (69%). Men also represent a clear majority of the atheist population in Germany (62%) and Spain (61%). However, in France, China, Australia and the United Kingdom, the gender gap among atheists is smaller (and not statistically significant). Across all eight countries, the average share of atheists who are male is 59% if the atheist numbers from each country are given equal value.

Atheists more likely to be men in several countries

This is precisely what you would not expect of an all-powerful god- to set up a system of eternal reward and punishment that is non-negligibly contingent on the sex of the person.  In game theory, the list of winners and losers should be independent of any variable that is not under the control of the individual, and, clearly, gender status is in that arena.  If the Christian god does not exist, and Christianity is a human-constructed myth, then what is observed makes sense- a difference in males and females could be expected to produce this result.

(1605) The evolution of Jesus

Whoever Jesus was, assuming he was a unique individual, what he has become, at least in the minds of his most rabid followers, is an unsavory reflection of his iconic reputation.  This is the evolved Jesus, the one that doesn’t have much to do with the gospels, that has been distorted to meet the needs of a conservative brand of politics as well as to support a subtle expression of racism, xenophobia, and just plain selfishness.  The following was taken from:

https://brucegerencser.net/why-i-hate-jesus/

I don’t hate the flesh and blood Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Palestine, nor do I hate the Jesus found in the pages of the Bible. These Jesuses are relics of the past. I’ll leave it to historians to argue and debate whether these Jesuses were real or fiction. Over the centuries, Christians have created many Jesuses in their own image. This is the essence of Christianity, an ever-evolving religion bearing little resemblance to what it was even a century ago.

The Jesus I hate is the modern, Western Jesus, the American Jesus, the Jesus who has been a part of my life for almost fifty-eight years. The Jesuses of bygone eras have no power to harm me, but the modern Jesus – the Jesus of the three hundred thousand Christian churches that populate every community in America – he has the power to affect my life, hurt my family, and destroy my country.  And I, with a vengeance, hate him.

Over the years, I have had a number of people write me about how the modern Jesus was ruining their marriage. In many instances, the married couple started out in life as believers, and somewhere along the road of life one of them stopped believing. The still-believing spouse can’t or won’t understand why the other spouse no longer believes. They make it clear that Jesus is still very important to them and if forced to choose between their spouse and family, they would choose Jesus. Simply put, they love Jesus more than they love their families.

Sadly, these types of marriages usually fail. A husband or a wife simply cannot compete with Jesus. He is the perfect lover and perfect friend, one who is always there for the believing spouse. This Jesus hears the prayers of the believing spouse and answers them. This Jesus is the BFF of the believing spouse. This Jesus says to the believer, you must choose, me or your spouse. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus cares nothing for the poor, the hungry, or the sick. This Jesus has no interest in poor immigrants or unwed mothers. This Jesus cares for Tim Tebow more than he does a starving girl in Ethiopia. He cares more about who wins a Grammy or ACM Award than he does poverty-stricken Africa having food and clean water. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus is on the side of the culture warriors. This Jesus hates homosexuals and demands they be treated as second class citizens. This Jesus, no matter the circumstance, demands that a woman carry her fetus to term. Child of a rapist, afflicted with a serious birth defect, the product of incest or a one night stand?  It matters not. This Jesus is pro-life. Yet, this same Jesus supports the incarceration of poor young men of color, often for no other crime than trying to survive. This Jesus is so pro-life he encourages American presidents and politicians to slaughter innocent men, women, and children. This Jesus demands certain criminals be put to death by the state, even though the state has legally murdered innocent people. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus drives fancy cars, has palaces and cathedrals, and followers who spare no expense to make his house the best mansion in town. This Jesus loves Rolexes, Lear jets, and expensive suits. This Jesus sees the multitude and turns his back on them, only concerned with those who say and believe “the right things.” It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus owns condominiums constructed just for those who believe in him. When they die, he gives them the keys. But, for the rest of humanity, billions of people, this Jesus says no keys for you. I have a special Hitler-like plan for you. To the ovens you go, only unlike the Jews, I plan to give you a special body that allows me to torture you with fire and brimstone forever. It is this Jesus I hate.

It is this Jesus who looks at Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Universalists, Secularists, Humanists, and Skeptics, and says to them before you were born I made sure you could never be in the group that gets the condominiums when they die. This Jesus says, and it is your fault, sinner man. It is this Jesus who made sure billions of people were born into cultures that worshiped other Gods. It is this Jesus who then says it is their fault they were born at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Too bad, this Jesus says, burn forever in the Lake of Fire. It is this Jesus I hate.

This Jesus divides families, friends, communities, and nations. This Jesus is the means to an end. This Jesus is all about money, power and control. This Jesus subjugates women, tells widows it’s their fault, and ignores the cry of orphans. Everywhere one looks, this Jesus hurts, afflicts, and kills those we love. It is this Jesus I hate. What I can’t understand is why anyone loves this Jesus? Like a clown on a parade route, he throws a few candies towards those who worship him, promising them that a huge pile of candy awaits them when they die. He lets his followers hunger, thirst, and die, yet he tells them it is for their good, that he loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. This Jesus is all talk, promising the moon and delivering a piece of gravel. Why can’t his followers see this?

Fear me, he tells his followers. I have the keys to life and death. I have the power to make you happy and I have the power to destroy your life. I have the power to take your children, health, and livelihood. I can do these things because I am the biggest, baddest Jesus ever. Fear me and oppress women, immigrants, orphans, homosexuals, and atheists. Refuse my demand and I will rain my judgment down upon your head. But, know that I love you and only want is best for you and yours. It is this Jesus I hate.

Perhaps there is a Jesus somewhere that I could respect, a Jesus who might merit my devotion. For now, all I see is a Jesus who is worthy of derision, mockery, and hate. Yes, hate. It is this Jesus I hate. When the Jesus who genuinely loves humanity and cares for the least of these shows up, let me know. In the meantime, I hate Jesus.

It seems obvious that if all of this about Jesus is true, and that God has some sort of ability to shape the minds and attitudes of his followers, that such a dramatic change in the way Jesus is expressed in the truly faithful would not have happened. Rather, it would have retained the tolerance, forgiveness, kindness, and empathy of the Jesus who is painted in scripture.

(1606) Luke and Josephus

Christians like to think that the biblical authors wrote words that came to them, not from any internal source, but rather from the Holy Spirit, or God himself. This is an essential meme to convince themselves that the Bible is divinely-inspired and not just the work of fallible humans.  This becomes a problem with the Gospel of Luke. It can be shown that Luke borrowed extensively from the works of Josephus, who, being a non-Christian, was probably not under the dictational influence of the Lord.  The following was taken from:

https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html

There has long been the observation that Luke-Acts contains numerous parallels with the works of Josephus, generating three different theories to account for this: that Josephus used Luke, that Luke used Josephus, or that they both used some common but now lost source. Steve Mason has reviewed the arguments and in summarizing the evidence concludes that, besides generic parallels of genre and form and the use of identical historical events, which are inconclusive as proofs, the “coincidence … of aim, themes, and vocabulary … seems to suggest that Luke-Acts is building its case on the foundation of Josephus’ defense of Judaism,” and therefore that Luke is consciously and significantly drawing on Josephus to supplement his use of Mark and Q and to create the appearance of a real history, a notable deviation from all the other Gospels which have none of the features of a historical work.

This thesis, if correct, entails two things. First, it undermines the historicity of certain details in the Christ story unique to Luke, such as his account of the Nativity, since these have been drawn from Josephus, who does not mention them in connection with Jesus, and thus it is more than possible that they never were linked with Jesus until Luke decided they were. This does not prove, but provides support for the view that Luke is creating history, not recording it. Second, it settles the terminus post quem of the date Luke-Acts was written: for in order to draw material from the Jewish War, Luke could not have written before 79 A.D., and could well have written much later since the rate of publication in antiquity was exceedingly limited and slow, requiring hand copies made by personal slaves (though at first oral recitations would be more common than written copies); and in order to draw material from the Jewish Antiquities, as he appears to have done, Luke could not have written before 94 A.D., and again could have written much later for the same reason.

The Gospel of Luke has the earmarks of having been written by a person who clumsily attempted the deception of creating an authentic historical account while at the same time making up stories that fit his agenda. It has no more factual credibility than a Charles Dickens novel.

