(1801) John’s lie about burial spices
In the Gospel of John, it is told that a huge quantity of spices were placed around Jesus’s dead body before it was wrapped in strips of linen for burial. This is a contradiction not only of thhttp://www.kyroot.com/?page_id=8266&preview=truee other gospels but also of Jewish burial customs. Here is the scripture from John:
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
The following was taken from:
It is also unlikely spices were even present. Their quantity is ridiculously exaggerated in John, the only one to mention them (19:38-40). In contrast, Mark, the earliest and least fantastic source, leaves no one time to anoint the body (15:42, 16:1), Luke concurs with this, saying that the spices had to be prepared later for application Sunday (23:53-6), and Matthew, like all of them, mentions only a cloth. So John’s lie is exposed by the universal disagreement of his colleagues. Indeed, packing bodies in spices was not a Jewish practice, contrary to John’s assertion that it was–instead, it was Egyptian, and the mention of spices here may be an invention meant to link the burial of Jesus with that of Israel (Jacob) and Joseph (Genesis 50:2, 50:26). To the contrary, Jews washed corpses and wrapped them in a clean cloth.
This provides additional evidence that the Gospel of John is a work of fiction designed to satisfy a certain segment of the newly-formed Christian faith. Something so conspicuously made up casts reasonable doubt on the reminder of this gospel.
(1802) American revelation involved unnecessary suffering
The case has been made often that God’s revelation of his son Jesus as a redeemer was done in a way that defies logic, fairness, and efficiency. In fact, it was done in a way that exactly proceeded as if it was strictly a human-generated effort. What is striking is the way that this revelation reached the shores of the Americas- late in time and with an explosion of human suffering. The following was taken from:
If the God of the Bible is the God of everyone why did he appear multiple times over different centuries only in a very specific region to only a very specific community of people in the middle east and made the people in the Americas wait more than 1500 years before they could know him and be saved, and people in Australia more than 1900 years before they could know him and be saved? Wouldn’t make more sense to appear also in Australia and America before the white men went there, bible in one hand and sword in the other? People in Europe had the chance to build cathedrals before the first man in America even heard the name Jesus for the first time, everyone could read a printed bible in his own language before the first man in Australia had the chance to know Jesus. .
Plus, and most importantly, God gave those people no immunity to western diseases (and it was totally in his power), so it was written from the beginning that the only chance those people had to know Jesus, even if the encounter with Europeans was totally peaceful and respectful (which was not, but at least you can blame men being evil on that), was to come in touch with white men and also with their diseases, therefore die in great numbers (millions) because of those. In the end it seems an incredible amount of inefficiency, unnecessary suffering and overall lack of thinking ( and I’m being gentle with words here ) coming from such a perfect being that cares about all men, loves all men and want to give all men the opportunity to be saved.
It is hard to imagine that this could have been the plan of a perfect deity who wants to give everyone a chance and who has, you would think, no need or desire to inflict gratuitous suffering on innocent people. On the other hand, under that assumption that Christianity and other religions are human creations, then such a scenario makes perfect sense.
(1803) Killing rebellious children
Christianity has a problem that it tries very hard to ignore. It comes in form of a scripture that is clearly not in accordance with modern standards of ethics:
If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
There is no Christian today who would condone this remedy for a rebellious child. However, there are very few Christians who will admit that this scripture was written strictly by a man without inspiration from God. In other words, Christians are boxed in a corner on this issue- they must admit that God ordered this punishment, or else everything in the Old Testament including the Ten Commandments comes under similar suspicion, including all of the alleged prophecies of Jesus.
So, all that is left for the apologist is to claim that God changed his mind, and after Jesus came, a new covenant was formed that overrode the Jewish Law. So no more stoning is required. This is a semi-plausible explanation, though admittedly making God appear wishy-washy, but it also stirs up another problem- when exactly did this change occur? Was it when Jesus was conceived, when he was born, when he was baptized, when he was crucified, when he was resurrected, or when he sent the Holy Spirit? There is nothing in the gospels where Jesus declared the Law was dead, in fact he emphatically said the opposite. So when did it happen?
We can conceive a scenario where a rebellious child is stoned, and one hour later another rebellious child is sent to the quarry for execution. But, just in the nick of time, the law for stoning bad children was abolished, and everyone puts down the stones. In other words, the change had to happen at an exact moment in time, but who can agree when and, more importantly, how would they know? There is no command in the Bible stating when or even if this change in the law occurred. The arbitrary applicability of God’s alleged commands renders it very likely that this is simply a product of human and only human thought.
(1804) Jesus’ disciples versus Jim Jones
Jim Jones was a leader of a sect of Christians who migrated with him from California to Guyana to inhabit what was called the ‘People’s Temple.’ In 1978 Jones came under pressure from the authorities and instigated a mass suicide of 908 of his followers including 304 children. Very few of his followers resisted, showing their undying admiration for and belief in Jones. This is contrasted by the gospel stories of Jesus’s followers when he fell afoul of the law and was captured by Roman soldiers. The following is taken from:
One of my own favorite sticky questions is why did all of Jesus’ disciples abandon him the night before his crucifixion? As far as I can see, this makes no sense at all in view of what they should have known about Jesus by that time.
Consider that, according to the Gospels, these guys had followed Jesus around for 3 years. They had seen him perform dozens, perhaps hundreds of miracles; healing the sick and crippled with a touch, walking on water, changing water to wine, feeding thousands with a few fishes and loaves of bread, bringing the dead back to life, etc. Pretty amazing stuff, huh? That would have been more than enough to convince me that this guy was god, the son of god, or both.
But that’s not all! Three of the apostles witnessed Jesus “transfiguration” on a mountain top. On the mountain, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light. Then the prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to him and he speaks with them. Jesus is then called “Son” by a voice in the sky.
And that’s still not all! According to Matthew 10:1, when Jesus
“had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”
So, now the apostles also had miraculous powers. And, Acts 8:5-8 tells us that they actually used these special powers:
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.”
Why did all of Jesus’ disciples abandon him the night before his crucifixion?Yet, after all this, on the night before his crucifixion, all of Jesus disciples abandoned him, denying they knew him and staying away. Contrast this with the Jim Jones of Guyana story where, according to numerous eyewitnesses, many of his followers willingly drank the Kool-Aid. They obviously believed Jones was a legitimate prophet who was in god’s inner circle. Yet, Jones never showed them any miracles, was never transfigured, and never passed on any special powers to his followers. How much more evidence did the apostles have of Jesus importance to the cosmos? Yet they still abandoned him.
Is this believable to anyone who has ever given it any real thought? To further confound things, it is claimed that the apostles were staunch supporters and proselytizers for Jesus after his resurrection, some claiming the apostles all died violent deaths rather than recanting their belief in Jesus. Some turnaround, huh?
So, why would the Gospel authors tell the Jesus story in this way? I suspect that Jesus’ abandonment by the apostles was merely a literary device to increase the readers’ sympathy for Jesus. This left Jesus truly alone in his darkest hour, deserted by even his closest friends. Yet, Jesus keeps faith with god. He becomes an even greater hero through this device; even more deserving of our admiration and worship.
So, what’s my point? Well, my point is that this is one more reason to doubt the Jesus story as told by the Gospels. Given what they knew of Jesus, and their own powers given them by Jesus, there was every reason for them to stand by him in his darkest hour; more reason, by far, than Jim Jones followers had to stand by him. I think the Gospel writers seized on this literary device without thinking it through. By using this device they increased our sympathy for Jesus, yes, but they simultaneously cast a very deep shadow of doubt on the whole story – for those of us who actually bother to think about what the Bible says.
This is a subtle inconsistency with the gospel stories, but it points out the high likelihood that they are fictionalized history at best if not complete fabrications. Either his followers would have not abandoned him or else he never performed the miracles purported in the gospels. One or the other has to go.
(1805) Christianity’s crumbling foundation
Whether they like it or not, Christians must acknowledge that the legitimacy of their faith depends directly on the legitimacy of the Jewish faith. The ties are too strong to enable any meaningful separation. In recent years, archaeological investigation has continued to undermine the historical foundation of the Jewish faith to the point where most of the stories in the Old Testament are considered fictional or, at best, highly exaggerated. The following was taken from:
Following 70 years of intensive excavations in the Land of Israel, archaeologists have found out: The patriarchs’ acts are legendary, the Israelites did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, they did not conquer the land. Neither is there any mention of the empire of David and Solomon, nor of the source of belief in the God of Israel. These facts have been known for years, but Israel is a stubborn people and nobody wants to hear about it.
This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, Jehovah, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai. Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people – and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story – now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people’s emergence are radically different from what that story tells.
This represents more than a problem for Christianity- it is actually a death blow. The historical accuracy of the Old Testament forms the bedrock of the Christian faith. Without this infrastructure, the authority of the church is devastated. Church leaders are working overtime to keep this information from reaching the faithful.
(1806) Seneca’s silence forged away
Seneca the Younger (4 BC – AD 65), also known simply as Seneca, was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist. During the AD 50’s, he wrote a series of letters to his friend, Lucillius, about the religious sects in the Roman Empire. However, he failed to mention anything about Jesus or Christianity despite the scripturally-supported conventional knowledge that Christianity was already being practiced by that time in Rome and many other areas of the Roman Empire. Centuries later, this was a source of major embarrassment to Christians. In response to this dilemma, a series of forged letters from Seneca to St. Paul was generated. The following was taken from:
The lack of any reference to Jesus Christ or Christians by Seneca was an embarrassment rectified during the 4th century by a forger familiar with Seneca’s letters to his life-long friend Lucilius. What emerged was a correspondence purported to be friendly exchanges between the eminent Roman philosopher – at the height of his fame and political influence – and an unknown itinerant preacher we now call St Paul.
The catalyst for the fabrications appear to have been remarks by Tertullian, in the early 3rd century. Tertullian, aware that Seneca had articulated sentiments suited to a “great moral teacher” referred to Seneca as “often our own.” By the time of Constantius II (337-361), Seneca had been taken captive by the Christians, his fidelity to the cause vouched for by a lively exchange of letters (in Latin!) with the Jewish Christian apostle. We are asked to believe that Seneca wrote eight letters to Paul and received six replies. As if.
“The tradition that Gallio sent some of St. Paul’s writings to his brother Seneca is utterly absurd; and indeed at this time (A.D. 54), St. Paul had written nothing except the two Epistles to the Thessalonians.”
– Rev. F. W. Farrar.
(here are examples from the forged letters)
” Hail, my dearest Paul … so great a man, so beloved in all ways … You are the summit and topmost peak of all people …
We were much refreshed by the reading of … the many letters which you have addressed to some city or capital of a province .. which inculcate the moral life with admirable precepts…
Such is the greatness of them … such nobility, that I think whole ages of men could hardly suffice for the instilling and perfecting of them … For it is the holy spirit which is in you and high above you which expresses these exalted and adorable thoughts.
The Augustus was moved by your views … he could wonder that a man not regularly educated could think thus. I replied that the gods often speak by the mouths of the simple …
Be but intimately associated with me and my name …
I am glad as to be counted a second self of yours … For the rank that is mine, I would it were yours, and yours I would were mine.
Farewell, dearest Paul.”
Extant copies of the bogus correspondence date from the 9th century, though both Jerome (de Viris Illustribus 12), and Augustine (Epistle 153.4 ad Macedonium) in the late 4th- early 5th century refer to an earlier edition. Jerome had the temerity to list Seneca among the Church “Fathers” and couples the compelled suicide of Seneca with the fabled martyrdom of Peter and Paul about the same time!
Forgeries were common during this time and, in fact, several known forgeries made it into the canon of the Bible. There is no reason to believe that these kinds of duplicitous activities would have been needed if Jesus was the popular figure described in the gospels and if Christianity was, as alleged, an important emerging religion during the First Century.
(1807) How to recognize God?
Any religion that is true should have a method available so that a sincere searcher can identify the god that is claimed to exist. There must be some method to differentiate the true god from all of the false ones. But when each potential method is examined, specifically now referring to the Christian god, all of them fail. The following is taken from:
How many times in our conversations with theists, have we come across the phrase, “God is mysterious. Incomprehensible. More than any finite mind could ever conceive or describe.”
Elsewhere, another blogger posed a question that I found intriguing: “If I cannot see God and if I cannot understand him, how will I know if I have found him?”
I have talked before about the concept of God and love. And when we compare what God does to what humans do—well, it doesn’t seem very loving. But when I point that out, I am met with shock—“Who are you to question God? Were you there when he made the foundations of the earth? His love is so much different, so beyond our comprehension (he died for you!) that it is nothing like it in the natural world.”
O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by love.
Or, when the question of love is brought up, I am informed that I am forgetting that God is just. But what does his justice look like? “Just” means in accordance with a law. What law does God have to follow? And, when he is merciful, he is deliberately not following the law. In other words, God is not bound by any justice or mercy at all. Since I cannot even see God, talking about some law beyond God (which he does or does not have to follow) that I see even less becomes meaningless.
O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by justice or mercy.
And I am informed that God defines absolute morality. But then I view actions in the Tanakh that go against the moral intuition he allegedly gave me. Things like asking a person to perform human sacrifice to prove their loyalty. Genocides. Hardening hearts. When I ask about those things, that don’t seem very moral to me, I am told I must accept God as moral, and while it doesn’t appear moral, God had to have a moral reason for it.
O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by morality.
I have no way to verify if God is speaking the truth. If God is bound by truth, and I ask, “Can you lie?” he must answer “No.” But if he is NOT bound by truth, and I ask, “Can you lie?” he can still answer “No”! Same question. Same answer. Two completely different Gods. No way to verify whether God is telling the truth.
O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by truth.
If I am talking to a young earth creationist, I am informed that God could make the stars appear to be billions of light years away, and make the earth appear to be billions of years old, by creating it looking old. But it really is young. And I am told by old earth creationists, that God didn’t mean “day” when he inspired the author of Genesis 1, but rather God meant “a long, long time” and that God created light before he created the sun. Which is completely contrary to science. But God did that because he did not want it to be too easy for us to believe in creationism.
O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by science.
I am told by Christians that Mormon scriptures are not from God and the Qur’an is not from God, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is not from God. That certain books, although esteemed as canonical at one time, like 1 Clement, Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas, are not inspired either. And now, we have questions as to whether the ending of Mark, or the Story of the Adulterous woman is inspired. In fact, the Christians can’t seem to agree on a method by which we can determine a certain string of words is inspired or not.
All of which doesn’t matter, because even without holy writings, I will still be held responsible.
O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by writings.
The Muslims have miracle stories of their own. So do Hindus. And Catholics have a weekly sighting of Mary, in cooked items or bridge underpasses. Mormons and Seven-Day Adventists have moving stories of personal testimony by which they tell of life-transformations because of their God. But those are the wrong Gods. The humans have it wrong, I am told.
O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by testimonies.
At which point, I wonder, as my blogger friend said: If I can’t recognize a God—how would I know it if I see it?
The problem with “God is mysterious” is that the impetus is on us to play this blind man’s bluff game with a ticking bomb, and the theist is puzzled why we have difficulty perceiving God. For the reasons they just explained—he is not like anything we know.
