(1651) The Bible condones kidnapping
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has studied the Bible objectively that there are many atrocities that are inexcusably not acknowledged or addressed by the leaders of Christianity. One such case involves a plot to kidnap women who were dancing at a festival, then forcing them to become wives for the kidnappers.
The people grieved for Benjamin, because the Lord had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ But look, there is the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, which lies north of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.”
So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin. When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us the favor of helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war. You will not be guilty of breaking your oath because you did not give your daughters to them.’ ”
So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.
It should be obvious that if a man ‘catches’ a woman to be his wife, that any ensuing sexual relations would constitute rape. Regardless of how to define this wickedness, the fact that this story is in the Bible, whether fictional or not, is very important. It clearly condones kidnapping as a means to an end. And if we don’t conclude that the end always justifies the means, some sort of an explanation is needed. Although Christian apologists might attempt to rationalize that the Lord did not directly order these actions, it is nevertheless clear from the text that the Lord did nothing to dissuade his ‘chosen people’ from executing this atrocity. Nor did he criticize their actions or impart any form of punishment. The apologies go wanting, and the Bible is shown to be the work of man, not that of an omni-benevolent, omniscient deity.
(1652) Christianity requires the existence of intelligence in the absence of matter
What we know about intelligence is that it requires some sort of a material structure, such as a biological brain or a computer chip. That is, there must be a measure of highly-structured negative entropy to allow a signal to pass along a controlled pathway. This cannot happen in a vacuum or even in a highly-entropic system such as air or a rock. So when we say intelligence needs matter, it actually requires something more- that is, matter that is structured in a highly complex fashion.
Where Christianity has a problem is that is posits the existence of immaterial beings, angels and demons, who not only possess intelligence but also have the ability to move, to speak, to cause objects to move, and, in the case of demons, to enter a person’s brain and influence their thoughts and actions. Keep in mind that if angels and demons do not exist, then Christianity is most certainly false.
Even beyond these shadowy figures, the very existence of god requires that he does not have a material structure- for so being he would be isolated to a given location in the universe, making it impossible for him to monitor the status of events everywhere in real time- this being a consequence of the fabric of space-time that precludes light or information from traveling at greater than the speed of light. So, in summary, for Christianity to be true, our knowledge of science must be incorrect- we would have to concede that immaterial intelligence is possible. This is so highly unlikely that we must conclude that Christianity is false beyond a reasonable doubt.
(1653) The Bible was too poorly written to have been inspired by God
It doesn’t take a lot of linguistic knowledge to assess the Bible’s literary quality as being deficient when compared to many books and novels of a secular nature. This is a problem for Christianity because it claims that the Bible was inspired if not fully dictated by a supreme being who by default must have writing skills superior to what any human could ever attain. The following was taken from:
Millions of evangelicals and other Christian fundamentalists believe that the Bible was dictated by God to men who acted essentially as human transcriptionists. If that were the case, one would have to conclude that God is a terrible writer. Many passages in the Bible would get kicked back by any competent editor or writing professor, kicked back with a lot of red ink—often more red than black.
Mixed messages, repetition, bad fact-checking, awkward constructions, inconsistent voice, weak character development, boring tangents, contradictions, passages where nobody can tell what the heck the writer meant to convey. This doesn’t sound like a book that was dictated by a deity.
A well-written book should be clear and concise, with all factual statements accurate and characters neither two-dimensional nor plagued with multiple personality disorder—unless they actually are. A book written by a god should be some of the best writing ever produced. It should beat Shakespeare on enduring relevance, Stephen Hawking on scientific accuracy, Pablo Neruda on poetry, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on ethical coherence, and Maya Angelou on sheer lucid beauty—just to name a few.
Why does the Bible so fail to meet this mark? One obvious answer, of course, is that neither the Bible nor any derivative work like the Quran or Book of Mormon was actually dictated by the Christian god or other celestial messengers. We humans may yearn for advice that is “god-breathed,” but in reality, our sacred texts were written by fallible human beings, who try as they might, fell short of perfection in the ways we all do.
The textual quality of the Bible is there for anyone to judge, and the most objective reviews indicate that it is inferior to that produced by thousands of merely human authors. This is conclusive evidence that the Bible was not inspired, much less dictated, by a supernatural being.
(1654) Moving gods to explain why they can’t be seen
In the history of human religious beliefs, the alleged location of gods has had to be changed to account for increased travel experiences and scientific progress. Initially, most gods were located atop tall mountains, such as Zeus and Odin, and even Christian tradition has Moses climbing Mount Sinai to retrieve the Ten Commandments and Jesus climbing a mountain for his transfiguration. But after climbers tamed the peaks and found no gods there, it was necessary to move God to the realm of the upper atmosphere or in the clouds. Much of Christian art places God, heaven, and angels in such a setting.
Of course, humans were eventually able to travel above the clouds and found no gods there. So God had to be moved again. This time, he was considered to be somewhere in outer space, perhaps on another planet or near a star (Mormonism has God living on a planet near a star named ‘Kolob.’) But with space probes and powerful telescopes, it became obvious that there are no gods living in deep outer space either.
Today, Christians no longer believe that God is located in any specific location, nor that he has a physical body- this despite their Bibles asserting that God ‘walked’ in the Garden of Eden and wrestled Jacob, or that Jesus was himself a physical being for at least 30 years. Instead, he is seen as being everywhere at once or perhaps lurking in some unseen dimension.
This ever-receding god is no sporting concession on the part of Christians. They had to do this to maintain any credibility and to explain why their god cannot be seen. Science has now chased these imagined supernatural beings to the far corners of the universe and even beyond that to the theoretical untapped dimensions of space-time. It won’t be long before the existence of God and the rationality of science can no longer co-exist. One of these ideas must be substantially flawed and it is not difficult to guess which one.
(1655) Children’s books reveal the untruth of Christianity
Religious views are often established early in life and this usually depends heavily on the religious predisposition of one’s parents. What is instructive is to examine the types of books that atheist parents present to their children versus those provided by Christian parents. It might be assumed that they are simply two sides of a coin, but in reality there is a marked asymmetry- the books provided by Christian parents tell children what to believe, while those provided by atheist parents tell children how to think. The following was taken from:
Here is a good list of books you should read or give to your children. We know believers indoctrinate their children by teaching them what to believe, just as my nephew and his wife do in raising their kids to root for the Green Bay Packers. To see a better approach take a good look at these books. You’ll notice they teach kids how to think critically with a skeptical disposition that requires hard objective evidence before accepting miraculous claims in any supposed sacred book. I dare believers to get a few of these books for their children.
On the list is Peter Boghossian’s book, A Manual for Creating Atheists. That book may seem to negate what I just said about merely teaching children how to think, but it doesn’t. Peter tells me he didn’t choose the title. Titles are chosen by publishers to sell books. What he does in his book is to help believers apply the Socratic method of questioning beliefs in order to help them realize they are pretending to know what they don’t really know when claiming to know with certainty, or near certainty, their faith is true. This is what Street Epistemology is all about. Peter stresses the need for a skeptical disposition through questioning, just like Socrates did. It is how we should raise our children, given the number of hucksters and charlatans and bogus claims being put forth by others.
So the title of Peter’s book isn’t misleading since faith cannot survive honest skeptical questioning. If children are raised properly to learn how to think critically with a skeptical disposition that requires hard objective evidence, they will become non-believers or non-theists, that is, a-theists. So his manual for creating atheists is a manual in thinking correctly as rational people should. It’s teaching parents who read it to think about religion the same way they think about every other area of their lives. Imagine that!
The fact that he correctly agreed with his publisher to title the book as they did, can be seen by looking for books in defense of Christianity that are just like it, in reverse. I dare say there are no such books. All of them argue for Christianity, a belief system. None of them merely set forth the rules for thinking skeptically and for evidence gathering, which all by themselves should lead readers to become Christians. None of them are titled, “A Manual for Creating Christians” which only includes rules for thinking and evidence gathering along with additional strategies for helping more people adopt these rules with regard to religions, especially seen in his proposal for Street Epistemology. None I know of anyway. If Christianity were true, that’s all they should have to do.
It is interesting that you don’t have to instruct a child to disbelieve in gods; all you need to do is to educate them how to examine evidence and how to think in a clear and logical fashion. That will do the trick every time.
(1656) The most likely resurrection reality
In chemistry, compounds are distilled to their simplest elements, and, in evaluating historical accounts, a similar process is done- that is to seek the simplest, least adorned estimate of what really happened. In the case of Jesus’s alleged resurrection, there is one explanation that is so simple and so much more likely than any other reality, that it more or less defies the authenticity of any other alternative. The following was taken from:
Jesus was an amazing person who inspired a group of unschooled peasants so much that they would die for him (although they did all bolt after his crucifixion). Jesus went on and on about good triumphing over evil when the kingdom of God was christened. Jesus didn’t have in mind an armed insurrection. He envisioned that God would intervene as He had for the heroes of old—Moses, et al.
The point is, the disciples were expecting miraculous occurrences. They were in a suggestable state.
Then Jesus died, which devastated the disciples. They had been so sure that God had been behind Jesus! Then he stayed dead. In their grief, one or two of them—possibly just Peter—had a vision.
Then those disciples—probably just Peter, who was the most grief-stricken—shared this experience with the rest of the gang. And the rest were all too willing to swallow it. God was behind the whole thing! He was going to triumph over evil after all! Pretty soon, a few of them—encouraged by Peter’s vision—had their own encounters with the risen Christ, perhaps in a dream. They were an uneducated, probably gullible, crowd that believed in a magical universe.
These resurrection stories were told and retold and aggrandized—for example, Jesus walking through solid walls, people poking their fingers into his wounds. The stories just got more and more fantabulous. People rising from their graves after the resurrection and walking around among the, presumably, startled (and grossed-out) populace. Three hours of total darkness.
If God had really had resurrected Jesus, why wouldn’t He leave Him on earth? Wouldn’t He actually have done more good down here? A perfect example of a made-up post-resurrection story: the ascension.
If God had really had resurrected Jesus, why wouldn’t He leave Him on earth? Wouldn’t He actually have done more good down here? If Jesus wanted to set up a literal kingdom of God down here, that’s the best way to do it, seems to me. No absentee landlord business. And if what he really wanted to do was just set up the kingdom of God in people’s hearts, then that still would have been the best route. Just think how a pep talk from the flesh-and-blood Jesus would have bolstered the troops. Or think about the killer gospel sales presentation you could put together. The disciples work the crowd into a lather with promises of an “abundant life” and such until . . . here’s the guy we’ve been talking about! And Jesus appears from behind the curtains.
I mean, the ascension is just so corny. God doesn‘t live “up in the clouds.” You can almost hear the slide whistle as Jesus ascends. The ascension is just the cockamamie story that was stitched together by flat-earthers to deal with the embarrassing fact that, yes, Jesus rose from the grave but, sorry, he’s not around—like Joseph Smith’s golden plates. In other words, they had to get rid of the body somehow.
So began the slow—and utterly human—process of creating the Christian Story through improvisation and falsification. I defy anyone to look at this one-step-forward-two-steps-back aimless process and say God was in control. It was a masterwork of human bumbling.
Here is Christianity distilled down to its simplest elements- no miracles needed, just a mundane page of human history that by chance became a huge, self-perpetuating mythical religion.
(1657) Human penis shape belies Christian dogma
It is a staple of conservative Christian dogma that (1) God designed the human body, and (2) God intended for humans to be monogamous. But even if we assume that God actually exists, the shape of the human penis indicates that at least one of these premises is false. The human penis is designed for reproductive competition within a polyamorous culture. The following was taken from:
Tests led a team of US researchers, headed by Professor Gordon Gallup, to conclude that the penis acts as a “semen displacement device” and its shape has evolved in part to displace another man’s semen.
The team from the State University of New York believe the thrust of the penis during sex may help to clear a woman’s reproductive system of a previous lover’s semen.
They tested their theory in experiments using latex phalluses, an artificial vagina and a mixture of starch and water.
New Scientist magazine reports they found the coronal ridge of the penis, found where the glans, or head, meets the shaft, could scoop out more than 90% of the cornstarch mixture with just one thrust.
A phallus with no coronal ridge only managed to remove 35%.
They found the depth of thrusting was also important. A three-quarter thrust was found to clear out less than 40% of the viscous mixture.
So God either did not design the human penis, or he intended for humans to be polyamorous. To clarify, the paper shows that the human penis is precisely engineered to perform a certain function, and this function does something useful only if the female has in her vagina sperm from a different male with whom she had recent sex.
It seems highly unlikely that God would design the penis in this fashion if he intended for men to remain chaste before marriage and thereafter have sex solely with their wives. On the other hand, it could be expected that unguided evolution would result in the development of the penal coronal ridge, giving those males with more pronounced ridges a reproductive competitive advantage.
This creates a problem also for the more scientifically-literate Christians who believe in evolution but believe that it was a process guided by God. If that was the case, there would have been no reason for God to cause the penal coronal ridge to form- that is, unless monogamy was not his intention for the human species.
(1658) Christianity’s self-promoting traits render it less likely to be true
If one religion was true, it would be expected that that religion would be the most popular simply based on its unique support from a supernatural source and not so much because it possessed those characteristics that otherwise would cause it to gain popular appeal. On the other hand, if no religion was true, it would be expected that the most popular religion would indeed possess those types of self-promoting characteristics. Christianity follows the latter path as explained below:
Christianity possesses many traits and characteristics that make it very unique compared to most religions. To many Christians and apologists, this fact is used as a strong point for Christianity because its distinctive traits make it look less like a manufactured religion. However, what is often overlooked is the fact that the traits that make Christianity are unique are the exact kinds of traits one would expect to see in the world’s most popular religion, given that no religion is true. In other words, if we assume that no religion is true, the world’s most popular religion should be extremely similar to Christianity.