(1607) Jesus returns

Sometimes a parody is the best way to expose the incongruity of Christianity. Despite the silliness of the following, the points are valid and condemning.

https://halfwaypost.com/2017/08/19/jesus-christ-returns-demands-to-know-who-decided-christians-didnt-have-to-be-jewish/

Jesus Christ miraculously returned today, and when he toured Earth 2,000 years after his life and crucifixion, his first question stunned many of the Christian fans he had gathered around him.

“Who the fuck decided—how you say, ‘Christians’—didn’t have to be Jewish?” Jesus reportedly exclaimed. “When did I say you didn’t have to be Jewish? Oh, that’s right, I didn’t! I ate boring kosher food, I couldn’t eat pork or shrimp, and I even got my dick cut…and not at birth like you little snowflakes, I got mine cut at 13 like a real Jew! Seriously—was it Judas? Did Judas tell you all that you didn’t have to be Jewish. I bet it was Judas—that asshole.”

Several bystanders reportedly didn’t know what to say, so they waited for Jesus to talk again.

“And what’s this Catholic stuff? When did I do any of that stuff? The Vatican?! I was very clear—no, painfully clear—that you couldn’t be rich. Why doesn’t the Catholic Church just sell all their art and buildings and stockpiled gold and help the poor… you know, like I said to do. I was very clear about that. And what’s all this shit about Latin rituals. I don’t know who invented this stuff, but it seems to be getting in the way of sharing everything you have with the less fortunate, doesn’t it?”

The Catholics in the audience shuffled their feet.

“And don’t even get me started on evangelicals. Evangelicals are seriously messed up. I don’t remember saying that the kingdom of Heaven was only obtainable if you stopped using your brain. And, for the record, Donald Trump was a test by Me for all of you evangelicals, and you failed. Epically. You guys fell for the Antichrist, way to go. You know who didn’t fall for Donald Trump? Black churches. All you white evangelicals who are racist—and I know who you are—can think about that while you burn in Hell for a bit and black people get into Heaven first. You know what, scratch that. From now on the Kingdom of Heaven is ‘Blacks Only.’ Whites need not apply. Ha! You like that? Do you? Fucking racists.”

The evangelicals in the audience started to tear up.

“I swear to Me,” Jesus said. “Liberal atheists are straight up the moral center of America. They’re the only ones who give a shit about the poor and the sick anymore. Oh, and by the way, evolution is real, so quit it with this creationism thing. It’s like you idiots don’t believe Me and God are capable of coming up with natural selection. Some reverent children you are. Christians make me sick. And for real, start doing Jewish stuff or We’ll send down more pestilence. Think We won’t?! Think We won’t?! Try Us. Oh, and quit it with the polyester clothing, that wasn’t a fucking suggestion!”

Very few Christians are aware that the way they practice their faith would be foreign the person they worship. The irony of this situation is thick.  Christians today worship a fictionalized version of a fictional person.

(1608) Bible not meant to be taken literally

The discovery of a 4th Century commentary of the Bible has provided evidence that the gospels were understood early on to be allegorical treatises and not literal accounts of history as assumed by most contemporary Christians. The following was taken from:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/22/dont-take-bible-literally-says-scholar-brought-light-earliest/

The earliest Latin interpretation of the Gospels has been brought to light by a British academic – and it suggests that readers should not take the Bible literally.

Lost for 1,500 years, the fourth-century commentary by African-born Italian bishop Fortunatianus of Aquileia interprets the Gospels as a series of allegories instead of a literal history.

Dr Hugh Houghton, of the University of Birmingham, who translated the work, said it was an approach which modern Christians could learn from.

The find adds weight to the idea that many early biblical scholars did not see the Bible as a history, but instead a series of coded messages which represented key elements of Christianity, he said.

“There’s been an assumption that it’s a literal record of truth – a lot of the early scholars got very worried about inconsistencies between Matthew and Luke, for example.

“But for people teaching the Bible in the fourth century, it’s not the literal meaning which is important, it’s how it’s read allegorically.

“In contemporary Biblical scholarship a lot of the gospels are written with symbolism in mind.

“They are not setting out to be literal accounts but they are set out to be symbolic.”

He said that the Bible had to be “understood in the context that the authors were working in.”

The approach differs from the trend of biblical literalism adopted by modern evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, which interprets the Bible as the literal word of God which is not open to interpretation.

This has been the basis for beliefs such as the idea that the earth is 6,000 years old and that it was created in seven days.

Modern archaeologists have also used the Bible to search for evidence about the life of Jesus, with mixed success.

The 100-page document examines the Gospel of Matthew in great detail and also examines part of the Gospels according to Luke and John.

It is most probably that scholars who lived closer to the times that produced the gospels would have had a better understanding of the literary standards that existed at that time.  Given this commentary, it is evident that the concept of literalism is a recent phenomenon that represents an erroneous characterization of the gospels.

(1609) No prophecies of a resurrected Christ

The central feature of Christianity is that a man was executed and then was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.  And this drama was produced as a means of forgiving the sins of whoever believed in their heart that this actually happened.  Given the extreme importance of this event, it would seem that the Old Testament prophets would have spoken of it in detail. But they didn’t. The following was taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/6vti17/no_prophecies_of_a_resurrected_messiah/

The resurrection is essential to Christianity. Paul himself says that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile”. It seems to me that if the Messiah was supposed to rise from the dead, that would be something the OT prophets wouldn’t have left out.

And yet, the prophets seem to make no mention of it. The Messiah is clearly described as a king who will usher in an age of world peace. But nothing about a resurrection. At best, Christians have pointed to a few cherry-picked verses from Psalms, but these verses are just David thanking God for prolonging his life & preserving him during war. Where is the resurrection in OT prophecy?

If the crucifixion and resurrection of the messiah had been God’s plan, why wouldn’t he have informed the Old Testament prophets of the same, such that the Jewish nation would have been on board with the passion drama, and remained unified with the group that later became known as Christians?  Even if it assumed that the Old Testament depicts an actual interaction between a universal god and the Jews, the lack of a definitive prophetic connection to the Christian movement reveals the latter to be a fraudulent extension of the former.

(1610) The God command conundrum

If a mother killed her child and was in a court of law presided over by an evangelical judge and a jury of similar composition, would her claim that God had commanded her to kill the child be considered on its merits or would it be summarily dismissed?  That is the dilemma that faces Christians who hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible.

The Bible recounts many occasions where God speaks directly with humans, instructing them to do all sorts of activities, including to kill other people. The story of God instructing Abraham to kill his son Isaac is the one that is most analogous to the example above.

Christianity is constructed in such a manner that it must be assumed that God on occasion will directly communicate with a person and instruct them to take some sort of action.  However, there is no way to verify that this has in fact happened.  It leaves wide open the possibility that people will make this up as an excuse for their actions or else be a victim of an hallucination. And so, the mother is prosecuted despite her claim of a divine command, and despite the jury’s belief that such a command was possible.

This is the reason that much of the Bible cannot be trusted as it claims to contain thousands of such instructions from God, but only as received by a single person and with no means of verification. This sets up the ultimate non sequitur: Christians fully accept the biblical claims of God talking to people long ago while dismissing similar claims made by people today.

(1611) Sweating blood

In Luke 22:43-44, we read:

An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he (Jesus) prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Christian apologists like to argue that this rare, though not medically unheard of condition (hematidrosis), was reported only by the author of Luke to the exclusion of the other three gospel writers because he was some sort of a physician. This argument might hold water except for one big problem: Luke 22:43-44 does not appear in the earliest manuscripts – it was not written by Luke but rather by a subsequent forger.

The fact that none of the original gospel authors mentioned this incident is strong evidence that it never happened, even if we assume Jesus to have been a real person who was in some degree of anguish before his arrest and crucifixion. But then, the question comes – for what purpose was it added?

The most plausible explanation is that these two verses were added to quash a growing consensus that Jesus was a spirit and not a flesh and blood person.  Some of this was spawned by the writings of Paul, which by and large posit Jesus as a spirit, and the verse in John where Jesus passes through a locked door into the disciple’s enclave (John 20:26).

Another possibility is that it was added to adumbrate the blood sacrifice that was soon to follow. Either way, these forged verses indicate that the gospels were not written to precisely describe historical events, but rather to present a spiritually-driven theological revelation.