If your claim of reality is incomprehensible—why be surprised if I don’t comprehend it? I’m just following instructions.
Because all of these methods to recognize god fail, the prospective Christian is left with only one avenue for obtaining assurance that they are ‘barking up the right tree’- to just have faith. That is, the same method used by members of every other religion, and how do we determine whose faith out of this assembly, if any, is accurately aligned with reality?
(1808) The Clergy Project
The Clergy Project is an international nonprofit organization based in the United States that provides peer support to current and former religious leaders who no longer have faith. The group’s focus is to provide private online forums for its participants, and assistance through career transition grants, hardship grants, and free sessions of psychotherapy. The following was taken from:
It’s a well-known fact that, people are leaving religion in troves. Ministers are also leaving. The Clergy Project has approximately 800 ministers in their group with many still in the pulpit preaching very Sunday.
Why did Bob Ripley, who ministered the largest protestant church in Canada come out as an atheist after 45 years as a preacher, Cass Midgely after 20 years, Jerry DeWitt after 25 years, Rich Lyons after 25 years, Dan Barker after 19 years, Teresa MacBain after several years to name a few?
The reason that this is significant evidence against the Christian religion is that the hundreds of church leaders who have left the faith would positively be the least likely to have done so if Christianity was true. These are the people most invested in the faith, as it supports their livelihood, the most knowledgeable about the scriptures, and whose daily work should have enabled them to witness the countless little miracles working in people’s lives as a result of answered prayer. It is incomprehensible to believe that even a single minister would have abandoned their faith in a world where Christianity was true.
(1809) Answers believers give for tragedies
It is illuminating to see how Christians react to tragedies in an effort to explain why the world does not always seem to comport to their expectations. The following is a good summation of these responses:
- God has a plan for us all (otherwise known as, “There’s a reason for everything”).
- God must have had a reason for taking your (relative) so young (a personalized version of No. 1).
- The Lord works in mysterious ways.
- Your (Relative) will be waiting for you in heaven.
- He’s looking down on you and keeping you safe.
- God called him home.
- It was just his time.
- He was too good for this world.
- God must have needed another angel.
- God never gives us more than we can handle.
No matter what happens, they can use one or more of these ‘excuses’ for divine inaction or apparent malevolence to protect their image of God as a perfect celestial overlord. Combined with intense indoctrination and social pressure to conform, these niceties lubricate the hard edges of reality so that they can finesse their way to the grave without suffering extreme doubts. Thus, the belief in a god who does nothing, says nothing, and remains invisible can survive in the minds of billions of people who never live to see the unvarnished reality of their existence.
(1810) Alternate view of what caused resurrection belief
Within Gerd Lüdemann’s book, The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (2004), an interesting theory is presented to explain how belief in Jesus’s resurrection originated. What is important about this theory is that it brings out the highly probable fact that the disciples of Jesus would not have remained in Jerusalem following Jesus’s arrest. They were there on a trip- they did not live there, and to avoid Roman prosecution they most likely returned to their homes in Galilee. As such, they would not have been around to observe an empty tomb, assuming that there was one. The gospel of Mark hints at this when it informs the disciples to go to Galilee where the first meeting with the resurrected Jesus was to occur. The following was taken from:
When Jesus was arrested and crucified his disciples fled. They did not go into hiding in Jerusalem – then went back home, to Galilee (where *else* would they go? They went home, to get out of Jerusalem!)
Soon after, it was in Galilee (not in Jerusalem) that belief in the resurrection occurred. It occurred because Peter had a vision of Jesus that included auditory features (he thought he saw and heard him).
This “vision” was induced by psychological factors. Peter felt terrifically guilty for having denied Jesus, and the “vision” he had brought forgiveness from his deep guilt.
This vision was like other visions that people have (all the time): visions of dead loved ones; visions of the Virgin Mary. In these visions, of course the loved ones do not *really* come back to life from the dead, and the Virgin Mary does not *really* show up at Lourdes, etc. These are psychologically induced visions.
Still, like other people who have visions, Peter took the vision to be real and assumed that Jesus was alive again, in heaven.
Peter brought the other disciples together, and maintained with them that the end time was near, as Jesus had originally preached, and that the kingdom of God was soon to appear. The evidence? The resurrection of the dead had already begun. The evidence? Jesus had been raised. The evidence? He had appeared to Peter. All this is happening in Galilee.
The vision was infectious, and the mission got underway.
Even Jesus’ brothers were caught up in the excitement and James became a believer in Jesus.
The other person who had a genuine vision of Jesus was much later, the apostle Paul, who too experienced a psychologically induced vision of Jesus. In this case, he found Jesus’ teaching of forgiveness and mercy appealing, even as he was violently persecuting the church as an enemy. But forgiveness won out and in a cataclysmic break from his past, Paul had a vision of the living Jesus, convincing him that Peter and the others were right: Jesus was still alive, and therefore had been raised from the dead.
Some Christians thought that these visions showed that Jesus was spiritually exalted to heaven – not that his body had been physically raised from the dead.
Others, including Peter and Paul, insisted that in fact Jesus had experienced a physical resurrection of the body, which had been transformed into an immortal body before being exalted to heaven.
The implication was that the tomb was emptied before Jesus’ started to make his appearances (other Christians also claimed to see him, but it is hard to establish that any of the others actually had any visions – they may have simply been building on Peter’s original claim).
But by this time it was too late to know whether the tomb was really empty. For several reasons:
We don’t know how much after his death the vision to Peter came; Acts suggests that it was fifty days before the preaching began; if so, the body would have decomposed.
No one knew where he was buried anyway (the story of Joseph of Arimathea may be a later account, not something that really happened; Jesus may have been buried in a common grave or somewhere no one knew.
It is worth pointing out, Ludemann notes, that Christians in Jersualem appear to have placed ZERO emphasis on the location of the tomb. It was not until 326, according to Eusebius, was the alledged site of burial “rediscovered” under a temple dedicated to Venus. Life of Constantine 3.26-28.
And so, the short story: Chrsitianity started among Jesus’ followers in Galilee, sometime after his death, after Peter had a vision of Jesus that was psychologically induced.
So, to be clear, I’m not saying I agree with this entire reconstruction. But it’s very interesting, based on a detailed examination of all the evidence from the NT (and outside) by a skilled interpreter, and worth bearing in mind when trying to figure out what really happened both to Jesus’ body and to the followers of Jesus to make them believe it had been raised from the dead.
This scenarios adds another layer to the list of different ways that belief in the resurrection could have originated. Each one is remarkable more probable than the miraculous resurrection of a 36+ hour decomposed human body.
(1811) Humans out-communicate God
Within the past few decades, human technology has advanced to the point where a message can be delivered to well over half of the earth’s population in a matter of seconds. The message can arrive without any alterations or interpolations, pristinely accurate to the author’s original creation. Although, there can be arguments about the intent or meaning of the message, the exact text is not in dispute.
By contrast, when God decided to send a message to mankind, his revelation was limited to an area less than 1% of the earth’s surface and to less than 1% of the earth’s population. The message was then adulterated by centuries of inadvertent and purposeful changes resulting from human interference.
When we contrast the two scenarios, it is amazing to see how humans have reached a point where they can out-perform the messaging capability of the Christian god. Some skeptics have questioned why God has not used the internet to deliver an updated message to mankind- to clear up the divisions and differences in theological beliefs. Perhaps he is embarrassed at being upstaged?
(1812) Two Jesus’s?
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus rarely refers to himself, but in the Gospel of John this changes completely and Jesus is primarily focused on himself. This was pointed out by biblical scholar Bart Erhman as follows:
To illustrate the differences between the Gospels, Ehrman offers opposing depictions of Jesus talking about himself. In the book of John, Jesus talks about himself and proclaims who he is, saying “I am the bread of life.” Whereas in Mark, Jesus teaches principally about the coming kingdom and hardly ever mentions himself directly. These differences offer clues into the perspectives of the authors, and the eras in which they wrote their respective Gospels, according to Ehrman.
“In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is not interested in teaching about himself. But when you read John’s Gospel, that’s virtually the only thing Jesus talks about is who he is, what his identity is, where he came from,” Ehrman says. “This is completely unlike anything that you find in Mark or in Matthew and Luke. And historically it creates all sorts of problems, because if the historical Jesus actually went around saying that he was God, it’s very hard to believe that Matthew, Mark and Luke left out that part — you know, as if that part wasn’t important to mention. But in fact, they don’t mention it. And so this view of the divinity of Jesus on his own lips is found only in our latest Gospel, the Gospel of John.”
This is a crushing blow to the authenticity of the gospels, at least as a complete unit. At most, there should be just one Jesus, but if the gospels are taken at face value, an objective reviewer would have to conclude there were at least two.
(1813) Christianity is a failed religion
Toward the end of World War II, a desperate Adolph Hitler was in a meeting with his generals trying to develop a defensive strategy against the Allied invasion. While doing this, he strategically moved around blocks representing Axis divisions on a map of Europe. What he didn’t realize is that most of those divisions no longer existed.
In like manner, many Christians are frantically trying to defend their faith by using their last and fading lines of defense against secularism. What most don’t realize is that Christianity is already a failed religion. This is explained in the following essay:
Christians of the literal Bible-believing kind are so angry. Doesn’t their faith provide any peace and love or uh, “Christian” spirit toward others? Yet they are known for being judgmental. And if an evangelizing Christian doesn’t get a receptive response, there is always a threat about where one will spend eternity, often delivered with a touch of “you’ll get yours” vengefulness.
But there are serious problems for a person with Christianity as a framework for living in the modern world. The anger is because it is a failed religion. The reasons for resentment are well below awareness, and taking it out on other people is not appropriate. In general, all sides appear to be rather confused about the hair-trigger emotional reactions to many issues, the rush to defend God and morality, the frequent condemnation, and the strange vitriol.
The thing is that Christianity is not just a cognitive set of beliefs. It is a worldview that completely colors reality. It works on a deep level of the mind through metaphors, images, and tacit assumptions. The Christian worldview is a closed, irrational system which is taught to small children who can’t and don’t question. It is transmitted like a virus down through generations and supported in the larger culture.
The images present in Christianity can help with understanding its power – not the words but the images, which in the human brain are more connected to emotions than language. Children and adults alike process information and act on it more easily and quickly when using symbols and metaphor rather than language. This becomes unconscious, so an all-encompassing system like Christianity can easily become a lens affecting one’s entire view of life. Picture these images:
• A powerful male god – creator, hater of sin, destroyer with flood and fire, demander of blood sacrifice, final judge – the symbol of authority and power
• A kneeling subject, head down, weak, subservient – the symbol of shame
• A bloody torture and execution of an innocent man on a cross – the symbol of guilt
• An evil, dangerous Satan, lurking and stalking with his demons throughout the world – the symbol of terror
• The world as a battlefield with a mighty fight between good and evil, the Christian wearing the “armor of God,” and life as war – the symbol of struggle.
• A heavenly afterlife with mansions and streets of gold, being with God, where the “lion lies down with the lamb” – the symbol of ultimate contentment
• Jesus’ return in force, with armies of angels, ready to slaughter and win the Battle of Armageddon – the symbol of vengeance and justice.
• Burning hell fire with people screaming in pain, lost for eternity, separated from God – the symbol of fear.
There are other images from the Bible, such as Jesus as the Good Shepherd, Jesus blessing the children, or giving the Sermon on the Mount. But in modern, fundamentalist Christianity, these are not the popular images of Jesus. Much preferred are the muscular ones having to do with his image at the Second Coming. Especially among young people, by the looks of the Christian T-shirts available for sale, Jesus the King riding on a white horse, is a far better image, almost like a superhero expected to appear in the sky.
An example on YouTube is at a revival meeting before a group sings a rousing version of “The King is Coming.” The minister says that Jesus came the first time as a baby and not many noticed, but next time he’s coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords; every eye shall see him, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, he says.
The problem seems to be that it’s not happening. Many years have gone by – over 2000 – and he has yet to return like he promised. From outside the belief system, like a visitor from another planet, one can pretty easily read the scripture and notice this pesky problem. It is a tribute to the power of belief, and the nature of passing on unquestioned beliefs to new generations that this issue can slide by. (Right?)
But the bald truth is the Christianity is a failure. Some religions have a cyclic concept of time and the religious concepts are largely precepts for living, e.g. Hinduism and Buddhism. But Christianity has a timetable. This is a problem. The god, Jehovah, created the world, the Fall occurred, the Plan of Salvation had to be installed, and then the plan was for Jesus to come back, win a last battle with Satan, have a Final Judgment, and send everyone to heaven or hell. Telling this story to a potential new believer is difficult if they are an adult, even from this planet. The promise of heaven and the threat of hell aren’t real enough, and there is no sign of Jesus showing up. The “signs” constantly claimed are easily disputed. In fact, to the unbeliever listening to this, using natural disasters and political upheavals as indicators of the End Times sounds more like avoiding responsibility for the world.
Christianity also does not have a track record for coming through on other promises such as answered prayer and changed lives. “Jesus Saves” doesn’t seem to mean a lot. Even the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel’s Messiah, while sounding amazing at Christmas, hardly announces the birth of a savior who actually saved the world. Even in terms of the afterlife, from a strict “accept Jesus as your personal savior” point of view, a tiny fraction of humanity gets the benefit of going to heaven, thanking the baby in the manger, while the rest of the globe is headed for hell. Fundamentalist Christians don’t mention this part of their theology when they rail about the “war on Christmas.”
Statistically, prayer makes as much difference as anything else when it comes to matters of health. Divorce and domestic violence is actually higher in religious families, and the incidence of sexual abuse is shocking. In general, Christians are known for lagging behind the rest of the culture in terms of progressive values like tolerance, human rights, torture, and war. Over many centuries the Christian world has opposed progress in science, and is currently waging war in public schools against evolution, which is the basis of biology and other sciences. Again, like the Christians at Christmas, the personality profile does not impress.
Looking at the state of the world and at life through this lens of Christianity is thus pretty dark. At present, it seems obvious that many people with a Christian worldview are deeply angry and resentful. There is much railing against the morals of society, as though the entire country is endangered. Natural disasters in various places have been attributed to God’s judgment for sin, (which is an Iron Age understanding of nature). In fact, because of the view that this is a fallen world ruled by Satan and very dangerous, there is a constant anxiety that if God becomes fed up with the rampant immorality of our nation, he will withdraw his blessing and his protection, sending us into disaster. Unfortunately for the scared Christian looking around at cultural developments, the direction of change is toward secularism, not piety. After 9-11, many Christians were convinced that America was being taught a lesson and that the proper response was to repent and change our immoral ways. Obama was even criticized for his words at Ground Zero about being strong and rebuilding.
Looking at the state of the world and at life through this lens of Christianity is thus pretty dark. Changes are out of control and pretty frightening. The images listed above overshadow all else, including worldly things like interesting developments in the arts, diplomatic achievements, or exciting scientific discoveries. This supernatural frame is radically different from a natural, secular frame on reality. The events of importance are Jesus death of 2000 years ago, and the return of Jesus at some unknown time in the future. Christians constantly hope that this return will be soon and historically have always claimed that the End is imminent. The present is not important, and the earth is not a priority. Physical bodies and pleasure are not important because the spiritual world is what counts.