So assuming that no religion is true, what traits would we expect to find in the world’s most popular religion? We should probably expect that the world’s most popular religion, given that no religion is true in reality, will:
Have a reward for their compliance in following the religion which is relatively easy to attain, because it will be motivation to follow the religion.
Have a punishment for not following the religion, because it will be motivation to follow the religion.
Have some kind of obligation or motivation for believers to convert others to their religion.
Have some kind of obligation or motivation for believers to only follow their own religion and not to worship other idols or other gods.
There should be some kind of historical/factual foundation for the religion as it makes it more believable.
Here are some of Christianity’s unique traits:
It is commonly understood that people are saved by faith and do not need to “earn” their salvation.
It is commonly understood that hell exists as an eternal punishment for non-Christians and heaven exists as an award for Christians.
It is commonly understood that Christians are commanded and obligated to spread Christianity to as many people as possible.
It is commonly understood that Christians are to only worship Yahweh.
Many events of the Bible take place in times and settings that are known to be factual.
Given the thousands of years that religions have existed and the thousands of religions that have been created throughout human history, there should almost certainly be a few religions that meet these criteria, and the religion that fits these criteria the best will inevitably one day grow to become the world’s most popular religion. It is no surprise that some religion (Christianity in our case) would meet these criteria and become the most popular religion. The reason this poses a problem for Christianity is because of the sheer unlikelihood that reality would just so happen to align with these criteria.
This argument does not show any of the claims of Christianity to be false, but it does cast serious doubt on the truth of Christianity because it is highly unlikely that the traits of the one true religion would by chance alone align with the traits that would make a religion the most popular.
This point implies that a true religion would likely demand a difficult path to salvation, such that its appeal would be more focused on a tangible manifestation of other-worldly guidance and influence rather than a set of rules that make it easy to attain its rewards and effective for growing its numbers.
(1659) Christian sin paradigm incompatible with evolution
Much of Christianity is prefaced on the idea that God initially provided a paradisaical world for humans to live, either by creationism or drawn-out evolution, but that because of man’s sin, the world devolved into a place of sorrows, tragedies, and disease. This blame shifting is central to alleviating God’s culpability associated with the evils of the world. However, the factual history of evolution, once it is conceded that this is the way it came down, shows that all of these terrible things existed long before humans entered the scene. The following is taken from:
The entire paradigm of the Bible seems to be that God’s good creation was tainted by human sin and needs to be restored. However, the scientific consensus shows that before humanity arrived there were mass extinctions, cancer/disease/sickness, and natural disasters. The idea that creation “groans” due to mankind’s sin seems to be central to Romans 8, when it explains that God subjected it to futility. And yet creation itself does not show signs of having been cursed after humans came around in a way that it hasn’t in its past (again, assuming the evolution/old Earth scientific consensus). Also imagery of a new creation with the wolf lying with the lamb as a return to a world before sin is inconsistent with the fossil record showing carnivorous animals before sin.
What this reveals is that the men who conceived of Christianity, in particular Paul, did not understand the science behind the world order, instead they were quite ignorant of it. And this results in an inescapable conclusion: evolution and Christianity are mutually exclusive.
(1660) Virginity proof could not be of God
If anyone wants proof that the Bible was not written or inspired by God, but rather by men ignorant of human biology, it takes no more effort than to read the following verses:
If a man takes a wife and, after sleeping with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin. Her father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.
If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.
The following was taken from:
Deuteronomy 22:13-20 talks about If a woman gets married and her husband claims she’s not a virgin and no “proof of virginity” can be provided (i.e.) blood on the sheets from losing virginity etc. Then she should be stoned to death for fornication.
Which of course is obnoxious in and of itself, but since fornication is something “God hates” then a Christian wouldn’t blink at the punishment.
But dig a little deeper and the verse reveals a complete misunderstanding of the hymen. A woman’s hymen can break for the simplest reason; a tampon, a bike seat, or even the splits can break the hymen; suddenly leaving the girl with no “proof of virginity” this little biological fact is evidence that the Bible is not made by an all-knowing God but a few men throughout history who didn’t fully understand female anatomy. An all-knowing all-wise God would remember that he didn’t create the hymen as a fool proof virginity card but rather a fragile piece of skin that probably shouldn’t determine whether a girl lives or not depending on whether or not she happened to keep it intact by her wedding night.
If the Bible is the inspired text of an almighty god, it should astound us by its fore-knowledge of the natural world. In this instance, we can see that instead it reflects the ignorance of mortal men.
(1661) Mistranslating scripture to support crucifixion prophecy
It is not uncommon to find translators playing fast and loose with scripture to support the idea that the life of Jesus was foreshadowed by the prophets of the Old Testament. This connection was crucial for establishing Christianity as the legitimate successor to Judaism. In the following instance, the translation of Psalm 22:16 was deliberately and inaccurately manipulated to coincide with a crucifixion story about Jesus being pierced while hanging on the cross. The following is taken from:
Firstly, my thesis is that early Christians realized there was a significant issue with their claims and altered existing text in order to support these claims.
My first example is mistranslations I will be using the English, Greek, and Hebrew translations to highlight the differences.
Psalm 22:16 As you can see, the KJV translates the verse as
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
However the original hebrew כָּ֝אֲרִ֗י Kaari means like a lion, they are at my hands and feet.
You can see the correct translation of this word in the KJV in Psalm 22:12-13, 22:20-21, 17:11-12 and Isaiah 38:13 to name a few.
It’s the same exact word, yet for some reason in this isolated instance, translators chose to translate this word incorrectly to support a crucifixion theme.
Here is Psalm 17:11-12 for comparison:
They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground, they are like a lion hungry for prey, like a fierce lion crouching in cover.
Note that there is no reference to piercing although the identical word in Hebrew was used. It suffices to say that scriptural manipulation of this sort would not be necessary if the claims of Christianity were true.
(1662) Disproving the trinity with a single verse
Most, though not all, Christian denominations contend that God is made up of three personages, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The claim is that each of these manifestations of God combine to comprise a single divine entity. However, a scripture exists in the Gospel of Matthew that directly refutes this doctrine. The following was taken from:
Matthew 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
in order to do this properly we need to examine the original text (the Greek text). Let’s pull out some key words from the verse.
strongs notes G3762 oudeis
from G3761 and G1520; not even one (man, woman or thing), i.e. none, nobody, nothing.
-this is the word translated to “no one” as we can see it is neuter in gender and includes “things” not just people. literally means “none, nobody, nothing.”
strongs notes G1921 epiginosko ep-ig-in-oce’-ko from G1909 and G1097; o know upon some mark, i.e. recognize; by implication, to become fully acquainted with, to acknowledge.
-this is the word translated to ‘knows” part of the definition is to become fully acquainted with.
another translation clarifies this greek word by saying-
“My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” – NLT
So Jesus said that nothing knows the son except the father. If the holy spirit was a conscious entity as the third member that is part of the triune God – it would surely also be fully acquainted with the son as well, since it too is God. It would obviously know the son since it is 3rd member of a God the trinity. But Jesus said this is not the case.
Based on this observation, it is clear that the trinity doctrine was not fully incorporated at the time that ‘Matthew’ wrote his gospel, around 80 CE. What this means is that the concept of the trinity was not taught by Jesus nor was it transmitted to the gospel writers by divine inspiration. Thus, the trinity is a construct of human origin, which gives credence to the view that Christianity is a human-manufactured religion.
(1663) The Thirty Years War
In the 17th Century a conflict erupted in Europe between two groups of Christians- the Catholics and the Protestants. Though both groups claimed to worship the same god and the same son of that god, their differences in theology spawned a horrible bloodbath of violence that lasted 30 years. The two things to keep in mind, assuming Christianity to be true, is that God is claimed to not be the author of confusion, and that he was observing this internecine war day by day, each of the 11,000 days it lasted, with the power to intervene, clarify the correct theology, and stop the bloodshed. The following is taken from:
The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) was one of the most destructive wars in European history. It pitted Christians against each other. This war was fought primarily in Germany, but other countries got involved as well. Roman Catholicism and Protestant Calvinism figured prominently in the opposing sides of this conflict. So great was the loss of life from this war that estimates show one-third of the entire population of Germany was killed. Württemberg lost three-quarters of its population. Brandenburg suffered the loss of half of its population, as did Marburg and Augsburg, while Magdeburg was reduced to rubble.
Outside Germany, nearly one-third of the Czech population died as well. We’re talking about a bloodbath between what most Christians today would call their brothers and sisters in Christ. This bloodbath was largely over the authority of the Catholic Church, the means of salvation, the priesthood of all believers, the nature of the Eucharist, and the proper candidates and mode of baptism.
In order for Christianity to be true, one must believe that God saw no reason to prevent one sect of his followers from killing another sect and vice versa. If one of these two sects had the right theology, he did nothing to give that side any advantage in the conflict. He did nothing to conciliate the two factions, nothing to clarify the correct doctrine, and nothing to end the senseless, purposeless slaughter of those who worshiped him. The far easier explanation for this war is that it was a result of human aggression ignited by differences in ideas about a mythical divine entity.
(1664) The four gods of Christianity
Fully distilled, there are only four gods that might exist in the world of Christianity. Let’s consider each one:
1. The deceptive and cruel god
This is the god of Ken Ham and the creationists. He created the universe in 6 days 6000 years ago, and though that was an impressive feat, this god is guilty of grave deception. He planted evidence for no evident purpose other than to deceive humans, once they became sufficiently knowledgeable, into thinking that the universe is billions of years old. To this end, he manufactured trillions of fake fossils and strategically placed them in rock layers to make it look like a long period of evolution had occurred. He artificially aged radioactive elements, engineered the DNA of animals in a fashion to correlate perfectly with an apparent evolutionary descent, created ice cores and rock layers consistent with an old earth, and even created pre-made light beams stretching all the way to the earth from the distant stars to make it appear that they were millions or even billions of years old. And, of course, this same god was extremely cruel in drowning nearly every living thing in a fit of anger. This is the god of Ken Ham. This is the deceptive and cruel god.
2. The incompetent god
This is the god of mainstream or more liberal Christians who understand that biological evolution is true, but attempt to hold on to their theistic beliefs by declaring that god ‘guided’ the evolutionary process. This god is pathetically incompetent and wasteful, given that 99% of all of the animals he ‘directed’ to be made eventually became extinct. Although humans were his intended end goal, he ineptly allowed dinosaurs to dominate the earth for 160 million years, effecting shutting down any progress in reaching that goal. Even when he finally guided humans into existence, he came very close to having them go extinct at one point when only a few thousand remained alive. This is the god of scientifically-literate Christians. This is the incompetent god.
3. The apathetic god
This is the god of Christians who are scientifically literate but wish to forgo the logical issues involving the incompetent god described above. This god did not interfere with the evolutionary processes on the earth, and had only a passing interest in the planet. He had no end goal, but was just observing what was happening. Only after humans evolved to a point where they had languages and writing did he decide to intervene, though he did this in a haphazard and isolated fashion, revealing himself to just one small primitive tribe of people in a remote corner of the Middle East, while ignoring completely all of the other civilizations, many of which were much more advanced. Even when he decided to expand his revelation worldwide, he still limited this effort to the same isolated area, leaving the vast majority of people in the dark. Then after this period of revelation, he left the scene entirely for the next twenty centuries. This god is not that interested in the earth or in humans. This is the apathetic god.
4. The non-existent god
This is the god of the atheists; he exists only in the minds of believers. This is the god that seems to be consistent with every scientific measurement ever taken- given the total lack of evidence of interference by any supernatural agency. This is the non-existent god.
So, the Christian god is either deceptive and cruel, incompetent, apathetic, or non-existent. Note that none of these gods merit a shred of worship. That’s right. There is no way to paint the god of Christianity in a favorable light.
(1665) Neanderthal culture
The Neanderthals were a species of archaic humans that lived in Europe until becoming extinct approximately 40,000 years ago. Their DNA deviation was only about 0.3% from modern humans compared to our next closest relative, the chimpanzees, at 1.7%, making them our closest relatives. The implication for Christianity is that these proto-humans had a sufficient culture to have been suitable candidates for God’s interest, though no evidence of such exists. The following was taken from:
In this article titled “Neanderthals, the World’s First Misunderstood Artists” it is reported that Neanderthal authorship of some cave art is now a fact. This conclusion is a result of very meticulous scientific research.
So, if we have non-human persons capable of abstract thinking as evidenced by the art they left behind they should fit somewhere into the paradigm of the Bible if that paradigm is correct. There is nothing to support that they were on Noah’s ark as an “animal”. They are also most definitely not the same species as modern humans and, in fact, have long gone extinct.
In a Biblical world of plants, animals, and humans that have souls and can be “saved”, Neanderthals and their cultural activities including burials and cave art were left out, it would seem, because those that wrote the Old and New Testaments did not anticipate their having existed. I don’t see a slam dunk case here, as there rarely is, but at the very least this is a yet another problem for the Christian Biblical worldview.