(1612) What did Jesus look like?

There exists no documentation or depiction of what Jesus looked like. This is a curious omission, given his alleged fame that extended throughout the regions of Judea and Galilee.  The following was taken from:

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

Interestingly, almost all important historical people have descriptions of what they looked like. We have the image of Augustus Caesar cast on denarius coins, busts of Greek and Roman aristocrats, artwork of Napoleon, etc. We have descriptions of facial qualities, height, weight, hair length & color, age and even portraits of most important historical figures. But for Jesus, we have nothing. Nowhere in the Bible do we have a description of the human shape of Jesus. How can we rely on the Gospels as the word of Jesus when no one even describes what he looked like? How odd that none of the disciple characters record what he looked like, yet believers attribute them to know exactly what he said. Indeed, this gives us a clue that Jesus came to the gospel writers and indirect and through myth. Not until hundreds of years after the alleged Jesus did pictures emerge as to what he looked like from cult Christians, and these widely differed from a blond clean shaven, curly haired Apollonian youth (found in the Roman catacombs) to a long-bearded Italian as depicted to this day. This mimics the pattern of Greek mythological figures as their believers constructed various images of what their gods looked like according to their own cultural image.

The lack of any descriptions or drawings of Jesus’ appearance leaves a hole in the Christian claim that he was both a real person and a famous one to boot.  It’s unlikely that both of these assertions are true. Which is to say: If he was a real person, he lived in relative obscurity, known by only by a small segment of the populace.

(1613) The fallacy of the empty tomb argument

Christian apologists often refer to the empty tomb of Jesus as evidence for the resurrection. This is one of the most insipid arguments for the Christian faith, simply for the reason that the entire story might have been fabricated. There is little evidence that Jesus existed in the first place, that he was actually placed in a tomb (rather than a mass grave as was the Roman policy for crucifixion victims), or that the tomb was found to be expectantly empty.  These are stories written long after the fact by biased non-eyewitnesses of events that seemed to have escaped the notice of anybody else who was actually there at that time.

In the following excerpt, Dr. Richard Carrier shreds the empty tomb argument:

http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12959#body

First, if the body was lost, misplaced, or stolen, or Jesus never really died, the tomb would have been empty. And when bodies disappear, all known evidence establishes it’s vastly more commonly by being lost, misplaced, or stolen, or the body not actually being dead, than by magic. So this isn’t even a logically valid argument for the resurrection. But it’s also factually uninformed…

Second, under Jewish law, bodies were legally unrecognizable after the third day. It’s thus tellingly convenient that we are told that’s how long Christians waited before claiming to “see” him risen. Indeed, they didn’t even tell anyone else this for a whole fifty days! By which time, identifying a body was impossible. It was totally inadmissible in court, and thus entirely deniable by anyone who was as committed or deluded as these Christian fanatics were; and entirely useless to anyone else, who wouldn’t be able to tell.

Third, it was a capital crime to desecrate the dead. No one could have dug the body up or paraded it outside its tomb (until a year had passed, authorizing ossuary reburial of the denuded bones). And proving any body, in what would have been a mass grave, was Jesus, and not someone else, would not have been possible by the forensic and legal means then available. The Gospels are simply lying when they claim Jesus was given an illegal burial in a special tomb; all Jewish convicts were buried together in a graveyard or tomb complex owned by the Sanhedrin, as specifically part of their sentence, and to prevent defiling innocent corpses (by segregating criminals from them).

Fourth, Paul says the body that dies, is not the body that is raised. He describes a belief in 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Corinthians 5 that resurrection bodies are pre-assembled and waiting for us in heaven, and that our bodies of flesh will be cast off and destroyed. We will switch from one to the other, and rise in the new glorious body. Paul never mentions anyone believing the corpse of Jesus was what rose. He only mentions people believing he rose in a new, different body. And such a teaching is immune to presenting the body. That body was just a discarded shell. Jesus lived on in a new, fancier one. And if it came down to just the two options, which is more likely? That this iswhat the first Christians taught, or that magic exists?

Fifth, in the book of Acts, curiously, neither the Romans nor the Sanhedrin ever notice an empty tomb; nor is the existence of one ever used as an argument by any Christian missionary depicted. The latter is inexplicable enough. But to all the authorities, an empty tomb would be evidence of the capital crime of graverobbing or the escape of a convicted criminal. Yet no one ever investigates these crimes. No one ever mentions them. No one ever accuses the Christians of them. It’s as if no one even knew there was an empty tomb. Gosh. Why do you think that is? Could it be…that there was no empty tomb? Ockham’s Razor, people.

The myth of the empty tomb should be seen as analogous to the beanstalk that Jack climbed. It is just a fable designed to create artificial credence for a resurrection that never occurred.

(1614) God gives a sign that he withholds today

Elijah was in a bind and needed to convince his people that God was real and that he was his prophet. The Lord complied with this request:

1 Kings 18:36-39

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

Now we know that nothing of this nature is happening today. God is not sending any signs of his existence to anyone, at least in a way that can be objectively demonstrated to an indifferent observer. Why is this? There are two possibilities. Either God has decided in his old age to be stubborn and to place an additional burden on the faith of current believers, or the reports of such displays in 1 Kings and elsewhere in the bible are made-up stories. In either case, there is a problem for Christianity.  Either God is unfair, or he is unreal.

(1615) Presuppositions for atheists

There is an enlightening comparison between the presuppositions that most atheists abide by and those employed by the majority of Christian apologists.  Presupposition is a method of settling on a set of assumptions before analyzing evidence to make a determination of fact.  The apologists pre-assume a god and the general historical integrity of the Bible and go from there.  Atheists have a much more sophisticated and honest approach, as listed by Robert Conner:

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

The Ten Well-Founded “Presuppositions” of Atheism:

1. We require sufficient objective empirical evidence before we will accept any claims of divine revelation.

2. We accept the general principle that any specific miraculous claim must overcome the strong presumption that it didn’t occur based on the overwhelming cumulative evidence that miracles have not occurred.

3. We accept the view that believers must shoulder the burden of proof as outsiders to show their faith is objectively true, given that learning a religion as an uncritical child from one’s parents in a religious culture is a notoriously unreliable way to know which religion is true, if there is one.

4. We accept the results of scientific clinical studies that have shown petitionary prayers work no better than chance, and reject personal antecdotal unconfirmed stories told by believers.

5. We accept that the laws of nature in the ancient pre-scientific world were the same as they are now, so we have a very strong presumption against accepting miraculous claims in the ancient superstitious world prior to the rise of modern science and the modern world.

6. We accept that which is objectively probable, and reject that which is merely possible.

7. We reject any and all double standards and special pleadings from religionists when they argue for their faith over the faiths of others.

8. We accept the overwhelming consensus of scientists as the surest guarantee of what is true, over any and all claims by religious leaders, scholars and their holy books.

9. We proportion what we conclude based on the strength of the objective evidence.

10. We accept the approach of methodological naturalism in assessing miraculous claims, whereby we seek out natural explanations for any and all events in question, given that doing so is the best and only way to know the truth in the midst of so many religious frauds, fakes, liars and hucksters.

It is certain that if First Century gentiles had employed these 10 precepts, Christianity would never have become a major religion and would be viewed today as a failed Jewish apocryphal sect. It was the gullibility of these people that allowed myth, visions, dreams, exaggeration, and deception to morph into a faith that would later be hugely magnified by political expediency.

(1616) The desire to believe

Much of the success of Christianity has been ascribed to political pressures and socially enforced orthodoxy, as well as parental inculcation of young minds.  It is further sustained by the common human proclivity to conform to social norms for the purpose of monetary, status, and sexual rewards. But there is another powerful element that is involved- the desire to believe a story that offers such an unbelievably stupendous reward- eternal life in a paradisiacal setting. This desire can often short circuit the logic centers of impressively intelligent brains.  Two such examples are described by Franz Kiekeben in the following:

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2017/09/smart-people-saying-stupid-things.html#more

Loftus’s observation that faith makes smart people say stupid things reminded me of two instances I’d previously come across. The first involves Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project and the author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. As some here may already know, Collins, a geneticist and defender of evolutionary theory, “knelt in the dewy grass… and surrendered to Jesus Christ” as a result of seeing “a beautiful and unexpected frozen waterfall” while hiking in the Cascade Mountains. That he considers a purely emotional reaction like that as a reason for accepting the claims of Christianity shows just how unscientific a scientist can be. (How would he respond to someone who denied evolution based on nothing more than emotion?)

