(1851) Christian euphemisms
Listening to Christians make excuses when the world doesn’t unfold in a manner consistent with their beliefs illuminates the extreme likelihood that there is something seriously wrong with their beliefs. The following was taken from:
I have often heard various phrases used over and over again to obscure the unexplainable Christian “truths.” But what do they really mean? Let’s look at some:
“It is a deep spiritual truth, too complex for us to grasp.”
Translation: “I don’t know what the fuck this means, but I am going to believe it anyway.”
This euphemism is commonly used to explain bullshit theology that any normal, thinking person would immediately chalk up to being ridiculous such as the trinity (1+1+11), a “loving and just” god’s cruel actions in the bible, predestination vs. freewill, eternal torturing of good people who don’t bow down and worship a megalomaniac god, etc.
“God works in mysterious ways.”
Translation: “Wow! We didn’t see that coming and we can’t explain it to save our lives, but…”
This is usually used when the reality doesn’t match up with what a christian would assume would happen according to god’s will.
“God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.”
Translation: “Suck it up and deal with it. We don’t want to have to think about why god would allow such a horrible thing to happen so stop your bellyaching.”
Hey, if you are breathing, you are bearing it, so there you go. Case closed.
“God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.”
Translation: “We know this looks like he is a bad god, but we just have to believe he is doing this for a good reason otherwise…”
Child abuse, starving people, suffering, etc, can all be explained by god being so smart as to have a perfectly good reason for it all. Yeah, right.
“God is testing you.”
Translation: “You must have pissed god off and now you are going to pay.”
Why in the world would an all-knowing god have to test anyone? Doesn’t he already know if they will pass or not?
“God is so good!”
Translation: “A random event has resulted in my good fortune. Gotta be god!”
It couldn’t possible be due to hard work, luck, determination, or any other plausible explanation. When bad things happen we never hear, “God is so bad.” (see “God is testing you” above)
“It is god’s will.”
Translation: “I don’t know what else to say, but this sounds good.”
When anything happens to a believer it is god’s will. It is god’s will I have cancer/my child died/I won the lottery – you name it. After all, his ways are not our ways (yeah, sometimes the euphemisms overlap).
“Their faith is weak.”
Translation: “Uh-oh. They are starting to think rationally.”
Anyone who doesn’t abide by the blind-leading-the-blind philosophy of Christianity has weak faith. Never, ever, question god. Period.
“We are praying for you.”
Translation: “We don’t want to go out of our way to actually help you, but we will say a five-second prayer for you once a month. This makes us feel really, really good about doing absolutely nothing for you. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
Nuff said on that one.
I know there are tons of these, but you get the idea. Christianity is a made up, superstitious, cult that can’t stand on its own. Without these euphemisms, people might be force to just blurt out, “Holy crap!! That doesn’t make any goddamn sense at all! What kind of god would do that?”
If Christianity were true, Christians would rarely resort to using euphemisms, instead they would be reassured daily as everything would happen in way that reaffirms their core beliefs. Their use of these illogical excuses is a defense mechanism to protect them from facing reality.
(1852) God’s plan in action
It is enlightening to recount God’s plan for the world in a condensed and slightly irreverent manner…. that is, to expose the utter ridiculousness of it all. The following was taken from:
Once upon a time there was nothing. But in that nothing was an omnipotent god. This god wasn’t made by anything – he was just always there — hanging out in nothingness for eternity ( Don’t spend a lot of time wondering how this could be, just believe it). You might think he was bored, lazy, or unimaginative because he didn’t do anything, but he was thinking of what he was going to do. It just took him a really long time to come up with a good plan. He thought of talking snakes, talking donkeys, superhuman men who lost their power when their hair was cut, killing people for picking up sticks on his day, making a lot of stupid rules that would be really hard to follow so he could punish them for not following them, wiping out whole communities of men, women, and children, and –oooh!! the best part!! – he would make an evil, powerful angel who would tempt people and cause people to turn away from god so he could put those people in a place of torment for all eternity.
After god decided on a plan of action he got right to work. He made the earth and planets and stars. He added plants and animals and made a man out of dirt. Then he made the man fall asleep and he made a woman out of the man’s rib. They lived happily in a garden where everything was perfect. But one day a talking snake tricked the woman into eating fruit off of a magic tree that god had told them not to eat. This made god mad even though he knew ahead of time they would do that. That was the whole point of god making the magic tree and the talking snake. Duh! So he kicked them out of the garden and labeled every descendant of theirs a big piece of worthless shit, which god called “sinners.” But god was nice enough to let them live for hundreds of years and have tons and tons of worthless shit babies. God knew they were all going to be worthless and he had already preplanned a giant flood to drown them all, except for one family. He had to save one family to start all over again, even though he knew they were going to have tons of worthless shit babies, too.
God had an ingenious plan to help all the worthless shit people in the world and make them think he was really a nice, loving god. He was going to make a virgin 12-year-old girl pregnant with himself!!Deep down god really liked to kill and torment people. He told them how he was a loving god and they had to follow hundreds of stupid rules he made up or he would be well within his power as god to kill them. He made up rules about what they could eat, how to cut their penises, how to wear their sideburns, killing their kids if they talked back, having feasts, washing, working, having sex, and lots, lots more. He knew they couldn’t remember all the rules, much less follow them, so he would have lots of opportunities to kill and torment. Fun!!
Along the way he had a little fun with some of the worthless people. He messed with their minds by allowing the evil angel to kill all the kids of one guy who followed god’s rules really good , he told an old man to kill his son and burn him, told another guy to lay on his side for months and make a fire using human shit, and he told another guy to marry a prostitute even though he had told people before that was a bad thing.