Christianity teaches followers not to be invested in this life. Peace in the Middle East is not a goal because if war in that region were to escalate, it could mean Armageddon and that would herald the Messiah. The passion is not for building a better world but for escape to a different, perfect world. Unfortunately, modern believers do not understand that Jesus, if he did exist, was one of many apocalyptic prophets who was sounding the alarm in his time that the end was nigh. That was why he told his followers to not make any plans for the future and leave everything to follow him.
For the present day Christian, raised to never question dogma, Jesus’ promise, “Behold, I come quickly,” is impossible to digest with intellectual honesty. Instead, the deep grief and rage of the abandoned child gets lodged in the psyche and plays out in a plethora of unconscious ways, causing harm to the self and society. Even when spoken, as a Christian defends his faith to a skeptic, the anger is barely concealed. The promise of Jesus’ return sounds more like a threat, like the Terminator: “I’ll be back.”
Unfortunately, the best solution is also the most unlikely for hard-core believers: to achieve a level of self-awareness and insight to recognize Christianity as a lost cause and reject it as a framework for living.
The pathetic sight of people ‘riding a dead horse’ while lugging around the mind-numbing weight of Christianity is what most of us see who have exited the faith or who were never indoctrinated in the first place. Its time has come and gone and now it’s time to resign ourselves to address the realities of a natural world.
(1814) Excluding the event that got Jesus killed
There are many instances where one or more gospels tell a story that is omitted from the others. Generally, stating that the authors were focused on different aspects of Jesus’ ministry is a plausible apologetic line of defense. But in the following case, it is not.
This is the story in John Chapter 11 where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. This story is not included in the first three gospels that were written- Mark, Matthew, and Luke, and its exclusion in those writings is in off itself a problem considering that this was, if true, Jesus’ greatest miracle. But that isn’t even the biggest problem. As explained in the text of John, this miracle was the catalyst for the Pharisees to capture and kill Jesus- which, in reality, is one-half of the core Christian story (death and resurrection). To leave this out of the story would be like not mentioning slavery when discussing the American Civil War. Here are the relevant verses from John:
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.
For Mark, Matthew, and Luke to exclude the seminal event that got Jesus killed is so implausible that it is extraordinarily more likely that John simple made up this story. And all it takes is one made-up story to start to doubt all of the rest.
(1815) The university professor analogy
Christianity claims that salvation is possible only for those people who accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Whatever criteria God used to judge people in the 100,000+ years from the advent of modern humans up to the time of Jesus we don’t know, but for the past 2000 years, evidently, he now uses Jesus as the acid test to decide the eternal fate of modern humans. OK, he changed his mind, and he is God, so he can do so. Jesus is now required, though access to this knowledge was withheld from most humans for centuries and, effectively, still to this day from those born into other religions. When we apply the same logic to a modern-day example, the absolute absurdity of this scam is revealed:
Imagine there is a university professor who has 100 students in his class. He announces that there will be a test during the next class session. As the students are leaving and only 10 students remain in the room, he tells them that if they put the number ‘457’ at the top of their test sheet, he will give them an ‘A’ no matter how badly they score. Anyone who fails to do this will get an ‘F’ no matter how well they do on the test questions. These 10 students tell a few of their friends, so when the test is administered 20 student place ‘457’ on their tests and pass, while the other 80 students, some of whom got almost everything correct, flunk the test.
This is precisely what the God of the Bible is seen to do. He gives the secret formula to a few, and no matter how badly they perform, he gives them a passing grade and entrance into heavenly bliss. To the others, most of whom he has purposely withheld from the secret, and no matter how beautiful and productive their efforts, he curses them and sends them to an eternal painful torture.
Many Christians today recognize the fact that the gospel message taken at face value is hard to reconcile with a loving god. Hell is no longer torture, but just separation from God. They are trying to finesse a way to follow the faith without having to compromise their principles. But this is simply not possible given the clear message of the gospels. Like the university professor above, the God of the Bible is playing a game so cruel and illogical that it simple cannot be the product of a god that actually exists…that is, unless one is willing to concede that God is cruel and illogical.
(1816) Multiple witness rule
There is a general rule that more than one witness of an event is needed to establish an acceptable degree of confidence that an event occurred as asserted. The problem with the Bible it that it is full of single-witness attestations, either directly by the lone witness himself or by a narrator. The following essay fleshes out this concern:
My mother claims that when she was four years old, she floated down a staircase. Astonished by this feat, she ran to the neighborhood children to tell them about her amazing achievement. Some were skeptical, and demanded that she repeat the event in their presence. The crowd gathered in her house as she climbed to the top of the stairs. She stood there trying as hard as she could to launch into the super-human glide that she was certain occurred just minutes beforehand. But nothing happened. As the naysayers began to dispersed, she exclaimed, “You have to eat a lot of carrots!”
“At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the matter be established.” This biblical axiom is scattered through the Old and New Testaments. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s actually not a bad rule. Certainly, in modern courts of law, when more than one witness independently corroborate a story, the story is given credence and becomes believable. In the Bible, this rule is the premise for excommunication, defrocking, and capital punishment. Yet, this foundation for establishing truth is trampled underfoot in almost every occasion related to the most important circumstances in all of scripture – the interactions between the God and man.
No other person heard the voice that told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, then not to kill him, or the argument he had with God about finding a righteous man in Sodom & Gomorrah, or any of the other messages that Abraham received from God or angels. That’s rather damning for the founder of Judaism, Christianity and Islam…
No other person heard or saw the burning bush where the voice of God commissioned Moses to become the deliverer of the Israelites from Egypt. No other person heard or saw God deliver the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. No other person saw God pass by Moses while he hid behind a rock.
No other person heard God tell Noah to build an ark. No other person actually saw a whale swallow – then subsequently vomit out – Jonah. No other person heard God tell Solomon to ask for anything he desired. Certainly, anytime a prophet communicated with God, it was a one-on-one conversation. Even the angelic messages to Mary and Joseph were delivered individually to each. No one else saw or heard the conversation between Paul and glorified Jesus on the road to Damascus.
This observation is not confined to biblical accounts. I can think of no account ever provided by preachers, evangelists, missionaries, apostles, and overly zealous Christians when a message from God was delivered and witnessed by more than one person.
No other person heard God tell Oral Roberts that he would die if he didn’t raise 13 million dollars. Whenever Jimmy Swaggart, Ken Copeland, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell or Ernest Angley started a sentence with, “God told me…” then it’s a safe bet that no other person heard this conversation. This observation can even be extended to the angel Gabriel delivering the Quran to Mohammed, the angel Moroni giving golden plates to Joseph Smith, or when Mother Mary appeared to 14 year old Bernadette Soubirous near Lourdes, France in 1858. There was no other person present during these events.
“At the mouth of two or three witnesses…” You would have at least thought that something as incredulous as God writing the Ten Commandments in stone with his finger would have been important enough to do in front of a crowd. None of these people are to be believed. I don’t even believe my own mother. If two or three of those neighborhood children would have witnessed my mother float down that staircase, what might have been…
Because so much of Judeo-Christian scripture is limited by the witness of a single person, the authenticity of its purported history is highly questionable. This extends to the present day as ‘messages from God’ always seem to be directed to lone individuals, and, when viewed collectively, they form a hopeless tangle of contradictory themes.
(1817) The Bible is badly written
If the Bible is the product of divine influence, we would expect its literary quality to be very good, if not better than anything mere humans have ever produced. But the opposite is true. The Bible shows over and again the markers of human authorship. The following was taken from:
But why is the Bible such a mixed bag? Falling short of perfection is one thing, but the Bible has been the subject of thousands of follow-on books by people who were genuinely trying to figure out what it means. Despite best efforts, their conclusions don’t converge, which is one reason Christianity has fragmented into over 40,000 denominations and non-denominations.
Here are just a few of the reasons for this tangled web of disagreements and the terrible quality of some biblical writing (with notable exceptions) by modern literary standards.
Too Many Cooks
Far from being a single unified whole, the Bible is actually a collection of texts or text fragments from many authors. We don’t know the number of writers precisely, and—despite the ancient traditions that assigned authorship to famous people such as Moses, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—we don’t know who most of them were. We do know that the men who inscribed the biblical texts had widely different language skills, cultural and technological surroundings, worldviews and supernatural beliefs—along with varying objectives.
Scholars estimate that the earliest of the Bible’s writers lived and wrote about 800 years before the Christian era, and the most recent lived and wrote almost a century after any historical Jesus would have lived. They ranged from tribal nomads to subjects of the Roman Empire. To make matters more complicated, some of them borrowed fragments of even earlier stories and songs that had been handed down via oral tradition from Sumerian cultures and religions. For example, flood myths that predate the Noah story can be found across Mesopotamia, with a boat-building hero named Utnapishtim or Ziusudra or Atrahasis.
Bible writers adapted earlier stories and laws to their own cultural and religious context, but they couldn’t always reconcile differences among handed-down texts, and often may not have known that alternative versions existed. Later, variants got bundled together. This is why the Bible contains two different creation myths, three sets of Ten Commandments, and four contradictory versions of the Easter story.
Forgery and Counter-forgery
Best-selling Bible scholar Bart Ehrman has written two books about forgery in the New Testament, texts written under the names of famous men to make the writings more credible. This includes the book of 2 Timothy, the one which claims that “all scripture is God-breathed.” Pseudonymous writing was so common among early Christians that nearly half of the books of the New Testament make false authorship claims or were assigned famous names after the fact. When texts claiming to be written by one person were actually written by several, each seeking to elevate his own point of view, we shouldn’t be surprised if the writing styles clash or they espouse contradictory attitudes.
The original language of the New Testament was Koine, a form of Greek spread by Alexander’s army that became a utilitarian lingua franca among the conquered. This is just one reason that the books of the New Testament often lack the poetic beauty of the great Greek epics, which were written in classical Greek. But another may be that for some of the writers, Koine was not their native tongue.
David Bentley Hart, Orthodox theologian, scholar and polemicist, recently produced a New Testament translation that follows the voices and idiosyncrasies of the original text. Of it, he says, “Where an author has written bad Greek … I have written bad English.” After producing his unretouched version of Revelation, Hart opined, “If judged purely by the normal standards of literary style and good taste, [the Book of Revelation is] almost unremittingly atrocious.”
Histories, Poetries, None-of-These
Christians may treat the Bible as a unified book of divine guidance, but in reality it is a mix of different genres: ancient myths, songs of worship, rule books, poetry, propaganda, coded political commentary, and mysticism, to name just a few. Translators and church leaders down through the centuries haven’t always known which of these they were reading. Modern comedians sometimes make a living by deliberately garbling genres—for example, by taking statements literally when they are meant figuratively—or distorting things someone else has written or said. Whether they realize it or not, biblical literalists in the pulpit sometimes make a living doing the same thing.
Lost in Translation
The books of the Bible were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, though not in the modern versions of these languages. (Think of trying to read Chaucer’s Middle English.) When Roman Catholic Christianity ascended, church leaders embraced the Hebrew Bible and translated it into then-modern Latin. They also translated texts from early Jesus-worshipers and convened committees to determine which should make it into their canon of scripture. These became the New Testament. Ironically, some New Testament writers themselves had already translated Old Testament scriptures in ways that changed their meaning. Dubious translations bolstered key doctrines of the Christian faith, the most famous being the Virgin Birth.
Most English versions of the Bible have been translated directly from the earliest available manuscripts, but translators have their own biases, some of which were shaped by those early Latin translations and some of which are shaped by more recent theological considerations or cultural trends. After American Evangelicals pivoted away from supporting abortion in the 1980s, some publishers actually re-translated a troublesome Bible verse that treated the death of a fetus differently from the death of a person. The meaning of the Bible passage changed.
But even when scholars scrupulously try to avoid biases, an enormous amount of information is simply lost in translation. One challenge is that the meanings of a story, or even a single word, depend on what preceded it in the culture at large or a specific conversation, or both.
The Bible does not stand out as being supreme or even equal to many of the greatest novels written by mere mortals. This provides a measure of evidence that it is not a divinely-inspired work, and further that the religion it describes is not a divinely-created faith.
(1818) Anti-abortion translation
A good example of how translators play fast and loose with the scriptures is a passage in Exodus 21 that addressed punishment for a person striking a pregnant woman. Throughout the centuries, the verse addressed a situation where the stricken woman lost the child in a miscarriage. But modern-day partisan translators were concerned that the penalty was just a fine, meaning that the fetus was not characterized as being or having the rights of a human being. So they changed miscarriage to premature birth to achieve their political goal. The following was taken from:
That brings us to the text I want to highlight here as another example of politicized distortion via translation: Exodus 21:22-25.
Here is how Exodus 21:22-25 read in the New American Standard Bible’s 1977 revision of its 1971 original translation:
And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is not further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
You can see how this fits in the context of the chapter. Here is another category of victim for which another set of punishments for violence is given. If a pregnant woman gets struck “so that she has a miscarriage,” but is not herself injured, then the man who struck her must pay a fine. But if the woman herself is injured, then the same rules and punishments for striking any other (non-slave) person apply — “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc.”
But here’s the same passage in 1995 in the updated current version of the NASB:
If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
“So that she has a miscarriage” has been replaced with “so that she gives birth prematurely.”
That’s new. That’s not at all how this passage was translated for centuries. Consider, for example, the Wycliffe Bible from 1382:
If men chide, and a man smiteth a woman with child, and soothly he maketh the child dead-born, but the woman liveth over that smiting, he shall be subject to the harm (he shall be subject to a fine), as much as the woman’s husband asketh (for), and as the judges deem (appropriate).
Or the King James Version from 1611:
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
The same verses from the present-day New International Version are as follows:
“If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.”
So it seems that the Bible is still a living document, being changed as necessary to fit the opinions of those in control of the scriptures. Nevertheless, the original translations of this passage were accurate, and if one believes that they were originally written under the guidance of God, then God would have appeared, at least at that time, to have seen the difference between a fetus and an already born child.
(1819) The New Testament is mired in a pre-scientific world
One of Christianity’s problems is that it is a product of its time- a time before we understood the earth’s position in the universe, before we understood the mechanics of disease and natural disasters, and before we had a grasp of the process of biological evolution. This comparative ignorance bled into the scriptures a lot of themes that today appear embarrassingly outdated. The following is a quote from New Testament scholar Rudolph Bultmann:
“The cosmology of the N.T. is essentially mythical in character. The world is viewed as a three-storied structure, with the earth in the center, the heaven above, and the underworld beneath. Heaven is the abode of God and of celestial beings—angels. The underworld is hell, the place of torment. Man is not in control of his life. Evil spirits may take possession of him. Satan may inspire him with evil thoughts. It is simply the cosmology of a pre-scientific age. To modern man . . . the mythical view of the world is obsolete. It is no longer possible for anyone seriously to hold the N.T. view of the world. We no longer believe in the three-storied universe. No one who is old enough to think for himself supposes that God lives in a local heaven. There is no longer any heaven in the traditional sense. The same applies to hell in the sense of a mythical underworld beneath our feet. And if this is so . . . we can no longer look for the return of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven. It is impossible to use the electric light and the wireless and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time to believe in the N.T. world of spirits and miracles. The same objections apply to the doctrine of the atonement. How can the guilt of one man be expiated by the death of another who is sinless?” [R. Bultmann, in Kerygma & Myth: A Theological Debate, ed. Hans Werner Bartsch (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), pp. 1–7.]