Collins was also convinced by C. S. Lewis’s “liar, lunatic or Lord” argument. Most readers here are probably familiar with this very weak argument: Lewis says that one cannot call Jesus merely a great moral teacher. For, if he wasn’t who he claimed to be, then he was either lying or deluded. “Either this man was and is the son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.” So the only options are liar, lunatic, or Lord. But of course there is a fourth option: that Jesus didn’t claim to be God at all. Thus the choices really are liar, lunatic, Lord, or legend (and in fact, probably a mixture of three of these).

Lewis’s argument is obviously flawed and very easy to refute — and yet Collins fell for it. Why? I think the answer is clear: because he wanted to believe it.

My second example comes from William F. Buckley’s Nearer, My God. Buckley, father of the modern conservative movement, was — whatever you may think of him — obviously very smart. It is therefore fascinating seeing him try to defend claims that are clearly unfounded.

One such claim is that of miracles at Lourdes. Buckley points out that nonbelievers (like one reportedly sent by a French “anti-religious organization”) have attempted to discredit the process by which miracles are verified — sometimes even by faking illnesses and then claiming cures. And yet, they all have failed, he informs us, for the process is very strict: “there are no tribunals in existence more skeptical than those through which you need to pass if your claim is to have been cured of illness at Lourdes.” In fact, although millions of pilgrims have visited the sanctuary, “fewer than one hundred ‘cures’ have been certified by the Church as miraculous.” So you see, the verified ones must have been the genuine article.

It never appears to have dawned on Buckley that odds this bad, though supporting the argument that the process of verification is strict, completely fail to support the claim of miracles in the first place. A “miracle” here just means that “there is no known or hypothetical scientific explanation” for what the doctors have observed. The patient simply got better. But since cases of spontaneous remission of disease do occur from time to time, the fact that some of these occurred to people who visited Lourdes — and at a rate that does not appear to be greater than for others — proves exactly nothing.

And why did Buckley fail to see this? Once again, it seems the reason is that he wanted to believe. Buckley admits that his visit to Lourdes left him “profoundly affected” — maybe as much as Collins was by the frozen waterfall. In other words, his emotions got in the way of his better judgement.

This phenomenon was likely also instrumental in the early recruitment of devotees as the faith struggled to gain traction against the many pagan mystery religions, most of which did not provide such a savory promise of afterlife bliss. In other words, the ‘invention’ of the Christian heaven might have been one of the critical factors that allowed it to become a dominant religion. In any case, the tendency for people to believe based on desire makes the claims of Christianity, the one faith that most exploits this effect, that much less credible.

(1617) Theism versus naturalism

The question that is most pressing for humankind is whether we live in a theistic world or a naturalistic world, whether we live among gods, devils, angels,and demons who are manipulating things behind the scenes, or whether we live in a world devoid of such characters and are only influenced by the random and purposeless natural forces of nature.  To attempt to answer this question, it is instructive to consider the features we would expect of both of these worlds. The following table is inspired by Dr. Sean Carroll:

The expected world of theism The expected world of naturalism
God is easy to find, his presence is well known to all. God is obscured and hard to find, there is no objective evidence of his presence.
Religious beliefs are universal, all people agree on the identity of the god or gods. Religious beliefs disagree with each other and are each concentrated in isolated geographic pockets.
Religious doctrines are stable, rarely changing over time. Religious doctrines evolve over time adapting to changing conditions of civilization.
Moral teachings are transcendent, e.g.,sexism, slavery, discrimination are discouraged Moral teachings reflect the morality of the people of the times, and often conflict with the evolved attitudes of later society.
Sacred texts provide knowledge unknown at the time, giving mankind a head start in understanding and managing their world. Sacred texts contain no information unknown to people of the times.
Biological forms are designed in a way that optimizes all physical elements. Biological forms exhibit the twists and turns of an evolutionary process, with vestigial features and vulnerabilities that could have been avoided with a better design.
Minds are independent of physical bodies and function well despite injury or disease. Minds are vulnerable to injury and disease, memories and brain function can be decimated by such events, personality can change.
Random evil and suffering does not exist. Evil and suffering are widespread, visited on people without any specific reason.
Universe is perfect, all stars, planets, and moons are fashioned in an exquisitely ordered design, without collisions or disorder. The universe is randomly chaotic, with stars exploding, meteors crashing, stars exploding.
Universe is small, compact, containing only those elements needed to stage a drama for humans to choose between good and evil. Universe is vast; all theology is compressed into an infinitesimally small and inconspicuous spec in the heavens.

None of these arguments by themselves is especially convincing, but all of them taken together provides extremely compelling evidence that we live in a naturalistic world, which by definition excludes the authenticity of Christianity.

(1618) Paul was a crazy person

Although Paul has been traditionally revered throughout Christian circles as a saint and God’s specially selected theological genius, a more careful analysis of his writings indicates something different- he was likely a crazy fanatic who unfoundedly imagined himself to be receiving direct communication signals from God.  In other words, the type of person who today would be considered in need of professional help. In the following excerpt, David Madison identified four examples to support this view:

http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2017/09/where-bible-gets-it-really-wrong.html#more

Batshit Crazy Text # 1: I Thessalonians 4:15-17: Jesus re-inters the atmosphere

Paul’s gullible converts took him at his word that Jesus was due to come floating down through the clouds “any day now”—and some were distressed that a few of their fellow converts had already died. They would miss out on all the fun. But the crackpot mind that came up with the floating Jesus, well, he had a handy answer to their worries:

“For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.”

How cool is that! Dead believers will beat everyone else to meet Jesus up in the air, and there will be musical accompaniment. This was not a far-off event—certainly not millennia: “…we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together.” Weird cults have thrived on this text for hundreds of years.

Are there many Christian apologists who fess up that Paul was just dead wrong—and that his credibility is irreparably damaged by this loony-tunes prediction? And please, let’s have no sophistry about the text’s “deeper meaning.” And No, it’s not that Paul was just off with the timing. His Christology depended on Jesus showing up soon and rewarding the simple-minded folks whom he’d coaxed into the fold. Paul wasn’t counting on Jesus knocking out Satan “any century now” (cf. Romans 16:20, “…the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”).

Of course, when you tell a really big lie, some folks may raise their eyebrows: How can that be true? So then you have to tell another big lie…

Batshit Crazy Text # 2. I Corinthians 15:42-52: Would you believe ‘spiritual’ bodies?

Of course, it’s a really disgusting thought: rotting bodies popping out of their graves for their come-to-Jesus meeting in the sky. So, naturally, Paul had to work that out:

“So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.” (I Cor. 15:42-44)

“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (I Cor. 15: 51-52)

Again with the music. “Spiritual body.” What does that even mean? (Of course, theologians don’t have to make sense—as long as the folks in their target markets are impressed.) In all fairness, Paul—along with John the Baptist and Jesus—bought into the apocalyptic nonsense that had seeped into Judaism. Nonetheless, Paul set a high standard for thousands of Christian theologians to follow…for making things up.

“If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.” How could he possibly know that? One thing that does come to mind for me: Nearly Headless Nick and Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films—hey, those are pretty convincing spiritual bodies. If anyone believed Paul—well, it’s a measure of their debilitating gullibility.

Batshit Crazy Text # 3: I Corinthians 6:1-4: Angels will soon be under your jurisdiction

If you have any doubt that Paul knew that Jesus’ kingdom was just around the corner, this text is big clue about his full-blown delusional thinking:

“When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters?” (I Cor. 6:1-3)

Ask the next ten Christians you meet if they know they’ll soon be judging angels.

Batshit Crazy Text # 4: I Corinthians 7: Marriage happiness blasted by bad theology

Christians are fond of using the apostle Paul as one of their hired guns in condemning gay sex (e.g., Romans 1:26-27)—without noticing that he wasn’t keen at all on straight sex either. Welcome to I Corinthians 7: surely most Christians would agree that here, above all, the Bible gets it really wrong.