It is not controversial to say that the Christian god has allegedly communicated only with modern-day humans and has no special interest in such animals as chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, dolphins, or whales. However, the Neanderthals were in a different category as to their ability to produce art and to ceremonially react to death and its implications. That the Christian god apparently had no interest in them seems inconsistent with the characteristics of this god as believed by most Christians- being caring, loving, and engaged.
(1666) The argument from absence
Christian apologists often state that ‘the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.’ This, of course, is a grievous error in logic. It would be like saying that the fact that we have found no evidence for the existence of leprechauns has no bearing on the probability that they actually exist. If a god of the type worshiped by most Christians exists, then there should be many areas where we would expect to find him- maybe not in an explicitly tangible way, but at least in a somewhat detectable or suggestive way. The following was taken from:
Victor Stenger makes the Argument from Absence, which observes that we don’t find God where we’d expect to. This is a direct response to a popular Christian argument that goes something like this: “You say God doesn’t exist? Well let me ask you this: have you looked everywhere in the universe? How do you know he doesn’t exist if you haven’t looked everywhere?”
This is simply the “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist” argument, which is off topic because I’m not trying to prove God doesn’t exist. However, when you look in places where you’d expect to find evidence of God, and you find none, that is evidence against God.
Stenger explores eight areas.
- Cosmology. We should find evidence for God in cosmology, but natural laws are sufficient. We find no data that needs a miraculous violation of laws. “Well established cosmological knowledge indicates that the universe began with maximum entropy, that is, total chaos with the absence of structure. Thus the universe bears no imprint of a creator.”
- Evolution. We should find God in the structure of living things, but evolution is sufficient. Complex organisms evolved from simpler ones in a variations-on-a-theme way. Life forms are marvelously complex, but elegance is what we’d expect to find in a designed lifeform, not mere complexity. Far from being evidence of a Creator, the junk in DNAargues for the opposite conclusion.
- Souls. We should find evidence that God gave humans souls, but the supernatural isn’t necessary to explain consciousness, memory, or personality (more). There is no evidence that souls are anything more than wishful thinking.
- Revelation. The Bible claims that God gives communicates through revelations, but we can’t verify this. Even many of the un-supernatural claims like the Exodus and David’s empire now appear to be false.
- Prayers. Jesus in the Bible claimed that prayers are reliably answered (more hereand here). The Bible has no qualifiers like “if you’re worthy” or “if your prayer happens to line up with God’s plan.” Christians make billions of prayers, but there is no convincing evidence that God answers any. Prayer is easy to study scientifically, but the comprehensive Templeton Study found no evidence of the value of prayer.
- Inhospitable universe. The Bible makes clear that the universe was created with man in mind, but the vast majority of the universe (and the majority of the earth) is inhospitable to man. The universe has 200 billion galaxies, but earth was the actual purpose? Nope.
- New information. If God communicates with people through prayer or revelation, there should be evidence of people having information they could only have gotten supernaturally. Instead, no such claim has checked out, and the Bible has no information that wouldn’t have already been available to the people who wrote it (more hereand here).
- Morality. Is God the source of morality? Given the barbaricmoralityGod displays in the Old Testament, it’s clear that he is no moral authority. For example, God said that slavery was fine, but we say that it’s abhorrent. Both can’t both be right. Christians must pick.
In this case, evidence suggesting the absence of god speaks very loudly to the strong probability that he does not exist. If this is not correct, then this god has threaded the needle in such a fine fashion that his overtly subtle tactics can be seen to be a grand deception on a scale that would embarrass the most deceitful human. So, either the Christian god does not exist, or he has set up the universe to make it appear as so.
(1667) Christianity needs government support
It doesn’t take much investigation to see what is happening in the United States with regard to the manner in which the government is supporting religion, and Christianity in particular. It starts with a tax exemption policy that is generally reserved for legitimate charities (those that actually give the majority of their donations to charitable causes), and continues with a plethora of favors and privileges and advertisements. Why such support of a supposedly supernatural religion is needed is the subject of this point. The following was taken from:
The U.S. Constitution is secular, and the separation between church and state is made mandatory with the First Amendment. Even if crossing the line weren’t unconstitutional, what would it say about the weakness of Christian claims that it needs to lean on the government to support itself?
Despite the prohibition, Christianity isn’t content to stay on its side of the back seat. Think of the accommodations it already gets: the President has been obliged to issue a proclamation declaring a National Day of Prayer since 1952, “In God We Trust” is the national motto, conservative voters punish politicians who aren’t sufficiently Christian (bypassing Article VI of the Constitution, which prohibits a religious test for public office), and the IRS has for years failed to revoke churches’ nonprofit status when they violate the Johnson amendment’s prohibition against politicking from the pulpit. Conservatives are continually pushing for Creationism and prayer in public schools, “In God We Trust” displays in government buildings, Ten Commandments monuments and manger scene displays on public property, the ability to deny service and government licenses to people their god doesn’t like, and prayer to start meetings in venues from Congress down to city councils.
Christians who value the rights that Western society grants us today—voting, no slavery, no torture, non-coercive marriage, freedom of (and from) religion, freedom of speech, fair trial, democracy, and so on—must remember that these all came from secular sources. Biblically based society would have none of these (more here and here). Don’t think that Christianity is the foundation on which is built American democracy; instead, American Christianity is permitted by the Constitution (more).
When Christian leaders push against constitutional limits on religion, they admit that Christianity’s arguments are so weak that they need to push the government to support their cause. A real God wouldn’t need such help.
The fact that Christianity has pushed its way into public policy as a way to stem its slide into irrelevance is a telling sign of its inherent weakness. A religion with supernatural backing would require none of this, and in fact would do everything in its power to remain independent of government and, even more so, politics.
(1668) Believers endow God with their beliefs
There is no better evidence to show that God is a creation of human minds than to show that there is a strong correlation between the beliefs of believers and what they assume to be God’s beliefs. Research appears to bear this out:
God may have created man in his image, but it seems we return the favour. Believers subconsciously endow God with their own beliefs on controversial issues.
“Intuiting God’s beliefs on important issues may not produce an independent guide, but may instead serve as an echo chamber to validate and justify one’s own beliefs,” writes a team led by Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers started by asking volunteers who said they believe in God to give their own views on controversial topics, such as abortion and the death penalty. They also asked what the volunteers thought were the views of God, average Americans and public figures such as Bill Gates. Volunteers’ own beliefs corresponded most strongly with those they attributed to God.
Next, the team asked another group of volunteers to undertake tasks designed to soften their existing views, such as preparing speeches on the death penalty in which they had to take the opposite view to their own. They found that this led to shifts in the beliefs attributed to God, but not in those attributed to other people.
“People may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions and making decisions based on what they presume God as the ultimate moral authority would believe or want,” the team write. “The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing.”
“The experiments in which we manipulate people’s own beliefs are the most compelling evidence we have to show that people’s own beliefs influence what they think God believes more substantially than it influences what they think other people believe,” says Epley.
Finally, the team used fMRI to scan the brains of volunteers while they contemplated the beliefs of themselves, God or “average Americans”. In all the experiments the volunteers professed beliefs in an Abrahamic God. The majority were Christian.
In the first two cases, similar parts of the brain were active. When asked to contemplate other Americans’ beliefs, however, an area of the brain used for inferring other people’s mental states was active. This implies that people map God’s beliefs onto their own.
Other researchers say the findings reinforce earlier studies suggesting that thinking about God is intimately linked to the imagination.
These experiments “support previous findings that representations of God seem intimately related to the self, also in terms of brain function”, says Uffe Schjødt of Aarhus University in Denmark, whose research published earlier this year showed that praying uses similar brain regions as talking to a friend.
“These findings help explain why supernatural religious agents are often attributed a physical form and issue edicts that resemble the social practices of the culture from which they emerge,” says Jordan Grafman of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland, whose team earlier this year linked emergence of religion with the development of “theory of mind”, the capacity to recognise that other living things have independent thought and intentions.
If God was real, we would expect that his ‘messaging’ with mankind would more often than not conflict with the beliefs of his followers and cause them to reassess, often uncomfortably, and admit that they had the wrong opinions. This rarely happens and suggests that each believer has an image of God that is simply a reflection of themself.
(1669) God and the Republicans
God, assuming he exists and operates as most Christians assume, must be watching what is happening in real time, the current events, and the trends of our society. So he must also be aware of the worldwide political environment. What would top the chart of his interest would be the political groups from the most influential countries and especially any of the political parties that purportedly base their policies on the Christian religion. These criteria suggest that his focus would on the Republican Party of the United States. He would be expected to influence the leaders of that party to fairly represent the ideals of Jesus and to transmit those ideals into public policy. So why is it that we observe the reverse?
Jesus warned of the dangers of wealth and promoted the virtues of being poor, but the Republicans consistently enact policies that reward the wealthy, usually with tax cuts that are heavily biased in that direction.
Jesus focused on healing the sick and helping the disadvantaged, but Republicans oppose universal health care and continually attempt to cut back on the government’s program to provide medical assistance to the elderly.
Republicans refuse to take steps to stem the easy access to firearms despite the country’s gun violence problem.
Jesus taught us to love our enemies, but the Republicans teach the opposite- to marginalize foreigners, those of a different faith, and those on the margins of society, especially the LGBT community.
They enact policies to steamroll the environment for short term profit and wealth.
Virtually every government program designed to do the things that Jesus would do is opposed universally by the Republicans.
How could the ‘party of God’ forget what is written in Matthew 25:35-36:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
But Republicans want nothing to do with refugees from war-torn or impoverished nations, or even those displaced by environmental disasters. Can a person wearing a ‘WWJD- What would Jesus do?’ bracelet vote for a Republican while retaining any sense of dignity?
One must ask: Is God watching this without being upset? Can he do nothing to correct this horrible situation that is debasing the message of Jesus? Or is it more likely that if the Christian god actually existed, this would not be happening?
(1670) Parkinson’s and religion
A scientific study established a correlation between Parkinson’s disease and a lack of interest in religion. This has implications for the fairness of Christianity’s judgment doctrine.
To study clinical correlates of religiosity in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Measures of life goals, religiosity, mood, and neuropsychologic function were assessed in 22 persons with mid-stage PD and 20 age-matched healthy controls. Levodopa dose equivalents (LDE) were also computed for the patients.
Relative to other major life goals parkinsonian patients were significantly more likely to report that “my religion or life philosophy” was less important than were age-matched controls. Scores on a battery of religiosity scales were consistently lower for Parkinson’s patients than those of age-matched controls. While Mini Mental State Exam, logical memory recall, Stroop, and selected (depression and anxiety) mood scales reliably distinguished patients from controls, only measures of prefrontal function correlated with religiosity scores.
Patients with PD express less interest in religion and report consistently lower scores on measures of religiosity than age-matched controls. Prefrontal dopaminergic networks may support motivational aspects of religiosity.
Because dopamine levels and the onset of Parkinson’s are not within the control of the individual, it would seem that those so afflicted would be unfairly disadvantaged as to their attainment of heaven under the Christian judgment scheme, in so much as they would be less likely to accept and follow the paradigm for satisfying God’s criteria for post-life glory. This is yet another example among many that suggests that assigning people to either eternal bliss or eternal punishment based on a relatively short life, given all of the differences in physical conditions as well as varied locations and social structures, is inherently flawed and would certainly not be the master plan of a supreme deity.
(1671) Testimony over data
The human mind has a bias that often translates personal testimony or personal experience as being a more plausible window into reality than rigorous scientific tests or studies. This is often seen in winter times when cold weather is seen by people as proof that global warming is not occurring. To a large extent this tendency explains why religions and other magical beliefs can persist in a scientific and technological world. The following is taken from:
Recently I spoke to a friend of mine about a car of a one German producer which has been proclaimed by a study as the most reliable machine on the market. I’ve said to him that I would love to have that car. He looked at me with a smile and said: “No way. That car sucks. I know a guy who bought him and had a lot of problems with it”. He simply discarded data from analysis I showed to him and not even bothered to read it.
This example proves that testimonies are more accepted as evidence of truth than ‘boring’ and comprehensive analysis. That is a known fact which is used in marketing since humanity exists. Let us apply it to religion. When people hear of personal testimony of somebody’s conversion or miracle story they will easily believe it and accept it as a self-evident proof of God’s existence. On the other hand, when you show them medical data or present them with other more plausible scientific explanations they will in majority cases discard them, because “one of those miracles is surely a genuine one”.
In the same light, a person who experiences a warm feeling of exaltation at a worship service and concludes the real presence of a supreme being, will at the same time dismiss a comprehensive meta-analysis that demonstrates that prayer is ineffective. It also suggests that when someone relates a story that contains supernatural elements, the listener will tend to believe it at face value and then will be eager to share it with others as though it is undeniably factual. This dynamic undoubtedly occurred during the First Century as the myths attached to Christianity accumulated, became embellished, and eventually gelled into the Christian faith. Religion thus thrives on the inability of the human mind to separate local experience from global realities.
(1672) Luke and Matthew didn’t think Mark was inspired
A good percentage of Christians believe that the gospels (if not the entire Bible) were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that they contain a literal truth as to the sayings and deeds of Jesus. However, it is interesting to note that the authors of the Gospels of Luke and Matthew did not believe this. Biblical scholars agree that these authors used Mark as source material and that they copied large sections of Mark directly into their accounts. In the following examples, it can be seen that Luke and Matthew deliberately left out an important doctrinal statement that Mark claimed was made by Jesus:
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Note that Jesus’s statement that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” was left out, apparently deliberately, by Luke and Matthew. This example, one of many similar, is evidence that the gospel writers made Jesus say what they wanted him to say, and for Luke and Matthew, this degree of anti-Sabbath rhetoric was too much for them. Did Jesus say this? We don’t know. But apparently, Luke and Matthew didn’t believe as Christians do today that Mark’s gospel was the inerrant work of the Holy Spirit.