Christian theology may have made sense in the First Century, but as time has gone by, and science and technology have advanced, it no longer seems to match the realities of the modern world. It becomes an effort for the faithful to force fit the scriptures into the zeitgeist of the present day- with dubious results. Upon reading that Jesus sent demons into pigs that then ran into the sea, for example, has to be digested by adding a lot of salt and closing the nostrils.
(1820) Religious beliefs lead to depression
Although previous studies suggested the opposite, a more comprehensive linear study of the relationship between religious or spiritual beliefs and depression suggests that there is a positive correlation, or, at least, that there is no protective value to being religious. This contradicts intuitive logic that connection to a supernatural power should engender contentedness. The following was taken from:
Previously studies appeared to show that religious and spiritual beliefs may be protective for depression, and were associated with better well-being. It was a widely held view amongst psychiatrists (who are not, as a group, particularly religious) that religion and spirituality protected your mood from the vicissitudes of life’s misfortunes.
But now, a very large study, which followed up people for a year, has found there is an opposite relationship between religious belief and depression. Religion, and even more, spirituality not tied to formal religion, appears to be unhelpful in terms of protecting you from low mood, and could even be linked with more depression.
A key finding of the study, conducted in several different counties, is that a spiritual life view predisposed to major depression, especially significantly in the UK, where spiritual participants were nearly three times more likely to experience an episode of depression than the secular group.
The results are startling because previous research found formally religious people had good mental health habits and lifestyle, for example, previous studies established they were less likely to have ever used drugs or to have been hazardous drinkers.
Entitled ‘Spiritual and religious beliefs as risk factors for the onset of major depression: an international cohort study’, the relationship with religious and spiritual belief was investigated in depth by researchers led by Professor Michael King from University College London. Over 8,000 people visiting general practices across seven countries were followed up at six and 12 months. The general practices were in the UK, Spain, Slovenia, Estonia, the Netherlands, Portugal and Chile. These general practices covered urban and rural populations with considerable socio-economic variation.
The study has just been published in one of the most respected academic psychiatric journals, ‘Psychological Medicine’. It was conducted by researchers at several UK and European universities and Chile.
The study defined religion as meaning the practice of a faith, eg going to a temple, mosque, church or synagogue. Being ‘spiritual’ was defined as not formally following a religion, but having spiritual beliefs or experiences. For example, believing that there is some power or force other than yourself, which might inﬂuence life.
People who held a religious or spiritual understanding of life had a higher incidence of depression than those with a secular life view. However, this ﬁnding varied by country; in particular, people in the UK who had a spiritual understanding of life were the most vulnerable to the onset of major depression.
Regardless of country, the stronger the spiritual or religious belief at the start of the study, the higher the risk of onset of depression.
Although the main ﬁnding of an association between religious life understanding and onset of depression varied by country, there was no evidence that spirituality may protect people, and only weak evidence that a religious life view was possibly protective in two countries (Slovenia and the Netherlands).
The incidence of depression over the subsequent 12 months was similar across the diﬀerent religious denominations (Catholic 9.8%, Protestant 10.9%, other religions 11.5%, no speciﬁc religion 10.8%).
Those with the more strongly held religious or spiritual convictions were twice as likely to experience major depression in the subsequent 12 months.
Although a religious, spiritual or secular outlook on life seems to be relatively stable in most people, slightly over a quarter of participants in this study changed their life view during the period of the study. And this was with a higher risk of depression for those changing to a more religious path, a lower risk for those moving in a secular direction.
Those in the process of developing a common mental disorder, like depression, may become involved in a ‘search for meaning’ for relief from symptoms, and this is one possible reason why previous research may have found a link between a religious or spiritual attitude, and poorer mental health.
That this study followed participants over a year, meant it was possible to demonstrate that it was more likely a spiritual and religious outlook which was leading to future lower mood, than the other way around.
Previous research had found that religion may have a protective eﬀect during and after the impact of life events but this study did not ﬁnd evidence of this.
The authors conclude that holding a religious or spiritual life perspective, in contrast to a secular outlook, predisposes to the onset of major depression. These beliefs and practice do not act as a buﬀer to adverse life events as had previously been thought.
If religion and belief in spiritual realities are just figments of human imagination then it would seem that those who believe in such things may experience depression when the outcome of life’s events do not meet their inflated expectations. On the other hand, if these beliefs had a true basis in reality, it would be very unlikely that a study of this nature would return these results.
(1821) The Christian god is an idiot
It probably passes the attention of most Christians, but the manner in which Jesus/God chose to pass his message to mankind was an unadulterated expression of total incompetence. This cannot possibly be the accomplishment of an omniscient celestial deity. The following was taken from:
Here’s my first problem with the Christian story; The Christian God is a complete idiot.
If you are doing something important and you want people to know about it, there are some definite, reliable ways to making the message known. Let’s see how the Christian God managed to make this most important information known to mankind at large.
All we have is the “Gospels” (at least those that were selected 324 years after the alleged events took place by the heads of the winning faction of what had to that point been a completely divided religion). The earliest of these was penned four decades after the death of Jesus by a second generation Christian who was not an eyewitness.
Now, let’s be generous and say that this document was simply a matter of recording an oral tradition. OK. I’ll give you that.
It’s still idiotic. Not just because the story is idiotic but because of the logistics of the whole thing.
We’re talking about God here. Right?
I think it’s cruel to portray god as having a sub-par intelligence. Did it not occur to God to have the resurrected Jesus show up to Caiaphas and the other religious leaders and say,”Well, you played your parts well but as you can see, I’m back and everything I told you was true. Now, sit down, shut up, and listen…”?
Perhaps it would have made sense to mosey on into Pilate’s office and say, “Chill! I’m not here to bring retribution. You just did what I knew you would. But how about getting some scribes together? I have some things that need to be said and passed down to future generations.”
In fact, why bother returning to heaven at all? If a guy comes back to life and is still marred from his execution enough that a person is able to place a hand into his side, that person could go anywhere and do anything and round up humanity pretty nicely. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? Presumably he couldn’t be killed again.
The absolute worst thing, logistically speaking, would be to leave the single most important message from God to mankind in the hands of people who simply started a 4+ decade game of Telephone.
The more we understand about ourselves, the more ridiculous I find the whole way this message has been delivered. Eyewitness testimony is the least reliable method of arriving at the facts of a case. One would think that God would understand this.
No matter how I look at it, I find it impossible to believe that a god, any god, could be that incompetent.
And, let’s be honest here, if he’s going to be that stupid about the most important event in all of human history, is this really a person who can be trusted? Do you really want him mucking about in your personal affairs? I wouldn’t.
Isn’t it something of an insult to any actual god who may be out there that we have a higher standard for CPAs (or any other professional) than we have for him?
This is one of the reasons that I left Christianity and became an atheist. OK, agnostic maybe. I don’t know if there is a god or not.
But I simply don’t have it in me to believe in a stupid god.
Isn’t it kinder to believe in no god than to believe in one that is not even as smart as you or me? I means, I’m no astrophysicist or anything and my intelligence level is average at best. I think it’s cruel to portray god as having a sub-par intelligence.
Indeed, I find it baffling that Christians can be so cruel as to ascribe such nonsense to their object of worship.
Even if a person is inclined to believe the story of Jesus and his resurrection, there should still be a small measure of protest for him having left the evidence of this miraculous event mired in such a murky historical fog. How could this have happened when the manager of this enterprise was the singular creator and controller of the entire universe? No god could be this incompetent and stupid. This story has human hands written all over it.
(1822) Mark makes the disciples dumb
The author or Mark had an agenda when he wrote the earliest gospel. One of his goals was to characterize the disciples of Jesus as being uneducated and patently dense, which he did to a fault, and well beyond any measure of believability. It has been theorized that the reason for this was that the early Christian Church was composed mostly of poorly-educated, illiterate people, and by showing that Jesus chose the same sort of people as his disciples, it assured these early followers that they were treasured by God and Jesus, even if not so by the local populace. The following was taken from:
“Another clue that Mark is writing historical fiction,” Richard Carrier has noted, “is the way he structures his narrative to suit literary aims rather than historical ones. The ceaseless incomprehension of the disciples, for example, is wholly unrealistic. No real human being would ever be that dense or take so long to understand what Jesus was saying and doing.” (On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt, p. 411)
One of the best examples of Mark ‘dumbing down’ the disciples was when Jesus was preparing to feed 4000 people after feeding 5000 the previous day:
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
This is an example of literary license- that is, when an author inserts unrealistic elements into a story to make a point or to buttress an agenda. In this case, it lets us know that Mark was writing fiction or at least a highly fictional version of what really happened.
(1823) No time for a god to exist
The theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, in his final book, explained the science that suggests that there existed no time before the Big Bang that happened 13.8 billion years ago, leading the formulation of the universe. The simple logic is that the lack of time means that there was no possibility for a god to exist prior to the Big Bang. The following was taken from:
In life, Hawking was a vocal champion of the Big Bang theory — the idea that the universe began by exploding suddenly out of an ultradense singularity smaller than an atom. From this speck emerged all the matter, energy and empty space that the universe would ever contain, and all that raw material evolved into the cosmos we perceive today by following a strict set of scientific laws. To Hawking and many like-minded scientists, the combined laws of gravity, relativity, quantum physics and a few other rules could explain everything that ever happened or ever will happen in our known universe.
“If you like, you can say the laws are the work of God, but that is more a definition of God than a proof of his existence,” Hawking wrote.
With the universe running on a scientifically guided autopilot, the only role for an all-powerful deity might be setting the initial conditions of the universe so that those laws could take shape — a divine creator who caused the Big Bang to bang, then stepped back to behold His work.
“Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur?” Hawking wrote. “I have no desire to offend anyone of faith, but I think science has a more compelling explanation than a divine creator.”
Hawking’s explanation begins with quantum mechanics, which explains how subatomic particles behave. In quantum studies, it’s common to see subatomic particles like protons and electrons seemingly appear out of nowhere, stick around for a while and then disappear again to a completely different location. Because the universe was once the size of a subatomic particle itself, it’s plausible that it behaved similarly during the Big Bang, Hawking wrote.
“The universe itself, in all its mind-boggling vastness and complexity, could simply have popped into existence without violating the known laws of nature,” he wrote.
That still doesn’t explain away the possibility that God created that proton-size singularity, then flipped the quantum- mechanical switch that allowed it to pop. But Hawking says science has an explanation here, too. To illustrate, he points to the physics of black holes — collapsed stars that are so dense, nothing, including light, can escape their pull.
Black holes, like the universe before the Big Bang, condense into a singularity. In this ultra-packed point of mass, gravity is so strong that it distorts time as well as light and space. Simply put, in the depths of a black hole, time does not exist.
Because the universe also began as a singularity, time itself could not have existed before the Big Bang. Hawking’s answer, then, to what happened before the Big Bang is, “there was no time before the Big Bang.”
“We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in,” Hawking wrote. “For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.”
Scientific progress is continually shrinking the space that a god can fit in, reducing the number of things we need him to do, and making his existence more and more irrelevant. Existence requires time. So the answer to the question of what happened before the Big Bang is ‘nothing.’
(1824) Four-count knockout of Christianity
People who have left Christianity are often challenged by Christian family and friends to state the reasons why. Without going into detail, there is an easy and effective way to explain why Christianity is definitely not true. It is done in four simple steps, that, taken together, deliver a knockout blow:
Demons– if Christianity is true, then demons must exist. After all, dealing with demons was a big part of Jesus’s ministry. They should be an important and indisputable part of our lives, and, like mosquitoes, a pesky irritant if not a real threat. They should be causing many of our diseases and speaking back in our native language when challenged. There should be a branch of science that studies them. Nope, nada, none of this is true.
Angels– if Christianity is true, then angels must exist. We should be encountering them often, seeing them as they take human form and as they make important pronouncements. They can even kill us if they so desire and they can brandish burning swords to keep us out of prohibited zones. Nope, nada, none of this is true.
Miracles– if Christianity is true, then miracles should be a major part of our lives. We should see dead people coming back to life, paralyzed people getting up and walking, amputees having their limbs restored, and blind people suddenly seeing. Nope, nada, none of this is happening.
Prayer– If Christianity is true, then prayer must be effective. This is a direct promise from Jesus of the scriptures, and it is an acid test of Christianity’s authenticity. We should see prayers for even sub-miraculous things being answered unambiguously at rates well above normal statistical odds. Prayer therapy should be an important part of every hospital ward. Nope, nada, none of this is happening.
Demons, angels, miracles, and prayer- Christianity goes 0 for 4, a miserable failing grade. And this only touches the surface of exposing Christianity for what it is- a medieval concoction of pre-scientific superstition dressed up with faux historical stories based on hearsay.
(1825) The burden of defending Christianity
It is easier for those deeply involved in Christianity to keep thoughts about their faith from becoming anything deeper than superficial, because otherwise, those thoughts would encounter significant headwinds. John Loftus neatly summarizes how burdensome it is to defend the Christian faith:
He or she needs to defend the existence of the social Trinitarian God (versus an anti-social Trinitarian God) of the Bible (which had a long process of formation and of borrowing material from others) who never began to exist and will never cease to exist (even though everything we experience has a beginning and an end), who never learned any new truths, who does not think (for thinking demands weighing temporal alternatives), who is not free with respect to deciding his own nature, who revealed himself through a poor medium (history) in a poor era (ancient times), who condemns all of humanity for the sins of the first human pair, who commanded genocide, who allows intense suffering in this world (yet does not follow the same moral code he commands believers to follow), whose Son (the 2nd person of the trinity) became incarnate in Jesus (even though no one has ever made sense of a person who is 100% man and 100% divine) to be punished for our sins (even though there is no correlation between punishment and forgiveness) who subsequently bodily arose from the dead (even though the believer in miracles has an almost impossible double-burden of proof here) and now lives embodied forever in a “spiritual” human body to return in the future (even though the NT is clear that the end of all kingdoms and the establishment of God’s kingdom was to be in their generation), who sent the 3rd person of the trinity to lead his followers into “all truth” (yet fails in every generation to do this), who will also judge us based upon what conclusions we reach about the existence of this God and what he has done (paralleling the ancient barbaric thought police), and who will reward believers by taking away their freedom and punish the dammed by letting them retain their freedom?
Any idea that cannot be defended by simple, logical, scientifically-accurate arguments should be discarded. Defending Christianity requires so much mental gymnastics that the best approach is to simply declare ‘it’s all magic, just have faith.’ Any appeal to a reasoned approach is doomed to failure and derision.