God had an ingenious plan to help all the worthless shit people in the world and make them think he was really a nice, loving god. He was going to make a virgin 12-year-old girl pregnant with himself!! Then god would split into two different entities and be a man and a god. He would go around praying to himself, and tell people how worthless they were and they could either worship him or be eternally tormented. Then he would let himself be tortured and nailed to a cross and his body would die (but he wouldn’t really die because he is god) and then he would come back to the worthless people in two days (though it is supposed to be three days by his prophets, but never mind the technicalities), and tell more people how worthless they were. He would tell them that he was going to split into yet another form (a magic ghost!!) and if they actually believed this bull shit and telepathically communicated with him all the time, they could spend eternity worshipping at his feet. What could be more fun?? Well, the alternative was eternal torment in a fiery hell, so worship it is! Finally he would rise up and disappear never to be seen or heard from again.
And everyone who believes this will live happily ever after.
The story of Christianity is so absurd that it takes childhood indoctrination, peer pressure, mental instability, unbridled wishful thinking, or severe credulousness to believe it. Yet billions of people fall into one or more of these categories. The question that should be asked is ‘could a god be this insanely stupid?’ The reasonable answer is ‘no.’
(1853) Visualizing the carnage God ordered
It is easy for some Christians to gloss over uncomfortable scriptural descriptions of the atrocities that God allegedly ordered his chosen people to perform. They can say that God must have had a good reason for it. But when such a scene is presented from the side of the victims of this carnage, it changes the perspective in a way that should open the eyes of the faithful. The following was taken from:
Throughout the OT, god kills and orders the killing of MILLIONS of people. Not just “wicked” adults but innocent babies and children and condones the raping of children. How can this be?
Let’s look at a few verses:
Numbers 31:17: “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who is not a virgin. “
l Samuel 15:2-3: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
Psalm 137:9: “Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock.”
Numbers 31:18: “But all the young girls who have not known a man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.”
Here is a little scenario of how it might have happened:
For men to go in and kill EVERYONE with a sword had to have been unimaginable for us today. But the really chilling part is that god ordered it. A terrified family cowers in a corner of their home as they listen to the cries and screams of their neighbors and friends being murdered. Wild-eyed Hebrew warriors, covered in blood, bursts into their home and spy a mother with an infant in her arms and her other four children huddled around her. A pregnant woman is sobbing beside her. The father tries to shield his family and grabs a piece of firewood to fight off the intruders. The women beg the soldiers to stop and be merciful. The women and children watch in horror as the warriors brutally murder their protector, but what comes next is even more nightmarish. The Hebrew men shout that they are doing this in the name of their god YHWH then began slaughtering the screaming, frightened children. Blood is everywhere, tiny little limbs are severed, and one by one the screaming stops. The women tried in vain to defend their little ones, but they, too, are brutally murdered. The pregnant woman watches with dying eyes as the soldiers cut her unborn baby out of her womb and behead it. The only one spared is a pretty little 11-year-old girl that one leering warrior claims as his own.
There is no pretty way to put child killing and child rape. For men to go in and kill EVERYONE with a sword had to have been unimaginable for us today. But the really chilling part is that god ordered it. God, the Creator of the Universe, who proclaims to love us so much ordered the brutal murder of innocent children, infants, and pregnant women — on several different occasions. Wouldn’t a loving god suggest they spare the lives of the children? How can you rationally think god is against abortion if he ORDERS pregnant women and unborn children murdered?
Again I ask, how can a god that is described as loving, merciful, righteous, good, perfect, and just order his people to do unspeakable evil like murdering infants with a sword and letting soldiers rape young girls? It is insanity to suggest that you could reconcile this.
I challenge any Christians reading this to answer me. When is it OK to kill babies and children or rape young girls? Would you kill babies and children for god? It is not unthinkable that god might ask you to do that because it is written in his bible that he has done so before. How do you know that the horrible stories you hear on the news where someone murdered a child because “god told them to” isn’t true? How can you worship a baby-killing god? That is beyond absurd.
If nothing else in the bible gives you reason to question the authenticity of a loving god, this should. These horrendous acts were common for primitive man and reflect the culture of the time. Primitive men wrote the bible, not an omniscient loving god. Does this reflect the actions of a primitive warrior culture or of a loving, merciful, perfect, good god?
Any Christian would have to admit that based on the luck of the draw, they could have been a member of the family slaughtered above. Would they in that circumstance accept their deaths as being necessary for the aims of God? It is interesting that when you place yourself in the position of the victims, the impression you get of God suddenly becomes dark. It doesn’t really matter if God actually ordered these killings or if his people on their own took matters too far. The fact that he allowed such atrocities to become part of his holy book is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that he is either evil or non-existent.
(1854) Paul did not believe in a bodily resurrection
The oldest extent writing that refers to Jesus’ resurrection is a portion of 1 Corinthians 15 written by the Apostle Paul around 55 CE, or about 25 years after the alleged resurrection of Jesus. Details of the resurrection were not fleshed out until about 15 years later in the Gospel of Mark and subsequent gospels. But what is revealing is that the resurrection described by Paul was very different than that of the gospels- Paul did not believe that a flesh and blood Jesus had been resurrected, or that he later appeared as a bodily man to his disciples or others. The following is taken from:
Ah, but what about that passage in 1 Corinthians? Yes, let us now visit the pièce de résistance. Chapter 15, verses 3 through 8, quoted here:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
We must remember that this passage from Paul is by far the earliest mention of anything regarding a possible resurrection of Jesus, having been composed circa 55 CE. However, this account is possibly the most damning of all. First of all, Paul never actually says there was an empty tomb. He uses the word “buried,” and the Greek word in question is etaphē, which refers to burial in the ground (which is how all crucifixion victims were treated—they were given a mass grave), not a stone sepulcher, as the gospel stories suggest. When Paul speaks of Jesus having been raised from the dead, he does not use the Greek word for resurrection, which is anástasis; he uses the verb egeiró, which means, “to wake up from sleeping.” This is the same Greek word used in the story of Jesus calming the raging sea (Matthew, chapter 8; Mark, chapter 4). In this story, Jesus was sleeping in the boat, and his disciples “woke” (egeiró) him. Now, if Paul means a bodily resurrection (and if God himself was writing through Paul), why not use the word anástasis to convey the clearest, simplest meaning? For the sake we who are scrutinizing the text centuries later, why not remove any ambiguity, any mystery, any possibility of misconstruing the facts, and any hint of doubt? If God was inspiring the writers of the Bible, why not go for the gold, as the saying goes?