Now, apologists will attempt to wriggle out of this problem in one of several ways. They will say that Jesus said the same thing twice, once with and once without the controversial statement. Or, they will say that the statement was a later interpolation that was added to Mark after it was used by Luke and Matthew. But even if one of these theories is true, it would seem that the Holy Spirit failed to align the Gospel writers on this point so that future Christians could be sure of what Jesus actually said. And, considering the alleged eternal significance of Christian doctrine, knowing precisely what Jesus said would be of critical importance.
(1673) Fabricated discourse in John
In the Gospel of John there is a dialogue between Jesus and a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus that involves a misunderstanding on the part of Nicodemus concerning the phrase ‘born again,’ with him wondering how a person can re-enter a mother’s womb. As it turns out, this misunderstanding could only have resulted if the men were speaking in Greek, rather than their native language of Aramaic, because of the particulars of these languages’ entomologies. This suggests that this discourse was the fictional creation of the Greek-speaking author. Here is the relevant scripture:
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
The following was taken from:
In that chapter of John, Nicodemus says he is puzzled by Jesusʼ statement that “Ye must be born again,” because as Nic asks, “How can a man reenter his motherʼs womb?” The entire conversation in that late Gospel is in Greek, and Nicʼs puzzlement can be attributed to the fact that the Greek word translated as “again” is a word with a double meaning in the Greek language, because it can also mean “again” or “a second time” or “from above.” Dr. Ehrman then points out that the Jews in that day and age spoke Aramaic, not Greek, and in Aramaic the word would NOT have had a double meaning and Nicodemus would not have been puzzled, nor had to ask “how can a man reenter his motherʼs womb.” That raises questions as to the authenticity of that late appearing dialogue. Though a blind faith fundamentalist could “argue” or “prevaricate” or “try to push under the carpet” this valid historical question, and substitute for it his rewriting of the historical consensus concerning the language that people spoke at that time and place, and insist that Jesus and the Jerusalem Pharisee were “both speaking Greek” in that particular conversation, and that it was inerrantly accurate, instead of the whole dialogue being a later creation by a Greek-speaking Gospel author.
As for the Aramaic question, even the majority of inerrantist Christian scholars agree Jesus spoke Aramaic and agree it was the language of the Jews in Palestine in that day and age, including the language of Pharisees, Jesus and his flock.
This issue becomes important because the most famous scripture in Christian doctrine is attached to this narrative- John 3:16- ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ Some apologists have attempted to argue that Jesus spoke Greek as well as Aramaic, but objective scholars doubt that this could be the case. This, along with the fact that none of the other gospels address this discussion, strongly suggests that this was the literary invention of the man who wrote the Gospel of John.
(1674) Calming the storm
In the Gospel of Mark, a story is told where Jesus miraculously calms a storm that was threatening the safety of the disciples while they were aboard a boat, as follows:
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
In the Gospel of John, we are told that those who believe in Jesus will be able to perform the same and even greater things than what Jesus did, as follows:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
To date, nobody, no matter how much faith they have or how many people are praying in unison, has been able to calm a storm, despite countless occasions when hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards have threatened the lives of the faithful. This implies that at least one of the two scriptures above is false.
(1675) John’s gospel missing synoptic core
The Gospel of John is the most revered book of the Bible in the minds of many if not most Christians. It is used more than any other gospel to support the divine nature of Jesus and the redemptive purpose for his death and resurrection. But what is troubling for any objective analysis is that this gospel represents a wholesale departure from the other three biblical gospels, aka, the synoptics. The following was taken from:
The gospel of John is noted for its very different portrayal of Jesus. This difference is all the more dramatic when one notes that the entire core of the synoptic gospel accounts is missing. In John there is no birth in Bethlehem, no baptism by John, no temptation by the Devil, no proclamation of the Kingdom of God, no exorcisms, no parables, no transfiguration, no last supper with bread and a cup, no prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, no trial before the Sanhedrin. With so much missing, the safest conclusion is that John is almost exclusively a “theological” interpretation of Jesus, will little interest in actual historical events from his life.
This presents a problem for apologists to explain how John and the synoptic gospels can both represent historical accounts in the life of Jesus. These notable missing elements are also accompanied by direct contradictions, such as a 3-year mission time in John vs. 1 year in the synoptics, and the inclusion of several important events, such as the raising of Lazarus, that are missing in the synoptics. This leaves little wiggle room for Christians to unequivocally credit all four gospels. It would appear that they should have to choose- either John or the synoptics, but not both.
(1676) Paul’s mission to Gentiles or Jews?
It is conventional wisdom that Paul’s major mission was to spread Christianity to the Gentile populations in areas around the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. This seems to be well established by the letters that have been authenticated as being of his creation (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon). However, this view is directly contradicted by the accounts of Paul written in the Book of Acts. The following is taken from:
In Acts, Paul’s sermons, with one important exception, are addressed to Jews. Additionally, Paul is always going to synagogues in Acts. However, in his own writings, Paul describes his mission as being one directed at Gentiles (e.g., Romans 1:5, Galatians 1:16), not Jews, and not once does Paul indicate in his own letters that he preached in a synagogue.
Almost any biblical scholar will give greater historical weight to the letters that Paul himself wrote over what appears to be an anonymous source, and this seems appropriate. But making this assumption casts doubt on the authenticity of the Book of Acts. We know that it was written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke, so it seems that the historical dubiety of Acts contaminates that book as well.
(1677) The rich man paradox
The gospels suffer an embarrassing inconsistency with regard to the ease with which a rich person can enter heaven. Compare the following from Mark (later copied by Matthew and Luke) and John:
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
In the first, Jesus is strongly implying that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter into heaven than for a poor man. In the second, he is strongly implying that the likelihood for someone to enter into heaven is completely independent of their wealth- it is simply a matter of faith, something that is easily accessible to all. Christians are left to wonder- which is it? A skeptic looks at this and thinks that inconsistencies such as this are the inevitable outcome of disparate authors writing with no supernatural inspiration- and precisely not the outcome expected of a divinely crafted holy book.
The apologetic defense of this problem is that a rich man has fewer needs and would be less likely to beseech a higher authority for help. But this argument would hold water if and only if Christianity promised rewards in this life only. In fact, biblically-based Christianity promises only a post-life reward- something a rich man would have equal incentive to attain.
(1678) Andromeda strain
Let’s suppose that you have acquired some god-like capabilities, specifically that you can see everything in the universe from your location on earth to a resolution of 1 mm at the most distance points in the universe. Further, let’s suppose that you can see everything that is visible to you (excepting what’s on the back side of planets and stars) and can comprehend ALL of this visual information instantly. Further, you have the ability to send forces and particles to all of these locations at will.
On this occasion, you notice that on a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, where some human-like people live, that an older being is molesting a very young being and that this is something for which you desire to intervene. You immediately send a laser beam to incapacitate the abuser. This is what we might expect the Christian god to do (though he never seems to).
So how would this scenario actually play out? It so happens that the Andromeda Galaxy is 2,500,000 light years from the earth. This means that the molestation you are observing happened 2.5 million years ago, and it will take an additional 2.5 million years for the laser beam to arrive. So your laser beam will hit the spot where the abuser stood 5 million years after the crime was committed. No effect. Despite your amazing powers, there was really nothing you could do about this injustice.
This is a metaphor for why Christianity cannot work in the real universe. No matter how powerful God is, he would still be limited by the realities of space time. The physics of the universe does not allow for an all-powerful god.
(1679) Born in Hell
There is a genetic disease that more than any other offers essential proof that the god of Christianity (at least the version of him adorned with his typically-claimed attributes of omnipotence and benevolence) does not exist. The following was taken from:
For those who don’t know, Epidermolysis Bullosa is a congenital disorder which stops the epidermis from adhering to the dermis. This means the outer layer of the patient’s skin falls off.
Always. For as long as they live.
If you have ever had a second-degree burn, imagine that covering every joint and every place on your body which so much as scrapes against a wall, constantly, your entire life. If Hell is a lake of fire, they are always always on fire.
Because the disorder is congenital, it almost always affects exclusively children. It doesn’t affect adults because patients always die before they get that old. It turns out that losing the waterproof, infection proof layer of your skin causes your entire body to break out in infected sores on a regular basis. Eventually, they become septic and die, usually long before Jonathan Pitre did. He only made it that long because his mother sacrificed everything else to keep his eternal wounds cleaned and bandaged.
Here’s some more information on Jonathan’s life:
My question is this: Why, in a universe which supposedly has a benevolent deity with the capacity to affect reality in any way at all, does a disease like Epidermolysis Bullosa exist? You can’t claim it is to punish sinners, because it affects only the innocent. You can’t claim that your deity can’t fix it, because it is a single gene mutation which a deity with any power at all could prevent entirely by replacing a single nucleotide in one out of 2 million fetuses. A deity which couldn’t fix such a disease might as well not exist for all the good it does. You can’t claim that there must be some greater good served by it because the fix is so minor and so rarely needed and the damage it causes so absurdly gigantic. Failure to cure this disease means that a human is born in the kind of torment which even the most vindictive depictions of the Abrahamic deity visit only upon the greatest of sinners. You can’t claim it is to preserve free will, because the disease robs at least one person of the capacity to exercise free will (more if their parents lose everything forestalling the inevitable), and the fix is so tiny and so rarely needed that we might never even notice it was happening in the first place.
How do you square the idea of a benevolent deity with the reality that such a clearly malevolent and pointless disease exists? How is the universe improved by its existence? Why would a deity allow such a thing to be? Why?
The cop-out adage “God works in mysterious ways” does not work in this instance. Any thoughtful Christian must concede that this is a problem for their faith. The question must then be asked, “Is a deity that allows this degree of meaningless suffering to go unpalliated worthy of worship?” The answer is this, if your god is all-powerful, then, no, he deserves no worship.
(1680) John fumbles his fiction
In the Gospel of John, the author made a mistake involving the flow of dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. Specifically, he has Jesus forgetting two occasions when the disciples asked Jesus where he was going after his earthly mission was complete. Consider the following three scriptures:
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
The author forgot the two times that his disciples asked the question that Jesus later said had not been asked. This is a common mistake in fiction because made-up events do not have the same consistency as those that actually happen. If the questions in Chapters 13 and 14 had been asked, then Jesus would not have forgotten this in Chapter 16.
(1681) Exploiting the fear of death
Christianity, as well as other religions, exploited the most basic human fear- that being the knowledge of the inevitability of one’s death, to perpetuate its wealth and power and to grow its following. This was a bald face scam from the beginning, but it worked spectacularly well, because fear is the most powerful human motivator. The following was taken from:
Religion was invented because humans craved a way to get right with the gods, and priests claimed to be specialists: They knew the rules and rituals that worked. But the ultimate connection to the gods—most highly sought after—was an eternity of bliss in their presence. Why not sell that?
A young friend once asked me, long ago, how Christianity has been so successful, so popular, if it is wrong. “Because it promises people they won’t have to die,” was my answer. Christopher Hitchens was pretty sure that religion wouldn’t disappear “…until we get over our fear of death.” I prefer the cynical punch offered by a Facebook friend: “As long as people are afraid of death, they will continue to embrace religion. What a bunch of pussies.” Our little share of life—being here for a blip in eternity—isn’t enough, dammit. We’re terrified at the prospect of ‘the end.’
Hence the inventors of Christianity selected this ultimate wish-list delusion as its specialty. In one text Jesus supposedly said that eternal life was within reach for those who followed the law—and distributed everything to the poor. But then along came shrewd theologians who added huge measures of magical thinking:
The apostle Paul: “…if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
In I Thessalonians he assured his readers that their dead relatives would rise from their graves—no doubt transformed into ‘spiritual bodies’—to meet Jesus in the clouds. (4:16-18) The theologian who wrote Luke’s gospel saw the sinister side of the dramatic arrival of Jesus. Noah’s flood had been a catastrophy—the earliest genocide ‘on record’—and he was hoping for a repeat. This is the script he gave to Jesus (17:26-27): “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.”
[So Jesus expected most people to be destroyed during his ‘special days’? When people say that they ‘love their Jesus’…have they thought it through?]
The author of John’s gospel was fully on board and saw Christianity as a private cult. He created this gem of magical thinking, one of the most disturbing texts in the New Testament…why don’t Christians wretch?
“So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.’” (6:53-57)
The dishonesty of the eternal life gimmick is not hard to grasp. There is no evidence whatever that a species of mammals on one planet has discovered beliefs and rituals that can promote a chosen few of them to eternal status in the Cosmos. Religious quacks, shrewd theologians of all persuasions, have been selling a product they don’t have. The very concept is absurd—especially those versions that include dead relatives waiting for loved ones to show up.
This is the most insidious scam ever invented, because in addition to selling a product that doesn’t exist, the church takes in money, time, and effort from its followers, all the while setting them up to devalue and place limits on their only existence in anticipation of greater things to come. It literally sucks the life out of its followers while substituting a cheap version of happiness.