Paul’s certainty that Jesus will bring his kingdom to earth any day now—with swift retribution to sinners—left him with little patience for marriage. His advice: get over such earthly preoccupations. At the end of Romans 13 he states his case bluntly: “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” That’s not the way life works. A lot of Christians, we can be sure, have sensed that Paul might have had “intimacy issues.”

Try to wrap you mind around these verses from Chapter 7—notice especially the words in bold:

• Verse 1: Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.”

• Verses 7-9: I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

• Verses 25-29: Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.

• Verses 30-31 I mean, brothers, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

“From now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none.” Who would urge Christian couples to take Paul’s marriage advice? Yes, Paul’s advice was “context specific”—namely his urgent appeal for people to drop everything to be ready when Jesus arrived. But Paul was wrong about that; the context was his bad theology.

We can put I Corinthians 7 in the trash. But once we’ve taken this first step, we’re not that far from realizing that Paul himself was batshit crazy. It turns out to be rather fun to read Paul’s letters (well, okay, not really) when that change of perspective has been adopted.

Once it is realized the type of person Paul was, it is only a short step further to understand that a huge portion of Christianity’s foundation is being supported on the shaky pillars of a deluded individual.  Without Paul, it is doubtful that Christianity would have survived, for his influence alone posthumously kept it from collapsing after the Roman decimation of Judea by taking it into gentile territories.  And without his letters, even if it did survive, much of Christian theology would be a mish-mash compilation formed from the contradictory gospels and other epistles. In fact, without Paul, the gospels might not have been written. It is these facts that give pause to skeptics who see that modern Christianity is a descendant of the sect that owes its existence to a hallucinating egoist who never even met the man himself.

(1619) Sybil Ludington

Sybil Ludington was reported to have taken a dramatic horse ride during the American Revolutionary War to warn militiamen of the impending approach of the British army.  Her ride was an analog to the more famous ride of Paul Revere.  The following is taken from:

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

Sybil Ludington (April 5, 1761 – February 26, 1839), daughter of Colonel Henry Ludington and his wife, Abigail Ludington, has been celebrated as a heroine of the American Revolutionary War since about 1900. On the night of April 26, 1777, at the age of 16, she rode her horse, Star, on a night ride to alert militia forces in villages of Putnam County, New York and Danbury, Connecticut, to the approach of the British regular forces. The ride was similar to those performed by William Dawes and Paul Revere (Massachusetts, April 1775), and Jack Jouett (Virginia, 1781), although Ludington rode more than twice the distance of Revere and was much younger than the men. Known locally to neighbors and friends, her story was first published in 1880 by local historian Martha Lamb.

This is a statue of Ludington in Carmel, New York:

Image result for sybil ludington statue

Unfortunately, this flowery and inspirational history suffers from a dearth of documentation contemporary to the alleged event.  The following is taken from:

http://www.trend-chaser.com/history/famous-historical-figures-that-may-have-never-existed/3/

Sybil Ludington has been considered as a forgotten heroine of the Revolutionary War. Some have referred to her as the female Paul Revere who rode a total of 40 miles in the rain to warn the Connecticut Yankees that the British were coming. She is noted to have only been 16 years old, dodging the English and managing to sound the alarm in Putnam County, Mahopac, and Stormville. Yet, why was she forgotten if she supposedly rode twice as far as Revere? Or did she never even make the ride we are told she did?

According to Smithsonian Magazine, there was no mention of Sybil’s ride until 1880, over a century after the war. This seriously questions the validity of the original story, because there is no reliable source. Also, there was no account of any records from anybody that Ludington would have warned claiming that she did what we have been told. Now, she has become a mascot to feminists and other certain political factions. Although her existence is questionable, it has provided the United States with a story that we can tell to inspire others regardless if it is true or not.

The story of Sybil is similar to what we know about Jesus.  Just as in her case, there is no mention of Jesus in any document until about 52 CE (Paul’s letters), or two decades after the alleged date of the crucifixion. And beyond that, it was an additional 20 years later, in the gospel of Mark, before any details of Jesus’s life and ministry were written down.  What separates the analog is that it is well documented that Sybil Ludington was a real person, while the existence of a unique individual as being Jesus is under significant debate. But the example of how the exploits of Sybil Ludington were easily adopted as being historical despite reliable contemporaneous accounts is very telling. It shows what probably happened in Jesus’s case, whether or not he was a real person.

(1620) God’s emotional dilemma

Assuming that Christianity’s standard characterization of God’s attributes is correct- that he is omniscient and omnipotent, then it becomes evident that God has deliberately placed himself in an uncomfortable position that results in an unsettling feeling of continuous remorse. This is because he must be viewing every act of evil while simultaneously withholding his ability to stop it.

By analogy, imagine a person is placed in a room with a button. The button is programmed to stun a person who is wearing an electrified vest.  The person is told to refrain from pushing the button no matter what happens.  The person is allowed to watch the vested individual and see what he is doing. The vested person begins to molest, rape, and strangle a child.  He does as he is told and does not push the button. The child dies. Later, the person feels extreme regret for not pushing the button and saving the child.

This is exactly what God must be feeling during millions of moments every day. Watching all types of evil events that he has the ability to stop, but, sticking to his pointless protocol, he simply lets it all happen anyway. To allow suffering that he can easily stop must be an agonizing ordeal. Being god is tough, and this is something that no reasonably sympathetic human could possibly stomach. On the other hand, this analogy suggests that a benevolent, all-knowing, all-powerful divine figure almost certainly does not exist.

(1621) Progressive revelation

Often when Christians are backed into a corner trying to explain some of the absurdities of the Old Testament, they will toss the question aside and say “oh, but that’s in the Old Testament,” as if it doesn’t really count against the legitimacy of their beliefs.  Or they will say, that is the ‘Old Covenant’ and we are now living under the ‘New Covenant.’  It never seems to bother them to consider why God would execute a two-step covenantal process, or what might be termed ‘progressive revelation.’ The following was taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2017/09/why-old-testament-is-so-silly.html

Progressive revelation doesn’t work because by default the people on the earlier end of the revelation would take that revelation as final, so they would get all sorts of wrong-headed ideas wedged into their brains. In fact, final revelation is redundant. Why would a revelation be provisional? At least, it if was provisional, it should come with a warning, something like This revelation will lapse in 1,000 years.

Also, progressive revelation just doesn’t match the Old Testament text. The Old Testament takes itself very seriously—so the Jews did, too.

For example, there’s nothing in the Old Testament to suggest that the sacrificial system was just symbolic—a “type” of the better sacrifice of Jesus that would come later. A religious Jew in the first few centuries would have said that was nonsense—which is what a lot of them did in fact say to Christians would asserted this point of view. Still do. Read the Old Testament. It’s pretty clear. Those slaughtered animals really did take away the Israelites’ sins.

 We get all tied up in our underwear because we’re trying to defend the untenable assertion of divine revelation. Progressive revelation is just something we cooked up to explain away all the stupid stuff in the Old Testament.

Isn’t the Occam’s Razor answer more satisfactory? The reason the Old Testament is ridiculous is that it was written by flat-earthers. God would really say that a woman will be unclean longer if she gives birth to a female child? Really? Doesn’t that sound more like something someone with a trouser snake would say?

Believers go to such lengths to prop up scripture, progressive revelation being just one example, ignoring the obvious truth that the Bible is just the words of men. So much is riding on scripture being God’s word to us—because we know that God’s not speaking clearly to us in any other way. If God isn’t talking to us through the Bible, does that mean He doesn’t care about communicating with us at all?

It takes an Olympics-worthy amount of  mental gymnastics to explain why God dispensed his final revelation after offering for a thousand years only a partial revelation. It doesn’t match up to the expectations of an omniscient divine being, while, on the other hand, matching perfectly what would be expected from an evolving human -created project.

(1622) God orders adultery

It is well known that the Judeo-Christian god does not endorse adultery, and in fact, he specifically established an edict prohibiting it in the Ten Commandments. So, it may come as a shock to the faithful that God actually prescribed adultery, and for it to be performed out in the open, as punishment to David for his murder of Uriah the Hittite and subsequent marriage to his widow.

II Samuel 12:11-12

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you [David]. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ”

This is another of the verses that Christians will never hear in church. For God to force David’s wives to have sex with a friend and for it to done out in the open (so David can see it) is certainly not what would be expected of an all-knowing, benevolent deity. Especially one who chiseled in stone his abhorrence of the act of adultery.  Christians must own this scripture- to dismiss it as a false attribution is to open a Pandora’s Box that allows every other scriptural attribution of the Lord’s words to be brought into question.