(1826) The author of confusion
In 1 Corinthians 14:33, Paul tells us “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” All it takes is one good example to prove that this assertion is false. If, as Christians must assume, that Revelation Chapter 20, which addresses the end-times, was breathed into scripture by God, then God is a master creator of confusion. The following explains how Christians interpret this scripture in many different ways:
Comparison of Christian millennial interpretations
Premillennialism: Christ‘s Second coming before a literal one thousand-year period, known by some as a thousand-year sabbath, is preceded by a gradual deterioration of human society and behavior, and the expansion of evil through an endtime government or kingdom. This school of thought can be divided into three main interpretations: Dispensational, Mid-tribulation/Prewrath and Historic Premillennialism or Post-Tribulation viewpoint.
Pre-tribulation Premillennialism or DispensationalistView: The rapture of the church occurs just prior to the seven-year tribulation, where Christ returns for his saints to meet them in the air. This is followed by the tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist to world-rule, the return of Christ to the Mount of Olives, and Armageddon, resulting in a literal 1000-year millennial reign of the Messiah, centered in restored Jerusalem.
Prewrath/Mid-tribulation View: The rapture of the church occurs in the midst of the seven-year period. Mid-tribulation view holds that the rapture occurs halfway through; Prewrathholds that the rapture occurs some time in the midst of the tribulation in the latter 3.5 years, but before God’s wrath is poured out upon the nations.
Historic Premillennialism or Post-Tribulation View: The rapture of the church (the body of true believers) happens after a period of great tribulation, with the church being caught up to meet Christ in the air and will accompany him to earth to share in his (literal or figurative) thousand year rule.
Postmillennialism: Christ‘s Second coming is seen as occurring after the one-thousand years, which many in this school of thought believe is ushered in by the church. This view is also divided into two sub-schools of interpretation:
Revivalist Postmillennialism: the millennium represents an unknown period of time marked by a gradual Christian revival, followed by widespread successful evangelism. After these efforts is the return of Christ foreseen.
Reconstructionist Postmillennialism: the Church increases its influence through successful evangelism and expansion, finally establishing a theocratic kingdom of 1,000 years duration (literal or figurative) followed by the return of Christ.
Amillennialism: Non-literal “thousand years” or long age between Christ’s first and second comings; the millennial reign of Christ as pictured in the book of Revelation is viewed as Christ reigning at the right hand of the Father. Therefore, another name for it is “realized millennialism”, because it emphasizes an inaugurated future in the first coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit in the Pentecost. It is the view held by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches as well as by a number of the older Protestant denominations, such as the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans.
It can be safely assumed that if God intended to inform his followers of what to expect as the world comes to an end, he would have either written/dictated a clearer account of the apocalypse or else he would have guided his flock into a single, correct interpretation of the otherwise garbled text. Neither of these things happened, so it is very safe to assume that Revelation 20 was nothing more than the delusional product of a psychotic man.
(1827) God worshiping a fallen angel?
When you have an evolving theology, inevitably problems will crop up as later interpretations conflict with earlier ones. This is the case in the Gospel of Matthew where an account is presented of Jesus being tempted by Satan. In the following exchange, Satan is asking Jesus to worship him:
Matthew 4: 8-11
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Where this runs into trouble is that several decades after this gospel was written, Jesus was promoted to being God himself, rendering ridiculous the idea that a god could worship a fallen angel. If we could retroactively modify this scripture to make it consistent with the subsequent Jesus=God formula, it might look like this:
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! God does not worship but can only be worshiped, and it was because you failed to worship me that you now endure disgrace and lamentations.”
Clearly, in the existing scripture, it is implied that Jesus worships God, meaning that he does not view himself as being God, or 1/3 of God. Theology that evolves well after the prophet leaves the scene makes for a religion that cannot be trusted to be authentic.
(1828) List of mistakes made by God
For a god purported to be infinitely intelligent, omniscient, and omni-benevolent, God has made a lot of mistakes. The following lists some of them:
God’s mistakes in roughly chronological order
Creating female counterparts for all the males of each (two-gendered) species, yet forgetting to make a female human until at least a day later.
Creating Eve out of Adam‘s rib, rather than out of thin air like his omnipotent self. First, the poor guy’s missing a rib for the rest of his life. Second, Eve was then made out of Adam, so all love from then on out was reduced to narcissism and all sex reduced to incest or self-gratification (i.e. sin).
Letting sin exist
While he’s wiping the slate, He simply refuses to wipe the slate totally clean. He has to save Noah and family for the next round of inbreeding, instead of re-creating humanity from scratch. This leads to the next round of wiping the slate known as the Great Tribulation or Yawm ad-Din.
Going nuts because of the Tower of Babel, but doing nothing about Burj Khalifa, topping at 2,722 feet.
Forgetting to smite Abraham for his incestuous marriage to his half-sister Sarah.
Fathering a son through an engaged virgin (secretly, and without any prior notice to her fiancé) in open defiance to the laws he himself set back in Deuteronomy 22:25, and expecting her to be honored.
Still failing to get his message across properly even after his Only Begotten Son had come and gone, meaning that a few hundred years later he had to get some messenger called Gabriel to dictate Version 3.0 to some bloke called Mohammed. And possibly another version 3.0 to some bloke named Joseph Smith about 1000 years later.
Telling us (through clergies) that we will be judged on how we decide to act in life, while designing the world around the idea that how we decide to act has been predetermined.
Letting ISIS exist
Bangladesh. A large patch of extremely rich, low-lying, well-watered soil, at a relatively low latitude and with a warm climate, suitable for year-round cultivation: I’m down with that kind of intelligent design. Mad props to Allah. But, really — to put it in hurricane country, all within a few metres of sea level, at the tip of a triangular funnel of ocean that does for hurricane storm surges what the Bay of Fundy does for the tide, and at the top of a long, gently inclining seabed that’s just about perfectly shaped to maximize wave heights? That sounds more like mean-drunk design to me. Dubbed as “God’s practical joke” by Our Dumb World, written by the good folks of The Onion.
The polders of the Netherlands. So soggy we had to finish it for him.
Failure to use intelligent design protocols when creating humans
See the main article on this topic: Intelligent design
Not designing the human body the way he wants it by having all human males born circumcised like Shem.
Physical birth defects.
Making our adrenal glands too big.
And on the subject of genitalia… why are the same members that are used for body waste excretion also used for what is widely considered to be one of the most fun and interesting activities that humans can engage in? And why is a man’s G spot in his anus if anal sex is forbidden by God?
Having the prostate wrap around the urethra like a donut, so when it becomes enlarged (which happens to most men as they get older) it blocks the flow of urine.
Not being able to correctly calculate the number of teeth necessary to fill the average adult human mouth.
Use of a particularly inefficient system when making the vertebrate eye.
Error in testosterone management system which consequently makes many men go bald.
Giving humans appendixes, which occasionally swell up and try to kill their owners and don’t really need to be there because we don’t eat grass. Why don’t they all just leave our bodies and go and live in the backs of books?
The provision of a really bad, sometimes lethal, system of giving birth. (Though it may not have been so bad at first — He deliberately made it more painful to cruelly punish all women for the original sin thing.)
Failure to provide a system to synthesize vitamin C (or the failure in design that humans need vitamin C to begin with).
Drinking and laughing at the same time — makes the drink come out of the person’s nose. Or potentially choke the victim of such a lousy design.
Human back — seems to cause a disproportionate number of problems which is usually followed by Vicodin addiction.
Spinal cord injuries being (at this point) unfixable
Auto-immune disorders — because we all know we are our own worst enemy.
The inability to operate at anything like an adequate efficiency without regular and lengthy periods of sleep.
Referred pain— You might actually be having a potentially fatal heart attack. Unfortunately your body is telling you have pain in your shoulder, neck or left arm.
Oncogenes — genes that exist solely to give us cancer.
The ulnar nerve — a.k.a., “funny bone” — is located on the outside of the elbow joint. Thanks to this placement, if you bang your elbow against a hard surface, you will feel like you were stabbed in the elbow. Bang this nerve hard enough and you may lose the use of your fingers.
Humans will pass out at 12 Gs, and will die at 18 Gs. Cockroaches can survive 120 Gs! How come those creepy crawlers are harder to kill than us!
And while we’re at it, why can’t we rotate our heads more than 180°? An owl can twist its head almost 360°! It’s not like an owl needs to back up a car or keep track of high-spirited children!
Other primates have nostrils that face forward, making it impossible for them to swim face down. Human nostrils point down, so we can swim. So why don’t we come with a persistent and innate ability to swim rather than just a primitive reflex that we quickly lose? Or at least tread water? Does God like to see His children drown?
Intoxicants: Pleasurable (good); addictive, DTs, can diminish your inhibitions to the point you might harm yourself and/or others, potentially harmful to your health, possibly lethal (bad). So, (a) why create them in the first place; and (b) why make them so pleasurable and addictive?
Giving Humans the same passage to swallow food and breathe, a major choking hazard.
Creating psychopaths, which is pointless because you can only get into Heaven by loving God, so why would he create people who are incapable of love? And who are at a very high risk factor of making life quite miserable for other people? Is he just a sadist?
Fetuses can get cancer
Allergies (like rhinitis) from mundane things like peanuts, grass, dust, pollen, fur, feathers, and many, many more. Sometimes, they get so bad, they interfere with sleeping and use up plenty of tissue wads in the process.
Failure to use intelligent design protocols when creating other animals.
Not having all male animals born circumcised.
Not giving whales or dolphins gills, so they have to surface in order to breathe.
Not killing the dolphins and bonobos for their many sex sins.
The emu’s wing is a spectacularly unnecessary appendage. Ditto the ostrich, kiwi, and the extinct terror birds.
The extinct moas had no wings at all, which means He toyed with the idea but backpedaled.
Giving bats solid bones, which are difficult to fly with, and giving emus hollow bones, which are easier to fly with, now that is opposite of what is required.
Giving mammals a nerve that runs from the brain to the larynx via the aortic arch — which doesn’t seem like too much of an out-of-the-way trip until you look at a giraffe. There is good reason to believe that the same recurrent laryngeal nerve would have been shared by dinosaurs which would include the sauropod dinosaurs. In Supersaurus it could have been longer than 28 meters (92 feet).
Various tragedies towards males in copulation, such as the testicular explosion and death of male honey bees, the sexual cannibalism among praying mantises, and certain species of anglerfish, in which the male anglerfish permanently fuses with the female then withers away until nothing but his testes remain.
Rabbits have to eat some of their own feces (called cecotropes) in order to fully digest their meals. Yum!
Gay animals (from a fundamentalist perspective)
Creating sea cucumbers that allow some species of pearlfish to live inside their asses and even eat their gonads.
Allowing some species of fish (like hamlet fish, Hypoplectrus spp., and clownfish, Amphiprioninae subfamily) to change their sex freely and even let them choose if they can mate as a male or as a female.
Alternatively, not giving humans this capacity.
Letting birds get fooled by parasitic birds like cuckoos and cowbirds.
Christians need to give up on the idea that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and infinitely intelligent because in doing so they are making him out to be an incompetent fool when observing the facts of his creation. Of course all of these facts fit precisely and neatly in a godless world.
(1829) Moral laws
It is instructive to observe whether moral laws governing human behavior have followed a theistic or an atheistic prediction, which can be stated as follows:
- Moral laws are created by humans
- They start out being flawed and unenlightened
- Over time, they slowly improve as society matures
- Moral laws are created by God
- They start out in a perfect form
- There is no subsequent need to improve them
Which of these models correlates to human history? Early laws of god-fearing men included barbarous penalties for trivial ‘crimes’ like working on the Sabbath, or for rebellious children, or for homosexuals. They included the acceptance of slavery and the right to physically beat the slaves. They included laws that put women at a disadvantage to men. They did not include protections for children, the environment, or sentient animals. They did not address bigotry, racism, torture, rape, and incest. Slowly, painfully, over time, these primitive moral laws were improved. They are still not perfect, but they are vastly improved from thousands of years ago.
(1830) Mary loses her sons
An example of evolving theology can be seen when comparing the gospels of John and Matthew. In John, it appears that Mary has no other son but Jesus, while in Matthew Jesus has four brothers. The following was taken from:
While on the cross, Jesus was concerned about his mother and made provisions for her to be taken care of after he was gone.
When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Woman, he is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “She is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26–7)
That’s a nice gesture, but why was it necessary? Mary had other sons. Tradition holds that James, the leader of the church and supposed author of the epistle of James, was the brother of Jesus. And then we have this:
Isn’t [Jesus] the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:55)
Mary had lots of sons who could support her.
The best explanation for this contradiction is that in the 25 years or so between the time of Matthew’s gospel and John’s there was a shift in the belief about Mary, the mother of Jesus, elevating her to an exalted status as an ‘ever virgin.’ This required the deletion of Jesus’s brothers. Evolving theology and historical accuracy do not mix.
(1831) Prayer works or it doesn’t
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus makes statements about how faithful prayer will be answered, presumably always, but then later his own prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is not answered.
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “Everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
The following is taken from:
Yes, he is correct to refer to the ‘anguished prayer of Jesus’ in Mark’s Gethsemane account, which can be seen in contrast to Jesus’ own claims about prayer in Mark 11:22-23:
“Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you.”
Had Jesus forgotten this in Gethsemane? Ruprecht:
“Faithful prayer was supposed to be a certainty. Now Mark hits us with a brand-new worry: perhaps Jesus is divided in his heart, or perhaps this naïve belief in the automatic power of prayer is the greatest Christian temptation. All things are possible with God. Jesus asks that the cup be taken away. Is not taken away. Full stop.
Christian apologists will approach this issue by pointing out that after Jesus asked for the cup to be taken away that he then submitted to God’s will. Which in essence means he removed his prayer request. But if this is taken at face value, this would mean that no prayer is valid unless it matches God’s will. Thus we have it built right into the gospel that prayer changes nothing.
(1832) The ‘sin’ of disbelief is a human invention
Christianity presents the idea that failure to believe in its god, or trinity of gods, is a sin deserving of eternal punishment. It is enshrined into their scriptures:
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
In the following essay, it is pointed out why a real god would almost certainly not impose such a penalty for simple disbelief:
The idea that God cares whether or not people worship them is common to most of the modern world’s major religions, as well as many ancient and obscure faiths. Some religions go as far as to claim non-believers deserve to be punished, and I’ve even seen people on here defend the idea that disbelief is an infinite sin deserving eternal punishment. However, I’ve never heard a logical argument (i.e. better than my Holy text says God said so) for why a Just God would care about being worshipped or want to punish non-believers.
My argument is that a Just God would not care whether or not people believed in them, and that any God who demands worship and threatens consequences for disbelief is unjust. I’d base this on two premises:
Not being believed in does not harm God(s) in any way
The Gods described by most religions are either omnipotent or incredibly powerful. None of the major religions claim their Gods require worship for their well being or remotely imply that not being worshipped does them any harm.
Given the uncertainty about which Gods exist – if any – no God can reasonably require people to believe in them.