(1682) Religiosity and governmental services
A scientific study has shown a correlation between the scale of governmental services and the degree of religiosity among the citizens of that entity. The implication is that religion is often a substitute for unmet physical needs. The following was taken from:
An exchange model of religion implies that if a secular entity such as government provides what people need, they will be less likely to seek help from supernatural entities. Controlling for quality of life and income inequality (Gini), we found that better government services were related to lower religiosity among countries (Study 1) and states in the United States (Study 2). Study 2 also showed that during 2008-2013, better government services in a specific year predicted lower religiosity 1 to 2 years later. In both studies, a combination of better government services and quality of life was related to a particularly low level of religiosity. Among countries, government services moderated the relation between religiosity and two measures of well-being, such that religiosity was related to greater well-being only when government services were low. We discuss the relation between the exchange model and other theoretical approaches to religion.
This correlation leads to a difficult logical conclusion if it’s assumed that Christianity is true- that more and better government services that meet the needs of its citizens is likely indirectly sending more of them to Hell. As a side note, if Christianity thrives on poverty, then perhaps that’s an ulterior motivation for demanding tithing from its followers.
(1683) No plan unless you’re Jewish
Christianity has conveniently forgotten its roots in Judaism. And this is where the popular adage “God has a plan for your life” runs into big trouble. The following was taken from:
The Bible is Wrong: “Free Will” ? “God’s Plan” ? Predestination?
Christians are always proclaiming that God has a plan for them. A through search of the Bible reveals only one passage that even comes close to indicating that God has a plan for his chosen.
For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
For Jews Only, No One Else
Those words were spoken by God to the Jews, “to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon” Jeremiah 29:1
They were meant as words of encouragement to those JEWS who had been captured. God was speaking to JEWS, not Christians, not mankind. Anyone who was not a Jew was an enemy.
God’s Plans For YOU!
If you are not a Jew, well then, God has plans for you too but it has nothing to do with your prosperity, hope and a future. You are considered to be an enemy. Here then, still reading from Jeremiah, is a summary of the nonsense that surrounds the one phrase Christians use to feel good about God’s plan for their non Jewish lives.
He will bring evil to entire cities, destroying them and wipe out all of their inhabitants. 4:6-8
He will send lions, wolves, and leopards to tear people to pieces. 5:6
He just can’t hold in his fury any longer. He will kill everyone: husbands and wives, children and old people. 6:11
He will punish the men by taking away their property, including their wives, and giving it to others. 6:12
He will kill pretty much everyone: fathers and sons, family, friends, and neighbors. He plans to kill them all after laying a stumbling block before them. 6:21
He will pour out his anger on both man and beast. Not even the trees will be spared from his wrath. And the ground itself will burn forever. 7:20
He will feed people to the birds and the beasts and no one will scare them away. 7:33
He will cover the earth with dead bodies that will not be buried. “They shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.” 8:2
People will choose to kill themselves, rather than be killed by their vicious God. 8:3
To punish men, he will “give their wives unto others.” 8:10
He will send serpents to cockatrices to bite you. 8:17
He will give the people bad food and water, and then kill them with a sword. 9:15-16
He will kill children and young men, and the dead bodies “shall fall as dung …. and none shall gather them.” 9:21-22
He is the source of evil. 11:11, 16:10-11, 19:3, 23:12, 26:3,13,19, 32:42, 35:17, 36:3, 36:31, 40:2, 42:10, 44:2, 45:5, 49:37, 51:64
He forbids others from praying for his victims. Such prayers would be useless anyway, he says, because he “will not hear them in their time of trouble.” 11:14
He will punish people by killing their young men in war and starving their children to death. 11:22
God will kill the young men in war and starve their children to death. 11:22-23
His sword will “devour” everyone until “no flesh shall have peace.” 12:12
He will make everyone drunk and then “dash the fathers and the sons together.” He vows to “not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.” 13:13-14
He tells Jeremiah not to pray for the people. God has decided to kill them all and he doesn’t want to be talked out of it. 14:11-12, 15:1
God promises to kill everyone by war, starvation, and disease. 14:12, 24:10, 29:17-18, 42:17-18, 22
He will destroy by famine and sword those who are misled by the prophets. 14:16
He plans to kill people with swords, tear their flesh with dogs, and feed their bodies to the birds and beasts. Why? Because of something some former king did. 15:2-4
He will kill children, make more widows than there are grains of sand, terrorize cities, and then kill the survivors. 15:7-9
He told Jeremiah not to get married or have children, because he will kill everyone (mothers and daughters, fathers and sons). They all “shall die of grievous deaths,” and that shall neither “be lamented” nor buried, but “shall be as dung upon the face of the earth.” For he has removed peace, “lovingkindness,” and mercy from the people. 16:1-7
When the people ask why God is killing everyone, he answers by saying, “Because your fathers have forsaken me.” 16:10
He will make parents eat their own children, and friends eat each other. 19:7-9
He will kill everyone, “both man and beast,” with a “great pestilence.” 21:6
He will force all of Israel to get drunk. Then, he’ll kill them all with a sword. 25:27-29
He will kill so many people that the entire earth will be covered with their dead bodies. No one is to mourn them or even bury them, “they shall be as dung upon the ground.” 25:33
He will bring evil on all flesh. 45:5
On the day of the Lord, God’s sword will become drunk with blood. 46:10
He plans to kill just about everybody. “No city shall escape” and “cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.” 48:8-10
He will cause the daughters of Rabbah to be burned to death. 49:2
He will “break in pieces” pretty much everyone and everything he can think of. 51:21-23
He will get the Babylonians drunk and then kill them all, leading them “like lambs to the slaughter.” 51:39-40
God will force the Babylonians to get so drunk that they die from alcohol poisoning. 51:57
Is that unbelievable? Do you still think God has a plan for YOU? Are you Jewish?
The idea that God has a plan, of course, is refuted more than just by a review of the Bible. It also makes no sense for babies who die in their first year of life. Or for those who suffer debilitating illness and injuries. There is no plan, and for those who are not Jewish, it would be better for them, as can be seen above, if this Jewish god Yahweh did not exist.
(1684) Only 1 in 2500 Palestine Jews became Christian
Although the gospels tout Jesus as having performed incredible miracles and gaining a large and adoring following, the Jews of Palestine were not impressed. Very few of them converted to Christianity. These eyewitnesses comprise the critical evidence we need to conclude that Christianity is false. The following was taken from
The most plausible estimate of the first-century Jewish population comes from a census of the Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius (48 CE) that counted nearly 7 million Jews. If we add in the Jews outside the Roman Empire in places like Babylon, the total first century Jewish population could have been 8 million. It’s estimated that there may have been as many as 2.5 million Jews in Palestine.
These Jews believed in God. They were beloved by their God. They believed their God did miracles. They hoped for a Messiah. They knew well their Old Testament prophecies. Yet the overwhelming majority of them did not believe Jesus was raised from the dead. Catholic New Testament scholar David C. Sim argued: “Throughout the first century the total number of Jews in the Christian movement probably never exceeded 1,000 and by the end of the century the Christian church was largely Gentile.” LINK.
Since Jews were there and they didn’t believe, why should we? Why should anyone? I see no reason to do so.
The Christian response is that these Jews didn’t want to believe because Jesus was not their kind of Messiah, a king who would throw off Roman rule. But then, where did they get that idea in the first place? They got it from their own Scriptures. And who supposedly inspired them? Their God. This means that even though their God loved them over all others, s/he purposely misled them, thereby condemned them to hell along with centuries of persecution as “Christ killers” for following reason. For there is no prophecy in the Old Testament to be regarded as a prophecy that points exclusively to Jesus as the Messiah. The Psalmist literature therefore doesn’t count! Sure there are passages that describe a hope for a political Messiah, but that doesn’t make them predictions. All a reasonable person needs to do is look in the New Testament for the claims of fulfilled prophecy. Follow them back to the source in the Old Testament, then study the context. The young girl who was to give birth in Isaiah 7 was not a virgin, and it clearly is not speaking of the distant future. The suffering servant passage in Isaiah 53 is speaking of the sufferings of Israel as a nation, not the Messiah (Isaiah 49:3). There is no hint in the OT texts that any “double-fulfillment” is possible. Stretching these and other so-called OT prophecies to Jesus is mishandling the texts based on faith.
Christians often use the phrase, “Were you there?” to argue against the science of evolutionary biology. Well, this phase can be turned against them when it comes to Jesus. Because the people who were there, who were God’s chosen people, didn’t become Christians. It takes a lot of apologetic contortions to explain why.
(1685) Moving the Sabbath
Christians today rarely consider that they gather to worship God on a different day than did Jesus. It is hard to understand how you could be a follower of Jesus when you deviate from his devotional practice as well as the 4th item of the 10 Commandments. How this happened is an interesting tidbit of history:
Constantine convened a meeting in the lakeside town of Nicaea. Invitations were sent around the world to bishops and leaders of various sects, although not all of them. The group included the educated and the illiterate, zealots and hermits. Constantine arrived wearing jewels and gold on his scarlet robe and pearls on his crown, eager to discuss the true essence of a poor carpenter who had died 300 years before.
Things that are today accepted without much thought were adopted or reinforced at Nicaea. For example, the Old Testament was clear in declaring that God rested on the seventh day, making it the Sabbath. The seventh day of the week is Saturday, the day of Jewish worship and rest. (Jesus himself invoked the holiness of the Jewish Sabbath.) The word Sunday does not appear in the Bible, either as the Sabbath or anything else. But four years before Nicaea, Constantine declared Sunday as a day of rest in honor of the sun god.
At Nicaea, rules were adopted regarding the proper positions for prayer on Sundays—standing, not kneeling; nothing was said of the Jewish Sabbath or Saturday. Many theologians and Christian historians believe that it was at this moment, to satisfy Constantine and his commitment to his empire’s many sun worshippers, that the Holy Sabbath was moved by one day, contradicting the clear words of what ultimately became the Bible. And while the Bible mentioned nothing about the day of Jesus’s birth, the birth of the sun god was celebrated on December 25 in Rome; Christian historians of the 12th century wrote that it was the pagan holiday that led to the designation of that date for Christmas.
Therefore, Christianity contradicts itself by claiming to be the theological offspring of Judaism while at the same time repudiating the laws and practices thereof. The apologetic defense has been to declare that Jesus turned everything upside down and established a ‘new covenant,’ this time with the gentiles, while apparently turning his back on his ‘chosen people.’ But if this is true, then the statues of the 10 Commandments that Christians love to place combatitively on public ground should state ‘Keep the day AFTER the Sabbath holy.’
(1686) Bible condones what is illegal today
There are at least six things that the Bible condones or at least tolerates that are illegal today in almost every country. This exposes Christianity as a product of its time and not a paragon of celestial wisdom. The following was taken from:
So many of the Old Testament forefathers had multiple wives and mistresses: Abraham had Sarah and Hagar, Jacob had Leah and Rachel (and their handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah). King Solomon reportedly had 700 wives, including Pharaoh’s daughter.
It’s funny when you consider how evangelicals insist the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
While the Bible doesn’t celebrate sexual assault, it suggests marrying your victim and paying off her family will square the deal.
According to Deuteronomy 22:28–29, “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”
Some religious scholars claim that, having lost her virtue, the victim would otherwise be subject to life of destitution and scorn. So making her marry her rapist is actually saving her life.
Here’s an idea: Maybe the Bible could’ve commanded the Israelites NOT to scorn the victim of sexual assault? Just a thought.
Having sex with your children
In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his family are spared the destruction of the cities because they are righteous. But after Lot’s wife gets turned into a pillar of salt, his daughters decided to cheer him up by having sex with him.
“Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the world,” the eldest says to her sister in Genesis 19. “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.”
So that happened.
If the Bible is to believed, you didn’t just stone people willy-nilly. The Mosaic Law specified that, there had to be a trial where at least two witnesses testified.
But stoning is cited as an apt punishment for paganism, necromancy, manslaughter, adultery (with a married woman), breaking the sabbath, male homosexuality, cursing a parent, contempt of court, and giving false testimony in a capital crime, among other offenses.
Though Exodus recounts the tribulations of the Israelites while they were slaves in Egypt, the Old Testament actually condones slavery. In fact, there are strict stipulations on how slaves should be treated: An Israelite slave would be released after six or seven years of servitude, but a foreign slave could be bequeathed to the owner’s family for life.
In I Samuel 15:3, Samuel tells King Saul that God wants him to kill the Amalekites so that the Israelites wouldn’t assimilate their evil ways. “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
Throughout history, some have claimed the plight of the Jews can be blamed on letting some Amalekites live.
Christians often state that we must return to the moral values of the Bible to save our society, but it is clear that such an effort could have a very deleterious result. In the past 2000 years, secular governments have evolved ethics that firmly exceed those promoted in the Bible. This implies that a ‘return to the Bible’ would be foolish and that the Bible is clearly not the work of a god.
(1687) The Bible in a nutshell
Christians revere the Bible as a miraculous product produced by an omniscient god, although ironically, they rarely read it. It is enlightening to take a step back and consider the Bible as a whole in a brief summary, as is presented here:
The Old Testament is a collection of Just-so stories (why the snake has no legs), census records (Numbers, and worse they don’t even add up), draconian laws (Leviticus), war stories, genocidal bloodbaths, self-aggrandizing nationalistic pride stories and centuries-out-of-date transcriptions of oral histories. For some reason someone decided to stick in some erotic poetry (Song of Solomon. If that had been put into modern English and performed by a halfway decent rock band Tipper Gore would have had a stroke) and a bunch of bitching about things going wrong (Psalms). The Book of Job is obviously a long-winded “Shut Up And Suck It Up If Bad Things Happen” exemplar.