But there’s more When Paul speaks of Jesus having “appeared” to the various people in this passage, the word for “appeared” is ōphthē, which specifically means a spiritual vision. This is the exact same word Paul uses when describing the “vision” he sees on the Damascus road. There were other words Paul could have used that would have conveyed a more direct meaning regarding a bodily appearance, but Paul chose to use a word that conveyed an ethereal image rather than a literal, physical image. But why? The only logical reason is because Paul meant something other than what modern Christians think he meant. The only logical reason would be that Paul clearly did not mean a “bodily” resurrection.
I like to think of this passage as the proof of what Paul didn’t say. Here he has a chance to mention an empty tomb and fails to do so. Here he has a chance to use the word anástasis, an act which would have left us in no doubt whatsoever regarding his meaning. But does he do this? No. He uses the word egeiró, which cannot help but suggest that perhaps Jesus was not actually dead but merely sleeping. Here he has a chance to use any other word that would have implied a physical representation of a bodily resurrection, and yet Paul chooses to use the word ōphthē, which can only mean a spiritual and therefore ethereal representation, like a ghost or any manner of non-corporeal entity.
What’s also interesting is that scholars have identified the passage of 1 Corinthians 15 as having been a hymn already in use at the time Paul included it in his letter. Songs point more to legend than to fact, a point which very, very few Christians will concede. For us, however, in our investigation, we must be responsible to add a final checkmark under the heading “unlikely.” We now have six check marks under “unlikely” and none under “likely.”
The reason that this is significant is that Paul was the leading Christian promoter of his time and that he allegedly interfaced with Jesus’ disciples as well as others who supposedly were witnesses to the events of Jesus’ life. If he saw the resurrection in the terms as implied by his letter to the Corinthians, then it makes it much less likely that the gospel renditions, which were written after Paul had died, are historically accurate.
(1855) God is a reflection of those who invented him
In the beginning, man created its gods. Every one of them. But Christians believe that their god is real while acknowledging that that all of the other gods are fake. One good way to test their claim is to examine the characteristics of their god as portrayed in the Bible. This one true god should stand out as being above human frailties and reflecting an ethereal demeanor that transcends that of those who worship him. The Christian god fails this test. The following was taken from:
In addition, hasn’t it ever struck you as particularly interesting that the God described in the pages of the Bible sounds remarkably human? This God is, at times, almost too human. The Christians will say, “Well, it’s not that he is like us, it’s that we are like him because he created us in his image.” Well, being as objective as we can possibly be, let us ask which is more likely: that God in all his perfection still somehow displays remarkably human traits such as jealousy, irritation, racism, homophobia, forgetfulness, waffling decisions (his conversation with Lot, for example), political agendas, pettiness, impatience, and impulsive actions (I can produce the scripture to back all of these adjectives up, if you so challenge me to do so)…OR that this entity isn’t really “God” at all but is rather a human manifestation of a God, no different than Zeus or Thor or any of the rest of them? Furthermore, if this image of God as portrayed in the Bible is accurate, is this really the image you want to be created in? Do you really want to be created in the image of a bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser? (Perhaps you do. If so, cheerio, my good man.)
A true god would have no need to express human emotions that are the result of humans having limited knowledge, power, skill, and composure. On the other hand, an invented god would be expected to exhibit the same small-minded and short-sided characteristics of its creators.
(1856) The gospels are products of their time
The mistake that most Christians make is that they read the gospels as they would read any modern historical account- by taking everything at face value. We are accustomed to relying on the accuracy of what we read. But this was not the situation in biblical times, in fact, quite the opposite. What you read then and what actually happened were most often two different things. The following was taken from:
When the Gospels were written (or rather compiled from several pre-existing sources), journalism did not exist, and historiography was new to the cultural scene. In place of objective reportage, ancient peoples were accustomed to reading books that were written in the guise of objectivity, but were nothing more than the religious imaginations of the author or, even worse, their religious delusions. The ancient market was saturated with tales that were allegedly written by Moses, or one of the Patriarchs, or any of the Old Testament characters, and on and on, so ancient readers didn’t even bother to consider whether or not they were being lied to when they picked up a book (or a scroll, as the case may be). The practice was so ubiquitous that we cannot even question whether or not the people of that time actually believed that Solomon wrote the Wisdom of Solomon (in Greek, Solomon was a Hebrew), because such a distinction would never have occurred to them. In fact, it took about 1,500 years after Christ for someone to begin to think critically about this issue, as Baruch Spinoza famously, and thankfully, began to do.
Almost all books that were circulated in the Ancient world were religious, and almost all (in fact, probably all) of these books were pseudepigraphical or pseudonymous. That means, when we get right down to it, they were lies. When someone writes a novel and pretends to be someone else, like when Samuel Clemens pretends to be Mark Twain pretending to be Huck Finn, we don’t call it lying–we call it art. That’s because Mr. Clemens isn’t asking us to commit our eternal destiny to the dictates of young Mr. Finn. But, when someone does this with a piece of religious fiction and then expects their audience to actually believe that the book written by Joe Shlomo was actually written by Enoch, we have no choice but to call it lying. Of course “we” in this case can only refer to those of us who understand that the Book of Enoch, which was written in Greek, could not have been written by Enoch, who only appears in the Hebrew Bible, and who does so at a time before either the Greek or Hebrew languages would have existed, to say nothing of the invention of writing. The Ancients didn’t seem to trouble themselves much about the obvious. By extension, “we” in this case also refers to those of us who understand that the Gospel of Mark could not be an “eyewitness” or historically reliable account of Jesus, since even if it was written by Mark (it wasn’t) it wouldn’t matter anyway, because Mark wasn’t even there during Jesus’ ministry, and so, at best, he’s passing on second hand information. But, of course, he’s not, and even calling the author “he” demonstrates our propensity to see ancient texts the way that we see modern texts, that is, as having an author.
