(1701) Miracle of the Holy Fire
It is a general rule that if you have to fake a miracle to make it appear that a certain faith claim is real, then it is very likely that the faith claim is false. Such it is with the yearly ‘miracle’ of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem. Here, under extremely suspicious circumstances, it is alleged that that God or the Holy Spirit miraculously produces a fire that is then shared among an audience initially holding unlit candles, and that further, this fire does not burn their faces or arms when it touches them. The following was taken from:
Claim: Each year, on Holy Saturday (Orthodox Easter Saturday), people gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, to watch candles being lit by fire from Heaven. The Patriarch enters the tomb with two unlit candles and reappears later with the candles now burning. The fire is used to light the candles held by the people attending the ceremony. Right before the Patriarch enters the tomb, Israeli authorities check the tomb for any lights or methods of lighting a fire. The tomb is then sealed until the arrival of the patriarch. He is stripped of his royal liturgical vestments, leaving only a white alba. He then enters the tomb, alone, and reappears with the candles lit.
Israeli authorities (Hvidt calls them “civil servants” in the book) may be good at their day-time jobs, but they are hardly authorities when it comes to detecting trickery and chicanery.
Nobody seems to have realized that the Patriarch should be body-searched. He could easily carry a concealed match, lighter og something else which can be used to light the candles.
The candles themselves could be chemically prepared in advance to light up by themselves. In favor of this speaks the fact that the Patriarch sometimes has to stay in the tomb for a prolonged period of time.
No cameras are allowed inside the tomb while the candles are being lighted. The actual lighting of the candles has never been observed by anyone else but the patriarch. We only have the testimony of the patriarch.
In videos it can be seen that the candle holders only briefly pass the flame around their faces in a quick motion, such that there is insufficient heating to burn their skin. You do not see them applying the flame steadily as would be required to produce a burn. As such, this element of the alleged miracle is easily debunked. Further, the fact that only the priest observes the lighting of the flame indicates that it is a trick. If it actually occurred, as many witnesses as possible would be assembled to attest to the miracle. This obvious fraud and the fact that some feel it needs to be done is further evidence that Christianity lacks any elements of the supernatural. If real miracles were occurring, fake ones would be strictly forbidden.
(1702) Christians don’t believe in Yahweh
There is a fundamental disconnect in Christian theology. The god that they inherited from the Jews is not the god that they worship. In essence, they are atheists with respect to the Jewish god, Yahweh. The following was taken from:
Nowadays, Christianity has been absent of evidence as God has been on holiday for 2000 years. The sort of god that Yahweh was, was an in-your-face sort of god, relating very obviously and personally with people, appearing with his booming voice. And this isn’t something which can be taken allegorically or metaphorically since these things either happened or they didn’t. Moses either did those things, or he didn’t, as reported by the Bible in which God dictated his desires rather verbally.
What happens today is that Christians believe predominantly on faith. Now they love to claim that faith is not defined as belief in something in the absence of evidence; but really, this is exactly what it means, otherwise words like hope, trust or belief based on evidence will suffice. Faith, in this case, is not necessary as a term.
So we have a scenario where God simply doesn’t turn up past the odd feeling that he has answered a prayer, or the feeling of the holy spirit or some such other physically explicable phenomena. And yet for the Old Testamental peoples, he was right there, getting involved (albeit with a consort, with physical attributes, and arrayed in heaven with only the technology of bronze-aged people, etc.). No matter how you look at it, Yahweh is the product of his bronze-age inventors, and is best explained in the same way that all other such gods are: he just doesn’t exist.
The Christian god is so far removed from the entity that was Yahweh, that he/she/it is almost unconnected; a different god concept. And modern Christians do not believe in this Yahwistic version, they just don’t like to admit it.
Christians often express this sentiment by saying that they are ‘New Testament Christians,’ meaning that they subconsciously want to distance themselves from the easily mocked god of the Old Testament. But, in so doing, they are eliminating the very foundation upon which their faith rests. The only defensible approach would be to embrace Yahweh, but somehow say that he morphed from being a material being into an immaterial being and radically changed his personality at the time of Jesus.
(1703) Maintaining God’s non-falsifiability
It has been the agenda of Christian apologists for centuries to ensure than God remains unfalsifiable. We are assured that he can’t be seen, can’t be heard (except as voices in the head), and cannot be tested in any meaningful manner. He remains impervious to scientific investigation. The apologist sets the rules so that a skeptic has no opportunity to demonstrate the non-existence of God. The following was taken from:
Notice as well how the apologist works hard to make sure God is unfalsifiable. “How would you verify such an entity?” Well, if you put God out of reach, in exactly the way he prefers, then he has set the rules to keep his beliefs untouchable. Yet these God-fans claim that the deity is the most powerful, pervasive force in the cosmos, who monitors everything, even the thoughts of every person on the planet.
But don’t be so foolish as to suggest that this God can be detected! Why would a good, caring God, who wants people to follow him in good conscience, even want to play the game this way? It doesn’t make sense to those who are not under the spell of religious.
This is like playing tennis without the net. The apologist wants us to maintain belief in all of the biblical attributes of God- his omniscience, his concern for every person, his promise to reward prayer requests, his ability to see and remember what everyone has done, his orchestration of every one of life’s events, and yet… he claims that it’s not a problem that God cannot be objectively detected in any form or fashion whatsoever. That’s like telling somebody who has been sitting on the porch on a sunny day and being told, ‘Oh, yeah, you must have missed it, we got an inch of rain today.’
(1704) Magic independent of Yahweh
The Bible speaks of many forms of magic that are not produced by the Christian god. Whether these phenomena exist in our present world is a credible test of Christianity’s authenticity. In fact, these types of magical manifestations should be a worldwide occurrence irrespective of the majority religion of the local populace. The following was taken from:
If the Bible is true, we should expect the world to be full of magic that isn’t from Yahweh. The Bible presents magic and the acts of other gods as real occurrences that should be detectable.
Arguably, it starts in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:22-24. The Tree of Life seems to have independent magic that can make humans into or like gods (the word used for God in Genesis 1 is already plural, Gods).
Also, the serpent can speak (Genesis 3:1).
Then, there’s Exodus 7:10-13, where Egyptian magicians turn staffs into snakes by secret arts.
This suggests that even prior to Moses, Egypt had been studying the art of sorcery. They had experts and could even select from among the best in the field. These experts could literally turn wood into living animals, creating life. If the Egyptians were independently able to discover such magic, it should be discoverable by any.
Exodus 22:18 says to kill witches/sorceresses. This would be a silly thing to command if they are not real.
Leviticus 20:27 says to kill female mediums and necromancers. I’m not certain what necromancy entails, but again this implies these sorceresses are real. It also seems to discriminate by gender.
In 2 Kings 3:27, the king of Moab sacrifices his firstborn son to Chemosh, God of Moab. As a result, a divine wrath falls upon Israel. This defeats Yahweh and his armies and overcomes Yahweh’s prophecy. This understanding of events was actually shared by the Moabites and recorded in the Mesha Stele.
1 Samuel 28:5-19: Saul gets a witch to summon Samuel’s ghost in a seance. It works. Samuel appears, and he knows God’s will and the future. Witchcraft is real.
There are prohibitions against and mentions of practicing magic (divination, necromancy, sorcery, charms) in Leviticus 19:26-31, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, 1 Samuel 15:23, and 2 Kings 17:17. This seems to be acknowledgment of their reality.
And much later, Acts 16:16-24 tells of a slave girl possessed by a spirit that can make money telling the future.
It sounds like a typical fortune teller, scamming people for profit, but the Bible treats this as a real, magical event. They exorcise the spirit and people are very upset at her loss of ability. They imprison the exorcists. It seems expected from this that some of the fortune tellers alive today have genuine power.
And Mark 5:1-17, Luke 8:26-39 says that human beings can become possessed by demons who speak through their mouths. These demons can give humans superpower strength, so that they can break through any chains. They are also capable of inhabiting animals. They can make a creature kill itself directly and immediately. This is a terrifying threat to humanity that we somehow see very little of 2,000 years later or elsewhere in history.
Acts 8:9-24: A non-Christian magician, Simon, had impressed (with magic) all of Samaria into following him religiously. This suggests that even at the time of Jesus, magic was prevalent outside of Yahweh’s magic. Jesus was not the only miracle worker in town. No reason is ever given for this kind of magic ceasing today.
Simon converts to Christianity and sees the Holy Spirit passed from person to person by physical touch. He offers to buy the power off the apostles. To me, this suggests that Simon recognized their magic as a kind that can be taught (like his tricks, presumably), but the disciples scare him off.
Christianity fails this test of its credibility, as there is no reasonable explanation for why these types of events are not still part of our daily lives, whether we live in a Christian society or not. If it is conceded that such an explanation is wanting, then it must be true that the Bible if full of fake magic, leading to the obvious conclusion that it is mostly a book of fiction.
(1705) Volume of criticism
One of the tests of a hypothesis is to assess the amount of counter-evidence that can be accumulated. In the case of Christianity, given it is true, it would be expected to suffer only a minor amount of criticism. The Bible would be consistent, factually correct, and astounding in its insights. The Holy Spirit would guide Christians to an exemplary manner of behavior, and prayers would be quite effective. But this simply is not true. The following is a small sampling of books that have exposed the many problems with Christianity:
- A Rationalist Encyclopaedia: A book of reference on religion, philosophy, ethics and science,Gryphon Books (1971).
- Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel Dennett
- Civilization and its discontents, by Sigmund Freud
- Death and Afterlife, Perspectives of World Religions, by Hiroshi Obayashi
- Einstein and Religion, by Max Jammer
- From Jesus to Christianity, by Michael White
- Future of an illusion, by Sigmund Freud
- Harvesting our souls: Missionaries, their design, their claims.by Shourie, Arun. (2006). New Delhi: Rupa.
- History of Hindu-Christian encounters, AD 304 to 1996.by Goel, Sita Ram. 2016.
- Hindu view of Christianity and Islam.by Swarup, Ram (1992).
- Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris
- Light of truth : Or an English translation of the Satyarth Prakash. Dayananda, S., & Bharadwaja, C. (1915). Allahabad: Arya Pratinidhi Sabha.
- Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart Ehrman
- Missionaries in India: Continuities, changes, dilemmas.Shourie, Arun. (2006). New Delhi: Rupa.
- Out of my later years and the World as I see it, by Albert Einstein
- Russell on Religion, by Louis Greenspan (Includes most all of Russell’s essays on religion)
- The Antichrist, by Friedrich Nietzsche
- The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
- God Is Not Greatby Christopher Hitchens
- The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, by Carl Sagan
- Understanding the Bible, by Stephen L Harris
- Where God and Science Meet [Three Volumes]: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion, by Patrick McNamara
- Why I am not a Christian and other essays, by Bertrand Russell
- Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity,by John W. Loftus (Prometheus Books, 2008)
- The Christian Delusion, edited by John W. Loftus, foreword by Dan Barker (Prometheus Books, 2010)
- Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee (Madhya Pradesh, India), and Sita Ram Goel. 1998. Vindicated by time: the Niyogi Committee report on Christian missionary activities.New Delhi: Voice of India.
- The End of Christianity, edited by John W. Loftus (Prometheus Books, 2011)
- The Historical Evidence for Jesus, by A. Wells(Prometheus Books, 1988)
- The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty(Age of Reason Publications, 1999)
- The encyclopedia of Biblical errancy, by Dennis McKinsey(Prometheus Books, 1995)
- godless, by Dan Barker(Ulysses Press 2008)
- The Jesus Mysteriesby Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (Element 1999)
- The reason driven lifeby Robert M. Price (Prometheus Books, 2006)
- The Case Against Christianityby Michael Martin
- The case against the case for Christby Robert M. Price (American atheist press 2010)
- God, the failed hypothesisby Victor J. Stenger (Prometheus Books, 2007)
- Jesus never existedby Kenneth Humphreys (Iconoclast Press, 2005)
It is probably safe to say that the faith of any committed Christian who read all of these books would be seriously wounded if not destroyed. A true religion could not be assaulted in this manner. But a false one would expect to be subjected to exactly what we see here- a feeding frenzy of attacks.
(1706) Argument from entropy
Entropy is a property of a system that measures the amount of disorder therein. A low entropy system is one that is well ordered, such as a clean house, whereas a high entropy system is disordered, such as a messy house. The only way to lower the entropy of the house, make it clean in other words, is to apply work in the form of cleaning and rearranging. If no work is applied to a clean house, over time its entropy will increase. This principle can be applied to the Christian religion:
In order to maintain an entropy balance in a system, work has to be done to the system. If work is not done to the system, its entropy will gradually increase over time.
We can measure the entropy of a belief system by the variation between shared beliefs within that system. The less variation between the beliefs of people within the system, the lower the entropy of the system. The more variation between the beliefs of people within the system, the higher the entropy of the system. Over time, if no work is done to the system, we would expect the entropy to increase (more variation) naturally. Some religions claim that supernatural work is being done to the religious system. If this is true, we would expect the entropy to be maintained or even decrease.
Religious belief systems that claim interaction with supernatural entities would not increase in entropy, due to the work being done to the system by the supernatural entities.
Religious belief systems that claim interaction with supernatural entities do increase in entropy.
Therefore, no work is being done to the system by supernatural entities.
If religious truths exist and it is possible to discover them, then over time we would expect to see a convergence of religious belief as more truths are discovered.