We live in a world with no verifiable evidence that anything divine or supernatural exists; presuming that a creator God or Gods actually do exist they must have chosen to create a world where their existence isn’t clear
According to most religions, their God or Gods have only ever revealed themselves to a tiny fraction of humanity within recorded history e.g. ancient tribes in the Middle East for the Abrahamic religions. At most the ‘evidence’ their visits left behind was accounts from witnesses, perhaps written in a Holy book, something which can be easily fabricated
Presuming they exist the God or Gods chose not to intervene when many contradictory religions developed and created a situation where picking the right religion is a lottery distorted by how people are taught different religions depending on where they’re born (even if we presume Christianity – the most popular religion – is true, a child born today still has a 69% chance of not being born into it)
Given that no harm is being done, and that it’s not reasonable to expect people to successfully choose the right religion based on the evidence provided I would argue any God that discriminates against non-believers is unjust.
Although disbelief would cause no concern to a divine being, it would certainly upset those who want to grow their religion so that they could enjoy the earthly riches and power it could convey. Because of this, the ‘sin’ of disbelief is seen to be a human, not godly, invention.
(1833) Evidence from politics
In the following essay, the dichotomy of two possible truths about the Bible is discussed as to its implication in regard to political realities. Either the Bible is the work of God or it’s the work of fallible humans who were living in an unenlightened era. If it’s the former, it is an invaluable resource to guide humans to their highest pinnacle, if it’s the latter, it is a lodestone that tends to drag civilization down to the lowest common denominator.
Anyone who becomes politically active can soon discover that Bible teachings influence the opinions of many Americans on issues involving nuclear war, overpopulation, conservation, women’s rights, gay rights, racial equality, corporal punishment of children, church-state separation, sex education, science, abortion, contraception, censorship, capital punishment, and other subjects.
When people view the Bible as the word of a just and omniscient God, and attempt to have society’s laws and social practices reflect biblical teachings, serious error and harm will occur if the Bible was actually written by fallible humans who lived in an unenlightened era.
In that case, the Bible would not be a guidebook for attaining human happiness and well-being. It would instead perpetuate the ideas of an ignorant and superstitious past – and prevent humanity from rising to a higher level.
Progress in ameliorating each of the political aspects listed above has been retarded by politicians who revere the Bible. Almost all of the progressive political movement- getting rid of slavery, rights for LGBTQ, women suffrage, and so on has been built of the votes of politicians who have been willing to rebut portions of the Bible. This is the evidence needed to answer the question at the top- the Bible is the work of fallible humans living in an unenlightened era.
(1834) Believing fake news
New research has established that religious fundamentalists are more likely than others to believe fake news. This has implications for how Christianity was originally formed. The following was taken from:
New research provides evidence that delusion-prone individuals, dogmatic individuals, and religious fundamentalists are more likely to believe fake news. The study, which appears in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, suggests that the inability to detect false information is related to a failure to be actively open-minded.
The rise of online social media has led to growing concerns about the spread of unsubstantiated rumors, misleading political propaganda, and blatantly false articles designed to create viral web traffic. Even the U.S. Army has become involved in efforts to understand and combat disinformation in cyberspace.
“Our interest in fake news is grounded in a general interest in understanding the common experience of believing things that are not true,” explained study author Michael V. Bronstein of Yale University.
“Some false beliefs are relatively harmless (e.g., children believing in the tooth fairy), while others might cause significant distress (e.g., incorrectly believing that others are trying to hurt you) or may be potentially harmful to society as a whole (e.g., false beliefs about global warming or vaccines).”
“Research suggests that vulnerability to several different kinds of false beliefs may be determined (at least in part) by similar cognitive factors. For example, prior to our study, belief in fake news and belief in delusions had separately been associated with less engagement in analytic thinking,” Bronstein said.
“This led us to hypothesize that belief in fake news and delusions may share a common mechanism, and therefore be correlated with each other — which is what we found. By examining factors that have been associated with multiple different kinds of false beliefs, we might better understand why people endorse false beliefs and why they often persist in these beliefs despite evidence against them.”
“Through this increased understanding, we hope to contribute to the eventual development of interventions that might more effectively and efficiently reduce individuals’ vulnerability to false beliefs that may be distressing or may be harmful to them or to society,” Bronstein told PsyPost.
In two experiments with 948 participants in total, Bronstein and his colleagues found that people who scored higher on measures of delusionality, dogmatism, religious fundamentalism, and scored lower on a test of analytic thinking were more likely to believe fake news headlines.
The participants were presented with 12 fake and 12 real news headlines in random order, and asked to rate the degree to which they believed the headlines described something that actually happened. The fake news included both pro-Republican and pro-Democratic content. For example, one fake news headline read: “Mike Pence: Gay Conversion Therapy Saved My Marriage.”
“Our study examines two related styles of thought: actively open-minded and analytic thinking,” Bronstein told PsyPost.
“Actively open-minded thinking involves the search for alternative explanations and the use of evidence to revise beliefs. Analytic thinking involves the disposition to initiate deliberate thought processes in order to reflect on intuitions and gut feelings.”
“Previous research has shown that individuals who engage in less analytic thinking may be more likely to believe fake news. Our study extends this previous work in two ways. First, it shows that individuals who engage in less actively open-minded thinking may also be more likely to believe fake news,” Bronstein explained.
“Second, it suggests that reduced engagement in actively open-minded and analytic thinking might explain belief in fake news among individuals who endorse delusion-like ideas, dogmatic individuals, and religious fundamentalists. These results suggest that it might be possible to reduce belief in fake news using interventions that may increase analytic or actively open-minded thinking.”
In the First Century, the ‘fake news’ that Jesus had risen from the dead was spreading throughout the Middle East and coastal Mediterranean cities. The tendency of less-analytical people to believe this story can explain how Christianity obtained a foothold in the absence of clearly demonstrated evidence. There are many present-day examples of how Christians believe in fake news, such as Barack Obama being born in Kenya, climate change is a hoax, and the granddaddy of them all- creationism. It is certainly an indictment of your religion when the most fervent followers are those who tend to believe things that are not true.
(1835) Matthew defuses stolen body theory
The author of the Gospel of Matthew was concerned about a rumor that the disciples had stolen Jesus’s body to create the impression that Jesus had risen from the dead. To rebut the rumor, he made up a story about Roman soldiers standing guard over the tomb, which was not mentioned in any other gospel. But even more revealing, he changed the sequence of when the stone sealing the tomb had been rolled back. In the other three gospels, the stone had already been rolled back when the women reach the tomb (meaning the disciples might have stolen the body at some earlier time). In contrast, Matthew has the stone rolled back in the women’s presence, eliminating the chance that the disciples had stolen the body. Compare the two passages below:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Mark 16:1-6 (Luke and John agree that the stone had already been rolled back)
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
In Matthew’s story, it is implied that Jesus had earlier exited the tomb without moving the stone, that is, he miraculously walked right through the rock. Then the angel came and moved the stone to reveal an empty tomb as the women watched. In the other three gospels, it is implied that Jesus himself moved the stone and exited the tomb (non-miraculously) at some time before the women arrived.
There are two significant points to be made. First, this reveals a significant contradiction among the gospel accounts, raising concerns as to their accuracy. Second, because it is universally acknowledged that Matthew had used Mark’s gospel as a template, he must have deliberately changed the sequence of the stone’s movement. This is evidence that the stolen body theory was prevalent, at least among the Jewish faithful in Matthew’s community.
(1836) Holy Spirit erases itself
It is commonly assumed among Christians that the Bible was written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who is further assumed to be a third personage of the Trinity, along with the Father and the Son. Somehow, all three of these persons are supposedly part of a single god. But when we examine a verse from the Gospel of Matthew, a problem arises:
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
If the Holy Spirit was inspiring the author of Matthew, why wouldn’t he have dictated this verse like this: ‘No one knows the Son except the Father and the Holy Spirit..?’ The following was taken from:
So Jesus said that nothing knows the son except the father. If the holy spirit was a conscious entity as the third member that is part of the triune God – it would surely also be fully acquainted with the son as well, since it too is God. It would obviously know the son since it is 3rd member of a God trinity. But Jesus said this is not the case.
I also want to establish that calling this an argument from silence is not able to be applied in this situation.
An extremely simple example of an argument from silence would be If person1 asked me who was at my home, and I responded and said “my father is at home”. Then person1 goes and tells person2, “only his father is at home”. Person2 argues with them and says “that isn’t true”, so person1 responds with “well he said his father was at home, he didn’t say anyone else was at home!”. That would be an argument from silence, since my mother was also at home, just because i didn’t include her in my response doesn’t mean she wasn’t there.
Here is the key word that makes that argument not apply to this verse, it is when Jesus says “no one” or “nothing” knows the son except the father. He is not being silent about who doesn’t know the son, he is saying nothing but the father knows. He is directly discluding everything but the father. He literally says no one knows him but the father. If anything “knows” him besides the father – this would be a false statement.
You could say well the angels must know who the son is, and that is why we look at the original Greek word and its definition. Part of the definition of the word is to be “fully acquainted with”. Yes the angels and demons knew who the son was, but they were not fully acquainted with him. Since only the father is fully acquainted with him. If the angels knew the son like the father did then his statement would be false. Jesus never sinned so his statement must be true. He is obviously explaining that nobody truly knows him except the father.
Obviously, at the time that the author Matthew was writing his tome, the idea of a trinity of divine figures had not yet developed. It later became part of an evolving theology. Evolving theologies are not symptoms of reality.
(1837) The parable of the meadow
The existence of multiple religions in a world supposedly overseen by a limitless deity is a difficult situation for theists to explain. It certainly means that the reach of such a deity into people’s lives is dismally limited, unless the deity has no problem with religious strife and violence. One of the best ways to sense this absurdity is by way of a parable, as follows:
Once there was a Humanist sitting in a beautiful meadow on a sunny day. The meadow was full of wildflowers and butterflies, and she was enjoying a cool glass of lemonade.
Suddenly, a True Believer ran up to her and yelled “FIRE! RUN AWAY! YOU ARE WALKING INTO A BURNING BUILDING! YOU’VE GOT TO RUN AWAY NOW!!!”
The Humanist said “What? I’m just sitting here, I don’t see any building, and where’s the smoke?”
Just as the True Believer was about to answer, another True Believer ran up to her and shouted “DON’T LISTEN TO HIM, HE’S WRONG! IT’S NOT A FIRE, IT’S A FLOOD!!! YOU ALL HAVE TO COME WITH ME IN MY BOAT RIGHT NOW OR YOU’LL DROWN!!!”
Before the Humanist could say anything, a third True Believer came up. “THEY’RE BOTH WRONG!! IT’S NOT A FIRE OR A FLOOD, IT’S A TORNADO! ALL OF YOU HAVE TO COME IN THIS BUNKER WITH ME RIGHT NOW OR YOU’RE DOOMED!!!”
The Humanist said “Wait, you can’t all be correct. And I can’t do all those things at the same time! How do I know which one of you is right?”
They all three said “BECAUSE IT SAYS SO IN MY ANCIENT BOOK!!!”
The Humanist said “That’s no help, you all have different ancient books. How else can I know?”
They all three said “A VOICE IN MY HEAD TOLD ME! AND I FEEL IT IN MY HEART!!!”
“You still all sound the same. How about some real evidence? There’s no smoke, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and it hasn’t rained in a week. Until one of you can show me something real, I’m going to have to assume that none of you is correct.”
They all three said “THE OTHER TWO ARE LYING TO YOU! I’M THE ONLY ONE WITH THE TRUTH! YOU JUST HAVE TO TRUST ME!!!” Then they began fighting amongst themselves, still yelling, and beating each other over the head with their books and holy symbols. Then more True Believers arrived, each variously proclaiming tsunamis, hailstorms and onrushing trains, and joined right in the fight, each bellowing that they had the only truth, and attacking all the others.
The Humanist stood up, picked up her lemonade, and shook her head. “I’ve had enough of this. I’m going to go find a quieter meadow.” And she sadly walked away from all of them.
Once a person exits religion, they become as the humanist in this story, seeing clearly for the first time that a world that was actually overseen and ruled by a god would look very different from the world we inhabit, a world that would exhibit a single, uncontested, unambiguous ‘religion,’ as an impossible-to-avoid, omnipotent supernatural force interacts with our natural world.
(1838) Jesus and the Baal Cycle
There exists a strong parallel between pre-Israelite religion and the story of Jesus. The following was taken from:
In this post I want to summarize some surprising motifs that were handed down all the way to the New Testament. In particular, we will survey similarities between the Baal Cycle and the Jesus story. My thesis is that major elements of the Jesus story apparently originated in pre-Israelite religion.
“El”, inherited from the Ugaritic, is one of the many Hebrew names/titles referring to Yahweh (Yahweh was originally a son of El as attested by Deut 32:8 in the Dead Sea Scrolls). Like Jesus, Baal Hadad is the begotten son of El. “Baal is our Lord: and there is none above him! We should all bring his chalice, we should all bring his cup. Groaning he cries to Bull El his father, to El the king who begot him.” (KTU 1.3 v 35)
In all the Canaanite myths, only two gods are known as the rider/charioteer of the clouds: Yahweh and Hadad. In Daniel 7, this epithet is bestowed to the Son of Man; its otherwise unique application to the chief deity suggests divine status. From there the epithet is picked up by the Gospels and Revelation when Jesus is said to come with the clouds to battle the many headed sea dragon Satan and destroy the sea itself, just as Hadad battled the many headed sea dragon Lotan and destroyed Yam (“drank the sea to the dregs” and “dried him up”). In fact, Revelation is drawing on fulfillment of Isaiah 27, which almost quotes the Baal Cycle as it moves the chaoskampf from the primordial past to the eschatological future. Revelation even notes that the dragon had previously received a fatal head wound as Yahweh/Hadad specifically crush the head(s) of Leviathan/Lotan. I’d also argue that Jesus is identifiable with Michael, see below. (for further reading, check out how Exodus 15 paraphrases the Baal Cycle in relation to the Red Sea narrative; for even further reading, check out how this story of the sky god vs. sea serpent is found everywhere from Scandinavia to Japan to India to Egypt and maybe even the Congo).
The chief concern of the middle portion of the Baal Cycle is the construction of his temple: “Valiant Baal rejoiced: ‘My house I have built of silver, my palace out of gold!” (KTU 1.4 vi 36) In the LXX Zechariah 6, it is said that the high priest Jesus (who is not to be understood as the historic high priest Joshua but “a symbol” see Zech. 3) will build the temple of the Lord, and of course Gospel Jesus says “I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.” While Christianity reinterprets the prophecy metaphorically, Jesus is temple-builder nonetheless.
Baal is killed by Mot, the god of death. According to Paul and other early Christian sources such as the Ascension of Isaiah, Jesus was crucified by the “archons of this aeon” referring to Satan (“the god of this aeon”) and his demons. Zechariah 3 features Satan opposing Jesus before he is re-clothed in white (a motif from the flood tablet of Gilgamesh, which also features Adad) while Yahweh brings about the end of all sin in a single day. Daniel 9 shows a dying Messiah. The sole line where Paul clearly attributes Jesus’ death to earthly authorities (1 Thess 2) is overwhelmingly regarded as an interpolation: evidently, someone at sometime was bothered by the ambiguity.