Most ancient texts evolved out of communities, so when they finally came to be compiled and committed to writing, they may have actually had dozens or hundreds of “authors” as traditions passed from one person to another until they became crystallized and standardized enough to warrant the waste of ink and paper involved in writing them down. This isn’t a skeptical opinion of the Gospels, it’s just how it was–ancient manuscripts didn’t even have titles, and it was several generations before anyone even thought to propose titles for them. Any modern day notions we have about “who” “wrote” “the” “Gospels” only shows that we are a culture that has authors (rather than communities that transmit stories and sayings), whose authors have access to writing materials and can afford to write things down (as most Ancients did not), who also happen to be literate (as most Ancients were not), who see books as completed artifacts that are self contained (rather than repositories of communal wisdom that is constantly evolving), and who who think the Gospels were the four books written about Jesus (rather than the four selected by a 4th century church council out of the dozens, if not hundreds, that were circulating at the time).
Once you calibrate your understanding of ancient writings, you can see the gospels in the same vein as a Superman novel, which is what we might today call fan fiction. Any reality that seeps into the account of Jesus’ life is likely to be coincidental.
(1857) Who needs gospels?
There is a case to be made that if the gospels are telling us the truth about the miraculous deeds of Jesus, then we wouldn’t really need the gospels to know that they had happened. There would be a mountain of documentation surrounding these events, which were witnessed by many and retold undoubtedly to millions, along with the Roman infiltrators who were constantly monitoring the movement of Jewish religious leaders. The following was taken from:
As a child, I was fascinated by the “Miracles of the loaves and ﬁshes.” As an adult, I find the “miracles” interesting. Consider the times in which they happened: the Romans dominated over the Jewish people, the Roman Empire was vast. Any and all unusual news would spread like wildfire. The first miracle, as recounted, is a report of a man who fed five thousand men alone, not counting the women and children, on this repast. Not just once, either; in a repeat performance, he fed four thousand-plus people. That’s a hell of a lot of people. You can imagine how fast the news would have gotten around. Free food!
Okay, so the Romans had spies among the Jews; for sure, you know, worries about rebellions and all that. And let’s not forget the historians at the time: Jewish, Greek, Roman. Events such as these would be news, big time. So, in actuality, the Gospel accounts should be unnecessary.
And can‘t you just see the Roman equivalent of a minister of agriculture racing into Caesar’s presence to proclaim, “There‘s a Jew out there who’s feeding around ten thousand with a few loaves of bread and a few fishes. And he has baskets filled with leftovers. And he changes water into wine!” And Caesar would answer, “Hire that man!!!”
But Wait. There’s more. This makes sense: the great physicians have a meeting with Caesar. And they say, “Our Roman and Greek and Jewish colleagues in Rome and Galilee are up in arms because of this Jesus who is curing cripples, eliminating blindness, deafness, and boils, and restoring sanity to the mentally ill. Why, one of your own Centurions is telling everyone how this man brought his daughter back from the dead! This miracle worker spends entire days in curing! If this keeps up, we will all be out of business.” To which Caesar replies, “Bring in those he is reported to have cured. There must hundreds by now, then shall I hire him and he will teach his healing, or tricks, to all physicians so that the entire empire shall prosper. And I shall write of all these things in my memoirs.”
As a child, I was fascinated by the “Miracles of the loaves and ﬁshes.” As an adult, I find the “miracles” interesting.“But there is a catch to allowing him to teach us,” say the physicians. “He is using his powers to preach a new version of Judaism, one which teaches people to sell everything they have and give the money to the poor, to trust in their god to provide for their needs exclusively, and to nevertheless keep paying taxes to Caesar from what money they do have. Although, he does say his kingdom is not of this world.”
“No problem there, says Caesar. “No threat to me. And the less Rome has to pay to provide services, the better for Rome. What are we waiting for? And what’s the problem with yet one more religion? Rome welcomes them all. Whatever he’s selling is probably being bought. Hell, if he’s that good, I myself might be tempted to join with him. Together, we could save the world!”
To give you an idea of the impact an actual historically authenticated miracle such as feeding thousands would have in Roman times, you only have to compare it to something in our own. Supposing you’re researching UFOs on the Web, and you read: “Two days ago, a ﬂying saucer miraculously landed in a suburb of New York City, and several aliens exited it, distributing food to thousands.” Of course, you turn on the news networks for verification. No mention. You check out the newspapers, especially those in New York. Nothing. Wouldn’t you question the truthfulness of the source, the tellers? (Some wouldn’t, if it’s a miracle-matter of ”faith.”)
Are “miracles” proof that the Gospel writers are telling the truth, as they say, telling you to take their word for them on faith? Are they just conning you? If they do so with an obvious lie as the loaves and fishes tale, what about the whopper about a resurrected man? Just because that “miracle” tells many what they want to hear, is the story any less false?
The lack of any extra-biblical documentation of these miracles and the absence of historical events that should have occurred as a result of them gives significant evidence that they didn’t happen. And if these miracles are fabrications, then the entire story of Jesus is dubious at best.
(1858) Challenging questions concerning the Bible
When viewed objectively, the Bible invites questions for which most Christians fail to have adequate answers. Being taught to avoid any controversy surrounding their faith, they dismiss these issues with simple platitudes. The following lists a sample of how Christians apply superficial thinking to legitimate conflicts in their scriptures:
“Why did God not like Cain’s vegetable sacrifice but loved Abel’s cooked meat?” Answer…Vegetarians are weak Christians.
“Who was Cain afraid would kill him when God put him out of the Garden for killing Abel? There were mom, dad, bro and himself on the whole planet at the time.” Answer…He must have known his sisters were going to have kids with dad, no not that. He was speculating. Cain wasn’t thinking very clearly that day.