Instead, we observe divergence of religious belief over time in the form of multiple sects and denominations.
Therefore, either religious truths don’t exist, or it is not possible to discover them.
This is fairly strong argument, especially when it is compared to the pursuit of scientific truths. In science, truths are found through exhaustive observations and tests and this ‘work’ lowers the entropy of the scientific world, causing a convergence on the ultimate truths of nature- such as the earth being spherical and the sun being the center of the solar system. But in religion, and Christianity is particular, the entropy is always increasing, with more and more division, indicating not only that supernatural agents are not working to lower the entropy of the religious world, but also that religious truths themselves do not exist.
(1707) Inconsistent healing
After Jesus resurrected, according to the Gospel of John (though not the other three gospels), Jesus is said to have stayed around the area of Jerusalem for a lengthy period of time (supposedly still under a death sentence and subject to re-arrest and re-crucifixion). It is stated that one disciple, Thomas, doubted that Jesus had resurrected, despite being told this by the other disciples.
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
There are several problems with this scenario. First, it is implausible that Jesus stayed in the area for a week without any apparent additional interaction with the disciples. Second, it seems a bit ridiculous that Thomas could not accept that Jesus had risen even if Jesus had been totally healed from his wounds. Why would he not be able to identify Jesus as he was before- in other words, why would the wounds be necessary for him to see? Third, it seems implausible that Jesus would have been healed internally of the inevitable brain damage and tissue degradation that would occur for the approximately 36 hours that his heart was not beating, while at the same time not being healed of the nail wounds. Fourth, why would Jesus have been healed of the scars on his forehead and scalp from the crown of thorns and the whip lacerations from the 39 lashes that he received, but again not the nail wounds?
Other than the incredibly inane attestation that belief without evidence is a virtue, the inconsistencies of this story let us know that it can be safely placed on the fiction shelf.
(1708) The Bible promotes ethnic purity
Although most modern societies have long shed the concept that marriage and procreation should be done only within one’s ethnic group, the Bible promotes just the opposite. In the Book of Ezra, ethnic purity is commanded by God.
I apologize if this seems petty and boring, but the Book of Ezra really is little more than administration. The exception is at the end of the book where there is a vicious condemnation of intermarriage with other ethnic groups. Ezra is horrified to find that the Jews are intermarrying with the locals and immediately forbids it. He makes it clear that this is a horrible sin and God will destroy them for it (why is this the worst thing you can do? Why is love a sin while murder and slaughter receive no judgement?). He summons all of Israel to one place (if they refuse their property will be confiscated) and everyone agrees to not intermarry and divorce their non-Jewish wives. The book ends with a wall of shame, where Ezra lists the names of all those who married foreign wives.
Let’s be honest, this is disgusting bigotry. If some old priest told me to divorce the woman I loved just because it interfered with his notion of racial purity, I would have told him to piss off. The idea that you should only marry your own people is a stupid and ignorant belief that ought to be wiped away. The Bible reveals its true nature not as a moral guide and a source of love, but as a petty and malicious book that values its own fanaticism over the lives of people. Ezra and others would rather have miserable believers than happy and loving people even slightly open to other views. The Israelites are not seen as people with hopes, dreams and desires, but mere possessions whose only use is to increase their numbers and mindlessly obey.
This is another good example of how the Bible reflects the backward thinking of Iron Age men, and not the progressive ethics of our modern-day society- nor the theoretical wisdom of an almighty deity.
(1709) Jesus is a failed role model
Christians like to tout that Jesus was the perfect role model for people and children in particular to emulate. They also assert that Jesus was God. The marriage of these two concepts leads to the complete and total failure of the point they are trying to make. Jesus, as God, was a pathetic and sadistic role model. The following was taken from:
Let’s skip the excuse that the Old Testament doesn’t count when it comes to Jesus. For the overwhelming majority of Christians in Utah — that is, Mormons — the “Lord” speaking and acting in the Old Testament is Jesus, not God the Father. In more traditional trinitarian Christian sects like Dalgarno’s, Jesus magically is also God. Kinda like Superman and Clark Kent. Either way, it’s he — Old Testament or New.
So, what would Jesus do? How kind was he really, particularly to children? Is he indeed an exemplary, perfect role model as Christians claim him to be?
We have only the Bible to go on. There is no reliable contemporaneous extrabiblical source for what Jesus said or did. As religious scholar Bart Ehrman acknowledges, “In the entire first Christian century, Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet. … Zero! Zip references!”
So let’s pretend for the sake of discussion that the words and acts of Jesus/God as portrayed in the Bible are real. Alternatively, if one views the Bible as fiction, one can still evaluate the merits of fictional characters.
For starters, the Christian deity drowned every baby on Earth. This worldwide infanticide, rather than his purported kindness toward children, is what “makes him unique among the great spiritual exemplars of the world,” Dalgarno’s worshipful admiration notwithstanding. This god makes Andrea Yates look like parent of the year.
He willfully targeted and slaughtered all male Egyptian firstborns as a terrorist act to show off that he was the biggest, baddest ruler around. Yeah, he “saw children,” as Dalgarno writes. And then killed them. Even President Trump’s discriminatory anti-immigrant executive orders and inflammatory comments don’t come close.
He repeatedly commanded that children of blasphemers or apostates be slaughtered, without pity. So much for religious tolerance and loving thy neighbor.
According to New Testament Jesus, God commanded that children disrespectful to their parents be put to death. Helpful hint: That’s no way for anyone to show “his love for children.”
And when it comes to health care, New Testament Jesus also preached that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. He rejected the plea of a Canaanite mother to heal her daughter, dismissing her as a dog. It’s the Christlike thing to do. Granted, he ultimately relented — but only after the mother had professed her faith. That’s not welcoming children at the border, or being the first “to guarantee health care for the helpless.” Even the cruelest, most bigoted government health care policy doesn’t do that.
Of course, the Bible also describes other, more kindly acts of God. But if God is perfect, you don’t get to pick and choose when to agree with him or not.
It’s informative that Christians must so often selectively reject their holy scriptures as ridiculous or repugnant in order to justify their own more humanitarian beliefs. Or to receive a salary by getting others to buy the story that they’re selling.
To paraphrase Dalgarno, with modifications: If you want to judge the goodness of a deity (or anyone else), one could easily make the case that that goodness could be measured by how they’ve treated children. Can’t we all agree that targeting and slaughtering children isn’t spiritually exemplary? Can’t we all reject the deliberate withholding of health care from children to extract a parent’s declaration of faith in Christ? Can’t we all find a better role model than that, fictional or real?
It would be far smarter to tell our children to follow the models of Albert Schweitzer, Gandhi, or Abraham Lincoln rather than Jesus. The proof is in the Bible itself and Bible isn’t going to change anytime soon.
(1710) Misunderstanding space-time
Christian apologists routinely point to the ‘creation’ of the universe as evidence that a supernatural entity must have been involved in causing and designing it. This presupposes that there existed a time before this event occurred. However, this idea misunderstands the relationship between space and time. The following was taken from:
Many people falsely assume the big bang entails there was a state of nothingness, and then *poof* you get a big bang. That’s not what it says. That’s not even what inflationary theory says. They both simply say that there was a first moment when time=0. There wasn’t anything prior to that; there was no state of “nothing” from which everything came out of. And since space and time are tied together, as Einstein showed, with no space prior to time=0 there was no time either. So you can say that the universe always existed, in the sense that at every moment of time the universe exists. There is no time when the universe didn’t exist. In this sense, the universe is omnitemporal. That means there was always something. Somethingness is the ontological default, and not nothingness.
Now of course it is always possible that there was spacetime prior to the big bang. If there’s an infinite amount of spacetime prior to our universe’s big bang, then the question of how do you get something from nothing is moot. And if there is a finite amount of spacetime prior to our universe’s big bang, the same principle applies to the absolute origin.
So the first cause arguments not only get causality wrong, they get the big bang wrong as well. As a result, all first-cause arguments from apologists ranging from Aquinas to William Lane Craig fail for this reason.
Although mysteries remain about the manner in which the universe came into being, the fact that time did not exist beforehand eliminates the need to posit that a pre-existing deity was involved.
(1711) Erasing history
There is evidence that early Christians altered historical documents to protect the authenticity of their faith. In some cases, they inserted interpolations to fertilize the documents with references to Jesus, such as in the writings of Josephus. But more subtly, they also deleted records contemporary to the alleged critical times of Jesus’ ministry, probably to eliminate the embarrassment that these accounts made no reference to Jesus, when obviously they should have. The following was taken from:
It is interesting how there are numerous gaps in the historical record for time periods that are critical to the story of Christianity. Using scholarship from On The Historicity of Jesus, some examples include:
- In the Roman History of Cassius Dio, all the years between 6 to 2 BCE are gone. That gap begins exactly 2 years before King Herod’s death, in accordance with Mt. 2:16, and ending 2 years after it (there was uncertainty among Christians when exactly Herod died). In volume 58 covering the years 29 to 37 CE a reference to an event (in 58.17.2) that was described in a section that was deleted some time between the years of 15 and 30.
- The Christian scholar Hippolytus in the early 3rd century wrote a Refutation of All Heresies in ten volumes. At the end of the 1st volume he mentions that he’s about to explain the secret doctrines of the mystery religions which would have included passion narratives of savior gods, miraculous births, deaths and resurrections, but the 2nd and 3rd volumes are missing. Volume 4 goes right into astrology.
- In the beginning of the 1st century, Ovid wrote an elaborate poem, the Fasti, describing all the festivals throughout the year in Rome, and what went on in them and why. The annual Roman festival of Romulus where his death and resurrection were reenacted in public passion plays was held on the 7th of July. Only the first half of the poem survives covering January to June. The texts cuts off precisely before the month in which the passion play survives.
- In Plutarch’s Moralia, a huge multivolume library of treatises on diverse subjects, one of of the volumes is Tabletalk. There, he discusses the equivalence between Yahweh and Dionysus, linking Jewish theology to the mystery religions when suddenly the text cuts off. The surviving table of contents indicates there were several sections remaining on other subjects besides this one.
- In the Annals of Tacitus, of which we have only 2 surviving manuscript traditions, there is a gap in the text covering the middle of 29 CE to to the middle of 31 CE. The year 30 is regarded by many Christians as the years of Christ’s ministry and crucifixion.
This is another example of tinkering that would not have been necessary if the truth claims of Christianity were genuine. This is another important marker of a fabricated tale.
(1712) Massacres not recorded by oppressed parties
The Old Testament lists a multitude of atrocities perpetuated by God’s people in accord with his instructions. It is curious that these massively significant events are recorded only in the Bible, in other words, only in the history of the Israelites, but not at all in the writings of the suffering nations or peoples. The following was taken from:
No Corroborating Written Evidence For Old Testament
The following is a list of massacres at the hands of God. They are noted because they stand out in the long list of atrocities in the bible because they are so strange that they should have been written about by the aggrieved party.
- 200,000 Midianites Num 31:17
No mention of this in Midianite literature.
- People of Jericho Jos 6:21
No mention of this from the survivors of the Jericho slaughter
- Ai 12,000 Jos 8:1-25
No mention of this from the survivors in Ai.
- Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, Debir, “utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded”.
No mention from any of those towns
- Anakim, 5000 Jos 11:20-21
- Canaanites and Perizzites Jg 1:8
- Moabites, 10,000, Jg 3:28-29
- Samgar kills 600 Philistines with an ox goad
How amazing and yet no mention elsewhere that one person, using just an ox goad killed 600 people.
- Canaanites, 1000, Jg 4:15-16
- Gideon, 120,000, Jg 7:22
- Ammonite Massacre 20,000 Jg 11:32-33
- Samson Kills 1000 with the jawbone of an ass.
Wouldn’t you think that 1000 people being killed by one guy with the jawbone of an ass would merit some write-up somewhere other than the bible?
- Samson Kills 3000 Philistines by breaking two roof-supporting pillars, Jg 16:27-30
Again, one guy kills 3000 without nary a mention other than in the Bible.
- Elijah kills 450 religious leaders in a prayer contest 1Kg 18.22-40 in Galiad.
- Syrians, 100,000 1Kg 20:28
Perhaps they have no written history.
- Syrians again!, 27,000 killed by a wall falling on them.1Kg 20:35
- Assyrians, 185,000 2Kg 19:35 (who, when they arose, they were all dead corpses.
185,000 murdered while sleeping, non woke up during the slaughter. Perhaps they have no written history.
- Ethiopians, 1,000,000 2Chr 14:9-14
One million Ethiopians killed without a peep! Perhaps they have no written history.
- Inhabitants of Mt Seir, 30,000, 2Chr 20:22025
- Judah, 120,000 in one day by Pekah; 2Chr 28:5
120,000 lost in one day in battle and no one writes about it anywhere other than in the bible. Perhaps they have no written history.
- Bear kills 42 little children.
Surely people would have heard about and written about it somewhere. What they didn’t know is that the children deserved it because they were mocking a bald man about his baldness.
There is little explanation for this other than that these massacres are simply fictional. It might be argued that if everyone is killed, there is no one left to record the event, but certainly there would have been historians on the fringes of the aggrieved parties who would have done so. The lack of extra-biblical accounts of Old Testament slaughter and bloodshed undermines the authenticity of the Torah, and, in turn, damages the legitimacy of Christianity.