The New Testament starts with four wildly inconsistent stories about a miracle working wandering preacher, and the aftermath of his brief career. It then segues into a set of letters purportedly from an asexual misogynistic control freak trying to establish his own personal ideas of orthodoxy on the various groups that were established to worship the aforementioned preacher. It wraps up with what is either a drug-induced hallucination transcript, or a highly symbolic political satire (and quite possibly both at the same time).
Altogether, it’s poorly edited (the gospels don’t even try to match the timeline up), largely boring (all those begats get really old really fast), and generally poor literature.
There is little contained in the Bible that an objective outsider would find useful, either in developing a sense of morality and ethics, or in establishing ways to navigate the challenges of life. This is where the Christian claim comes under mammoth scrutiny- how could a god have orchestrated such an inferior product especially given the alleged eternal and dire implications pursuant to living a human life?
(1688) The failure of the cosmological argument
The Kalam Cosmological Argument has been used by Christian apologists to defend the concept that a supernatural deity was responsible for creating the universe. It does not directly support the foundation tenets of Christianity other than establishing the existence of a generalized deity. The argument states that an uncaused being must have created the universe in order to establish an endpoint for the cause and effect relationships as you go back in time. Otherwise, there would be an undefined retroactive infinity of causes and effects.
This argument possesses a thread of logic in its ability to explain why anything exists at all. But it suffers credibility in both of the two ways that it could have happened:
The desultory deity
If the proposed deity is not the result of any cause, then it practically requires for such deity to have always existed. This is how most Christians view their god- a timeless entity who had no specific beginning. But if it assumed that God always existed, but that the universe has not always existed (was later created by this god) then there is an unmistakable conclusion- this god must have existed for an infinite period of time before he created the universe. This problem applies even if God had made multiple universes going back in time. Thus we have a deity who existed for trillions of years and beyond before he made the FIRST universe. To skirt around this issue and assume that the universe as well has always existed means that a creator is no longer needed.
The pop-up deity
To avoid having a fatally procrastinating deity, some theologians assume that God had a beginning but that there was nothing that came before this- he simply popped into existence. How an infinitely intelligent, omniscient being capable of bending physical laws could develop out of nothing is an even greater stretch of the imagination than assuming that the universe itself came from nothing. There is nothing in the Big Bang model that suggests the creation of intelligence or even living things for at least several billion years, the result of a meticulously slow evolutionary process. For all intents and purposes, the pop-up deity is a fantasy too deep to fathom.
So, to credit the cosmological argument, Christians must choose one of the two paths above and then suffer the accompanying consequences. This argument is a dud, plain and simple.
(1689) Infant mortality
Most Christians claim that God is intimately involved in the lives of every human, keeping track of how they behave and what they believe. Perhaps the most important work of such a god would be to engineer the circumstances and outcomes of new souls entering the ‘playing field,’ encompassing conception, birth, and infant survival. If this was true, it would be expected to result in a universal (very high) rate of success that would be independent of the location of these births. Neither of these expectations are met. Consider the current infant mortality rates by country:
Infant mortality rate compares the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year. This rate is often used as an indicator of the level of health in a country.
- 1 Afghanistan 110.60
- 2 Somalia 94.80
- 3 Central African Republic 86.30
- 4 Guinea-Bissau 85.70
- 5 Chad 85.40
- 6 Niger 81.10
- 7 Burkina Faso 72.20
- 8 Nigeria 69.80
- 9 Mali 69.50
- 10 Sierra Leone 68.40
- 11 Congo, Democratic Republic of the 68.20
- 12 Angola 67.60
- 13 Mozambique 65.90
- 14 Equatorial Guinea 65.20
- 15 South Sudan 62.80
- 16 Zambia 61.10
- 17 Gambia, The 60.20
- 18 Comoros 60.00
- 19 Burundi 58.80
- 20 Uganda 56.10
- 21 Cote d’Ivoire 55.80
- 22 Congo, Republic of the 54.90
- 23 Benin 52.80
- 24 Liberia 52.20
- 25 Pakistan 52.10
- 26 Mauritania 51.90
- 27 Western Sahara 51.90
- 28 Cameroon 51.00
- 29 Guinea 50.00
- 30 Laos 49.90
- 31 Ethiopia 49.60
- 32 Senegal 49.10
- 33 Sudan 48.80
- 34 Swaziland 48.40
- 35 Cambodia 47.40
- 36 Haiti 46.80
- 37 Lesotho 46.10
- 38 Yemen 46.00
- 39 Djibouti 45.80
- 40 Sao Tome and Principe 45.30
- 41 Eritrea 45.00
- 42 Gabon 44.10
- 43 Malawi 43.40
- 44 Togo 42.20
- 45 Madagascar 41.20
- 46 Tanzania 39.90
- 47 India 39.10
- 48 Iraq 37.50
- 49 Kenya 37.10
- 50 Papua New Guinea 36.30
- 51 Burma 35.80
- 52 Bolivia 35.30
- 53 Ghana 35.20
- 54 Timor-Leste 35.10
- 55 Namibia 35.10
- 56 Turkmenistan 34.30
- 57 Zimbabwe 32.70
- 58 Kiribati 32.10
- 59 Bhutan 32.10
- 60 Tajikistan 31.80
- 61 Bangladesh 31.70
- 62 South Africa 31.00
- 63 Guyana 30.40
- 64 Rwanda 29.70
- 65 Botswana 29.60
- 66 Tuvalu 29.00
- 67 Nepal 27.90
- 68 Kyrgyzstan 25.90
- 69 Suriname 24.50
- 70 Azerbaijan 23.80
- 71 Indonesia 22.70
- 72 Trinidad and Tobago 22.30
- 73 Korea, North 22.10
- 74 Maldives 22.00
- 75 Cabo Verde 21.90
- 76 Morocco 21.90
- 77 Philippines 21.40
- 78 Guatemala 21.30
- 79 Mongolia 21.10
- 80 Micronesia, Federated States of 19.80
- 81 Algeria 19.60
- 82 Kazakhstan 19.60
- 83 Marshall Islands 19.30
- 84 Egypt 19.00
- 85 Belize 18.90
- 86 Paraguay 18.70
- 87 Samoa 18.60
- 88 Peru 18.40
- 89 Nicaragua 18.30
- 90 Uzbekistan 18.00
- 91 Turkey 17.60
- 92 Brazil 17.50
- 93 Dominican Republic 17.50
- 94 Vietnam 17.30
- 95 Honduras 17.20
- 96 El Salvador 16.80
- 97 Gaza Strip 16.60
- 98 Ecuador 16.40
- 99 Iran 15.90
- 100 Georgia 15.20
- 101 Syria 14.80
- 102 Solomon Islands 14.70
- 103 Vanuatu 14.40
- 104 Jordan 14.20
- 105 West Bank 14.10
- 106 Colombia 13.60
- 107 Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha 13.30
- 108 Saudi Arabia 13.20
- 109 Cook Islands 13.00
- 110 Oman 12.80
- 111 Jamaica 12.80
- 112 Northern Mariana Islands 12.70
- 113 Armenia 12.70
- 114 Guam 12.60
- 115 Malaysia 12.50
- 116 Montserrat 12.30
- 117 Venezuela 12.20
- 118 Antigua and Barbuda 12.10
- 119 Tunisia 12.10
- 120 British Virgin Islands 12.10
- 121 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 12.00
- 122 China 12.00
- 123 Moldova 12.00
- 124 Albania 11.90
- 125 Mexico 11.60
- 126 Tonga 11.30
- 127 Bahamas, The 11.30
- 128 American Samoa 11.30
- 129 Saint Lucia 10.90
- 130 Libya 10.80
- 131 Aruba 10.70
- 132 Dominica 10.60
- 133 Palau 10.60
- 134 Barbados 10.20
- 135 Turks and Caicos Islands 10.10
- 136 Seychelles 10.00
- 137 United Arab Emirates 10.00
- 138 Panama 9.90
- 139 Argentina 9.80
- 140 Mauritius 9.80
- 141 Grenada 9.70
- 142 Brunei 9.60
- 143 Fiji 9.50
- 144 Romania 9.40
- 145 Croatia 9.30
- 146 Thailand 9.20
- 147 Bahrain 8.90
- 148 Greenland 8.90
- 149 Bulgaria 8.40
- 150 Sri Lanka 8.40
- 151 Saint Kitts and Nevis 8.40
- 152 Uruguay 8.30
- 153 Sint Maarten 8.10
- 154 Costa Rica 8.00
- 155 Cyprus 7.90
- 156 Virgin Islands 7.90
- 157 Nauru 7.80
- 158 Ukraine 7.80
- 159 Curacao 7.50
- 160 Macedonia 7.40
- 161 Lebanon 7.40
- 162 Kuwait 7.00
- 163 Russia 6.80
- 164 Chile 6.60
- 165 Saint Pierre and Miquelon 6.50
- 166 Puerto Rico 6.40
- 167 Qatar 6.20
- 168 Cayman Islands 5.90
- 169 Gibraltar 5.90
- 170 United States 5.80
- 171 Serbia 5.80
- 172 Bosnia and Herzegovina 5.50
- 173 Faroe Islands 5.40
- 174 New Caledonia 5.20
- 175 Latvia 5.20
- 176 Slovakia 5.10
- 177 Hungary 4.90
- 178 French Polynesia 4.60
- 179 Greece 4.60
- 180 Canada 4.50
- 181 Cuba 4.40
- 182 Poland 4.40
- 183 New Zealand 4.40
- 184 Australia 4.30
- 185 United Kingdom 4.30
- 186 Wallis and Futuna 4.30
- 187 Taiwan 4.30
- 188 San Marino 4.30
- 189 Portugal 4.30
- 190 Liechtenstein 4.20
- 191 Denmark 4.00
- 192 European Union 4.00
- 193 Isle of Man 4.00
- 194 Slovenia 3.90
- 195 Jersey 3.80
- 196 Estonia 3.80
- 197 Lithuania 3.80
- 198 Ireland 3.60
- 199 Andorra 3.60
- 200 Belarus 3.60
- 201 Netherlands 3.60
- 202 Switzerland 3.60
- 203 Malta 3.50
- 204 Israel 3.40
- 205 Germany 3.40
- 206 Guernsey 3.40
- 207 Belgium 3.40
- 208 Austria 3.40
- 209 Luxembourg 3.40
- 210 Italy 3.30
- 211 Anguilla 3.30
- 212 Spain 3.30
- 213 France 3.20
- 214 Macau 3.10
- 215 Korea, South 3.00
- 216 Hong Kong 2.70
- 217 Czechia 2.60
- 218 Sweden 2.60
- 219 Bermuda 2.50
- 220 Finland 2.50
- 221 Norway 2.50
- 222 Singapore 2.40
- 223 Iceland 2.10
- 224 Japan 2.00
- 225 Monaco 1.80
Why would God permit infants to die in Afghanistan at a rate 61 times that in Monaco, that is, if he has any interest in the success of human reproduction? On the other hand, what would be expected if there was not a god involved? We would expect infant mortality to follow the socio-economic conditions of each country- which is exactly what we see.
(1690) Hebrews misappropriates 2 Samuel
The author of Hebrews (who was not Paul according to most biblical scholars) made a mistake when he attempted to find a messianic prophecy from the Old Testament to embellish a passage he wrote about Jesus. The following verses from Hebrews refers to the following passage from 2 Samuel:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son; today I have become your Father”?
Or again,“I will be his Father,and he will be my Son”?
2 Samuel 7: 11-14
The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands.
The problem exists with the words “when he does wrong,” because, according to Christian doctrine, Jesus was without sin and never did anything wrong. In fact, later in Hebrews, the author makes this point:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Most of the specious messianic references to Old Testament prophecies made by New Testament authors are discredited by the fact that it can be easily seen that they apply to times and people that existed well before Jesus arrived, but this one is special, because, internal to the prophecy itself, there is a fatal non sequitur.
(1691) Indignant or filled with compassion?
In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus performs one of his first miracles, the cleansing of a leper. Amongst the earliest manuscripts, a discrepancy existed as to how Jesus felt emotionally in response to a leper asking to be healed. Some said that Jesus was angry or indignant, while others said he was filled with compassion. This conflict is still seen today by comparing the two texts below:
Mark 1:40-42 (New International Version)
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Mark 1:40-42 (King James Version)
And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
Biblical scholars have generally concluded that the original text in Mark had Jesus being angry, not compassionate. This is a result of assessing the psychology of the scribes who were copying this verse. It was considered much more likely that a scribe would want to show Jesus in a good light by changing anger to compassion rather than change him from being compassionate to him being angry. This is why the NIV has reverted back to what is assumed to be the original text. What this example shows is that the scribes clearly made a deliberate textual change to enhance the image of Jesus while not honoring the ‘so called’ divine inspiration of the original author. We only know of this scriptural alteration because of the existence of the texts that reveal its existence, and this implies that there are probably many such examples that are unknown, masked by the paucity of early manuscripts.