“Why would God stop the whole earth for a day so Israelites could finish a genocide against the enemy?” I mean, I can see stopping it so there is more time to hug, or feed the hungry, or plant the crops, but more time to kill? Dumb story. Answer…God hates sin and had to kill the bastards, he just needed more time than he planned on.”
“How come the horses in the Exodus die twice in the Ten Plagues and still survive for Pharaoh to mount a final attack against the Israelites, and then die again.” Answer…Where do you get this stuff?
“Why, no matter what, is it always the human’s fault and God never gets any blame for not making good on his promises?” Answer…It’s a mystery. Have faith. God’s ways are not your ways.
“Why does the Apostle Paul, who writes most of the New Testament, NEVER quote Jesus, tell a story of his life or death, discuss a miracle or teaching?” Answer…Where do you get this stuff?
“Why does neither Mark nor John know anything about Jesus birth, while Matthew and Luke do but tell contradictory stories?” Answer…Because the Gospels are like four people who see a car wreck…
“Why does Paul only say Jesus was born of a woman like everyone else?” Answer…Paul was concerned about the risen Jesus, not the earthly one. He was too busy to check up on the details.
“Did Paul ever spend five minutes with the real human Jesus?” Answer..well no, but Paul’s Jesus is the risen Jesus, it doesn’t matter.
“Isn’t it strange the man who writes most of the New Testament and tells us all how to live, think and believe about Jesus, never met him, while the Twelve who did, vanish into thin air and write nothing/” Answer…You ain’t from around these parts are you boy.
“How come Jesus never wrote anything himself while alive, but then writes perfect Greek after he is dead in the form of the Book of Revelation?” Answer….He finished his PHD in Heaven.
“If Herod killed all the little children under two to get at Jesus, who escaped, can we not say the little children had to die for Jesus before he died for them?” Answer…No we can’t, sheesh.
“How come Herod couldn’t follow the Star of Bethlehem himself to find Jesus, but sent others to report back when they found him?” Answer…He was busy.
“How could Mary leave town after being warned of Herod’s intentions and never tell the women in the town, their kids were about to be butchered?” Answer…she was under oath not to tell the Angel story.
“Do you think Mary thought, ‘I know something you don’t know,’ as she left town?” Answer…you’re sick.
“How could Jesus family flee to Egypt sometime during the first two years in one story but go home to Nazareth quietly after 40 days in the other?” Answer…It’s a miracle.
“How come in Mark 3 Mary and his brothers came to get Jesus and take him home because they thought he was “mad” which I assume means insane. Did Mary forget who he was and how he got here?” Answer…shut up.
“How come Matthew uses the Old Testament to weave a story of Jesus, where every quote he uses has absolutely nothing to do with the point he is making about Jesus birth?” Answer…While we might flunk you for such methods, we give Matthew an A, because, well, he’s Matthew. Bible guys get to do and say things you’re not allowed to.
“If Jesus was asked ‘who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?’, would that not imply the man had sinned before his birth, perhaps in a previous life, if his blindness at birth was some kind of punishment? I mean, the blindness was from birth, so the sin had to be before that.” Answer…Ummm.., no. Whatever the answer, it’s definitely not that one.
It would seem that a book written by a real deity would not tax the faithful with the daunting task of defending so many nonsensical discrepancies in the text. Rather, it would stand the test of logic and would more or less stand on its own without the need for Christians to continually explain why, at face value, it doesn’t seem to make sense.
(1859) John makes a mistake in logic
The author of the Gospel of John made what can only be construed as an error in logic in the following verse:
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Although it might follow that the sins of the parents could have caused their child to be born blind, it would be inconceivable that the blind man’s sin could have caused him to be born blind. That would imply that the man had a previous life in which he sinned and later was born a second time with the resulting defect. Although some religions incorporate the doctrine of reincarnation, Christianity does not. The scripture above makes no sense and should have been written differently, such as:
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man’s mother or his father, that he was born blind?”
To Jesus’ credit, the dismissed the idea that sin had caused the man’s blindness, but the problem for Christianity is that the author did not pay attention to what he was writing and made a mistake, suggesting that he was not guided by the Holy Spirit.
(1860) The Wet Monkey Theory
A population of animals can be conditioned to respond in a certain way by applying a stimulus to either reinforce or preclude a certain behavior. This is obvious, but what is not so obvious is that you can withdraw the stimulus at some point and as long as the population is slowly replaced, the conditioned response can remain indefinitely, even when the animals are not aware of why they are responding as they are. This has analogous implications for Christianity and other religions. The following was taken from:
The Wet Monkey Theory
- Start with a cage containing five monkeys.
- Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it.
- Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.
- As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all the other monkeys with cold water.
- After a while another monkey makes the attempt with same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water.
- Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
- Now, put the cold water away. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.
- The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs.
- To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.
- After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.
- Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one.
- The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked.
- The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
- Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.
- Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.
- Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
- After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water.
- Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.
- Why not? Because as far as they know that is the way it has always been done around here.
In the preceding illustration, consider that the initial monkey group represents those on the scene in Nicaea. Constantine had the power to set the ‘conditions’ for everyone within the range of the growing Empire; those who didn’t follow Roman rules were subject to his wrath.
The initial monkeys in the cage represent the local people in that era; the banana represents the desire to acquire power, which in essence at that time, and even today took the form of knowledge.
Each original monkey in the cage represented a particular belief group that held a portion of power in the region. The water represents the violence and oppression of Rome, which was continually employed to break down these localized power structures.
As Rome broke down the local power structures…it incorporated the remnants into its social fabric, and even into its governing directives; the bible, is one of those governing directives.
So, how do we end up with all these monkeys a few thousand years later?
We have millions of monkeys today, mainly because the same business models that were employed 2000 years ago, are the same ones being employed today.
Why challenge the way it’s always been said, or done?