(1713) Genesis error explained
It is commonly pointed out by skeptics that the creation account in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, has God creating light before he creates the sun. How could the author have made this mistake? In the following, there is a plausible explanation:
Anyone who is up before sunrise knows that the sky is already light by the time the sun appears on the horizon. Likewise, in the evening the sky remains light for a while after the sun drops below the horizon. Furthermore, entire days may pass without the sun being visible at all from the ground when the sky is cloudy or overcast, or in the presence of fog, for example. Granted, the day is not as bright without direct sunlight, but there’s still plenty of light. Inside a hut or tent or the entrance of a cave we may also be cut off from direct sunlight, but the interior can still have plenty of light, depending on the nature of any openings to the outside. Similarly, at night there are differing degrees of illumination, depending on the phase of the moon, or whether it is visible in the sky at all. The sun will cast shadows, but so does the moon. A full moon seems very bright in the night sky, yet it is night nevertheless. Often the moon is visible in the daytime along with the sun, although not nearly as bright.
So, without knowledge of the real cosmological relationship between the sun and Earth, our observations might tell us that the sun merely accompanies day, without causing it, reasoning as follows:
- It can be daytime without the sun being visible in the sky. This can result from cloudy, foggy, or overcast conditions, or with the sun obstructed from sight by a mountain, a forest canopy, or the side of a ravine.
- Daytime lasts longer than the time the sun is visible in the sky. It begins a little while before the sun rises and ends a little while after the sun has set.
- Interiors of huts, tents, caves, gorges, forests, etc., can be illuminated from skylight. It is not necessary for sunlight to shine directly on something to have sufficient illumination to see it.
- It is brighter in the daytime when the sun is visible, but it is also brighter at night when the moon is visible (and brightest at night when the moon is at its fullest).
- The moon may appear in the daytime as well as at nighttime. On some days it appears both in daytime and at night, so there’s no apparent cause-effect relationship between the moon and night.
- The sun may provide light and heat, but so does a fire. A fire can even provide more heat than we feel from sunlight. Yet a fire does not turn nighttime into day. Why should the sun, being of a lesser intensity than a fire, be expected to do so? We know from our experience with campfires, torches, and oil lamps that heat from a fire is most intense in close proximity, and the warmth drops off with distance. Therefore, the sun must be pretty close, since we can feel its warmth.
- The sun occupies a very small area of the entire sky dome, yet the sky is uniformly lit on a clear day. Why should one assume that a tiny spot in the sky is responsible for lighting the entire expanse?
Might we not conclude from simple observation that daytime and sunlight are two separate and distinct phenomena, just as nighttime is separate from moonlight? And just as a fire can provide light and heat, yet not change night to day, cannot the sun be merely a supplement to daylight and daytime warmth–a “greater light to rule the day”–but not a cause of the day, while the moon provides light at night without causing the night?
From a primitive perspective it could very well seem that day and night could exist without need of the sun. And that’s about as good an answer for origins as you’ll get from any of Genesis.
This is a good example of how the authors of the Bible were trapped in a vacuum of scientific ignorance, such that it can’t be expected that their writings would stand up to the discoveries of later science. However, a book written by a god should have been able to do so.
(1714) Conjoined twins
Sometimes it takes but a single image to demonstrate the absence of God:
The following was taken from:
Conjoined twins are identical twins joined in utero. An extremely rare phenomenon, the occurrence is estimated to range from 1 in 49,000 births to 1 in 189,000 births, with a somewhat higher incidence in Southeast Asia and Africa. Approximately half are stillborn, and an additional one-third die within 24 hours. Most live births are female, with a ratio of 3:1.
There are two theories about the development of conjoined twins. The first is that a single fertilized egg does not fully split during the process of forming identical twins. The second theory is that a fusion of two fertilized eggs occurs earlier in development. Although conjoined twinning has not been linked to any environmental or genetic cause, they occur so rarely it has not been possible to draw firm conclusions.
There are several reasons why this unfortunate phenomenon raises serious questions about the truth of Christianity, particularly regarding its oversized claim that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and all-benevolent. It seems incongruous that a god who oversees every facet of every human life, including curing a headache, would sit on the sidelines while this tragic accident of reproduction is happening.
Additionally, it adds questions as to how the Christian system of judgment would work in this case. Do these girls go to heaven as still conjoined, or does god finally separate them there? What if one is a Christian, the other an atheist? Does he separate them and send them forthwith to different destinations? Could a conjoined twin enjoy heaven if her twin was being tortured in hell?
Everything makes sense once you drop the idea of an omnipotent deity and recognize that human reproduction is vulnerable to random chaotic physical processes, and every once in a while something this bizarre is bound to happen. A godless model of reality is the best explanation.
(1715) God stops responding to tests
In 1 Kings 18: 16-40, Yahweh forcefully and convincingly proves his existence in a test to see if he or the god Baal was the true god. For reasons unknown, he never does this today:
So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed.He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
Jesus seems to have forgotten this story or perhaps was unaware of it when he stated in Luke 4:12 (while talking to the devil) ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ So there are two possibilities- either this story was completely made up or God decided to allow only one test to go through, and remained resolute for the next few thousand years (at least) in refusing to show any definite proof of his existence. But maybe it is a good thing because, as the story unfolds, the prophets of Baal were slaughtered. If such a ‘test’ were conducted today, there would inevitably be a colossal bloodbath no matter which god was real.
(1716) Bible promotes what it should condemn
If the Bible is the word of God, we would expect it to contain timeless wisdom that continues to inspire modern-day ethics and morality. But, in reality, it was a product strictly of its time, reflecting the comparatively primitive ethos of an ancient culture. In particular, it encourages several ideas that should have been explicitly condemned. The following was taken from:
I can think of at least five items that should be in the Bible that aren’t there: clear, unequivocal, easy-to-grasp prohibitions. With these missing—and with the quantities of human misery that ensued—it’s hard to take the Bible seriously as the best that could emerge from the divine mind. How could God have left out these commandments?
• Thou shalt not engage in war. And if you do, don’t pray to me for consolation, support or victory. Don’t assume I’m on your side.
• Thou shalt not enslave other humans. Ever. Period.
• Thou shalt not despise and discriminate on the basis of skin color or location of birth. Ever. Period.
• Thou shalt not discriminate against women. Ever. Period. In any way.
• Thou shalt not discriminate against gay people. I made them that way, so get over it.
Not only does the Bible leave out these prohibitions, there are many passages that encourage all of these sins that should have been condemned. And, wow, have we paid the price. God missed his chance to nudge humanity in the best directions.
In any estimate consistent with an objective analysis, this sweeps the Bible into the category of a seriously-flawed human-generated product. Any effort to cherry-pick the good parts and while hiding the bad is an astonishing overuse of hypocrisy.
(1717) All religions appear man made
It is instructive to look at religion as a whole when attempting to assess the truth of one religion, Christianity in this case. This is like assessing near death experiences in America by also looking at the differences and similarities that exist of these experiences elsewhere. When so doing, Christianity appears to have the same pedigree as all of the others. The following was taken from:
Religious texts are all internally inconsistent, they all fail to be corroborated by history and archaeology, and they all contain the flawed cosmology and superstition endemic of their day. The Bible isn’t even consistent on why suffering exists, it’s also extremely vague on the details of heaven and it contains several books in the New Testament that aren’t even considered authentic (e.g. 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, etc.). Before I did research into the authenticity of the Bible, I thought most of its stories were at least historical to some extent. To my surprise, they weren’t. Most of the Old Testament stories are entirely mythical and are backed up by no evidence at all. The evidence we do have concerning the history of the Ancient Near East, falsifies the narrative. The New Testament wasn’t written by any eyewitnesses who could have known Jesus and bears numerous signs of interpolation, alteration, geographic errors, and parallels with Near Eastern mythology that it appears to be in the genre of historical fiction. The Qur’an is filled with numerous contradictions and is inconsistent not only with science but with itself. And since it claims to be the literal word of god and not just inspired by god, it therefore must be false.
If there was indeed an all-knowing creator who revealed himself, why would he do it in such a way that contained all the ignorance extant of that time? Why not include a few detailed verses about something like evolution, DNA or germs which no one knew about at that time? The excuses I’ve heard for this vary and are all laughable. Some theists say for example, that god wouldn’t to give us too much evidence, because then we couldn’t reject him. What?!? So god purposely makes his revelations ridiculous and unbelievable to test our faith? This is just an apologetic attempt to make the religion unfalsifiable by arguing that the less evidence we have and the less plausible it sounds, the more it’s got to be true. It’s not worth any intelligent person’s consideration.
Other religions like Hinduism, Mormonism and Scientology are self-evidently false to anyone with a decent education in science, philosophy and history. Buddhism and many other Eastern religions are less like religions and more like philosophies with a religious aspect, without a deity. Still, some versions of Buddhism for example contain absurd metaphysics like reincarnation that are obviously false. There are hundreds if not thousands of other world religions that share the same self-evident falsehood that Hinduism and Mormonism contains and many of them serve more as a cultural glue that bonds members of an ethnicity together, but nonetheless, all contain false beliefs left over from our superstitious nature. The most plausible worldview that contains a god to me is deism, but with deism you still have the problem of how a deistic god can create an eternal universe, that’s why I’m not a deist. And for pantheists, they just call the universe god. It’s semantic.
Taking a third-party approach, as if one is a new visitor to the earth, it would seem apparent that all of the religions are man-made, with no one standing out of the pack as being clearly transcendent from the others. Christianity fails this test of uniqueness or being somehow on a superior level of wisdom, evidence, or insight. It is just one of the many, all of which appear man-made.
(1718) Christianity’s early diversity
Christians often express nostalgia of the First Century Christians, opining that they were all together on the same page, unified in their beliefs working as a cohesive unit to spread their message to the world. This is, in fact, not the truth. The evidence points to a highly fractured Christian religion even in the times immediately following Jesus’s life. It would seem that when the followers of Jesus dispersed from Jerusalem following the crucifixion, they each carried a different message as to what it was all about, leading to an immediate conflict among the various sects. This provides evidence that Christianity was not created by a miraculous revelation from a supernatural deity, but rather by the ideas and whims of various human minds. The following was taken from:
We tend to think of the success of Christianity in the second and third centuries just on the eve on really when it becomes the prominent religion in the Roman Empire as if it were just one form of religiosity, when in fact the opposite is true. Christianity was extremely diverse during this period, and we probably ought to think of it as a kind of regional diversity; that is, the Christianity of Rome was different than Christianity in North Africa in certain ways, and that was different from what we find in Egypt, and that different from what we find in Syria or back in Palestine. We have, in effect, different brands of Christianity living often side by side, even in the same city. So, it’s a great deal of diversity.
At one point in Rome,… Justin Martyr has his Christian school in one part of the city, and the gnostic teacher Valentinus is in another school in Rome, and another so-called heretic by the name of Marcion is also in Rome just down the street somewhere. All of these along side of the official papal tradition that developed as part of St. Peter’s See in Rome, all there together. So, even within one city, we can have great diversity.
Now, what’s significant about this diversity is the fact that each form of Christian tradition tended to tell the story of Jesus in different ways. The image of Jesus for Justin Martyr is rather different than that that we see for Valentinus or Marcion or others as well. And this is especially true even in other parts of the empire. This is where we start to see a kind of proliferation of gospels … all over the empire, and by the third and early fourth century [more] than you can actually count, and certainly more than you can easily read within a bible.
From an historical perspective, all periods of unification of Christian doctrine were at the hands of brutal political pressure (crusades and such) which ultimately failed to achieve that goal. Although some splintering of Christian sects would be expected over centuries even if Christianity was true, it would be nearly certain that the original manifestation of the faith would have been singularly unified. But it was not so. This is an indication that Christianity had a human-created origin.
(1719) Jesus never explained the Trinity
Almost all modern Christian denominations claim that God is composed of three persons- the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. It is often considered a necessary belief to be considered a true Christian. And yet, despite all the red-letter statements by Jesus in the gospels, he never spells out this ‘important’ doctrine. The following was taken from:
1000 CLEAR CONTRADICTIONS AND ERRORS IN THE BIBLE
If belief in the Trinity was such a necessary condition for being a Christian, why didn’t Jesus teach and emphasize it to the Christians during his time? How were those followers of Jesus considered Christians without ever hearing the term Trinity? Had the Trinity been the spinal cord of Christianity, Jesus would have emphasized it on many occasions and would have taught and explained it in detail to the people.
The Bible is missing a passage similar to this:
And Jesus spoke to his disciples, “It is to you that I reveal this truth, but not to those who are not ready to receive it. The Father from whom I am sent is but one part. I, the Son, am another part. And the Holy Spirit is also a part. Together, the three comprise God, the Lord. We are separate but also one. This mystery is being shared with you so that you can reveal it when I have left this world.”
Absent such a scripture, it is quite obvious that the Trinity is the illogical political construction of church leaders made after the fact to satisfy the specious desire to make Jesus into a god.
(1720) Prince of Peace?
Christian worshipers often praise Jesus as being the Prince of Peace, even despite what he is alleged to have said in Matthew 10:34 (‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword’). But putting that aside, there are other scriptures that seem to support the peace meme. However, there is one aspect of his ministry that completely annihilates this colloquial moniker, and it is best expressed by this quote from Christopher Hitchens:
The god of Moses would call for other tribes, including his favorite one, to suffer massacre and plague and even extirpation, but when the grave closed over his victims he was essentially finished with them unless he remembered to curse their succeeding progeny. Not until the advent of the Prince of Peace do we hear of the ghastly idea of further punishing and torturing the dead.”