Baal is “offered up like a lamb” (KTU 1.6 ii 21), the verb referring specifically to ritual sacrifice.
A group of women, including one known as the virgin, mourn his death, search for his body, and play a special role in the funeral rites.
Baal is buried and descends to the underworld.
Baal rises from the dead with the sun. Bart Ehrman points out the oddity that there is no actual resurrection narrative in the canonical gospels: the scene of Jesus rising is not depicted, he’s just buried and next the tomb is empty. What’s interesting is that what is depicted in Mark 16 is the women coming to the tomb “at the rising (ἀνατείλαντος) of the sun” (YLT) to be told “he did rise” (different verb in Greek). Luke 1:78, in a prophecy attributed to Zacharias, identifies Jesus as the sunrise (ἀνατολὴ) from on high. Focusing on the Zacharias tradition, back in the LXX, the temple-building high priest Jesus is given the name Rising (ἀνατολὴ) and he rises up (ἀνατελεῖ) from beneath. Philo of Alexandria quotes this (Confusion of Tongues 63, 146) and says that it is appropriate that he be called the ανατολή because he is the firstborn son raised up (ανέτειλε) by the father of all, also known as the divine image, Logos, celestial high priest, and ruling archangel of many names (Michael?).
Subsequently, both Baal and Jesus attain victory over death.
Baal ascends to eternal kingship by the blessing of El. So does the Son of Man in Daniel 7. So does the Jesus of Zechariah 6. So does Jesus in the New Testament.
Source: N. Wyatt, Religious Texts From Ugarit (1998)
(1839) How do we know God wrote the Bible?
Given the universal lack of indisputable modern day revelations or miracles, the authenticity of Christianity relies on the Bible being a product that is internally consistent, provides eternal truths, and possesses qualities that surpassed the ability of ancient humans to have produced. In each case, the Bible fails this examination. How else can we know If God wrote the Bible? The following is taken from:
Christianity is founded on the Bible. For Christianity to be absolutely true, three things must be established about the Bible. It must be the inspired word of God, our translations must be infallible, and our interpretation of it must be correct. Curiously, this topic is never covered at any of the churches I’ve attended. It is simply assumed that everyone agrees with these three things. This is a very strange assumption, indeed. If I walked into a library and picked up a random book, my immediate assumption would be that a person wrote it, rather than an invisible spiritual being. Superficially, the Bible looks like any other hard cover book made of ink and paper, so the conclusion that it was inspired by God must be accompanied by some remarkable evidence. Divine inspiration certainly is a claim that demands investigation. It is not a triviality to be assumed.
In this article, I’m not simply asking “Did God write the Bible?” since that is a matter of faith or opinion. Rather, I’m asking “*How* do we know God wrote the Bible?”, because that must be backed up with rock solid evidence. My point is not to “prove” the Bible was not written by God (since that is impossible), but rather to show that it’s not easy to tell whether it is or not. If God wanted to clearly communicate with us, He would have made the Bible’s truth indisputable. The very fact that this debate exists shows that God does not want to be clearly known by all people. This contradicts the words of 1 Timothy 2:3-4:
“This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Here are some reasons that it’s not obvious that the Bible is written by God.
My experience is that many Christians believe the Bible is the word of God for one primary reason: the Bible says so itself. “All Scripture is God-breathed…” [2 Tim 3:16]. This reason is thoroughly unsatisfactory to me because taken alone, it is pure circular reasoning. In short: The Bible is written by God because the Bible says so. Christian apologists often try to demonstrate divine inspiration with this argument: “The Bible couldn’t be written by man, even if he wanted to”. Why not? I’ve never encountered anything in the Bible which is “unwritable”. Many Christians claim the “unwritable” parts are about the divine theme of salvation, but human kind has written countless stories about salvation (e.g. The Matrix Trilogy), so I see no reason why it would be impossible for people to write the Bible.
The question of how we know the Bible is written by God is important in light of the contradictions between the Bible’s words and our everyday experience. For example, the Bible says that God cursed women and caused them to have great pain in child birth [Genesis 3:16], yet we now have drugs that can greatly reduce labour pains. Doctors can even administer general anaesthetic in many cases. God says “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe”, but that’s no longer a universally true statement. It seems that either these chemicals are more powerful than God, or God has recently decided to partially withdraw his curse without telling anyone. The curse is a crucially important part of the Bible’s message, so how can women choose to avoid part of it? God’s perfect, unchanging will shouldn’t be subject to a simple, man-made pain-relief technology. The act of muffling God’s curse with chemicals has now become routine medical practice.
One of the most overt contradictions between the Bible and our experience is that Jesus was supposed to return in the first century yet he still hasn’t, 20 centuries later. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” [Matthew 24:34]. The writer of Hebrews says, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” [Hebrews 10:36]. Jesus also said: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” [Matthew 16:27-28]. These and many other verses show that the New Testament writers were convinced that the rapture was less than 100 years away. I have been constantly disappointed by the poor explanations of why the second coming did not occur during that generation.
It seems the rapture is long over-due. Many Christians conclude then that it must be very soon, like next year perhaps. The Bible certainly says that we should live as though the rapture could happen at any second. For many years I tried to do this. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I would only fill my petrol tank half way. What’s the point of having a full tank if I’m whisked to heaven tomorrow? The Bible certainly teaches that the rapture will be soon [Revelation 1:3]. This type of biblical reasoning led me to make some poor life decisions based on my expectation that I had a very short future on earth. Now that I’m older I realise that this was fallacious reasoning. The idea that Jesus is coming soon leads to some truly bizarre notions in the Bible. For example, “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not” [1 Corinthians 7:29]. What a terrible husband I would be if I followed these words as a direct message from God!
Lastly, if one is to seriously answer the question of how we know the Bible is written by God, we must ask precisely which words the Bible contains. This is crucial because in 2 Tim 3:16, do we really know that when Paul uses the word “Scripture” he is referring to precisely the same 66 books that protestant Christians read? What about the Apocrypha? Protestants and Catholics have debated this issue at length because they disagree on which books are messages from God to us. If both sides believe the Bible is the word of God, then it’s of utmost importance to agree on what words it contains. It’s surprising to me, then, that these debates about the content of the Bible are all about ancient history! Shouldn’t this be all about the relevant, living God who talks to us through the Bible today? All these debates on Bible content *should* be solved very simply. Protestants and Catholics should simply pray and ask God which books are included in His word. God would surely send both camps a single list of books to include, and which manuscripts are the most accurate for translation purposes. God would certainly answer these prayers very clearly because His word is so important to humanity.
Now the reality is very different. In scholarly articles debating which books should be included in the Bible, no prayer is ever mentioned! What hypocrisy! Perhaps these scholars have already asked God which books should be included but He’s never answered them. Isn’t the content of God’s word important to Him? Shouldn’t He be eager to confirm which “Scripture” Paul was referring to in 2 Tim 3:16? How can I know God’s message to me if Christians cannot even agree which books are in it? And why would God allow his message to come in various permutations with different content, confusing His people and leading many astray?
I have read the Bible, cover-to-cover, and I found the content to be quite fragmented and convoluted. When I finished Revelation, I had no personal sense of an “overall message” or “big idea”. Why has God made it so hard to know what He is saying and what it means? Christianity claims that reading the Bible should have been a blessing to me and would bring me closer to God, but when I actually read the entire Bible as a whole, I was filled with confusion and questions which greatly intensified my doubts. My immediate and long-lasting impression of the Bible was that it’s a disparate collection of ancient historical texts. The various books of the Bible were clearly penned by ancient people, and for other ancient people. This seems to be a very satisfying explanation of why even Christians find it so confusing in the 21st century.
In the final analysis, there is no evidence that the Bible was written by anybody other than men mired in the superstitious, pre-scientific era of their time. Absolutely nothing stands out to contradict this assumption.
(1840) Religious theory is useless
When you adopt a model of reality into your consciousness, it is incumbent to use the model to explain what you observe, what is happening, and also to predict what is likely to happen in the future. When these events and observations do not happen, then you must consider a revision to your theory. The problem with religion is that nothing can happen that will result in questioning the belief. The following was taken from:
Here’s the thing. It is a well-established principle in the philosophy of science that, if a theory can be supported no matter what possible evidence comes down the pike, it is useless. It has no power to explain what’s already happened, or to predict what will happen in the future. The theory of gravity, for instance, could be disproven by things suddenly falling up; the theory of evolution could be disproven by finding rabbits in the pre-Cambrian fossil layer. These theories predict that those things won’t happen; if they do, the theories go poof. But if your theory of God’s existence holds up no matter what happens — whether your friend with cancer gets better or dies, whether natural disasters strike big sinful cities or small God-fearing towns — then it’s a useless theory, with no power to predict or explain anything.
What’s more, when atheists challenge theists on their beliefs, the theists’ arguments shift and slip around in an annoying “moving the goalposts” way. Hard-line fundamentalists, for instance, will insist on the unchangeable perfect truth of the Bible; but when challenged on its specific historical or scientific errors, they insist that you’re not interpreting those passages correctly. (If the book needs interpreting, then how perfect can it be?)
In this sense, religious ‘theory’ is untestable and therefore not subject to revision or being discarded, or finding another religion that is better suited to the observations. An untestable hypothesis is no better than a fairy tale, it holds no water in the world of reality.
(1841) Outsider’s look at the Bible
From a position of detachment, un-indoctrination, and simply being honest with oneself, this is the way the Bible looks: It is a product of its time…..PERIOD. This truth is summarized precisely and succinctly in the following:
The Bible is centered around a small segment of the world’s population because it’s a product of THOSE PEOPLE. They didn’t know about people in Asia, southern Africa, northern Europe, or the Americas, so those places are not included in the Bible. Not because a god didn’t know; because the writers didn’t know.
The Bible is misogynistic because it was written by a bunch of MEN in a time when society was dominated by males.
The Bible doesn’t reject slavery because slavery was accepted as normal at that time by the PEOPLE who wrote it. Again, not because a god doesn’t think slavery is immoral, but because the writers didn’t.
The Bible has flaws including, inconsistencies, contradictions, and vague language that’s open to interpretation because it was written by VARIOUS PEOPLE over many years then stitched together by other people. It doesn’t read like there’s any overall guiding being directing the creation of it.
The Bible gets basic science wrong because those PEOPLE didn’t know any better.
The norms of the time are the norms of the Bible. That’s enough to convince me that the Bible is NOT the word of a god in any way, not even a god talking through people. It’s just people making shit up based on the beliefs/mythology of the time.
Certainly a god would have inspired a book that would have been forward-looking, such that it would have remained relevant for future generations. It would have gifted humanity with intellectual and practical treasures. Instead, it only lets us know what people of its time were thinking.
(1842) Predicting the future in a Christian world
It is common for various authorities to make predictions of future events as a means for society to prepare for such eventualities, such as, for example, the path of a hurricane, the arrival of cold or hot weather, rain, or snow, the prognosis and timing of recovery from various diseases, future economic activity levels, the growth of wildfires, tides and flooding levels, and harvesting amounts related to agriculture.
In the Christian world, these predictions would not necessarily be amenable to observations of current conditions, an examination of past experience, or use of analytical models because the world would be continually subject to the whims of various supernatural agents, such as demons, angels, Satan, God (in three personages), or a multitude of saints (depending on the particular denomination). Answered prayers could also throw off any of these predictions. The success rate would be low and not improving over time.
In a world governed by naturalism, absent the influence of the supernatural, the success rate of making these types of predictions would continually improve over time as more observations and techniques became available. Eventually, the predictions would become very reliable. And this is the situation that we observe, providing evidence that naturalism is a better model of reality than Christianity.
(1843) How best to bury Christianity
There are various ways to refute the truth of Christianity, especially for people not inescapably indoctrinated in the faith. But hitting the most precise strategy is what is needed in a short debate or attempt at gentle persuasion. The following taken from the below is a good starting point.
Here are some brute facts. There are twenty-seven documents in the New Testament. Twenty-one are letters, but only seven are generally regarded as authentic—the rest are either forgeries or misattributed. The four gospels are anonymous—in no case does the writer name himself. There is near universal agreement that the gospels were written decades to a half-century or more after the events they purport to relate and almost certainly contain no direct eyewitness testimony. No original of any New Testament document is known to exist. Although the exact dating of the earliest running-text copies of the gospels still extant is a matter of dispute, they date from no earlier than 150 to 200 years after the life of Jesus.
The word count of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graecae, the most used scholar’s edition of the Greek New Testament, is a bit over 138,000 words, about the length of a fantasy novel. Christians have been fighting over the meaning of these words for the better part of two millennia—until a few hundred years ago, they often tortured and murdered one another over their differences of opinion. By some estimates there are 40,000 Christian sects worldwide, nearly all having split after a squabble about the meaning of the words of Christianity’s founding documents. After centuries of study, scholars are still divided over how much, if any, of the gospel stories is history and over what Jesus the Teacher supposedly taught.
Literally tens of thousands of books have been published that claim to explain the New Testament. By some estimates more than 5000 books on Christianity are released each year in the United States alone. Besides this avalanche, there are currently over twenty peer-reviewed print journals of religion in English as well, most published quarterly, several of which focus exclusively on early Christianity. In short, it is safe to say that the text of the New Testament is the most thoroughly debated set of documents in world history. The text of the New Testament has been subjected, interminably, generation after generation, to word-by-word analysis without the emergence of a consensus of opinion regarding the accuracy, the historicity, or in some cases even the meaning of nearly any of it.
Since 2006 I have extensively researched and published five books on various aspects of early Christianity. For whatever it’s worth, here’s my considered opinion: Christianity is ultimately folklore, loosely based on Hebrew folklore, which was based in turn on older strata of Middle Eastern folklore. Conclusion: it’s folklore, and not just around the edges. Folklore all the way down. The scholarly disquisitions, Ph.D. dissertations, and learned books, burdened with footnotes and hundreds of references, are, in the final analysis, about belief based on folklore, fantastic stories about a pregnant virgin, heavenly visions, casting out devils, magically multiplying loaves and fishes, walking on water, a Son of Man coming on the clouds, and similar tripe, all stuff that would have been dismissed out of hand long ago if not for the fact that some two billion humans claim to (more or less) believe in (some version of) Christianity. Folklore. Stop for a moment and let the implications of that thought sink in.
The frustration that many ex-Christians feel is that they are aware of these facts and realize that they are sufficient to disprove the claims of Christianity, but lament that those still ensconced in the faith are effectively asleep and are unable or unwilling to absorb them. The Christian adage “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” is actually better suited for atheists.
(1844) God’s inefficient use of intermediaries
According to Christianity, when God took the form of a human, he was intending to give humankind a message, along with offering himself up as a blood sacrifice for atonement of sins. The question is why did he use human intermediaries as his method for delivering that message?
Earlier in time, according to scripture, God directly wrote the Ten Commandments on a slabs of rock. Although Moses smashed those stones (which contained the commandments generally used today), God later produced another set of stone commandments (that no one seems to know about, and no one seems to know what happened to them).
So the next question is why if God wrote the 10 commandments directly, without using human input, that Jesus did not do the same? Why didn’t Jesus ascend a mountain and come down with an updated written set of rules and doctrine written directly by God?