Because without the basic human effort to climb the stairs for greater knowledge…we are left powerless to those who process the baby chimps through the cages, teaching them that the golden banana/knowledge is the downfall of mankind…keeping the power centralized.
Christian parents bring their children into the cage/church on Sunday, to be taught the evil of reaching for the banana and how bad it was in the early days in the cage.
Except; the Christian story provides us Adam & Eve. We were taught, that Adam & Eve partook of the apple, and started climbing the stairs towards godly knowledge, when the Authority found out, they were knocked down so hard that humanity is forever condemned to violent torture upon death in Hell (or so the story continued to evolve); the only escape…don’t seek knowledge that challenges authority/Authority.
So Christians today are still responding, in a way, as people did hundreds of years ago when not being a Christian was routinely and severely punished. This is why it takes a brave person to buck the system, and, like in the monkey cage, go for the banana and declare that they don’t believe in God.
(1861) Questions concerning God’s theoretical death
Christians claim that God’s presence with us is continually confirmed by everyday life experiences, so it is an interesting thought experiment to consider what might change if God tragically died. The following is taken from:
Here’s one way to tell if god is real– If god died tomorrow, how would you know? How could you tell? Would you just wonder why he hadn’t shown up for work? Would you look around in church and wonder, ‘Where is he?’ Would you begin to be concerned because he hadn’t returned your call? Would Christian Science Monitor newspapers begin to pile up somewhere? Or would we notice after a season that tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes oddly didn’t happen this year? Or would they increase? Would the reports of miracle healings and speaking in tongues die down? Would those able to speak in tongues no longer be able to read and write in tongues? Would people keep sneezing incessantly even after we said ‘God bless you‘? Would food taste funny after we said grace?
Would Christians who’d previously been empowered by god’s word and holy spirit now be publicly seen to commit sins such as rape and abuse of minors, televangelism extortion, and adultery? Would the amazing inspired Sunday sermons across our land become redundant and boring and stop being so compelling and convincing? Would lightning bolts stop flashing and thunder be silenced even though some pagan takes the lord’s name in vain? Would unicorns and giants suddenly become extinct? Would devoted leaders like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell lose their way and start saying indefensibly stupid things? Would the bible stop making sense to us? Would god’s holy word in the bible no longer be preserved and protected, now confusing everyone who reads it?
Would the curse on snakes no longer be enforced so that they start walking standing up? Would childbirth no longer hurt? Would Christians no longer do miracles greater than Jesus himself did? If Christians ask, will it stop being given them? Will those Christians with the greatest faith ever no longer be able to move mountains? Will we have to put the mountains back where they were? Will people no longer be crippled by god as a punishment for sin?
The intent of this exercise is to realize that nothing would change if God died, and thus, by inference, nothing would be different if there never was a god. What should be obvious is that an omnipotent, interacting god would be hard to miss if such a thing actually existed, and its sudden death would be as noticeable as a loss of electrical power worldwide.
(1862) God waits for centuries to tell us about Hell
One of the most important doctrines of Christianity is that there will be post-life punishment for many people and that it will be quite severe and most likely never ending. The details of this hellish place are for the most part not discussed in the Old Testament, but were eventually fleshed out by Jesus in the New Testament. The question that must be asked is why did God delay for centuries warming people that this potential fate awaited them? The following is taken from:
My question is this: Why is the Old Testament almost totally silent on the teaching of hell? I’m sure someone will quote a verse (and I could quote a few myself) to argue that the OT does indeed support the existence of hell, but these very few verses are so few and far between that it should disturb anyone who has studied the Bible, when asking yourself why the Old Testament spend such a small amount of time discussing a topic of such vast importance.
In the entire Old Testament, there is really only one verse that could easily be interpreted as a reference to the idea of eternal punishment in hell. The verse is Daniel 12:2.
“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, some to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”
Even if we assume this verse is speaking of eternal torment, it raises another question: Why does it only say that “MANY of those who sleep in the dust will awake?” Why does it not say, “ALL of those who sleep in the dust will awake?” Is this verse implying that only a certain portion of those who have died will experience an afterlife? Are there some who will not experience an afterlife? I think it is easy to see how someone could interpret this verse in this manner. My point in bringing this side-note up is not at all to get off track discussing the universality or limited nature of an afterlife, but rather to point out that if one chooses t63o use this verse to defend the claim that the Old Testament supports the idea of eternal punishment, you have uncovered another problem due to the wording of the text.
But let us get back on track. Here is the main point I want to raise. The book of Daniel is said to have been written in the 6th century BC (although many scholars say the 2nd century BC). And the first books of the Bible are said to have been written around the 14th or 15th century BC (although conservative and liberal scholars debate this as well). So here is my question: If the book of Daniel is the first book of the Old Testament that mentions the idea of eternal torment in hell, why did the Bible wait 900 years to warn its readers about something this serious? If there really is an eternal torture chamber, it seems like the Bible would be absolutely sure to include this teaching on the very first page! I would say that is some REALLY important information to be leaving out!! Could you imagine a person dying who lived during the time of Moses, which would have been hundreds of years before the book of Daniel was written, and waking up in the eternal furnace of fire and screaming, “Oh my God, why wasn’t I warned about this?!!”
I have thought about this question, and while I am sure a multitude of answers could be proposed in an attempt to solve this dilemma, I can come up with two answers that are very likely to arise. For the first answer to this question, a person might respond, “Well he’s God, and he can do whatever he wants, and if he doesn’t want to warn them about hell, then he doesn’t have to.” But if someone is willing to give a response like this, then he or she should not get angry if a radical Muslim says, “Well he’s Allah, and he can do whatever he wants, and if he wants to command his followers to carry out suicide bombings on innocent women and children, then he can do what he damn well pleases.” For anyone who would give such a response, it would be helpful to follow the advice of a quote I once heard that said, “Don’t make a statement that makes God out to be less compassionate that your average mortal human being.”