In this one statement, we can see all sorts of problems with Christianity:
- A universal god who chose a favorite tribe over all others
- A god who purposefully rains down death and misery
- A god who unfairly punishes the descendants of transgressors
- A god who punishes dead people
- A god who practices torture
But the real takeaway from Hitchen’s quote is the absurd juxtaposition of Jesus as the epitome of love and peace alongside his threat of sending people to an everlasting torment. This is where Christianity fails and fails spectacularly. It simply cannot be believed by thinking people that a divine creator would behave in this manner.
(1721) Unchanging laws of nature
One of the best measures of the truth of claims that supernatural beings are interfering with our world is in the scientific arena, where meticulous observations are made to determine the underlying laws of nature. In a world described by Christianity, such an endeavor would be hampered. The following was taken from:
As a result of human observation and experience, a fundamental principle of science is that the laws of nature do not change, cannot be violated, and have acted uniformly over time. According to paleontologist Stephen J. Gould, this uniformity or constancy of natural laws is the “methodological assumption” making science practicable.
Indeed, without the assumption that the physical world operates according to unchanging natural laws, there would be no use studying the world, conducting experiments, or otherwise learning from experience.
In a world not operating under unvarying natural laws, those acts would be useless because knowledge of past events would not provide guidance about what will happen in similar situations in the future. There would always be the possibility of supernatural forces intervening to alter outcomes from what would otherwise be expected to occur based on past experience.
Overwhelming evidence shows that physical events occur according to immutable natural laws. And an increasing knowledge of those laws enhances humankind’s ability to predict future events and control human destiny.
Science has never once had to renege on its conclusions based on an observation that clearly violated the laws of nature in a random fashion. This would be expected in a Christian world, with beings behind the scenes manipulating events. Only in the quantum realm has anything like this been observed and that is scarcely the arena that sentient other-dimensional beings intent on affecting humans would be expected to manipulate- in other words, tinkering with things out of the awareness of such humans. Therefore, the history of scientific observations provides strong evidence against the existence of the supernatural.
(1722) God fails to use modern technology
For the first time in history, God has an effective way to communicate with virtually every person on the planet, in a way that would prove his existence and provide guidance on resolving theological disputes. For some reason, he is passing up this opportunity. The following was taken from:
How do theists convince themselves that an all-powerful god is so poor at communicating that his creation is divided in so many religions, fighting each other and coming up with multiple interpretation of his centuries old message?
Now that we have voice and video calls, emails, chat messages, websites, and so many other ways to communicate isn’t this the best time for that all-powerful god to clarify himself and talk to us directly?
Christian apologists will drag out the old excuse that God must hide his existence so that faith will be necessary to believe. Why that strategy is more important than being open and honest is the subject of much debate. But God’s failure to use modern forms of communication does provide some evidence that he doesn’t exist, or if so, that he just doesn’t care.
(1723) Jealousy and worship
Christians take for granted that they should worship God as if it is a natural consequence of being subject to their creator. But the need to worship is not consistent with the claims of monotheism- rather, it is a carryover from the earlier belief that multiple gods existed- that “their” god was jealous (of other gods) and that worshiping him was a way to assuage his jealousy. The following scripture is a good example of this:
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.
If it was always assumed that there was only one universal god, then worship would not have been a necessary means of interaction- respect, yes, honoring perhaps, but worshiping would seem rather pointless. And jealousy would not have been in God’s vocabulary.
A good analogy of this situation is how we often say “God bless you” when someone sneezes, referring back to the time that it was thought that sneezing was a means of dispelling demons. Even after we realize that demons don’t exist, we still use the same phrase. It’s a carryover based on a false prior belief.
So, worship and jealousy point to the fact that Judeo-Christian beliefs were not centered on a consistent interaction with a monotheistic god, but rather evolved over time based solely on the mediation of human minds.
Christians often cite the Bible as being the ultimate guide to morality, which they say is absolute and unchanging. There are many counter examples, and one of the best is the Bible injunction against usury, the charging of interest on loans. The following is taken from:
A classic example of how views have changed is the law about usury. The Old Testament explicitly discourages lending, or at least making a profit from it (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:36-37 and Deuteronomy 23:19-20). Jews, Christians and Muslims alike were therefore debarred from conventional banking. Devout Muslims still abide by this rule, and so did the Christian Church in the Middle Ages. Commercial banking between Christians was contrary to the word of God. To deny this was sinful and heretical, and likely to excite the interest of the Inquisition. (Though exceptions were made for those close to the Pope*).
Calvin found an easy way out, claiming that the biblical provisions applied only to Jews. His followers were soon claiming that charging interest was not only permitted, it was actually necessary for salvation. But Roman Catholics and Lutherans continued to attack the lending of money at interest well into the seventeenth century. Lutherans abandoned this particular word of God when it became obvious that it was restricting commercial expansion, but the Roman Church held fast. Up to the nineteenth century, popes consistently condemned the taking of interest on loans in any circumstances. The Church has still not withdrawn its condemnation, although by the twentieth century this position had become untenable, following the establishment of the Vatican’s own bank, which charges interest on loans like any other bank.
The solution has been to redefine “usury” so that for Roman Catholics it now means not “lending money at interest” but “lending money at high interest” – a very different thing and one which can be condemned without appearing out-of-touch. This redefinition helps to conceal the fact that that the Church has performed another U-turn on its “timeless” doctrine.
It is therefore apparent that the Bible provides God’s immutable moral rules only in situations where it is still convenient. If not, an accommodation is made. This reveals that ‘objective’ morality is an indefensible fantasy of fundamentalist Christians.
(1725) Caligula versus Jesus
Two allegedly very famous people lived in the early First Century, Jesus and the Roman Emperor Caligula. Both had huge followings, one by virtue of political power, and the other by working supernatural miracles. Both lived in areas replete with historians who were adept at capturing on papyri the comings and goings of the day. But although one was well documented, the other, Jesus, is virtually missing. The following was taken from:
All of the following can be confirmed in peer reviewed monographs about Caligula. I’ll cite popular sources simply because you can access them. But trust me, the same data is well confirmed in the real deal, including: Aloys Winterling, Caligula: A Biography (University of California Press, 2015); Sam Wilkinson, Caligula(Routledge, 2003); and Anthony Barrett, Caligula: The Corruption of Power (Yale University Press, 1990).
- We have busts and statues of Caligula carved from life. Indeed, Wikipediacorrectly says “Based on scientific reconstructions of his official painted busts, Caligula had brown hair, brown eyes, and fair skin” (source: The Smithsonian). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- We have a huge number of coins minted by and naming and depicting Caligula as the extant emperor (numerous examples are also depicted and discussed at Wikipedia; here’s another; and another). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- We have a huge number of papyri, actually written during Caligula’s life, mentioning him as the reigning emperor (e.g. as Gaius Caesar Germanicus Augustus). Because that was how documents were dated (example; example; example). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- We have a huge number of contemporary inscriptions, erected by Caligula himself and eyewitnesses to his reign. Examples. Examples. Examples. Examples. Examples. Examples. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- We have excavated severalof Caligula’s most peculiar ships. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- We have actual wine barrelsfrom Caligula’s private vineyard, with his name on them. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- We have his mother’s tombstone, declaring him her child. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- Pliny the Elder, an eyewitness to Caligula, supplies us a great deal of informationdirectly from his own observations, and from government records and other eyewitness and contemporary sources. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- Other eyewitnesses and contemporaries who report on Caligula include Philo of Alexandria and Seneca, who both met with him personally, and record several things about him (e.g. Philo’s Flaccus and On [My] Embassy to Gaius [Caligula]; Seneca’s On Consolation to My Mother Helvia and On Rage and On the Constancy of the Wise).
- We have extensive accounts of Caligula in Josephus(a historian born when Caligula reigned, discussing Caligula within only 35 years of his death, and more extensively only 52 years after his death), an account that is exactly in Josephan style and rich with realistic detail (Antiquities of the Jews 18-19, written c. 93 A.D.; and Jewish War2.184-203, written c. 76 A.D.). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No. Not even the alleged Josephan mentions of Jesus qualify on any relevant point.
- We know eyewitnesses and contemporaries of Caligula wrote works about him that are lost but that are discussed and used by later writers. These include Seneca’s own friend Fabius Rusticus; Cluvius Rufus, a senator actually involved in the assassination of Caligula (very likely these were the sources employed by Josephus, who even mentions and quotes Cluvius); the memoirs of Claudius (Caligula’s successor); the published correspondence of Augustus; and various poets (e.g. Gaetulicus). Even Caligula’s sister, Nero’s mother, Agrippina the Younger, wrote up her own memoirsthat were cited and used as a source for Caligula by several later historians. Do we have anything like any of this for Jesus? No.
- We have several later critical historians writing about Caligula who name, cite and quote eyewitness, documentary, and contemporary sources for Caligula: e.g. besides Suetonius (whose example of this I already discussed), also Tacitus, Life of Agricola10 (written c. 98 A.D.), and Annals 13.20 (written c. 116 A.D.), and even Dio Cassius (not even two hundred years after the fact). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- We even have government documents that do this: for example, we have unearthed a bronze tablet copy (dating c. 168 A.D.) of a letter personally written by Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Journal of Roman Studies 1973.63) that mentions him consulting the extant register of those granted citizenship by Caligula (in a list of such registers from other emperors as well). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- Oh…and we have Caligula him-fracking-self! An inscription recording his own letter, in his own words, to the Achaean League, dated 19 August 37 A.D. (InscriptionesGraecae 2711, ll. 21-43). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.
- We also have declarations of alliance and celebration from many localities at the accession to power of Caligila. For example, the Oath declared by the Aritensians, inscribed on stone shortly after 11 May 37 A.D., elaborately asserting they shall ally with Caligula and declare his enemies their enemies; similarly the Cyzicans as well; and the Oath and Decree of Celebration of the Assians of the same year, which says they are sending an embassy “to seek an audience with and congratulate him, and beg him to remember” their city “as he personally promised when together with his father Germanicus he first set foot in our city’s province” (see Lewis & Reinhold, Vol. 2, § 3 and 9). So here we have the eyewitness, original autograph testimony, of an entire city of people. Caligula was with his father at the age of six when he visited their region (so they are trucking rather hard on the utterance of a toddler). But you don’t say this of, or send embassies to, a guy who doesn’t exist. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? Hell to the no.
What this tells us is that Caligula definitely existed as a real person, but that we can’t be as confident about Jesus. But one conclusion that is irrefutable is that If Jesus existed, he was not as famous as the gospel stories make him out to be. This puts all of the miracles into the arena of myth and exaggeration as well as the rest of the more mundane stories about him into serious doubt.
(1726) Jewish theology changed after the Exile
In the 6th Century BCE, the Jews were conquered and endured a five decade exile to Persia. It was during this time that Jewish theological thought was transformed by the influence of the local religion of Zoroastrianism. This shift in theology is evidence that the original revelation developed by the Jews was not received from a divine source. The following is taken from:
Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity share so many features that it seems that there must be a connection between them. Does this connection really exist? If so, how did it happen? And how much of the similarity between these faiths is due simply to parallel evolution, rather than direct contact and influence?
The simplest answer to the first question is, yes, there is a great deal of Zoroastrian influence on Judaism and Christianity, but the problem is that it is hard to document this exactly, at least in the early stages of Judaism. The evidence is there, but it is all “circumstantial” evidence and often does not stand up to the rigorous judgment of scholarship. Nevertheless, I will dare to present these ideas assertively, with the qualification that there will likely be no definite way to prove them either true or untrue.
In 586 BCE, the forces of the Babylonian Empire conquered the Jews, destroying their Temple and carrying off a proportion of the Jewish population into exile. The captives consisted especially of educated and upper-class people as well as the royal family. This “Babylonian captivity” lasted almost fifty years. In 539 BCE the Persians, under the leadership of the Achaemenid King Cyrus, conquered Babylon, and in 538 Cyrus issued a decree stating that the Jews would be allowed to return to their homeland. Not only were the Exiles released, but Cyrus, and to some extent his Achaemenid successors, also supported the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus’ policy was motivated not only by his religious tolerance (he also encouraged other, pagan peoples to maintain their own religions) but by statesmanlike wisdom; people treated generously are less likely to rebel.
But not all the Jews wanted to go home. In the years of Exile, the adaptable Jewish people had established themselves in Mesopotamia, settling there and engaging in business and even politics. Many Jews, while remaining devout Jews, did not go back to their homeland. They carried on their lives in their new home, and as the Persian Empire consolidated its rule, some Jews even rose to high positions of service in the imperial court.
It was during the end of the Exile, among the Jews now living in the Persian Empire, that the first significant contact was made between the Jewish and Iranian cultures. And it is evident in the Bible that Jewish thinking changed after the Exile. The question is then: are these changes the result of the cultural meeting of Jewish and Iranian thinkers, or are these changes due to the shock of Exile? During the Exile, Jews had to change not only how they worshipped, since they no longer had their temple or the animal sacrifices which had been at the center of their faith, but also how they thought about God. The Jewish concept of God as their tribal protector, who would save them from being conquered or exiled, had to undergo revision.