(1623) Forced Convergence

The scriptures are explicit when it comes to the powerful post-resurrection influence of the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus at the Pentecost:

Acts 2:2-4

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

The strength of the Holy Spirit was evidently strong enough to align all of these individuals into a consistent Christian theology. But this didn’t last very long as many different versions of the faith soon emerged.  Although some dispersion is expected from such seminal historical sets of events, the supposedly omnipotent third piece of the godhead should have continued to align the followers in a manner similar to the Pentecost. This did not happen. It took a messy convention of politically-motivated humans to create this convergence, the Council of Nicea in CE 325. The following was taken from:

http://new.exchristian.net/2017/09/paul-and-nicaea-creating-religious.html

Before the Council, early Christian teachings about the nature of God, Jesus, the Spirit, what salvation means, etc., etc., were all over the place. Some names: Arianism, Patripassianism, the Gnostics, the Monatists, Ebionists, Cathari, and Paulinists; every opinion, given the available fantasy-worlds of the times. Add to this, many gospels. How could anyone know what’s true? And it didn’t look promising if factions came to blows over differences of opinions. (In fact, they did. Wars were fought over them.) Emperor Constantine wanted unity, and this included unity of belief. Hence the Council, a collection of bishops, to decide by vote what was true, what wasn’t. They came up with 20 canons. One result of their votes led to those disagreeing with them being labeled “heretics,” who were subsequently persecuted and killed. Even those who disagreed with their decisions paid lip-service, as they do today.

So the convergence of Christian theology was executed by a council of disagreeing humans and subjected to a vote, rather than by the supposedly all-powerful Holy Spirit who, it would seem, retired to its comfortable seat in the heavens shortly after producing the dramatic Pentecost scene.  Of course, even though this council, along with the persecution of anyone with an alternate belief system, did align Christianity into a cohesive set of beliefs, this tidy situation soon dissolved again into thousands of factions over the ensuing centuries. If ever there was a sign of a human-created religion, this is it. The Holy Spirit failed, and failed miserably.

(1624) Religion as a social construct

At its core, religion isn’t about objective truth; rather, it is about social binds and tribalism, a way to differentiate one’s group from the others. In this light, the tenets of faith are not allowed to be subjected to the normal tests of veracity- they exist instead as unassailable agreements of belief, a contract among the followers that ‘we will believe these things no matter what.’ And anyone who leaves the faith is seen as breaking this contract and damaging the entire group by doing so. This helps to explain how a demonstrably false religion, such as Christianity, has tenaciously held its position on the world stage for nearly 20 centuries. The following was taken from:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2017/09/29/the-sociology-of-belief/

One explanation for the genesis and prevalence of religions in the world is that they help to organize communities and to codify the values and priorities we intend to pass on to successive generations. Religious beliefs and practices are a means of enculturation, a vehicle for communicating what matters to a community. They are also reliable identity markers by which a group can clearly delineate what puts you in…or out of…the group.

Put differently, religion can be viewed as an outgrowth of tribalism. It is a social tool, a sort of intangible technology that we developed for encapsulating and transmitting whatever matters most to our communities. We are a fundamentally social species, so it should come as no surprise that we would hold most dearly those practices which most effectively preserve our values and our collective identity.

I can think of no better way to keep a culture from changing too much, or too fast, than ascribing divine authority to it. When you think about it this way, a whole lot more things start to make sense. For starters, here are three things we learn from thinking this way.

1) Suddenly it makes sense why it’s so hard to change a religious person’s mind.

The direct approach—critiquing the beliefs themselves—often produces little change in the thinking of the believer because the real strength of the belief system comes from something external to the beliefs themselves. The real strength of our beliefs lies in their ability to hold together the tribal identity.

Have you ever tried changing the mind of someone who believes things that are irrational or lacking in evidential support? The mental gymnastics they perform in front of you will leave you dizzy, especially if they are relatively intelligent (and yes, intelligent people believe irrational things, too). If they are less articulate, they will just dig their heels in and keep restating their belief, now in ALL CAPS, as if you didn’t just expertly disassemble the entire narrative undergirding their belief. It’s like talking to a brick wall.

But why? Why the backfire effect? Why is it so hard to change their minds about things that are so easily deconstructed?

I recall an article a few months back wondering aloud why Trump supporters seem convinced of everything the man ever says even after showing them he contradicts his own positions three times in a single week. They will defend anything he says or does, not because the actions or words themselves are rationally defensible, but because at some point the mantle for a particular group identity was placed on him and from that point forward it became about the tribal identity, not the man himself.

Would you go back and reread that last sentence? The reason Trump remains popular with his base no matter how dangerous or irresponsible (or demonstrably false) his tweets and off-script public statements become is that he’s become a symbol for a group identity, like a team mascot strutting the sidelines during a football game. People will root for their team no matter how consistently poor their performance because it’s not about the performance. It’s about the group identity.

That’s why directly critiquing religious beliefs (much like critiquing political policies) so often gets you nowhere. The cognitive dissonance kicks in and suddenly it’s like someone came through and deleted the last five minutes of conversation from the other person’s memory banks. It’s incredibly frustrating. But it makes more sense now.

2) This also helps to explain why people take it so personally when they learn you no longer believe the same things they believe.

How many of you had to break it to your parents that you no longer believe the central tenets of their religion? Did they react charitably, with sympathy, understanding, and grace? Or did they explode in anger, remorse, attempts at coercion, or possibly even a verbal assault because “How could you do this to us?!”

Wait, what? What do you mean “do this to us?” From your perspective, this wasn’t some kind of personal slight to them. It was an individual matter, an unavoidable consequence of following your own thought processes, your own search for truth, wherever it leads you. But that’s not how they experience it at all. To them, this was a personal slap in the face.

That doesn’t make any sense until you realize that religious beliefs are social constructs—they are the scaffolding around which communities organize themselves such that your departure from their belief system means you are undermining the social fabric through which their entire identity is woven. What will everyone think of them now?

There is virtually no unoffensive way to tell friends and family you no longer believe in their religion. To do so automatically takes something out from under their social edifice and makes the whole thing feel like it’s wobbling a little. That’s why they get so angry. That’s why they take it so personally. In their moments of greatest insecurity the nicest people in the world will say the meanest, most careless things because your departure fundamentally threatens their tribal identity. They almost can’t help it.

3) It also explains how positions on issues that are non-essential to a religion (like same-sex attraction) can become the hill they are ready to die on.

This one keeps surprising me. I’ve personally taken part in quite a number of discussions through the years about which beliefs are truly essential to the historic Christian faith—what C.S. Lewis called “mere Christianity”—and yet I cannot recall a single one of those discussions including “fighting the gays” as a key component to the gospel.

And yet. Disapproving of same-sex attraction has become a litmus test for evangelical and fundamentalist Christians the world over. Scrolling through your newsfeed, you could be forgiven for concluding that this is why Jesus came to earth—to rid the world of homosexuality—despite the fact that the man never said a single word about the subject. I guess it never came up. But still, you would think someone with a direct line to Heaven would have included at least one quick mention for future reference.

For the life of me, I cannot explain theologically how disagreeing on this single issue could equal a betrayal of the entire Christian faith. It doesn’t really add up in my mind. Except that it does once you realize that at some point in the recent past it was decided that this would be an identity marker for the tribe itself, and that was the end of the discussion. Once that association was made, the battle lines were drawn and now they’re willing to go down fighting over this.

One could argue that the key issue with this particular point is really family structure itself. Modern American churches are built around meeting the needs of the traditional American family, which means one man married to one woman with at least two or three kids needing entertainment, character formation, and good friends to play with. That’s the target audience for the evangelical and fundamentalist church (too bad if you’re single and way worse if you’re gay). That is the family structure they will fight to the death in order to preserve. Their survival depends on it.

Incidentally this would also explain the church’s over-the-top obsession with sex in general, or rather controlling how people do it. If you let people have sex outside of wedlock they may never get around to marrying and having those kids you need them to have so that they’ll start coming to church again (because who will teach the children morals?). If you allow the family to start looking like something other than the template around which their subculture is built, what will happen to the tribe as a whole? It would likely dissolve into the surrounding world and the identity would be lost forever.