The second response may possibly carry a little more validity. In the second response, a person defending the teaching of hell might say, “Well maybe the early books of the Bible do not specifically warn its readers about eternal punishment in hell, but it did warn them that God would punish them if they sinned against him.” And of course there is no doubt that this is true. There are hundreds of threats in the first five books of the Bible that God would punish people for sinning against him. There were a multitude of cases where God threatened the people of Israel with death if they broke his commands. One man was stoned to death for simply picking up sticks on the Sabbath, because any form of work was forbidden on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36). And the book of Deuteronomy commands parents to have their child (more like a young adult) stoned to death for being disobedient (Deut. 21:18-21). So there is no question that the Bible warns its earliest readers that they will be punished for sinning against God. But are such warnings sufficient?
I would say that these warnings are not even close to being sufficient. A general warning that God will punish them for sinning against him is not good enough. Here is an illustration to make my point: A dad tells his teenage son that if he gets caught smoking pot that he will be punished. The son tries his best to not get caught, but eventually his dad catches him in the act. So the dad takes a rope and ties up his son’s hands and feet and carries him into the basement, where he has a secret torture chamber set up. The dad keeps his son locked in the basement and puts him through the most sadistic torture for the rest of his life. Every day the son pleads to his dad to let him out, but the dad replies, “Son I told you I would punish you if you smoked pot.” And his son says, “But dad, I knew you said I would be punished for disobeying you, but I wasn’t expecting this!” Multiply the horror of this torture by infinity and apply the same logic to the doctrine of hell, and you’ll see one of the reasons why I have a serious issue with this awful teaching. Feel free to voice any of your own objections or comments, they will be greatly appreciated.
We must consider the following two possibilities- God decided to wait a very long time before he let humans know that death was not necessarily the end of their misery, or that over time power-hungry people dreamed up a way to scare people into following their religion. This is not a difficult choice.
(1863) Bible fumbles resurrection process
The most important promise of Christianity is that the righteous will be resurrected into heaven after death. But for those who have studied the scriptures, a major contradiction exists as to the method of this resurrection. Is the earthly body reanimated or are the faithful outfitted with a new spirit body? The following was taken from:
If the Bible is vague, confusing, and contradictory about the details of the crucifixion and resurrection stories, it is even more puzzling when it comes to the nature of the resurrection itself.
We all want to live beyond the 70 or 80 years most of us are allotted on this earth. We all want to believe that there is something beyond this life. All religions offer some hope for the afterlife, whether it is the Greek concept of existence in the spiritual underworld or the Hindu teaching of reincarnation.
Christianity is unique in that it teaches that just as Jesus died and rose again in a body of flesh and bone, so the resurrection of believers will be like his own resurrection. Here’s what Paul teaches in Romans:
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [bring to life] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 7:11)
First-Century Christians believed that if they died, they were going to be raised again. However, they were sure that Jesus was going to come back before they died a natural death. Paul the Apostle told them to comfort each other with the knowledge that Jesus was going to come back and awaken their fellow believers who had “fallen asleep,” and those who were still alive would be caught up together with them in the clouds to be with the Lord forever.
But as time went on and Jesus didn’t return, Paul (or whoever was writing the epistles) had to revise the story a bit to comfort believers about Uncle Titus and Aunt Cleo, who had been “asleep” a very, very long time, and were rotting in their graves.
So Paul the Apostle writes in 2 Corinthians 5 that there was nothing to worry about, because those dead relatives weren’t actually sleeping at all; they were already present with the Lord. He explains that there is a spiritual body which has been prepared for believers in heaven, to which they go and inhabit when they die.
Paul leads up to this particular conclusion by encouraging believers not to grow fainthearted, because “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Why were they growing fainthearted? Because Jesus didn’t show up when he said he would, and people were seeing their fellow Christians kick the bucket just like everyone else. Paul then goes on to say that if “this tent” (meaning our earthly body) is dissolved, we have “a building of God” (a heavenly body), eternal in the heavens.
To remove any doubt about what he means, he goes on to say, “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven,” and that if we are present in the body we are absent from the Lord, and if we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. (I Cor. 5:2-6)
Wow. That kind of changes things. Having a spiritual body prepared in the heavens for us eliminates the need for a resurrection altogether. I thought that the “good news” in a nutshell was that our sinful, corruptible bodies would be raised incorruptible just like Jesus’ body was.
So now the question is, “If God could merely create new, perfect heavenly bodies for us to inhabit immediately after we die, then why would Jesus need to die on the cross, and then raise up his own body, in the first place?
The two descriptions of the resurrection don’t match. In fact, the idea of a new body expressed in 2 Corinthians is not even a “resurrection.” It’s the transfer of a soul from one body to another. How could the Holy Spirit allow there to be such a direct contradiction about the “blessed hope” of the Christian faith? It has to be one or the other.
Do those who die in the faith lie asleep in the grave until they are resurrected in a glorified, incorruptible human body of flesh and bone, or are they immediately transported into the presence of God to inhabit a body made of spiritual stuff awaiting them in the heavens? It can’t be both, and yet the Bible whipsaws us back and forth between two irreconcilable concepts without so much as an attempt to reconcile the vast difference.
How can a doctrine of this importance be so vague? How are Christians to know whether they should cremate the dead? Is this confusion symptomatic of a perfect creator-author inspiring his holy book? Of course not. The Bible is a contradictory product of multiple human brains.
(1864) Discrepancy in time of crucifixion
The gospels contain an indisputable error describing the time of day that Jesus was crucified. Although this is a trivial mistake in the big picture, it does suggest that human effort apart from godly inspiration was involved in the creation of these scriptures. The following was taken from:
I was recently shocked to learn that Jesus was in two places at once on the day of his crucifixion.
How could that be? At the sixth hour, or noon, the Gospel of John places him at Gabbatha, or The Pavement, where he was judged by Pontius Pilate. It says at the sixth hour, Pilate brought him before the crowd that was gathered, and said, “Behold, your king!”
The other three gospels say that at that time, he had already been hanging on the cross for three hours, and darkness came over the land from the sixth to the ninth hours, or from noon to 3 p.m.!