I believe that both factors are present, inspiring the changes in post-exilic Judaism: not only the Jews thinking new thoughts about God and humanity, but also contact with the Zoroastrian religion of the Persian Empire. But then another question arises: how did the ancient Jews learn about Zoroastrianism? It is highly unlikely that Jewish scholars and thinkers ever directly encountered Zoroastrian scriptures such as the Gathas (the founding text of the Zoroastrian faith, attributed to the Prophet Zarathushtra himself) or the Yashts (hymns of praise to various intermediate deities and guardian spirits, adapted from pre- Zarathushtrian mythology). The priestly usage and archaic language of the Avesta scriptures would be a barrier to Jews. But most of Zoroastrianism, known and practiced among the people, existed in oral tradition: through word of mouth, not by the study of written scriptures. This oral tradition included stories about God, the Creation, the ethical and cosmic conflict of Good and Evil, the divine Judgment and the end of the world. The tradition would also include the well-known Zoroastrian symbolism of fire, light and darkness, as well as stories and prayers about the yazatas or intermediate spiritual beings and the Prophet Zarathushtra. These are all elements of what might be called “classic” Zoroastrianism (as it developed from the “primal” Zoroastrianism of the Gathas).
This is how the Jews encountered Zoroastrianism – in private dialogues and political and civic experience, rather than in formal religious studies. And as the Jewish religion was re-made after the catastrophe of the Exile, these Zoroastrian teachings began to filter into the Jewish religious culture.
There are some venturesome scholars who say that the Jewish idea of monotheism was inspired by contact with Zoroastrian monotheism. While it is true that Jewish monotheistic ideas did change after the Exile, I do not believe that it was Zoroastrian contact which inspired this change. Rather, it was the fact of the Exile itself. Jewish thinkers and prophets even before the Exile were hinting at a concept of One God who was greater than just an ethnic divinity. When the Captivity threw these thinkers into a foreign culture, away from their divinely appointed homeland, it was necessary to broaden their idea of God to a more universal and abstract deity, who could be worshiped with praise and moral actions rather than animal sacrifices and liturgies. The concept of a single God whom all nations would eventually worship evolved among a conquered and exiled people no longer assured of their divinely protected status.
Any evidence suggesting that a religion has evolved as a result of historical events and the collision of cultures is an indication that such a religion is a product solely of human input. When it becomes obvious that Judaism falls into this category, it is an automatic conclusion to place Christianity into the same bin.
(1727) Yahweh, the Sky God
One the biggest challenges to the faith of modern Christians is the disconnect between the god of their imagination with the god of the Old Testament. There is no way to reconcile the idea of a peaceful, kind, fatherly deity with what is depicted in the scriptures. This creates a tremendous amount of cognitive dissonance, and results in several desperate strategies to alleviate the pain. The following was taken from:
In summary, the God of the Old Testament behaves much like a human being. He has a human form, suffers human weaknesses and displays human failings. He lives in remote high places and controls the elements. He is astonishingly partisan and brutal by modern standards, with a taste for blood sacrifice. He is capricious, spiteful, bloodthirsty, and he had the same outlook and prejudices as Jews who lived 3,000 to 2,500 years ago. We might also note that he has no objection to capital or corporal punishment, genocide, mutilation, polygamy, concubinage, slavery or racism. Indeed he encourages all of them. By modern standards he veers between the immoral and amoral, and bears no resemblance at all to the merciful, omniscient and omnipotent God favoured by modern theologians. All in all, the God of the Old Testament is a perfect example of an ancient tribal sky god.
How do Christians reconcile their merciful, omniscient and omnipotent God with this monster depicted in the Old Testament? One solution is simply to ditch the Old Testament, as many early Christians did, and more recent deists have done. Another solution is to claim that the God of the Old Testament who created the world is not a supreme god, but a flawed subsidiary god — this was the solution adopted by Gnostics, Manichæans, Cathars and Jehovah’s Witnesses. A third is to claim that God showed to humankind a face that matched their stage of human development, but this is not a satisfactory solution when the pagan Greeks were far in advance of God’s chosen people in their understanding of ethics, morality, philosophy and so on. Another problem for this last explanation is that human mental abilities have changed little in the last 5,000 years, so ancient peoples were as capable as modern Christians in appreciating the God of the modern theologians.
The remaining option is to ignore the facts. The offending passages are not read in church, God’s many failings are not taught to children, and awkward questions are dismissed with the answer that it is a divine mystery. The same carefully selected passages are cited over and over again to portray an acceptable picture of God. So it is that most Christians have not the slightest inkling that their God was ever anything like the one depicted in the Old Testament.
What should be clear from this discussion is that there is not a consistent and whole unity that embodies the Christian faith. It is kind of like a shopping mall that is built is several stages with each new stage tacked on in a somewhat haphazard manner. The finished product is not what would have resulted from a singular design and construction effort. So it is with Christianity- the finished product is a cacophony of inconsistencies.
(1728) Exorcism trick
In the First Century, most people believed in demons and that they were the cause of physical and mental illnesses. Thus, instead of doctors, exorcists were the primary care givers. The most successful exorcists were the ones who used tricks to convince onlookers that a demon was actually being dispelled from the afflicted. An example of this scam made its way into the gospels. But first, see what the historian Josephus (37-100 CE) personally witnessed:
Antiquities of the Jews VIII.2.5
And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man;
In this case, a string was attached to the cup and covered by debris or leaves, such that an accomplice would pull the string at the moment that the demon was being commanded to leave, causing the water to spill out. When the Gospel of Mark was written, the author likely had witnessed such a stunt and thought that Jesus’s exorcism should also need some kind of visual proof that the demons had actually been dispelled. So he concocted the story in Mark 5:1-20 (which was later copied in the Book of Matthew) that the demons were cast into a herd of swine that then stampeded into a lake and drowned.
What this demonstrates is that not only are the gospels a work solely of their time, but that they also include reference to some of the deceitful shenanigans that were then being practiced.
(1729) Infanticidal god
If there is one thing we can be assured of is that an omnipotent creator who fashioned humans out of dust or by evolution would possess morality at least as polished as that of his human creations. This means that he would highly prioritize the physical protection of infants and children. However, Yahweh is seen to fall well short of this mark. The following is a series of Bible verses that expose the hideous morality of the Christian god:
At midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon. Exodus 12:29
Ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. Leviticus 26:16
I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children. Leviticus 26:22
And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. Leviticus 26:29
Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. … And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick… on the seventh day, that the child died. 2 Samuel 12:14-18
Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers. Ezekiel 5:10
And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend. Jeremiah 19:9
Whenever we see that humans possess a better sense of morality than an alleged god, we can be assured that such a god does not exist. Whatever traits a real god might possess, being infanticidal would surely not be one of them.
(1730) Resurrection as a ghost story
It’s hardly a surprise that superstitions about dead people were rife in the world in which Christianity was born. Of course there were ghosts, and they came in many varieties. It seems quite possible that the resurrection beliefs were caste within this context. The following is an excerpt from Robert Conner’s book, Apparitions of Jesus: The Resurrection as Ghost Story:
Every essential feature of the resurrection stories–sudden appearance and disappearance, the fear and confusion of witnesses, the empty tomb and tokens found within it, speaking, eating, and drinking as proof of life, tangible presence, the brevity of the appearances, the display of pre-mortem wounds, encouraging and admonishing—is also found in contemporary Greco-Roman ghost stories.
Luke, writing a minimum of fifty years after the events of Jesus’ life, had a rich cultural repertory of legends and popular ghost lore from which to construct the details of his resurrection narratives as well as an abundance of motive to do so.
When reading the gospels it is important though not necessarily intuitive to be aware of the comparatively primitive belief systems that were ingrained in the popular culture of the time. A belief in demons and ghosts was well within the conventional wisdom of even the well-educated, so the way stories were documented reflected this archaic sense of reality, resulting in a work of highly-questionable historicity.
(1731) Incarnation makes no sense
Much of Christian doctrine relies on the truth of Jesus being both a human and a god simultaneously. If he was solely a human, the theology collapses, as it does if he was solely a god. But reconciling the merger of these two essences into a single whole is an exercise in artful deception. The following was taken from:
The doctrine of the Incarnation asserts, amongst other things, that Christ was both fully God and fully man. Since the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451, orthodox Christians have tried to justify the doctrine of the Incarnation. Ordinary Christians who trouble to think about the problem often arrive at explanations that are technically heretical. The ancient Nestorian heresy, that God and man coexisted in Christ as two persons, can be characterised as a Clark Kent/Superman type dichotomy. Theologians claim that explanations such as this are simplistic, but they have never themselves been able to formulate explanations convincing to objective outsiders.
A major problem is that of how one person can be wholly God and wholly man, when on the one hand God is all-powerful, all-knowing, transcendent and incapable of sin, and on the other man is limited in power, restricted in knowledge, fleshy and sinful. It is a common criticism that theologians” explanations only ever seem to convince those who already accept the doctrine of the Incarnation as a matter of faith. To many disinterested observers, theologians have succeeded in weaving an ever more intricate web of linguistic confusion. Even eminent theologians now ask whether the doctrine is meaningful. As a Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford has written ” …it seems to me that throughout the long history of attempts to present a reasoned account of Christ as both fully human and fully divine, the church has never succeeded in offering a consistent or convincing picture.. The same author has asked “Are we sure that the concept of an incarnate being, one who is fully God and fully man, is after all an intelligible concept?”
Theologians took the approach that a single object can possess two separate properties. Moreover it can possess them both wholly, and at the same time. We may, for example, easily conceive of a coin that is both round and metallic. The fact that it is perfectly round does not make it less metallic, nor does the fact that it is made of metal mean that it cannot be round. This is true, but misleading, for this argument concerns properties that are unrelated. If we look at properties that are mutually exclusive, the picture is different. Few people, for example, would be likely to accept the existence of a coin that is made of 100 per cent gold and also 100 per cent iron. The concept is meaningless. We can conceive of alloys in any proportion of gold to iron that we might desire, but no alloy can be simultaneously both pure gold and pure iron. The hub of the matter is whether the possession of one perfect nature allows the possibility of another. Common sense declares that it does not. Even fictional characters like Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (who are provided with one person but two natures) have to share their time between the two natures, for their creators know that the fiction would be meaningless if they exhibited the two natures simultaneously.
The fact is that in order for any statement of the doctrine of the Incarnation to be preserved, words like person and nature have to be supplied with such contrived meanings that they cease to be intelligible. Certainly, modern philosophers have difficulty with them, and many have inferred that they are designed to obscure rather than enlighten. If we phrase questions in straightforward English it becomes much easier to provide straightforward answers. How could Christ be fully infallible God if he was as fallible as he often showed himself to be in the gospels? And how could he be wholly mortal man if he was immortal? The only rational answers are that he could neither be wholly man, nor wholly God, much less could he be both.
Jesus, assuming he was a real person, was just that…and not a god. He had a human father, he lived and died like everybody else. The latter attempt to make him into a god was a colossal theological mistake that renders this doctrine a key to understanding that Christianity is pure myth. And an appeal to ‘mystery’ is just a way to sidestep the obvious truth.
(1732) Mental illness treatment
The methods used by early Christians to treat mental illness reflected the primitive knowledge of the time and not what would be expected from those enlightened by the eternal wisdom of an all-knowing deity. The following was taken from:
According to Christians, lunatics were possessed by unclean spirits. To effect a cure it was therefore necessary to dislodge the offending spirit. This idea derived from gospel stories of exorcisms.
And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out , Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, The Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
Such beliefs had at least two unfortunate consequences. The first was that for many centuries no advance was made in understanding the nature of mental illness — although it is clear that Christians did understand the there was such a thing as insanity. The second was that many thousands of men, women and children, already burdened with madness, were confined in chains and subjected to routine torture. The idea was that by making the environment sufficiently uncomfortable, the torturers might induce the possessing spirit to leave its human host.
In some monasteries, the monks whipped their insane charges regularly every day. Although the method was spectacularly unsuccessful, no one seems to have realized the fact for many centuries. Sometimes the insane were beaten out of the parish with quarterstaffs. Sometimes they were loaded onto ships and sent off to die or become a problem for someone else. This is the origin of the various popular tales about a “ship of fools”.
For as long as the Church controlled the insane, they endured dreadful torments. They were imprisoned, chained to a wall (or if they were lucky to a bed), flogged, starved, insulted, tortured, immersed in iced water and otherwise brutalized. It also seems safe to assume that sexual abuse would have been commonplace in view of twentieth century disclosures about monasteries, seminaries, church schools, orphanages and state mental asylums. Throughout Christendom the insane were kept in insanitary conditions in mad-houses and exposed to public ridicule. The most famous place in England for such people was the hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem (“Bedlam”), where visitors were charged a fee to see the inmates, and were allowed to provoke them and laugh at them. A few inmates came to their senses, some died of old age, some died of neglect, starvation, exposure or torture, and many died of “putrid fever” or other infectious diseases that flourished in such conditions.
It is arguable that this point by itself proves the falsehood of Christianity. And, if not, it exposes the Christian god as being a callous jerk for permitting such unnecessary brutality to be inflicted based on the text of a book he inspired.