(1692) God streaks for Moses
In one of the most ridiculous passages in the Bible, God plays artfully coy when Moses asks to physically see him. It is beyond obvious that such an event never happened and, further, that this ancient understanding of God is very different from how he is imagined today:
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
It is insane to think that the creator of the universe would stoop to this level of foolishness. You can see my butt, but not my face? What is more relevant in assessing Christianity’s authenticity, though, is the fact that whoever wrote this passage (probably not Moses) believed that God possesses a body that is mostly human in shape. Very few contemporary Christians agree with this. Most will say that God is a spiritual being who lives in a higher dimension. They understand that a god confined to a physical body would certainly be limited in what he could see, hear, or do. This evolving sense of God’s anatomy is a reflection of mankind’s improving understanding of the physical world, but it also illuminates why his very existence is vanishingly unlikely.
(1693) 12 Horrible ideas foisted by religion
Sociologists can point to ways in which religion has mollified people, given them solace, and in some cases made them more likely to be charitable to those less fortunate. However, at the same time, organized religion has introduced many repugnant ideas that have erased all of the good and inflicted misery, discrimination, and death. The following was taken from:
- Chosen People –The term “Chosen People” typically refers to the Hebrew Bible and the ugly idea that God has given certain tribes a Promised Land (even though it is already occupied by other people). But in reality many sects endorse some version of this concept. The New Testament identifies Christiansas the chosen ones. Calvinists talk about “God’s elect,” believing that they themselves are the special few who were chosen before the beginning of time. Jehovah’s witnesses believe that 144,000 souls will get a special place in the afterlife. In many cultures certain privileged and powerful bloodlines were thought to be descended directly from gods(in contrast to everyone else).
Religious sects are inherently tribal and divisive because they compete by making mutually exclusive truth claims and by promising blessings or afterlife rewards that no competing sect can offer. “Gang symbols” like special haircuts, attire, hand signals and jargon differentiate insiders from outsiders and subtly (or not so subtly) convey to both that insiders are inherently superior.
- Heretics – Heretics, kafir, or infidels (to use the medieval Catholic term) are not just outsiders, they are morally suspect and often seen as less than fully human. In the Torah, slaves taken from among outsiders don’t merit the same protections as Hebrew slaves. Those who don’t believe in a god are corrupt, doers of abominable deeds. “There is none [among them] who does good,” says the Psalmist.
Islam teaches the concept of “dhimmitude” and provides special rules for the subjugation of religious minorities, with monotheists getting better treatment than polytheists. Christianity blurs together the concepts of unbeliever and evildoer. Ultimately, heretics are a threat that needs to be neutralized by conversion, conquest, isolation, domination, or—in worst cases—mass murder.
- Holy War – If war can be holy, anything goes. The medieval Roman Catholic Church conducted a twenty year campaign of extermination against heretical Cathar Christians in the south of France, promising their land and possessions to real Christians who signed on as crusaders. Sunni and Shia Muslims have slaughtered each other for centuries. The Hebrew scriptures recount battle after battle in which their war God, Yahweh, helps them to not only defeat but also exterminate the shepherding cultures that occupy their “Promised Land.” As in later holy wars, like the modern rise of ISIS, divine sanction let them kill the elderly and children, burn orchards, and take virgin females as sexual slaves—all while retaining a sense of moral superiority.
- Blasphemy – Blasphemy is the notion that some ideas are inviolable, off limits to criticism, satire, debate, or even question. By definition, criticism of these ideas is an outrage, and it is precisely this emotion–outrage–that the crime of blasphemy evokes in believers. The Bible prescribes deathfor blasphemers; the Quran does not, but death-to-blasphemers became part of Shariah during medieval times.
The idea that blasphemy must be prevented or avenged has caused millions of murders over the centuries and countless other horrors. As I write, blogger Raif Badawi awaits round after round of flogging in Saudi Arabia—1000 lashes in batches of 50—while his wife and children plead from Canada for the international community to do something.
- Glorified suffering – Picture secret societies of monks flogging their own backs. The image that comes to mind is probably from Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, but the idea isn’t one he made up. A core premise of Christianity is that righteous torture—if it’s just intense and prolonged enough–can somehow fix the damage done by evil, sinful behavior. Millions of crucifixes litter the world as testaments to this belief. Shia Muslims beat themselves with lashes and chains during Aashura, a form of sanctified suffering called Matam that commemorates the death of the martyr Hussein. Self-denial in the form of asceticism and fasting is a part of both Eastern and Western religions, not only because deprivation induces altered states but also because people believe suffering somehow brings us closer to divinity.
Our ancestors lived in a world in which pain came unbidden, and people had very little power to control it. An aspirin or heating pad would have been a miracle to the writers of the Bible, Quran, or Gita. Faced with uncontrollable suffering, the best advice religion could offer was to lean in or make meaning of it. The problem, of course is that glorifying suffering—turning it into a spiritual good—has made people more willing to inflict it on not only themselves and their enemies but also those who are helpless, including the ill or dying (as in the case of Mother Teresa and the American Bishops) and children (as in the child beating Patriarchy movement).
- Genital mutilation – Primitive people have used scarification and other body modifications to define tribal membership for as long as history records. But genital mutilation allowed our ancestors several additional perks—if you want to call them that. Infant circumcision in Judaism serves as a sign of tribal membership, but circumcision also serves to test the commitment of adult converts. In one Bible story, a chieftain agrees to convert and submit his clan to the procedure as a show of commitment to a peace treaty. (While the men lie incapacitated, the whole town is then slain by the Israelites.)
In Islam, painful male circumcision serves as a rite of passage into manhood, initiation into a powerful club. By contrast, in some Muslim cultures cutting away or burning the female clitoris and labia ritually establishes the submission of women by reducing sexual arousal and agency. An estimated 2 million girls annually are subjected to the procedure, with consequences including hemorrhage, infection, painful urination and death.
- Blood sacrifice – In the list of religion’s worst ideas, this is the only one that appears to be in its final stages. Only some Hindus (during the Festival of Gadhimai, goddess of power) and some Muslims (during Eid al Adha, Feast of the Sacrifice) continue to ritually slaughter sacrificial animals on a mass scale. Hindu scriptures including the Gita and Puranas forbid ritual killing, and most Hindus now eschew the practice based on the principle of ahimsa, but it persists as a residual of folk religion.
When our ancient ancestors slit the throats of humans and animals or cut out their hearts or sent the smoke of sacrifices heavenward, many believed they were literally feeding supernatural beings. In time, in most religions, the rationale changed—the gods didn’t need feeding so much as signs of devotion and penance. The residual child sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible (yes, it is there) typically has this function. Christianity’s persistent focus on blood atonement—the notion of Jesus as the be-all-end-all lamb without blemish, the final “propitiation” for human sin—is hopefully the last iteration of humanity’s long fascination with blood sacrifice.
- Hell – Whether we are talking about Christianity, Islamor Buddhism, an afterlife filled with demons, monsters, and eternal torture was the worst suffering the Iron Age minds could conceive and medieval minds could elaborate. Invented, perhaps, as a means to satisfy the human desire for justice, the concept of Hell quickly devolved into a tool for coercing behavior and belief.
Most Buddhists see hell as a metaphor, a journey into the evil inside the self, but the descriptions of torturing monsters and levels of hell can be quite explicit. Likewise, many Muslims and Christians hasten to assure that it is a real place, full of fire and the anguish of non-believers. Some Christians have gone so far as to insist that the screams of the damned can be heard from the center of the Earth or that observing their anguish from afar will be one of the pleasures of paradise.
- Karma – Like hell, the concept of karma offers a selfish incentive for good behavior—it’ll come back at you later—but it has enormous costs. Chief among these is a tremendous weight of cultural passivity in the face of harm and suffering. Secondarily, the idea of karma sanctifiesthe broad human practice of blaming the victim. If what goes around comes around, then the disabled child or cancer patient or untouchable poor (or the hungry rabbit or mangy dog) must have done something in either this life or a past one to bring their position on themselves.
- Eternal Life – To our weary and unwashed ancestors, the idea of gem encrusted walls, streets of gold, the fountain of youth, or an eternity of angelic chorus (or sex with virgins) may have seemed like sheer bliss. But it doesn’t take much analysis to realize how quickly eternal paradise would become hellish—an endless repetition of never changing groundhog days (because how could they change if they were perfect).
The real reason that the notion of eternal life is such a bad invention, though, is the degree to which it diminishes and degrades existence on this earthly plane. With eyes lifted heavenward, we can’t see the intricate beauty beneath our feet. Devout believers put their spiritual energy into preparing for a world to come rather than cherishing and stewarding the one wild and precious world we have been given.
- Male Ownership of Female Fertility – The notion of women as brood mares or children as assets likely didn’t originate with religion, but the idea that women were created for this purpose, that if a woman should die of childbearing “she was made to do it,” most certainly did. Traditional religions variously assert that men have a god-ordained right to give women in marriage, take them in war, exclude them from heaven, and kill them if the origins of their offspring can’t be assured. Hence Catholicism’s maniacal obsessionwith the virginity of Mary and female martyrs.
As we approach the limits of our planetary life support system and stare dystopia in the face, defining women as breeders and children as assets becomes ever more costly. We now know that resource scarcity is a conflict trigger and that demand for water and arable land is growing even as both resources decline. And yet, a pope who claims to care about the desperate poor lectures them against contraception while Muslim leaders ban vasectomies in a drive to outbreed their enemies.
- Bibliolatry (aka Book Worship) – Preliterate people handed down their best guesses about gods and goodness by way of oral tradition, and they made objects of stone and wood, idols, to channel their devotion. Their notions of what was good and what was Real and how to live in moral community with each other were free to evolve as culture and technology changed. But the advent of the written word changed that. As our Iron Age ancestors recorded and compiled their ideas into sacred texts, these texts allowed their understanding of gods and goodness to become static. The sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam forbid idol worship, but over time the texts themselves became idols, and many modern believers practice—essentially—book worship, also known as bibliolatry.
“Because the faith of Islam is perfect, it does not allow for any innovations to the religion,” says one young Muslim explaining his faith online. His statement betrays a naïve lack of information about the origins of his own dogmas. But more broadly, it sums up the challenge all religions face moving forward. Imagine if a physicist said, “Because our understanding of physics is perfect, it does not allow for any innovations to the field.”
Adherents who think their faith is perfect, are not just naïve or ill informed. They are developmentally arrested, and in the case of the world’s major religions, they are anchored to the Iron Age, a time of violence, slavery, desperation and early death.
Ironically, the mindset that our sacred texts are perfect betrays the very quest that drove our ancestors to write those texts. Each of the men who wrote part of the Bible, Quran, or Gita took his received tradition, revised it, and offered his own best articulation of what is good and real. We can honor the quest of our spiritual ancestors, or we can honor their answers, but we cannot do both.
Religious apologists often try to deny, minimize, or explain away the sins of scripture and the evils of religious history. “It wasn’t really slavery.” “That’s just the Old Testament.” “He didn’t mean it that way.” “You have to understand how bad their enemies were.” “Those people who did harm in the name of God weren’t real [Christians/Jews/Muslims].” Such platitudes may offer comfort, but denying problems doesn’t solve them. Quite the opposite, in fact. Change comes with introspection and insight, a willingness to acknowledge our faults and flaws while still embracing our strengths and potential for growth.
In a world that is teeming with humanity, armed with pipe bombs and machine guns and nuclear weapons and drones, we don’t need defenders of religion’s status quo—we need real reformation, as radical as that of the 16th Century and much, much broader. It is only by acknowledging religion’s worst ideas that we have any hope of embracing the best.
It doesn’t take a rigorous mathematical calculation to see that the net effect of religion on the world has been negative. This would not be true if a divine reality permeated these faiths, but it is well to be expected that if people embrace false beliefs about a supernatural world, that their limited minds will produce substandard results.
(1694) Praying for rain
There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence that praying for rain or no rain has been ineffective over the course of history. Consistently, drought and floods have devastated the landscape and peoples’ lives without respect to their religion or how earnestly they prayed. But, the following passage in the Bible suggests that prayers for rain should be effective:
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
The important point of this scripture is that it equates every believer to the prophet Elijah, effectively claiming that every person’s prayers should be just as effective. This is an acid test for Christianity and one that can be easily measured. Here we have a god who supposedly has complete control over the weather, the existence of concerned Christians who pray for rain or its cessation, and a scripture that positively expresses the idea that these prayers will be answered by God. The overall grade for this test is an F.
(1695) Jesus as Satan’s agent
It is an interesting thought experiment to consider the idea that if Judaism is a true religious faith (and this is a prerequisite for Christianity to be true), then what Jesus brought to the arena may have been a detour in God’s plan, and instead actually a ruse orchestrated by Satan. The following was taken from:
Let’s assume the Old Testament is true and God instituted Judaism through Moses. Let’s assume that Moses was correct when he stated over 30 different times that Mosaic Law is permanent, forever, for all future generations. Let’s assume that Moses was correct when he relayed the procedure for “outsiders” to convert to Judaism.
If Satan wished to lead people astray, he might send a “prophet” to mislead people. This “prophet” would undoubtedly have the ability to perform miracles to authenticate his message.
This “prophet” would deceive people into believing that Mosaic Law is no longer in effect, and that people need not obey Mosaic Law in order to receive forgiveness for sin.
Satan would send others to validate this false prophet and the false religious beliefs and help spread this false religion.
Over time, Satan would encourage division within this false religion so that anyone could find a particular set of doctrinal beliefs with which they feel comfortable. Gradually, this false religion would evolve into such simple and easy doctrine that all that is required by this false religion is a belief in the false prophet and a desire to be a better person.