When God decided to use humans to write the Bible and the gospels in particular, he was inviting trouble, because each author had his own biases and experiences that ended up hopelessly distorting the message. If Jesus had followed Moses’s example and had left a divinely written description of the ‘New Covenant’ we might have only one Christian denomination instead of 40,000.
(1845) Logistics of Jesus’ caravan
The gospels imply that Jesus along with 12 dedicated followers traveled about Judea and Galilee for one year (Mark, Luke, Matthew) or three years (John) without conducting business or being employed during that time. This raises the question of how they could have sustained this effort.
Housing 13 men would have been very difficult. It is unlikely that they could have stayed in peoples’ homes unless they somehow arranged multiple homes in each location. Most of the time, however, they were likely out in the country where sheltering structures were not available. This would mean that they either slept under the stars or they carried tents and bivouacked at each stopping point. Carrying these tents and associated supplies would have been a major burden.
Feeding the 13 men would have required a team of persons to procure and cook, if necessary, unless that job was done by a division of labor. With no source of income, they would have had to rely on donated food or whatever they could have scavenged from the land. Obtaining fresh water would have been a major challenge, especially during the summer months.
Clothing would have been another challenge, as it would have been unlikely that they would have been carrying extra clothes, meaning that they would have been wearing the same clothes and shoes all the time and washing them periodically in the rivers. Sanitation would have been difficult as well as cleaning up after defecation would have been hard to accomplish.
Medical issues would have been challenging too as it is unlikely that they would have been carrying supplies for that purpose.
Armies of the time were supported by extensive teams of support personnel, but the gospels give no account of such backup. They gloss over the logistical issues and focus only on the missionary aspects. To the skeptic, it seems impossible that Jesus and his men could have pulled off this adventure without a healthy input of magic- and that is what the believers must assume- Jesus made food out of nothing every day and magically made temporary structures to sleep in at night.
(1846) Salvation hard cases
The criteria determining personal salvation as spelled out in Christian scripture and, by extension, interpretation of scripture, is hopelessly mired in complexities that cannot be ironed out in an exacting or fair manner. In the following, a list of ‘hard cases’ is presented where standard Christian dogma would face logical traps and non sequiturs:
- Homo habilis
- Homo erectus
- Half Neanderthal, half Homo sapiens hybrids
- Half Denisovan, half Homo sapiens hybrids
- Gorillas taught sign language who have acquired an explicit belief in Jesus Christ
- Strong AI that acquires explicit belief in Jesus Christ
- People with dissociative personality disorders in which one of the personalities is Christian and the others are not
- Adult autistics with the general intelligence of very young child
- Christians who have lost an explicit belief in Jesus Christ due to a brain lesion
- A non-Christian who acquires anterograde amnesia (inability to form new memories) as a child
- A non-Christian who acquires anterograde amnesia as an adult
- Twins conjoined by the brain who share thoughts
- People deaf, blind and mute by birth
- Intelligent extraterrestrials
- Non-Christians who have started the process of accepting Jesus in the same second the Final Judgement begins
- A Christian who has started the process of converting to Islam in the same second the Rapture begins
- A non-Christian in an exotic culturally isolated location who was taught by a Satanist missionary with a fabricated Bible teaching that Jesus is Satan and that in order to be saved, he needs to accept Satan as his personal savior, never having had contact with true Christianity
- Babies with anencephaly
- The Nephilim if they exist as half-demon, half-Homo sapiens entities
I submit that the most important process/activity described by Christianity – personal salvation of the soul by Jesus Christ – is not sufficiently precise and faces dire difficulties due to a plethora of “hard cases.”
Christianity fell into a trap of its own making by inventing a binary post-life award/punishment system that in no way would work in real life. It is based on an idealized circumstance where every person lives out a full life and is offered a clear and equal opportunity to accept the doctrine, while ignoring the vast majority of people who fall outside of that ideal. This is not the product of an infinite divine being.
(1847) God and World War I
There have been many gruesome wars in human history, but none quite as terrible as World War I (1914-1918). Given the misery, death, destruction, and ruin that it caused, it becomes difficult for apologists to explain God’s apparent apathy as he watched the proceedings, especially since it was primarily Christians fighting other Christians. The following was taken from:
In an idealistic mood, H. G. Wells hoped that the WWI would be “…the war to end all wars.” It had caused so much wreckage—so many lives lost, such a wide swath of ruin and suffering—how could humans ever make such a big mistake again? This war had set new standards for barbarity, previously held by The Thirty Years War (1618 -1648), a bloody rampage of Christians fighting Christians. That war had killed eight million people, but WWI took some sixteen million lives, primarily because weaponry had become highly mechanized:
“For millions of soldiers, the First World War meant unimaginable horror: artillery shells that could pulverize a human body into a thousand fragments; immense underground mine explosions that could do the same to hundreds of bodies; attacks by poison gas, tanks, flamethrowers.” (Adam Hochschild, “The Eleventh Hour,” 5 November 2018, The New Yorker)
Bear in mind that about 60,000 U.S. soldiers died in the Vietnam War; more than a million soldiers were killed during the Battle of the Somme, July-November, 1916. At the Battle of Verdun, February-December, 1916, 300,000 were killed.
“War’s rancours are quick to bite and slow to heal. By the end of 1914, four months after the outbreak of the Great War, 300,000 Frenchmen had been killed, 600,000 wounded, out of a male population of twenty million, perhaps ten million of military age…among the five million wounded in the war, moreover, several hundred thousand were numbered as ‘grands mutilés,’ soldiers who had lost limbs or eyes. Perhaps the worst afflicted were the victims of disfiguring facial wounds, some of whom were so awful to behold that secluded rural settlements were established, where they could holiday together.” (John Keegan,The First World War, pp. 6-7)
How can these realities not be an insurmountable obstacle for Christian theologians who argue that God is paying attention and cares? Sometimes laypeople, untutored in theological sophistry, perceive the phoniness. Robert Graves, author of one of the classic WWI memoirs, Goodbye to All That, said of his pious mother:
“She kept off the subject of war as much as possible; always finding it difficult to explain how it was that God permitted wars.” (p. 30)
How indeed. Christian apologists are immune even to the grim WWI numbers. We can cite how many were killed, wounded, and disfigured; how many starved to death in Germany alone because of the North Sea blockade. But the faith-defenders are content to wave these figures aside; they cannot be evidence of God’s negligence. What an affront to blame God! His hands must remain clean.
But their own theology—the insistence that God is paying attention—no longer convinces: they insist that God is so much involved. The New Testament teaches that he knows even our thoughts; each person is far more valuable to God than two sparrows. It’s no wonder that “I belong to Jesus” has become a faith mantra, and we hear as well that God has plans for our lives.
As we contemplate the impact of WWI on millions of lives, can’t we ditch these theological fantasies? So much went so seriously wrong. With the passage of time, it is easy for all this tragedy to fall below our horizons of awareness. But, if for no other reason than to smack down bad theology, we should pay careful attention.
It is part and parcel of Christian theology that God can influence the thoughts and actions of every human and that he can shape human history to his will. Imagine if one of us had this power and when hostilities broke out in 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, this person had the power to bring humanity to a peaceful solution, but instead watched it play out in all its gruesome glory. No one would honor or praise such a monstrous person, but for God, cathedrals are built where he is worshiped unreservedly.
(1848) Christianity’s fatal flaw
The notion that we humans can do nothing on our own to absolve or pay for our sins, but rather we have to accept a third-party atonement that includes not just the execution of human being but also the torture of that person is not just an indecent bribe, but it also forces us to be complicit in this gruesome scheme…or else. The following was taken from:
Putting to one side for the moment the whole problem of “sin” — That is, the ludicrous notion that an omnipotent deity can be offended or injured by the very thoughts of its supposed creation — I think that I have identified a fatal flaw in Christianity.
When questioned by skeptics and nonbelievers, a follower of the Dead-Rabbi-On-A-Stick cult will sometimes use the following line of unreasoning:
God is ‘perfect’, whatever that actually means. And apparently we are not. Duh. We’re humans.
Thanks to our terrifying imperfection, we’ve succeeded in doing something that has annoyed the Big Guy. That’s a capital offense; therefore, we have to die.
Unfortunately, that isn’t good enough. This god (whom we somehow offended) requires a perfect sacrifice, and we ain’t it. Therefore, something perfect has to die. And the only perfect thing in the whole universe is… You guessed it! …the very same god who wants this perfect sacrifice.
(Ooh, kinky… Apparently it isn’t enough for Mr. Perfect to simply die; this sadomasochistic deity also requires suffering. Suffice it to say that such a sacrificial methodology does not conform to orthodox Judaic law, even if we scratch out “human” and write in “lamb” in crayon.)
And then all is well… But only if you agree that this whole cockeyed scenario was a wonderful divine plan. Otherwise, you have to be tortured for eternity. And somehow, the eternal torture of sentient beings is not a sin.
And here is the injustice of it all:
If we can do nothing to expiate our own alleged “sins”, then we have been targeted for very cruel and very, very unusual punishment by a being committing an egregious and obscene abuse of power.
If Bible god==Jesus, then what we’re dealing with is a rather bizarre cosmic kink, complete with thorns, whips, bonds, and verbal abuse… Paid to and from the same entity. Kind of like paying a debt by moving a dollar from your left pocket to your right pocket.
If Bible god and Jesus are distinct beings, and we accept this sacrifice of a third party for our alleged misdeeds… We become accessories after the fact to an act of torture and (at least attempted) murder.
News flash to Christians everywhere: Contrary to what you keep telling us and yourselves, being “washed in the blood of the Lamb” does not cleanse you. It is a stain on your precious, non-sinful humanity. It is willful complicity in a supernatural shell game. It is abrogation of reason.
It is wrong.
Stop it. Now.
This is where Christianity fails a test of fairness, compassion, logic, and humanity, while it forces its followers to accept the outrageous notion that blood and torture is a necessary ingredient for forgiveness. Simple clear thinking is all that is needed to realize that this game plan did not emerge from the mind of an omniscient deity.
(1849) God and the Flood
The Bible tells the story of God being so upset about the state of affairs on earth that he sent a worldwide flood to ‘more or less’ start all over again. This story has not fared well in light of modern scientific studies that have failed to find any supporting evidence. This leaves two possibilities:
- The flood did not happen, or
- The flood did happen, but God deliberately destroyed all of the evidence for it
Neither of these possibilities bodes well for Christianity. If we go with #1, then we must assume that God allowed this myth to seep into his holy scriptures with the assured knowledge that someday humans would discover that it never happened. If we go with #2, we have a deceitful god who cannot be trusted to deal fairly with humanity.
In either case, we have a hypothetical deity who allowed himself to be seen in a poor light. An omnipotent god intent on killing practically all life on the planet could have done so in a much more humane manner. For example he could have inserted morphine into every animal and then caused them all to have heart attacks instead of inflicting the agonizing suffocating torture of men, women, children, and fetuses, as well as other sentient animals.
If we go with option #1 above, we conclude that a humane god would not have allowed such a brutal genocidal story to become part of his message to mankind. If we go with option #2, then god is not only brutal, but also deceptive. When it comes to the Flood, there seems to be no way to save the reputation of the Christian god.
(1850) The Ten Commandments establish a theocracy
In the United States and perhaps elsewhere, conservative Christians are attempting to have the Ten Commandments posted on public grounds in a quasi-attempt to establish Christianity as a state religion. A detailed review of these commandments reveals that they provide the recipe for a theocracy, the apparent end-game of these protagonists. The following was taken from:
- “No other Gods before me” is about as obvious as it gets when it comes to violations of our modern ideals of Freedom of Religion. How can we live in a pluralistic world when the first commandment here makes it explicitly clear that worship of other deities is a severe crime punishable by death? (Exodus 22:20) This is not about morality, this is about maintaining a strict theocracy, plain and simple.
- “An image in the form of…” is forbidding even appreciative artwork, depending on how strict you go in your interpretation. Icons of the “Saints”, paintings, crucifixes, statues, decorations, possibly even toys could fit into this prohibition. Again, nothing to do with morality or ethics, just another simple way to reinforce theocratic ideals. And let’s not forget the threat at the end ” punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”. Doesn’t sound very moral to me…
- “The name of the LORD, your God” is referring to more than just the odd religious exclamation. This can also extend to anything spoken or written that one might classify as “blasphemy”. A very overt violation of any modern ideals about Freedom of Speech/Press. It exerts a stranglehold over our very words and sentences. Not very moral. (If I may say so without being stoned to death.)
- “Remember the Sabbath Day” is a strict code for labor based on arbitrary names for the days of the week. What exactly you classify as “work” to be a violation of this commandment may vary, but the context makes it very clear that even simple labors performed on the Sabbath are indeed crimes punishable by death. (Exodus 31:14, Numbers 15:32-36) Not about morality, just adding to the theocracy.
- “Honor your father and your mother” is also accompanied by a threat of death. (Exodus 21:17) I believe this is in here because it is much easier to transmit theocratic ideals from one generation to another when both the parents and the children live under the fear of God’s indignation. If this were just a general guide for familial love and support, it would have been worded and enforced much differently within context.
- “You shall not murder” is not really advocating for non-violence. It’s not even advocating for ideals about the sanctity of life or a desire to give people a second chance to learn from their mistakes. It is merely a way to maintain order within the Israelite theocracy. Hebrews are still clearly allowed to brutally murder their foreign enemies and to help execute the disobedient ones within their own ranks, but the murder of their faithful Hebrew brethren is what is really forbidden. (Too many references to divinely mandated murder for me to list here.)
- “You shall not commit adultery” is not about simply being faithful to one’s spouse so much as it is about respecting another man’s female property, and making sure that this female property holds to the man who owns them (Father, Husband, or Master). Multiple wives, concubines, and female sex slaves are totally fine to use and abuse as long as the man keeps it within the basic limits. (Genesis 38:24, Exodus 22:16-17, Leviticus 21:9, Deuteronomy 22:13-30) All examples of a pretty clear favoring of the male perspective and considering a woman to be the man’s property.
- “You shall not steal” is fairly straightforward, but it can be argued that this stems more from a desire to maintain order than to actually uphold some kind of higher morality for its own sake.
- “You shall not give false witness against your neighbor” is mostly referring to your Israelite neighbors, but I’ll grant that this is a fair example of a generally good rule to follow if you can broaden it to more than just Israelites. That said, I still find it to be given in a way to maintain the theocratic order rather than to increase honesty.
- “You shall not covet” is very clearly a prohibition against even committing thought crimes, the ultimate signal of a totalitarian stranglehold. It should also be noted that “your neighbor’s wife” is lumped in with everything else that “belongs to your neighbor”, again reinforcing the male ownership of his female property. This is not about some kind of moral implication about jealousy, but merely to prohibit thoughts that could lead to behavior that might threaten to destabilize the theocratic order.
It should be evident that the Ten Commandments are more of a political statement than a guide for moral behavior, which is something that passes over the heads of most Christians. Therefore, they appear more likely to be the creation of power-hungry humans that a god who would be more focused on spiritual matters.
Follow this link to #1851