(1733) God uses human methods
The god of the Bible seems to be hamstrung in that he performs miracles in the fashion that a human would if given comparable powers. He seems to accomplish his goals in an inefficient, wasteful, and sometimes barbarous manner when much more concise and targeted methods were available. This is evidence that he is a product of human creation. The following was taken from:
Why would God use a flood instead of just magically stopping everybodies hearts or turning everybody into dust?
Both of these solutions would allow him to get rid of the “wicked” on the Earth, but with the advantage of not killing all the innocent animals, and also not requiring Noah and his family to build a boat, and also not requiring God to cover up all geological evidence of the flood having happened.
Why would he instead opt to use the painful, imprecise method of drowning to do the job? Similar question applies to the treatment of Sodom and Gomorrah.
I suggest that a perfect God wouldn’t have this need for dramatic, theatrical displays to people who were going to die anyway, and that this is just anthropomorphization by his human inventors who expected a God would behave like a narcissistic human dictator of the sort they were used to (with magic powers of course) would.
With a hint of “adapted the story from Sumerian myths” and “thought natural disasters were his judgement, so they thought obviously this is the kind of thing a God would do” of course.
In a similar way, when he decided to impart a universal method of sin forgiveness, he used the conventional human method of sacrificing an innocent being, in this case his ‘son,’ rather than using the more divinely appropriate and humane means of simple prayer forgiveness. It is evident that the imagination of the Bible authors was limited by their personal experience, rendering their god acting in a manner unbefitting a real god.
(1734) Translation errors cloud Bible meaning
It is important to note that the Bible was not originally written in English or any other currently spoken common language. Therefore, the translation to modern languages is critically important to convey the underlying meaning of the original authors. Even if they were directly inspired by a supernatural source, if the translation is off, then the message is corrupted. The following describes five significant translation errors:
In the original Hebrew, the 10th Commandment prohibits taking, not coveting. The biblical Jubilee year is named for an animal’s horn and has nothing to do with jubilation. The pregnant woman in Isaiah 7:14 is never called a virgin. Psalm 23 opens with an image of God’s might and power, not shepherding. And the romantic Song of Solomon offers a surprisingly modern message.
But most people who read the Bible don’t know these things, because extensive translation gaffs conceal the Bible’s original meaning.
The mistakes stem from five flawed translation techniques: etymology, internal structure, cognates, old mistranslations, and misunderstood metaphor. (Read more: “Five Ways Your Bible Translation Distorts the Original Meaning of the Text.”)
The tenth Commandment, commonly but wrongly translated as “thou shalt not covet,” illustrates how internal structure or etymology can be misleading. Like the English “host” and “hostile” that share a root but don’t mean the same thing, the words for “desirable” and “take” in Hebrew come from the same root. It’s the second word, “take,” that appears in the Ten Commandments. But translators, not recognizing that related words can mean different things in this way, misunderstood the Hebrew and wrongly translated the text as “thou shalt not covet” for what should have been “thou shalt not take.” (Learn more: “Thou shalt not covet?“)
The translation “Jubilee year” results from a mistaken application of cognates (similar words in different languages). In the original Hebrew, the year was called the “year of the horn,” or, in Hebrew, “the year of the yovel.” The Latin for yovel is iobileus, which just happens to sound like the Latin word iubileus, connected to the verb iubilare, “to celebrate.” The English “Jubilee year” comes from the Latin. (A similar Latin coincidence gave rise to the notion that the fruit in the Garden of Eden was an apple.)
Starting about 2,300 years ago, the Hebrew Bible was translated into a Greek version now known as the Septuagint. One shortcoming of that translation is its inattention to near synonyms. For instance, the Hebrew words for “love,” “mercy” and “compassion” are frequently mixed up, because they mean nearly the same thing. Likewise, because most young women in antiquity were virgins and most virgins were young women, the Septuagint wasn’t careful to distinguish the words for “virgin” and “young woman” in translation.
This is how the Hebrew in Isaiah 7:14 — which describes a young woman giving birth to a boy who will be named Emmanuel — ended up in Greek as a virgin giving birth. Though these facts about Greek and Hebrew are generally undisputed among scholars, the translation error remains, both because people are usually unwilling to give up familiar translations, and also perhaps because the Gospel of Matthew describes the virgin birth of Jesus by quoting the mistaken Greek translation of Isaiah 7:14.
Metaphors are particularly difficult to translate, because words have different metaphoric meanings in different cultures. Shepherds in the Bible were symbols of might, ferocity and royalty, whereas now they generally represent peaceful guidance and oversight. So the image of the Lord as shepherd in Psalm 23 originally meant that the Lord was mighty, fierce and royal. The impact was roughly the same as “the Lord is a man of war.” But in most English-speaking cultures, “the Lord is my shepherd” conveys a wholly different, and therefore inaccurate, image.
Similarly, kinship terms like “father,” “brother,” “sister,” etc. were used in the Bible specifically to indicate power structure. This is why the romantic Song of Solomon — the Bible’s only full length treatise on relationships — says “my sister, my bride” or “my sister, my spouse.” On its face, that English translation is not only unromantic but in fact felonious. The original point, however, was that the woman in this relationship should be the man’s equal.
This raises the question of why a divine being would inspire (if not dictate) words to be placed in his holy book, which would become the gold standard for believers henceforth, but would not ensure that all future translators would be similarly inspired so as to produce perfect translations. The mistakes seen above provide evidence that the Bible is not the inspired work of a supernatural being.
(1735) Resurrection story embedded within clear myths
The bedrock of Christianity is the alleged resurrection of Jesus. It is a ‘single failure’ feature, meaning that if it goes, all of Christianity evaporates. Unfortunately for the faith, the accounts of this miracle are polluted with accompanying stories that are clearly mythical, rendering the core of the story likely mythical as well. Some of these ostensibly fictitious stories are discussed below and taken from:
There was never a darkness covering the earth, despite the fact that all the Synoptics claim this. A supernatural eclipse covering the entire Roman world would certainly have been noticed by one of the many historians active in this period. No records exist. Even Josephus, who records a number of extremely far-fetched omens which allegedly preceded the destruction of the temple, is silent on the subject. Additionally, having an eclipse at a famous person’s death is a common trope in ancient literature.
There was never a Roman custom to release dangerous rebels. This goes against everything we know about the paranoid Roman government of this unruly province. Even the usually gullible Luke seems to have enacted a Monty Python rule and omitted this statement from his redacted Markan material.
The Barabbas story is clearly secondary. The parallelism between “Jesus Barabbas [“Son of the Father”]” and “Jesus the Christ” one of whom was released, one of whom killed, mirrors the Mosaic scapegoat ritual in a way which cannot be dismissed as coincidental. The name alone is enough to settle the matter.
The story of Judas contains at two clear contradictions: the way Judas died and (perhaps even more convincingly) the reason for the name “field of blood”. The most parsimonious assumption is that at least one of both stories was made up. Interestingly, the contradiction on the Field of Blood proves that even stories which agree on geographical details need not be historical.
Several of the passion stories contain information the Gospel writers couldn’t possibly have been privy to, e.g. the dream of Pilate’s wife or the tearing of the veil in the temple sanctuary. In addition, the allegorical motivation for inventing the veil-tearing story is clear (and Josephus doesn’t mention it either, despite it being extremely relevant to the future of the temple). The most parsimonious assumption, therefore, is that Christians made it up.
Matthew’s guard story is not defended by almost any scholar, and for good reason. The idea that the Jewish leaders should have taken Jesus’ alleged prophecy of his own resurrection seriously when the disciples did not is implausible in the extreme. Additionally, the failure of other Gospels to mention this (when the presence of Roman soldiers around the tomb is scarcely irrelevant to other stories, such as that involving Mary Magdalene in John 20) strongly suggests this is an economy with the truth on the part of Matthew.
In short: the resurrection story is part of a longer narrative which is replete with legendary material. Early Christians were clearly prepared to engage in theological elaboration to further their religious purposes. Why wouldn’t people who made up a global eclipse to honour their leader make up a resurrection to honour their leader?
Or put differently, isn’t the demonstrable unreliability of these texts a good reason to be sceptical of any claim they make, even where we can’t check them?
An historian must take into account the entire scope of records that document a period of antiquity, and when the same authors who describe these events include elements that are obviously made up, it leaves the impression that nothing in the accounts can be taken at face value. And so it is with the story of the resurrection- it is contaminated by too many untrustworthy companions.
(1736) Lack of continuous revelation
The scriptures of Judeo-Christianity imply that God revealed himself more or less continuously over several centuries starting in around 600 BCE, though admittedly in a very isolated geographical area. The last allegedly ‘inspired’ author penned his (later to be canonical) text in about 120 CE. This, for some reason, ended the period of divine revelation.
The question is why would a god offer his divine wisdom and proof of existence to many generations of people and then suddenly stop, in his case going silent for 1900 years? It seems much more probable that a real god would offer a continuous revelation, especially in cases where civilization was changing rapidly over time- as it has on planet Earth over the past 19 centuries. Not only would this seem fair to those who would eventually be judged based on their belief in this god, but also it would be important to address the new moral and ethical questions that evolve over time.
The discontinuous revelation that embodies Judeo-Christianity is evidence that it does not emanate from a divine being but rather that it is a product of human endeavor where the humans in charge decided arbitrarily to put a lid on any additional ‘inspired’ writings. Thus we end up with a Bible that becomes more irrelevant and less applicable with each passing year.
(1737) God has no need to forgive humans
The central theology of Christianity (most denominations) is that humans are inherently sinful and that God handed over his son to be sacrificed as a means to forgive those who ‘accept’ this atonement. But what does forgiveness really mean and why is it such a major feature of Christianity?
The more basic question is why would a god overseeing the evolution of life on one planet need to forgive members of the most advanced species in order to award them a favorable afterlife experience? In other words, why couldn’t he just evaluate each person as is and then decide based on some criteria what to do with them? Beyond that, if for some reason he felt that forgiving them was truly important, why would he need to conduct a human sacrifice to do so? Something seems amiss.
But if you consider what humans might conceive, with the intent of inventing a belief system that could empower themselves and control the masses, a sin forgiveness scheme as such proves favorable. It would be simple to catalog basic human desires as being sinful, assign a macabre post-life punishment for them, and then offer a solution that they, and only they, could deliver. This is precisely the blueprint of Christianity.
A god would have no need to forgive humans, but humans would have a great incentive to make a religion that highlights forgiveness as the central component of its dogma, a forgiveness that is accessed only through subservient devotion to this faith.
(1738) God, the pathetic engineer
There are generally two groups of Christians- New Earthers, who believe that God made the universe in total within the past 10,000 years and Old Earthers, who agree with the scientific consensus that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Where they merge is that both agree that God was involved in the design of our home planet- it’s just that God used standard physical processes in the case of the Old Earth. In the latter instance, we can imagine God watching as the Earth was forming and then manipulating various events to end up with the planet he desired and that would later become his home for 33 years.
No matter which of the two methods that God used to create the Earth, one thing is clear- he did a miserable job. He could have configured the continents and the oceans in such a way to prevent hurricanes. He could have constructed a solid crust to prevent earthquakes and tsunamis. He could have lessened the internal heat engine of the planet to prevent volcanoes. He could have lowered the oxygen content of the atmosphere to lessen the hazard of wildfires or fires in general. He could have constructed river beds in a manner to prevent flooding. And so on.
The fact that these threats exist as they do means that the Christian god purposefully designed the Earth to be a hazardous home for humans. Some Christians will likely think that God did this to test humans and build character, or force them to use their intelligence to defray the risks. However, a much more likely truth is that the Earth evolved without supernatural supervision and that the situation we are in is exactly what would be expected under that scenario. The Earth is a poster child for atheism.
(1739) Lack of discontinuous parameters
As an evolving technical society, measurements of many kinds are made on a mostly continuous basis, such as temperatures, air quality parameters, sea and lake levels, and the location and movement of various objects. What has never been observed is any of these measurements showing a discontinuous change. An example would be a large boulder that moves a mile in a split second or the atmospheric carbon dioxide level instantly changing from 400 ppm to 360 ppm. Although this does not rule out the existence of supernatural beings that have the capability to effect these types of occurrences, it does lead to some suggestion that they don’t exist.
Jesus is alleged to have said that prayers are so powerful that they could move a mountain. Of course, nothing of this sort has happened. But it would not be unexpected that God, or an angel, or a demon, given the powers normally attributed to them by Christians, could cause something to change in a discontinuous manner.
The world that we observe has consistently behaved in an orderly manner, with objects temporarily occupying all spaces between where they were and where they are now, and all measured parameters changing in a way that does not include instantaneous jumps from one level to another. This can mean only two things- that all of the supernatural beings associated with Christian dogma are purposely not interfering with material objects (or they are incapable of doing so) or that they do not exist. The latter seems to be the more conspicuous option.
(1740) God’s sense of justice
If there is a single slam-dunk argument against Christianity, it lies in the way God is portrayed in the Old Testament. Specifically, his sense of justice is so far inferior to that of the average human that any possibility of his actual existence immediately evaporates in response to objective thought. The following was taken from:
From the very beginning, god of the Bible has demonstrated that sins of one person can be attributed or applied to another. Starting with original sin, God’s message to Eve that all womankind will experience painful childbirth because of her, numerous quotes about visiting iniquities of the father down three and four generations. In Deuteronomy, he bans ten generations of a bastard son from his congregation. Nobody can control the circumstances of their birth, but god still held people accountable for it. In Isaiah, god says “prepare slaughter for his children, for the iniquity of their fathers” In 2 Samuel, god resolved his anger with David by having David’s wives raped in broad daylight. And of course he killed a child from every family in Egypt because of the decisions of the pharaoh.