With such an easy religion available, few people would choose to abide by Mosaic Law. Satan would have a tremendous victory.
This is what the Pharisees accused Jesus and His followers of doing, and warned Jews not to be deceived.
This highlights a red herring that dogs Christianity- why a god would reverse course so severely after making a covenant with his chosen people, and essentially abandon them? This seems to set up the math as follows: If Judaism is true, Christianity is very likely to be false, while if Judaism is false, then Christianity is false as well.
(1696) Questions for God
Hement Mehta produced a video in which he rhetorically asked God 36 questions, that, although in a lighthearted way, expose the real-world reasons why such a deity almost certainly does not exist. Taken in whole, it creates a synergistic takedown of the Christian god.
– Why do you allow suffering?
– Why do good, faithful people die in natural disasters?
– Why would you give innocent children terminal illnesses or genetic deformities?
– Seriously, a talking snake?
– If you know our fate, then why should we bother with prayer? It’s like praying for a movie to have a different ending even though the ending’s already been written. Seems kinda pointless.
– Which prayers do you listen to and which ones do you ignore?
– How do I know when you’re talking to me or if I’m just talking to myself?
– What am I going to do in Heaven? An eternity of the same thing over and over doesn’t sound very fun… and I’m pretty sure the things most people would like to do over and over again probably aren’t allowed up there.
– How can you offer unconditional love *and* threaten us with eternal damnation? Those two things don’t go together.
– How could I enjoy Heaven if someone I love is burning in Hell?
– Isn’t it pretty messed up that a kind loving atheist and an evil genocidal maniac both suffer the same eternal punishment in your eyes?
– Why are your followers so annoying?
– Why are your Commandments so misguided? There’s no sense of priority there. I mean, you ban worshiping idols and saying your name in vain… but not slavery or rape.
– With all the different religions, not to mention different kinds of Christianity, why not just settle the questions once and for all instead of speaking in ambiguous ways that opens the door to multiple interpretations?
– If you wanted our sins to be forgiven, why’d you have to kill someone to do it? That’s, like, what the mafia would do.
– Why don’t you stop playing hide and seek and just show yourself? For real, though, not through little kids who visit you in Heaven. Or toast.
– Seriously, toast?
– Why do you answer the prayers of rich athletes who want to win a game, but not starving children who are on the brink of death?
– If your Word is so inerrant, how come religious people think all the other religious people are wrong?
– If babies are innocent, shouldn’t we be thanking abortion doctors for sending them to Heaven?
– If thou shalt not kill is a commandment, why do Christians love guns so much?
– Why won’t you heal amputees?
– If I’m sick, should I pray to you or see a doctor?
– If I should do both, which one would help me more?
– Why didn’t you hire an editor for the Bible? It’s long, boring, full of contradictions, and really repetitious.
– Why is your last name “dammit”?
– Was it hard growing up in the Middle East being the only white kid in the neighborhood?
– What do you have against foreskin?
– How do magnets work?
– How come your son supposedly died for my sins… but you brought him back to life? You went back on your word.
– Why do you get all of the credit but none of the blame?
– Who broke your heart so badly that you have to take your wrath out on women?
– Why would you create a universe so large… and then only inhabit one planet?
– Why are so many people allergic to so many of your creations?
– How come our bodies have a sewage system next to an amusement park? That’s just bad design…
– How come science keeps proving you wrong?
It seems unlikely that so many departures from logic would surround the activities of an actual deity of the type claimed by Christianity. However, we can safely conclude that a faith system created by a committee of humans would so result.
(1697) Jesus did not establish a new covenant
Almost all Christian groups claim that Jesus introduced a New Covenant with mankind, replacing the Old Covenant that was originally offered only to the Jews. This was a convenient device to explain why the new faith was comprised almost entirely of gentiles. However, the gospels themselves do not support this theory. In fact, they suggest the opposite- that Jesus endorsed the continuation and fulfillment of the Old Covenant. Rather it was the Apostle Paul, the emperor Constantine, and later church officials who created the fictional ‘New Covenant’ that now adorns Christian dogma. The following was taken from:
The Bible is Wrong: Jesus did not establish a “New Covenant”.
The words of Jesus make it pretty clear that there is no new covenant.
Jesus came to uphold the law.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:
but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
He believed the Old Testament was historical fact. He makes numerous references to the Old Testament and obviously thinks everything in the Old Testament is still in effect.
This is very clear. Here are some of His references to the Old Testament “facts”:
Luke 11:51-Abel was a real individual
Matthew 24:37-39-Noah and the flood (Luke 17:26, 27)
John 3:14 Reference to Moses
Matthew 10:15; 11:23, 24 (Luke 10:12)-Sodom and Gomorrah
Luke 17:28-32-Lot (and wife!)
Matthew 8:11-Isaac and Jacob (Luke 13:28)
John 6:31, 49, 58-Manna
Matthew 12:39-41-Jonah (vs. 42-Sheba)
Matthew 24:15-Daniel and Isaiah
He believed the books were written by the men whose names they bear:
Moses wrote the Pentateuch (Torah): Matthew 19:7, 8; Mark 7:10, 12:26 (Book of Moses-the Torah); Luke 5:14; 16:29,31; 24:27, 44 (Christs Canon); John 1:17; 5:45, 46; 7:19; (The Law [Torah] was given by Moses; Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.)5
Isaiah wrote both Isaiahs: Mark 7:6-13; John 12:37-41
Jonah wrote Jonah: Matthew 12:39-41
Daniel wrote Daniel: Matthew 24:15
He believed the Old Testament was spoken by God Himself, or written by the Holy Spirits inspiration, even though the pen was held by men: Matthew 19:4, 5; 22:31, 32, 43; Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37.
He recognized the commandments And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments . Matt 19:17
He believed Scripture was more powerful than His miracles: Luke 16:29, 31
He confirmed the truth of “the law”. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Luke 16:17
He quoted it in overthrowing Satan! The O.T. Scriptures were the arbiter in every dispute: Matthew 4; Luke 16:29, 31.
He quoted Scripture as the basis for his own teaching. His ethics were the same as what we find already written in Scripture: Matthew 7:12; 19:18, 19; 22:40; Mark 7:9, 13; 10:19; 12:24, 29-31; Luke 18:20.
He warned against replacing it with something else, or adding or subtracting from it. The Jewish leaders in His day had added to it with their Oral Traditions: Matthew 5:17; 15:1-9; 22:29; (cf. 5:43, 44); Mark. 7:1-12. (Destroying faith in the Bible as Gods Word will open the door today to a new Tradition.)
He will judge all men in the last day, as Messiah and King, on the basis of His infallible Word committed to writing by fallible men, guided by the infallible Holy Spirit: Matthew 25:31; John 5:22, 27; 12:48; Romans 2:16.
He made provision for the New Testament (Brit Hadashah) by sending the Holy Spirit (the Ruach HaKodesh). We must note that He Himself never wrote one word of Scripture although He is the Word of God Himself (the living Torah in flesh and blood, see John, chapter 1). He committed the task of all writing of the Word of God to fallible men-guided by the infallible Holy Spirit. The apostles words had the same authority as Christs: Matthew 10:14, 15; Luke 10:16; John 13:20; 14:22; 15:26, 27; 16:12-14.
He reviled men for their ignorance of the OT: Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24.
Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? John 17:19
All of His life He did things because they were written-as if God had directly commanded. He fulfilled Old Testament prophecies about Himself. The passages are found all over the Old Testament. We cite here only a very few quoted in the New Testament: Matthew 11:10; 26:24, 53-56; Mark 9:12, 13; Luke 4:17-21; 18:31-33; 22:37; 24:44-47.
He Himself is the Word of God. All the words from His lips were the Word of God. (John 3:34)
The above leaves no room but to conclude that our Lord Jesus Christ considered the canon of Scripture as Gods Word, written by the hand of men.
All these references proving that Jesus saw himself as a spokesman for God and Judaism were provided by none other than the most evangelical organization in the USA, the folks at Answers In Genesis.
It is obvious that in Jesus’ own mind, there was no new covenant. He totally supports all of the Old Testament.
Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus state that the covenant originally created by God was to be amended as a result of his ministry. There are a few references, some of which are likely interpolations, extending the covenant to non-Jews, but never in the sense that the Talmud laws were to be vacated even for the new converts. How can Christianity be true when it has fatally distorted the words of its chief prophet?
(1698) Jesus destroys the Trinity
Conventional Christian dogma states that God is comprised of three equal and independent entities- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is no implied hierarchy. Most Christians believe that Jesus was God and therefore would not need to answer to either of the two other elements of the Trinity. But the gospels tell another story- they have Jesus definitely expressing that he is inferior to and subject to the supervision of the Father, and further that his relationship to the Father is similar to those to whom he is speaking:
- “Why do you call me good: No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, and Luke 18:19)
- “My Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)
- “I do nothing of myself, but as the Father taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28)
- “Most assuredly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of himself. . . .” (John 5:19)
- “But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent me.” (John 7:29)
- “He who rejects me rejects Him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)
- “But now I go away to Him who sent me. . . .” (John 16:5)
- “Jesus answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me.’” (John 7:16)
- “For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent me gave me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” (John 12:49)
- “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Mark 12:29)
- “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)
- “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Luke 4:8)
- “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me . . .” (John 4:34)
- “I can of myself do nothing . . . I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.” (John 5:30)
- “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” (John 6:38)
- “My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me.” (John 7:16)
- “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)
This problem developed because although the theology continued to evolve, the gospels remained predominantly the same over the first few centuries. Some edits were made to the gospels to try to fix this contradiction, but not nearly enough, and now it is much too late to do anything about it other than to concede that the Trinity doctrine is seriously flawed.
(1699) Saved by grace or deeds
The method by which humans can attain heaven or else the criteria by which they are sent to hell should be the most important message of the Bible. It should be very clear and not subject to interpretation. But the Bible can be read both ways- by grace we are saved or by our deeds (following the commandments) we are saved. The question remains unresolved. The following was taken from:
Either we are saved by grace, or we are saved by deeds. It cannot be both. (It could be neither, but I’ve never known a Christian to seriously entertain that possibility.) Either an atheist who spends his life doing good goes to heaven or he goes to hell. Either a serial child rapist who repents on his deathbed goes to heaven or he goes to hell. (It is logically possible that there are atheist rapists in heaven and saints in hell, but all Christians I know agree that this is not in fact the case so we can safely ignore those cases.)
We are all God’s children. A benevolent God would want all of us to be saved from the “furnace of fire” (Mat13:42, alluding to Daniel). If salvation depends on us making some kind of a choice (doing good deeds or not, believing in Jesus or not) then we have to know about this because otherwise by definition we cannot make informed choices about how to conduct our lives.
Christians cannot agree amongst themselves whether we are saved by grace or by deeds. This is a 2000 year old internal debate and there is no reason to believe that it will ever be resolved. Hence, manifestly, God has not given us the information we need to resolve it even though he clearly could. Hence, God cannot be benevolent.
Note that it is not a valid counter-argument to say, “God has given us the information we need to resolve it, and the answer is X” because whatever you choose for X, I can find you millions of Christians who will say the answer is Y. The fact of the matter is that the question is not resolved.
This is perhaps the strongest evidence that the Bible was written by men with various conceptions of Christian theology, not under the inspiration of a single divine entity. It Is implausible to think that a deity prepared to send humans to the most unimaginable horror would dither on this matter.
(1700) Absurdity of Christianity’s central doctrine
It is now the 21st Century and the men who wrote the Bible were stuck in a much more primitive time twenty centuries ago. The way they conceived the manner in which god would forgive sin was mired in the prior practices of sacrificing animals to appease the gods. This poppycock came to fatally contaminate Christian doctrine. The following was taken from:
The central doctrine of Christianity is that a particular human sacrifice is effective for the salvation of mankind. The central doctrine is that in order for God to forgive humans, someone had to be tortured and murdered to pay for wrongdoing against God. My thesis, or claim, is that this very idea is, considered in the abstract, absurd.
That the central doctrine of Christianity is what I have described is backed up by numerous verses, including 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:18, and Romans 3:25. This doctrine is also prefigured in the Old Testament with the practice of animal sacrifice to appease God.
This doctrine that a sacrificial lamb, or scapegoat, is necessary in order for forgiveness to take place is absurd, and an argument by analogy makes it clear:
Suppose my son wrongs me in some way. Say he comes into my room one day and punches me in the balls. What would a wise, moral response to this be on my part? Well, it would probably be to verbally reprimand my son, communicate to him that he has hurt me, and that punching people in the balls is wrong behavior. At this point, if my son realizes his error, feels regret over it, and apologizes to me, I will forgive him, and that’s the end of it.
Instead of that response, imagine if my response was the following: “Ow! Son, you really hurt me with that punch in the balls. That was wrong behavior. You can’t do that. Now, I can see you feel bad about doing it, but I can’t forgive you unless a sacrifice is made. Go get the dog and some kindling, and make a burnt offering to me. Once I smell Fido’s burning flesh, I will be able to forgive you. He will bear the punishment for your wrongdoing”.
Uh, what? That’s pants-on-head bonkers, right? Obviously it is. That would be totally absurd lunacy. But this essentially mirrors the central doctrine of Christianity – God can’t forgive humans unless someone is tortured to death.
It is certain beyond doubt that if a god exists with the wisdom, insight, vision, power, and benevolence as conceived by most Christians, this god would not resort to human sacrifice as a means to bestow his grace.
Please follow this link to #1701