This tribalistic nature of religion helps to destroy the argument that a successful faith that lasts a long time and has lots of followers must have a kernel of truth attached to its claims.  Rather, it is simply those belief systems that withstand a ‘survival of the fittest’ competition that tend to dominate the sectarian world. Truth has little to do with it, it is all about a synergistic gathering of minds around a set of traditional beliefs that binds a community of disparate people into a cohesive whole.

(1625) An observer god is the same as no god

Christian apologists often advance arguments for their god that take the form of “how come there is something instead of nothing?” or “how could the universe have made itself? This ‘point of creation’ argument seems to be the go-to strategy when every other attempt at demonstrating god’s existence is effectively defused by atheists. And it usually results in a standoff, ending with the atheist asking “well, then who made god?”

But even if the point is conceded- that god made the universe, does it really matter if this god is not interacting with his creation?  If he is simply letting it go according to the immutable laws of nature? This is the point that should be made in these debates- a universe with an observer god is the same as a universe without a god. The atheist position is still effectively correct. All religions are based on imaginary beings. We live our lives and die and cease to exist, god or god- it is all the same.

So, what does the evidence suggest? Never in the history of the world has there been a verifiable disturbance to the natural physical laws of nature. If supernatural beings are among us and pulling strings, it is impossible to believe that all of this would have escaped our attention, especially in a highly technical world of seven billion people.

So, the question of whether or not a god made the universe is irrelevant.  Either way, it is all the same for our world and our lives.  You could believe in a god who created the universe. You could believe that this god is all-seeing. You could even believe that this god is all powerful. But given that, if this god has chosen, as it appears that he has (assuming he exists), to remain in a strict observer mode, then being an atheist is still the correct point of view.

In summary, even if it is conceded that an omniscient, omnipotent god exists, if it is only watching, then consequently, all religions that claim supernaturality are false and those following them are in a state of delusion. And there is no strategic reason for an atheist to argue against the existence of such a god.

(1626) Jesus birth stories cast doubt on his existence

As the scholarship surrounding Christianity continues to trend toward doubt about the historical reality of Jesus, it is instructive to look no further than the two birth stories contained in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Perhaps there lies the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for understanding the true origins of the Christian religion.  The clues contained therein are troubling to any Christian literalist. The following was taken from:

“The Birth of Jesus and the Christmas Story: Pagan and Unhistorical” by Vexen Crabtree (2014).

The stories about Jesus’s birth in the Bible are contained in the Books of Matthew and Luke. These two accounts contradict each other in many places. Many elements are certainly untrue. There are no Roman records attesting to the birth (or life) of Jesus. Events such as King Herod’s killing of every male child simply did not occur – none of Herod’s enemies mention it, for example, despite their routine documenting of his many misdeeds of a much lesser nature. Also unhistorical is the curious Roman census that required (for what reason?) everyone to go to cities associated with their ancestors. But similar stories are found about previous pagan god-man saviours. Likewise with the Virgin Birth, which has now been shown to simply be a mistranslation deriving from the Septuagint. And what of the 3 wise men who follow the bright star to Jesus’s birthplace, bearing gifts? Other star gazers of the time, who meticulously recorded many stellar events, did not notice it. It is a Zoroastrian story, even down to the details of the 3 gifts, copied by Christians and made to be about Jesus. The stories of Jesus’s birth are rewrites, modernisations, of previous stories from older pagan myths. These facts have led some scholars to cast doubt on Jesus’s entire existence.

The standards for determining historical validity have become more stringent over time and this has led to the recent questioning of the truth of Christianity.  What has developed is not so much a firm case against the existence of Jesus, but rather a rock solid demonstration that IF HE EXISTED, he was certainly not the miracle-working, death-defying god-man portrayed in the scriptures.  This alone is sufficient to dismiss the dogmatic elements of the faith; permitting, at the most, an acknowledgement of the philosophical value of some of its precepts.

(1627) The Bible is not perfect nor otherworldly brilliant

Christian doctrine assumes that the Bible is the handiwork of God, or, even more bluntly, a book written by (and only by) God through the use of the hands of about 40 men. Despite all of the shenanigans carried out by various kings, scribes, and priests during the centuries-long process of its development, the Bible is still allegedly the inspired work of God, who, according to conventional dogma, had total control over all of these processes. This is a testable claim. Given this hypothesis, the Bible should be perfect and brilliant on a hyper-human scale.

And, of course, it is neither of these things. It is both highly imperfect and well within the genius displayed by human literature both of its time and of the present. This is not really an arguable point except to those who live in a fantasy world of willful ignorance.  So, this leaves two explanations- (1) God deliberately allowed human error and ignorance to pollute his book, leaving it in a fashion that creates confusion and disagreement among the faithful, leaving it with gaping contradictions, and worst of all, failing to define precisely the basis of salvation, or (2) the Bible is the work of humans, devoid of divine inspiration.  There is no middle ground, though many Christian apologists attempt to claim such. To say that God inspired the writers of the gospel, but then let human editors defile and convolute it makes no logical sense.

Option (1) above leaves us with a god who is incompetent and a bit malicious, with the apparent intent to muddy the waters and make sure that his message to mankind will be confounding enough to result in thousands of warring factions, as well as to make sure that his writings match but do not exceed human literary capabilities. Option (2), on the other hand, requires no explanation, and is therefore obviously correct.

(1628) The murderer/victim paradox

The theology espoused by most Christians includes the possibility of a murderer being forgiven of this grievous sin and gaining entry into heaven. The same theology generally assumes that once a person has died, the judgement of their souls takes place without additional adjustments.  This means that a person who has been murdered is immediately out of options and must face the music without any chance for further reflection.

This brings us to the murderer/victim paradox.  For example, in the tool box serial murder case in California in 1979, where two men raped, tortured, and killed 5 teenage girls, both defendants, although given a capital punishment sentence, were still in prison almost 40 years later. They had time to reflect on their deeds, get involved with prison ministries, and confess their sins, and accept Jesus as their savior. On the other hand, the murdered girls did not have this opportunity. If they had not yet accepted Jesus, it was too bad for them- game over, and it’s off to hell.

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

So, the paradox is simply this- within the confines of conventional Christian doctrine, there must be many cases where a murderer eventually gains entry to heaven, while the person he has murdered is sent to hell. How can this form of cosmic justice possibly be fair?  Why does the murderer get a second chance, but the victim does not?  This commonly leads to an apologetic defense that involves a special exemption allowing the victim to accept Jesus posthumously- very nice, but this leads to a big bag of worms.

If a murder victim has a post-death chance to accept Jesus, then this same accommodation must also be available to anyone who dies suddenly, such as in a car crash, or from a heart attack. Anyone who survives death and is offered a chance to accept Jesus would enjoy a tremendous advantage over everyone else who must somehow accept Christianity on faith.  This would seem to mean that dying quickly is far more favorable than suffering a long, slow death.  Considering we are talking about an eternity of bliss versus an eternity of lament and possibly torture, the manner in which you die should not be a determining factor, and, therefore, this apologetic line of defense can be dismissed.

So if EITHER Lawrence Bittaker or Roy Norris (see link above) is going to heaven while ANY of their 5 raped and tortured victims is in hell, then Christian justice is an unmitigated sham.  This absurdity can only result from a theology created by the minds of men, not that of an infinitely intelligent being.

(1629) Believers tend to have a poor understanding of the physical world

Although not surprising, studies have found that believers in supernatural phenomena, including gods, angels, and demons, tend to be poor achievers in the academic arena of what is termed ‘systemizing,’ as discussed at this website:

http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t2487-does-poor-understanding-of-physical-world-predict-religious-and-paranormal-beliefs

The results showed that supernatural beliefs correlated with all variables that were included, namely, with low systemizing, poor intuitive physics skills, poor mechanical ability, poor mental rotation, low school grades in mathematics and physics, poor common knowledge about physical and biological phenomena, intuitive and analytical thinking styles, and in particular, with assigning mentality to non-mental phenomena.

Another potential indication of believers’ poor understanding of the physical world is a tendency for low systemizing. In the Empathizing–Systemizing theory, people who are poor at physical cognition are called low systemizers because they have poor abilities and low interests in such things as map-reading, mathematics, intuitive physics, or technical and motor systems.