I could go on with other examples, but my question is this:
Other than claiming divine authority, is there any possible way to reconcile this behavior as anything we would be able to comprehend as just?
The only honest way for a Christian apologist to wiggle out of this problem is to admit that major portions of the Old Testament are false. But that is a non-starter for all but the most liberal theologians. What is left speaks loud and clear- God is the creation of flawed, unenlightened humans.
(1741) The Bible’s biggest contradiction
The Bible is rife with thousands of contractions, which collectively let us know that it is not the product of divine inspiration. Of them, one outranks them all- the way God decided to rid the world of sin in the Old Testament versus the way he did it in the New Testament. The following was taken from:
Genesis chapter 6 gives four reasons why God sent the Flood:
‘The wickedness of man was great in the earth’ (v. 5). ‘Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’ (v. 5). ‘The earth was filled with violence’ (v. 11). ‘The earth…was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth’ (v. 12). (All the people on earth had corrupted their way.)
Here, God floods the entire earth, killing all but a few humans to rid the world of sin.
In another story (one that lost are familiar with), Jesus comes to earth to forgive the people of their sin, bearing the burden of it all and making the ultimate sacrifice.
These two stories contradict one another, not just because one is a story of genocide whereas the other is a story of sacrifice, but because both of these people acting in this story is God.
In the first story, God wants to rid the world of sin. How does he do this? He commits mass genocide on a species he created. This is certainly one of anger and resentment towards humanity’s sin. In the story of Jesus, God rid the world of sin, the same purpose. The way he does it, however, is one that involves himself suffering to bear the burden.
These two stories are like of two different people with two different moral characters. One that wishes to resolve issues with barbaric ways, and one that wishes to resolve his issues in ways of selfless actions. These, however, are the same person: God. It is almost as if these were written by different people who had separate ideas of what God’s moral character was.
God is either as described in the Old Testament or as described in the New Testament, but not both. The only consistent views are that only the Old Testament god is true, or only the New Testament god is true, or that neither is true. The latter is by far the most likely.
(1742) Old Testament doublets
The Old Testament is full of examples where a story is told twice, the most notable being the two contradictory stories of creation in the first two chapters of Genesis. It appears that someone took stories told in different ways by different authors and fused them together while ignoring the contradictions. The following is taken from:
The next time someone tells you the biblical story of Creation is true, ask that person, “Which one?”
Few of the Christian faithful seem to know the Bible contains multiple creation stories. The first appears on Page 1, Genesis 1, so that is the version most people tend to embrace. However, it isn’t hard to find the second version: It’s Genesis 2, which usually starts on the same page. Genesis 1 begins with the words “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”; Genesis 2 starts with “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.”
Careful readers have long known that the two stories contradict each other. Genesis 1 begins with expanses of water that God separates, creating the earth between them. Genesis 2 describes a world without enough water, which is then introduced. Vegetation exists before the sun and the stars in Genesis 1; it’s the other way around in Genesis 2. In Genesis 1, man is created after plants and animals; in Genesis 2, plants and animals come after man. In Genesis 1, Adam and Eve are created together; in Genesis 2, Eve is created out of Adam’s rib.
This is nothing unusual for the Old Testament. In fact, even though many evangelical Christians insist that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament (including Deuteronomy, which talks about Moses having died and been buried), biblical scholars have concluded that two Jewish sects wrote many of the books. Each prepared its version of Old Testament, and the two were joined together without any attempt to reconcile the many contradictions.
These duplications are known as “doublets.” “In most cases,” says Richard Elliott Friedman, a biblical scholar at the University of Georgia, “one of the versions of the doublet story would refer to the deity by the divine name Yahweh, and the other version of the story would refer to the deity simply as God.” Once the different narratives appearing in the Bible were divided by the word they used to reference God, other terms and characteristics turned up repeatedly in one or the other group. “This tended to support the hypothesis that someone had taken two different old source documents, cut them up and woven them together” in the first five books of the Old Testament, Friedman says.
The doublets make reading the Old Testament the literary equivalent of a hall of mirrors. Take the Genesis story of Noah and the flood. In Genesis 6, God tells Noah to build an ark and load it with animals, and “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Then, in Genesis 7, God again tells Noah to load the ark with animals, and “Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.” Under the first set of instructions, Noah was to bring two of every kind of creature onto the ark. But the directions changed the second time, with Noah told to bring seven of every kind of clean animal and two of every kind of unclean animal.
It gets stranger. In Genesis 7:7-12, Noah and his family board the ark, and the flood begins. Then, in the very next verse, Genesis 7:13, Noah and his family board the ark again, and the flood begins a second time. The water flooded the earth for 40 days (Genesis 7:17), or 150 days (Genesis 7:24). But Noah and his family stayed on the ark for a year (Genesis 8:13).
Even well-known stories have contradictory versions. As every child knows, David killed Goliath; it’s right there in 1 Samuel 17:50. But don’t tell those children to read 2 Samuel 21:19 unless you want them to get really confused. There, it says in many versions of the Bible that Elhanan killed Goliath. Other Bibles, though, fixed that to make it coincide with the words in 1 Chronicles, were Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath.
These conflicting accounts are only serious matters because evangelicals insist the Old Testament is a valid means of debunking science. But as these examples show, the Bible can’t stop debunking itself.
A perfect book authored by the universe’s creator certainly would not be burdened by these types of amateurish literary blunders. Mixing two disparate stories into a single one does not add to the authenticity of the finished product, rather it renders it a monument to fiction.
(1743) God’s hygiene
Most Christians never read the Bible, at least not in full, and it is a good way for them to remain believers, because a rudimentary glance at some of the foolishness in the Old Testament is enough to let you know that it was all made up by clueless men. A good example is Leviticus Chapter 15, which is allegedly a monologue spoken by God to transmit rules about bodily discharges. It takes little effort to see that God as presented here is as backward in his concept of hygiene as the author who made this up:
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When any man has an unusual bodily discharge, such a discharge is unclean. Whether it continues flowing from his body or is blocked, it will make him unclean. This is how his discharge will bring about uncleanness:
“ ‘Any bed the man with a discharge lies on will be unclean, and anything he sits on will be unclean. Anyone who touches his bed must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. Whoever sits on anything that the man with a discharge sat on must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘Whoever touches the man who has a discharge must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘If the man with the discharge spits on anyone who is clean, they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘Everything the man sits on when riding will be unclean, and whoever touches any of the things that were under him will be unclean till evening; whoever picks up those things must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘Anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘A clay pot that the man touches must be broken, and any wooden article is to be rinsed with water.
“ ‘When a man is cleansed from his discharge, he is to count off seven days for his ceremonial cleansing; he must wash his clothes and bathe himself with fresh water, and he will be clean. On the eighth day he must take two doves or two young pigeons and come before the Lord to the entrance to the tent of meeting and give them to the priest. The priest is to sacrifice them, the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement before the Lord for the man because of his discharge.
“ ‘When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening. When a man has sexual relations with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both of them must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Anyone who touches her bed will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. Anyone who touches anything she sits on will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, they will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.
“ ‘When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
“ ‘When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the Lord for the uncleanness of her discharge.
“ ‘You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.’ ”
These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen, for a woman in her monthly period, for a man or a woman with a discharge, and for a man who has sexual relations with a woman who is ceremonially unclean.
Imagine the creator of the universe sinking to this level of absurdity. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the god invented by the Isrealites was burdened by their same level of ignorance.
(1744) God is guilty of the crime he accuses the damned
It is probably below the consciousness radar of most Christians that they are being held to a more rigorous standard than God himself abides by. If ‘practice what you preach’ is considered a worthy ethical goal, then God gets a flunking grade. The following is taken from:
Most of us, given omnipotence, would be able to do a far better job than Jehovah. What would you do if given omnipotence? If your answer is anything other than “abolish world hunger, disease or save the earth”, there’s something more than a little skewed in your perception of mankind. There is no question that the very balance of life is in peril. To wish for these things doesn’t take “infinite mercy”, just normal compassion and a bit of common sense. God’s supposed infinite mercy is apparently the same thing as no mercy at all.
What makes this particularly unforgivable is that even Jesus’ own standards demand feeding of the poor. See Matthew 25:35, in which it is stated that the blessed feed the hungry, and that the damned do not. I find it funny that God is held blameless, though, for not feeding them. Does not the old saying “practice what you preach” apply to God? Is his lack of action a hypocrisy or a sin? Could it perhaps be both?
Usually, when I bring this up in a discussion, someone says, “No. It is the evil of men that is to blame; they have lots of money and keep it to themselves rather than feeding the poor.” (Funny thing that the Christians who say this are usually conservative.) This argument uses a double standard. Men are held guilty for not feeding the poor, while God is held innocent for doing exactly the same. In fact, it would be far easier for God to feed all the poor with his omnipotence, than for any mortal man to feed even one! Mankind is certainly not blameless here, but it is Jehovah who is the true villain.
Another popular rationalization is that life without “challenges” would be boring and dehumanizing, so God does not remove them. The fallacy here is grouping all challenges together. I personally lead a very challenging and satisfying life, but I have not lately had to flee any volcanoes or earthquakes, go without food for a week, or suffer the ravages of some disease. I would be quite happy, in fact, if I never do have to face such challenges as those. There is plenty of room for amelioration of the human condition without making it dull. Does it not defeat the purpose of living life if you are to starve to death?
Let’s say for the sake of argument that I should not judge God. Well then, would it be fair to hold him up to his own standards? Please consult verses Matthew 25:41-46 We hear Jesus say: “Go away from me with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me. . . And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.”
Now, I have never personally seen Jesus feed the hungry nor, have I seen him give drink to those who thirst. But, I do personally see thousands of people die of starvation. I do not recall Jesus dispensing clothes. He has never made me feel welcome, let alone acknowledged. I see the faithful sicken and die on a daily basis. In light of this Jesus himself is the worst of all sinners; if there is no double standard he will be at the head of the line into eternal punishment. He is guilty of every crime of which he accuses the damned.
There is no way out of this conundrum for the Christian apologist. If you had a truckload of food and parked it next to a group of starving people, but just sat there and watched them die, would that be considered a moral act? Of course not. But God is doing the exact same thing- the analogy holds perfectly true. But most Christians fail to see the double standard that their god is placing on them. This is the pure definition of blind hero worship.
(1745) Early Christians did not use a cross
The most indelible Christian symbol is the cross, though it has no basis in history and is a product of the imagination of a bloodthirsty Roman emperor. The following is taken from:
I can think of no other invented symbol of religion that gives a more horrific description than a man tortured in the throe of extreme agony while nailed to two wooden planks. But does the cross of Christianity really stand up to Biblical evidence?
Although a stake called a stauros (the Greek term used in the earliest Bible writings but where English versions incorrectly translate it to “cross”) got used to execute criminals, there exists not a shred of evidence that a Biblical stauros describes a cross or even a T-shape. Regardless of whether you believe the cross as mythical or think it comes from the Bible, you will find nothing describing Jesus’ execution with outstretched arms or nailed to a cross-like frame. I invite any Christian to look up the word ‘cross’ wherever it appears in the Bible and check the Greek version and see for yourself.
There occurs no cross in early Christian art before the middle of the 5th century, where it (probably) appears on a coin in a painting. The first clear crucifix appears in the late 7th century. Early Christians usually depicted their religion with a fish symbol (ichthus), dove, or bread of the Eucharist, but never Christ on a cross (or on a stick).
The first known conception of a Christian cross as a physical symbol began with Constantine’s supposed 4th century conversion as a Christian. He allegedly had a miraculous vision in the sky of a cross composed of light with the inscription, “By this conquer.” The Church father, Eusebius, described that, at night after his vision, Constantine dreamt that God commanded him to make a likeness of the sign to safeguard all engagements with the enemy. At dawn the next day Constantine allegedly told this to his army and ordered the symbol to be made in the form of a golden spear with a transverse bar (some traditions describe it as the Greek letter “X” (chi) with a “P” (rho) through it, the well-known monogram of Jesus). From then on Christian armies carried the cross symbol into battles. Christians who deny this story cannot escape the fact that the story derives from Euesbius’s own writings and church fathers after him used this to support the symbol of the cross. Later on, and especially during the crusades, the cross became a permanent part of the uniform of a soldier. Thus the army of Christianity invented the symbol of the cross to symbolize battle (a spear) to represent Jesus and to protect their killers (the army). Christianity has remained a religious and political justification for war and violence ever since.
Any Christian who prays to a cross or wears one goes unwittingly flaunting, not only an unsupported historical assertion, but born as a war symbol from a blood-thirsty Roman ruler who forced orthodox Christianity onto the world.
There seems to be nothing about Christianity that did not evolve over time, giving the impression that it is a manufactured belief system devoid of any solid foundation. Changing theologies and symbols speak loudly that Christianity is a mythical construction of human minds.
(1746) Jesus selected the wrong apostles
It is hardly controversial that Jesus chose men of low station as his followers, uneducated and illiterate men who had a difficult time understanding the intent of his ministry. Although that might have been a strategic plan on his part for some reason, it led to a major problem for Christians who would come after. It led to his words and theology being distorted. This is because none of his apostles documented anything about their experiences with Jesus, while those who never met him composed the entire New Testament.
Some Christians believe that the four gospels were written by Jesus’s apostles, but mainline scholars now agree that they did not; further that the assignment of names to them are arbitrary. Likewise, Peter did not write 1,2 Peter and John did not write 1,2,3 John or Revelation. It is only possible that James, the alleged brother of Jesus wrote James. And, of course, Jesus himself, assuming he was a real person, was illiterate as well and did not write anything- the supposed words he wrote in the sand in John Chapter 8 comes from a well-known interpolation.
So in this literacy vacuum, how did Christianity become documented? The gospels were written by Greek scholars who never met Jesus, and what they wrote had glaring discrepancies with each other. But more importantly, the bulk of the New Testament and the lion’s share of Christian theology was the product of a highly educated scholar, Paul, who also never met Jesus. As he had disagreements with the apostles, which he discussed at length in his letters, it is not surprising that Paul’s and not the apostles’ version of the facts became standard Christian dogma- because he had the power of the pen to transmit his ideas to churches in the surrounding cities. Had the apostles written these letters, Christianity would be very different today.
If Jesus had chosen literate men as his followers, this problem would not have happened. We would have firsthand eyewitness accounts of his life and his theology. History would at least have a dependably accurate account of the man called Jesus.
(1747) Near- earth asteroids
The earth is under the constant threat of being hit by a large rock, boulder, or asteroid that would could cause destruction of a city, a region, or the entire planet. The question is why does this situation exist under the assumption that Christianity is true? The following was taken from:
Humanity needs to step up its asteroid-hunting game.
To date, astronomers have spotted more than 8,000 near-Earth asteroids that are at least 460 feet (140 meters) wide — big enough to wipe out an entire state if they were to line up our planet in their crosshairs. That sounds like good progress, until you consider that it’s only about one-third of the 25,000 such space rocks that are thought to zoom around in Earth’s neighborhood.
“There’s still two-thirds of this population out there to be found,” Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., said during a presentation last week with the agency’s Future In-Space Operations working group. “So, we have a ways to go.”
A near-Earth object (NEO) is anything that comes within about 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of our planet’s orbit. The overall NEO population is almost incomprehensibly large; there are likely tens of millions of such space rocks between 33 feet and 65 feet (10 to 20 meters) in diameter, Johnson said.
Humanity needs to step up its asteroid-hunting game.
To date, astronomers have spotted more than 8,000 near-Earth asteroids that are at least 460 feet (140 meters) wide — big enough to wipe out an entire state if they were to line up our planet in their crosshairs. That sounds like good progress, until you consider that it’s only about one-third of the 25,000 such space rocks that are thought to zoom around in Earth’s neighborhood.
“There’s still two-thirds of this population out there to be found,” Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., said during a presentation last week with the agency’s Future In-Space Operations working group. “So, we have a ways to go.”
A near-Earth object (NEO) is anything that comes within about 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of our planet’s orbit. The overall NEO population is almost incomprehensibly large; there are likely tens of millions of such space rocks between 33 feet and 65 feet (10 to 20 meters) in diameter, Johnson said.
Asteroids of this relatively small size can cause damage on a local scale. For example, the object that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, smashing thousands of windows and wounding more than 1,200 people, measured about 62 feet (19 m) across, scientists have said.
But the really worrisome asteroids are the big ones. So, in the 1990s, Congress directed NASA to find 90 percent of the NEOs that are at least 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) in diameter — a mandate the space agency fulfilled in 2010. Currently, 887 of these mountain-size space rocks are known, and perhaps just 50 or so are left to be discovered, Johnson said. (None of the cataloged behemoths pose a threat to Earth for the foreseeable future.)
In 2005, NASA got some further instructions from lawmakers: Spot 90 percent of all NEOs 460 feet and larger by the end of 2020. It’s clear at this point that the agency will not meet that ambitious deadline. And getting such a detailed handle on the NEO population will require the launch of a dedicated asteroid-hunting space mission, according to a NASA-commissioned study that was published in September 2017.
This presents a major problem for creationists to explain why a divinely-designed and constructed planet, specifically made for humans to inhabit, would be placed inside of a shooting gallery. Perhaps God likes the thrill of scaring us? And for non-creationist Christians, there remains a question as to why God would not have tweaked the natural world in a way to remove these menacing interlopers. For the atheist, there is nothing to explain- this is precisely the fully-expected naturally-occurring consequence of planet formation, and, in fact, if this wasn’t the case, then atheists would be on the hook to explain why the earth’s region is devoid of these objects.
(1748) God is cruel
The case can be made, fairly simply actually, that God is cruel to at least some extent. This is manifested by his callousness to human and animal suffering. But more precisely, his cruelty is exposed by the creation of Satan. The following is taken from:
Satan is a being that is inherently cruel to humans (by attempting to trick and deceive them away from god).
God created Satan knowing full well that he would attempt to trick and deceive humans.
All things that god creates are things that he desires.
Therefore god desires the existence of a supernatural being who attempts to trick and deceive humans (and often succeeds).
My basic argument is that the creation of Satan is an inherently cruel act as Satan is (in most Christian interpretations of the bible) a being that is responsible for much cruelty. Since god is omniscient he knew that creating such a being would result in a large amount of pain and suffering. The only logical conclusion is that god desired a large amount of pain and suffering for humans. Which is cruel.
I’m not necessarily arguing that god is inherently or even entirely cruel. I’m simply pointing out that the creation of Satan demonstrates that god has at least some amount of cruelty in his nature.
It is difficult for an apologist to argue around this point, though perhaps their best attempt at it is to assume that God needed an evil (bad cop) partner to ensure that not all humans would make it to heaven. But once you understand the implications of the Christian claim that God is omniscient and omnipotent, this argument quickly evaporates. There simply is no cogent explanation for the existence of Satan that is married to the assumption of Christianity’s truth, while at the same time disagreeing that God is cruel.
(1749) Christianity as a fairy tale
Sometimes the best way to assess the credibility of a story is to distill its elements down and present it in the customary fashion of a fairy tale. This washes away the veneer of authenticity that is provided by the inclusion of multitudinous details. So, for Christianity, its condensed version might sound something like this:
A virgin woman who never had sex nevertheless became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy. This boy grew up to be a man who was at the same time the creator of the entire universe. The man walked on water and talked to demons who obeyed his commands. He could change water into wine and heal any affliction. The man was killed, but he came back to life. Then he flew up into outer space and was never seen again.
What part of this does not sound like a fairy tale? What part of this story reflects any semblance of the world that present-day people inhabit? If you had told this story to any person who had not been previously exposed to it, what would have been their initial impression? It seems obvious that the only reason that two billion people believe this story is that their brains were conditioned to accept its truth at a time before they had acquired critical thinking skills. Christianity is a fairy tale that survives by riding a wave crest of juvenile indoctrination.
(1750) Christianity’s god is a crybaby
It is amazing how different Christianity appears to one who has left the faith compared to how it seemed when still in the fold. It is almost as stark a change as turning off a light switch. The Christian god who seemed so perfect and reasonable while being a Christian suddenly becomes a spoiled brat crybaby when we become atheists. The following is taken from:
It has been almost four years now since I’ve become an atheist. I wrote a lot about my experiences and my intellectual stances during the first few years, but it occurred to me recently that I’ve not written any sort of atheistic essay since then. Thinking that perhaps it was about time to do so, I began to wonder what, if anything, I needed to add to my arsenal of acerbic ramblings on this topic. That led me to revisit some of the old theology that I used to subscribe to… back when I was still lost and tangled up in the hopeless religion that is Christianity. When you’ve been removed from that cesspool of absurdity for long enough, you begin to look at your prior beliefs with a different lens than you did when you first left the religion, assuming you came to atheism from Christianity, as many do. So it was with me. I spent a few days pondering the nature of the God I used to believe in, and some new insights occurred to me, insights I intend to share now.
Perhaps it was because I recently re-watched it, but there was a certain episode of South Park on my mind during this time. It was the episode where Stan Marsh encounters Jonathan Edward, the famous (and bogus) medium. After a heated exchange of differences, Stan calls Edward a “douche,” at which point the alleged psychic starts throwing a childlike tantrum, stomping his foot and whining in this ridiculous voice that he’s not a douche and that Stan better shut up if he knows what’s good for him. And that, if you ask me, is exactly what the Christian God is like. Just watch South Park’s portrayal of Jonathan Edward in that episode, and you’ve got the full measure of the biblical God.
Allow me to explain what I mean. Picture, if you will, some entity that is supposedly a “perfect deity.” Imagine that this being decides to create some toys to play with. But when he’s done making them, he observes in his lofty wisdom that they are not perfect like he is. They are less than him since, even though he made them, they themselves are not divine like he is. And so, immediately after having made them, he looks upon them with disdain and judges them for being what they are: 1) less than him, and 2) imperfect creations wrought from his hands. In his displeasure at these imperfect toys he’s created, he throws a tantrum, stomps his foot, crosses his arms, and, with some pouting, says to himself: “I’m too good for these imperfect things. I shall therefore destroy them.” So he picks the toys up and, in his tantrum, throws them against the wall, at which point they shatter and are thus no more.
What could be said about this so-called “perfect deity?” I know what I would say about him. I’d say he’s a spoiled brat with no comprehension of the consequences of his actions. I’d say he’s an uninspiring, run-of-the-mill specimen, no different than the billions of snotty kids that have come and gone on this planet.
Suppose he doesn’t destroy the toys right away. Instead, he decides to subject them to ongoing punishment for being less than he is. So he erects a “reality” around the toys, a rigorous, cruel one that is designed to test them, perfect them, and weed out the good from the bad. He makes this reality as difficult as possible, then hides himself from the toys while, at the same time, demanding that they love and worship him. He offers no reason for their love and worship other than that he’s perfect. “I’m perfect and you’re not,” he whispers from some unseen location, “so serve me and adore me and praise me and revere me.” And when the toys demonstrate their inability to do so (because, let’s face it, you can’t love someone who’s absent and nor revere someone who’s acting like a pissy little brat), he is further angered and decides to create a “place of eternal punishment.” Not just a regular place of punishment—no, an eternal place of punishment, where their violation, which is nothing more than the result of their natures (which he created), can be horrifically penalized unendingly in a manner that surpasses time.
What now could be said about this so-called “perfect deity?” Words like psychopath and sadist come to mind. I mean, what would be said about a human who behaved this way? If a mother has a child and then punishes it ceaselessly for being imperfect, or for one measly offense that in no way measures up to the corresponding wrath, we would call such a mother a “monster,” take the child away from her, and subject her to legal and psychological correction. But no one raises an eyebrow when the supposed God of the Universe is portrayed this way by the Christian religion?
Suppose these “toys” our little psychotic child has created aren’t just inanimate objects but living creatures with feelings and vulnerabilities and fears and reasonable proclivities for error given their imperfect nature (which they didn’t ask for) and the incongruities of reality (which they didn’t choose). What could we say about a God who judges them? I just see South Park’s Jonathan Edward stomping his foot and getting all pissy, ranting at us with that ridiculous voice, saying, “But I created you. You’re supposed to love me. It’s not fair. I’ll get even,” at which point he decides that nothing will satisfy his displeasure with his own creation except the shedding of blood. Someone has to die. Blood has to be spilled. Atonement must be paid in full. It’s not like he decides to just man up and accept that he created something faulty. No, he removes his own complicity in the matter and puts it all on the living toys. “Your nature displeases me,” he says, “even though I’m the one who made it. Therefore, I shall sacrifice something that is perfect, shed its blood, and use that blood to mollify my irritation. Yes. In fact, I think my own son would be a good candidate for that. Where is he? I’ll make him die. That’ll make up for the fact that I created something faulty.”
This is f**king insane.
And this, we are told, is love.
And yet, when you really think about it objectively, this is, in essence, the basic assertion of the Christian religion. God is perfect, the Christians say, and he created us. But he can’t look upon us for being less than he is. So, even though it’s not our fault, we are subjected to eternal punishment unless we employ this thing called “faith” and decide to worship the God who wants to punish us if we don’t. Who can honestly look at the gospel of Christianity and describe it any other way but this? It’s as if this God is saying, “Believe in me and you shall be saved from what will happen if you don’t believe in me.”
And this, we are told, is love.
Oh, certainly. Yes, I know my wife would just love it if I held a knife to her throat and said, “Think worshipful things about me or you die.” What an inspiring act of love that would be. Or if I hid from her, never letting her see me, and demanded that, in order to escape certain death, she love me in spite of my conspicuous absence. I mean, you can’t even make this shit up without people wondering if you’ve got a few screws loose, and yet this is the pill Christianity wants you to swallow.
Now, I am not perfect. I’m not even that intelligent compared to some the other human specimens lurching about out there in the world, but I am smart enough to know that if I fold a piece of paper into an airplane and it doesn’t fly, the error was most definitely a result of my poor engineering. I wouldn’t get mad at the piece of paper. It’s not like it did anything or had any say in the matter. I wouldn’t zap it into oblivion with a death ray and think, “How dare it be less than me!” But then again, I’m not the insane, crybaby God of Christianity.
It is very difficult to understand why we couldn’t see this when we were in the clutches of the faith, whereas now it is as evident as the morning sun. The entire premise of Christianity is an explosive mixture of absurdities, and its god is exposed as an immature spoiled child.
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