Cognition is “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

In other words, theists are so because they are stupid , or less intelligent…. just expressed more sciency or academical.

We know only one study where intuitive physical skills and supernatural beliefs have been addressed: found that belief in God was negatively correlated with scores obtained from the Intuitive Physics Test. In addition, two studies have examined the relationship between systemizing and supernatural beliefs but both assessed systemizing only with a self-report questionnaire.  However, another study suggests that low systemizing may be common among supernatural believers.   The most consistent difference between believers and skeptics was that all believer subgroups were average or lower in systemizing, whereas all skeptic subgroups were average or higher in systemizing. Finally, one hint in the same direction is scientific education. Supernatural believers are more often students of humanities and social science than science students, and they have more evolutionary misconceptions than skeptics.

So, because evolution is true, God does not exist….

The more the participants believed in religious or other paranormal phenomena, the lower their intuitive physics skills, mechanical and mental rotation abilities, school grades in mathematics and physics, and knowledge about physical and biological phenomena were; the less they reported interests and skills in systemizing; and the more they regarded inanimate targets as mental phenomena.

It should be obvious that those who are more engaged in the logical and mentally challenging fields of math and science and who have flexible minds capable of addressing and conceptualizing ideas from multiple angles would be better equipped to assess the truth of supernatural claims. Therefore, the correlation discovered in this study suggests that believers are ill-equipped to perceive reality.

(1630) American Revolution was fought in violation of Paul’s letter to the Romans

(Although this point is focused on United States history, it can similarly apply to many other countries.) Religious conservatives in America often refer to the founding of the United States as being a purposeful emanation of God’s will, who, according to them, wanted to create “God’s Country.” In the same vein they misleadingly state that the founding fathers of the United States were deeply religious Christians, just like them. Of course, this assertion is very far from the truth. Most of these men were deists, believing in a distant, non-intervening god, and many were weary of the tyranny of the Christian church.

Although these same Christians see the American cause in the Revolutionary War as having the full support of God, almost all of them fail to understand that this war was fought in direct violation of scripture, which they believe is God’s inalterable word. Consider the following:

Romans 13:1-7

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

According to this scripture, King George of England was placed in his position by God, and that anyone who wished to follow the Christian faith, and not bring judgment upon themselves, should obey the edicts of this ruler.  The revolutionaries dismissed this scripture and did the opposite.  Certainly, apologists will try to claim that this scripture was meant only for the Roman church of its time and did not necessarily apply for all of history to follow. But once this concession is made, it opens up ALL of scripture to the same rationalization, meaning that, according to individual interpretation, all scripture still applies today or else, going to the other extreme, virtually none of it remains relevant.

(1631) The moral priorities of the Bible are senseless

It is astounding to see Christians hold up the Bible as being the moral standard that all of us should live by.  They cannot be serious. The moral priorities in the Bible are not workable from the perspective of a civil society.  The following was taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/7af510/gods_moral_priorities_in_the_bible_are_absurd_if/

God positively prescribes slavery, allows for the beating of slaves, orders death for rape victims, requires the striking of children, commands his favorite tribe to slaughter all their neighbors, requires blood sacrifices, declares homosexuality evil, calls for stoning to death as a punishment – and that’s just the instructions.

God himself also directly destroyed entire cities including children and livestock, rejoiced at the death of infants, decimated the Egyptian population, cursed the entire Universe, punished an innocent man for the crimes of the guilty, used bears to maul children to death, killed to prove points, and once flooded the entire planet, killing nearly every man, woman, child, and animal on it.

Meanwhile, God positively forbade wearing mixed fabrics, eating pork and catfish, being around men when you’re on your period, disobeying your slaveowner, refusing to have sex with your husband, and working on the weekend.

All of this ungodly, obviously human-generated nonsense is contained in the same book that is carried around by every Christian, which is often used as a cudgel to castigate non-Christians or those who somehow fail to conform to the contorted priorities of their imagined deity.  No matter how hard apologists work to sanitize the god of the Bible, these pearls of immoral edicts will remain in this book until the last Christian becomes the world’s newest atheist.

(1632) Hell was not invented until after 70 CE

The Christian doctrine of hell is extremely important to the faith because it claims that an unspeakably horrible fate awaits those who don’t toe the line and accept the sacrifice of Jesus, or whatever other criteria that various denominations apply. Yet, in the seminal adoption of Paul as Christ’s apostle and communicator to the world beyond Judea, Jesus failed to inform him of this horrific place that God has prepared for the bulk of humanity. Paul was not aware of hell and never wrote about it, despite the fact that Jesus himself would later be purported to have described its existence numerous times within the first gospel (Mark), written in approximately 70 CE, and subsequently in the later (copycat) gospels.  The following is taken from:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAChristian/comments/7cgnqe/paul_never_uses_the_greek_words_translated_hell/

Although he never mentions hell there is a strong doctrine of victory over death(“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” from 1 Corinthians 15:55). In 2 Thessalonians 1:9 we see the idea of everlasting destruction for those who do not accept Jesus but, again, equating this with eternal torment in the fires of hell (as opposed to death and dust and therefore separation from God) is a later invention. In Paul’s mind the ungodly will be destroyed but Christians will be given eternal life. Paul was a Jew and, thus, would have had no conception of a place of eternal hell fire and torment for the dead which us nowhere to be found in the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible. What Paul taught was that by being a disciple and true follower of Christ you will be in the good graces of God and have LIFE, even after death.

We are left with two possibilities- either God did not think that hell was important enough to inform either the Jews (it is not described in the Old Testament) or Paul, or the concept of hell was made up by the person who wrote the Gospel of Mark.  And if it is the latter, which is by far more probable, the entire edifice of Christianity falls apart.

(1633) Why God allows churches to be destroyed

Given the fact that churches are often destroyed by wind, fire, and flooding, combined with the Christian belief that God favors these buildings and has complete control over everything that happens- leads to the following effort to explain why churches are destroyed.  Note that as you go down the list the explanations become increasingly plausible:

http://www.jamesrobertwatson.com/religionabsurdity.html

      1.God decides that there are too many ‘bad’ people in the congregation and wants to annoy them by having them suffer and raise money for a new structure.
      2. God wants to kill some of the church members (as he killed many ‘sinners’ in ancient times). This seems unlikely since most church destruction occurs while the buildings are empty and God would certainly know that.
      3. He may be pissed at the pastor/priest/bishop and want to make him/her suffer. This seems odd since there are more loving, more humane, and less destructive ways of annoying church leaders.
      4. God can just no longer stand an ugly building. Since God is the Intelligent Designer, he may just choose to destroy those structures he deems to be too ugly. But, I don’t know why he waits until structures are completed since he certainly can see the plans and renderings that are proposed.
      5. According to the photos above, God is pissed at how fat Americans have become. This doesn’t make much sense since many destroyed churches don’t have fat pastors and there should be better ways to punish fat people.
      6. We can’t truly understand God or His motives – He may destroy things just out of spite or just for His own amusement – I suspect He gets bored watching us mortals screw around all day. Watching a fire or tornado and watching people panic could be a real hoot for Him.
      7. God goofed and allowed a fire or tornado to get out of his control. This seems unlikely since He is All-Powerful and All-Knowing.
      8. The church buildings are destroyed by naturally occurring events (tornadoes, fires, lightning strikes, etc.) and God decides not to intervene (see reasons stated above).
      9. Churches are destroyed by naturally occurring events, arson, or accidents and God has nothing to do with it since He is just a figment of belief in the minds of delusional people.

The only logical explanation for why churches are destroyed at the same frequency as secular building is #9 above. This provides a key piece of evidence that Christianity is false, and it represents a missed opportunity for evidence in support of its truth.

(1634) Too many problems

If Christianity is the true religion of an omnipotent deity, there would be no way possible to compile a list of problems anywhere near the size of what is presented here. The conclusion of an objective analysis is that, beyond a reasonable doubt, Christianity is untrue.

One major lesson to be learned about determining what to believe and what not to believe can be summed up in a few words- the things that are real can be observed, measured, or demonstrated. To that end, we can say confidently that ghosts, goblins, poltergeists, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, alien abductions, wizards, witches, angels, demons, fairies, and unicorns are not real. And one more we can add to this list: The God of Christianity.

(This article was written by Michael Runyan, former risk analyst and current freelance writer.)