If the authors of the gospels are writing “under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” how did this glaring error take place? Either John is wrong, or the other three gospel writers are wrong.
Both cannot be right.
Those who believe in biblical inerrancy often make the argument (http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/matthew-mark/what-hour-was-jesus-crucified) that the time discrepancy arose from a difference in the way Romans kept time versus how Jews kept time.
They try to explain that John was writing to the Romans, who measured time like we do today, beginning at midnight. So, to Romans, the sixth hour would have been close to 6 a.m.
The only problem with that explanation is that historians say that throughout Babylonian and Roman times, the sixth hour always meant midday—never early morning.
Martial the poet (http://bit.ly/Wxiszk), who was born only seven years after Jesus died, said that in Rome, the work day started at the third hour, and the sixth hour was afternoon break time.
Gentiles in Rome didn’t measure the daylight hours any differently than the Jews did. Starting the day at midnight didn’t begin until the use of mechanical clocks (http://bit.ly/XQsAGn), which started hundreds of years after Christ. Before that, everyone in the Western world measured time the same way—beginning at dawn.
If the gospels claimed to be a mere historical record written by men, a discrepancy concerning the correct time of an event would be a minor problem. But these writings claim to be written under the guidance and inspiration of none other than God the Holy Spirit.
If the “Holy Spirit” really had been guiding those who wrote the gospels, wouldn’t he have known the time Jesus was crucified, and had there been cultural differences in telling time, would he not have been able to correct them?
Everyone form my generation remembers exactly what they were doing the moment they heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot (Kennedy had been shot). That was the event that defined the postwar baby boom generation. And after watching the news all that day, no one would be confused about the time: 12:30 p.m., Central Standard Time, at Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas. People tend to remember the details when someone murders their hero.
(1865) God’s Q and A
It is enlightening to put yourself in God’s shoes and answer some questions about how you would want to run your universe and treat your people. Then compare your answers to how the Christian god answered them. The following is taken from:
One day you wake up to discover you are God.
Use your gut reaction to answer the following questions.
A. After creating people you must determine the level of devotion that you will require. You will:
- Make it real easy. I’m easy.
- Make it moderate so only the better half make it.
- Make it impossible to meet my demands.
B. When creating justice you would:
- Make karma so people get what they deserve.
- What justice? Just watch it go down.
- Make the bad burn forever.
C. When someone fails to meet your demands you would:
- Tell them not to do it again.
- Make them say they are sorry after punishing them.
- Torture and kill an innocent man for their short comings.
D. A powerful leader defies your demands. You will:
- Punish him.
- Kill him. Make him an example.
- Kill the children of his citizens.
E. When determining the nature of people you:
- Make them highly inclined to follow my rules.
- Make them free as a bird to do as they wish.
- Make them inclined to break every rule.
F. When determining the likely hood that someone will earn your best reward you:
- Give them the will to make the choice. Make it fair.
- Make it hard. Only the best deserve the best.
- Make it impossible.
G. When giving people purpose for their life you:
- Let them choose whatever they wish.
- Give them a mission they are certain of.
- Make it all about you.
H. You make it easy for people to find you by:
- I’m the giant face in the sky… Duh!
- I’m the wizard looking dude throwing fireballs.
- Allow hundreds of religions while I hide.
Bible-God’s answer key to all of the above is “3”
It should seem strange that visualizing your actions as God differ significantly from the Bible God’s. And further, using whatever common sense and logic you can muster, your hypothetical actions seem to be more fair, logical, and compassionate. What this really means is that primitive, pre-scientific, superstitious people had a difficult time composing their imaginary god in a fashion that would meet the expectations of a world that lay 2000 years in the future. In fact, we should not criticize them, they did their best, but it just failed to meet the test of time.
(1866) Truth needs little defense
As Christianity has entered a world of snowballing technology, with increasingly-frequent scientific discoveries and an explosion of information transfer, it is finding itself in a position of needing to be defended by an army of apologists who engage in debates and write books. In the following essay, it is argued that a true religion would defend itself with no need for human support:
Awhile back, I wrote a little snippet based on the premise that if religion is so important, it should also be simple to understand, easy to implement and ubiquitous in its application. I further submitted that since religions are not simple, especially the big three Abrahamic faiths, they either must be a) unimportant or b) untrue or, more than likely, both. Therefore, unnecessary complexity is a bellwether indicator of a false concept, religious Dogmas being prime examples.
So, building on this line of thought, I think it also follows that if something is untrue but is being masqueraded as Truth, it will likely require much explanation. In fact, a method used by interrogators to detect lies in a witness or suspect is to note the length and complexity of their explanations. Long and complex explanations are, many times, strong indicators that the witness is trying to defend an untruth and therefore lying.
Now considering the above, have you ever noticed all the web sites, books, videos, DVDs and seminars devoted to “Defending Christianity”? This is the burgeoning industry known as Apologetics!
However, a sizable dose of twisted thinking and/or cognitive dissonance is required to accept most (any?) of the fundamental Christian Doctrines. Many of us were conditioned to believe this stuff as children, but notwithstanding, we still seem easily drawn into and held within this belief system – myself included. I will never forget one of my first Christian mentors telling me that I would “believe if I really wanted to believe”. How strangely profound! But in reality, it was my intense desire to believe that ultimately lead me away from the mind cult doctrines of Christianity. In fact, as I read and studied the Bible, I found that the only way I could believe it was to completely leave my brain and my ability to reason out of the process.
Worse yet, a brief study of History revealed that one of the main reasons that Orthodox Christianity needs so much defending is because it has proven itself to be horribly imprecise, self-contradictory and murderously vile. How could any caring or thinking individual allow his or herself to be associated with this group without bringing serious challenges to “Christian Truth”? And how could we possibly recommend and preach this faith to others as we are told we must?
And then, it hit me… The Truth does not need to be defended, because real Truth defends itself whenever it is APPLIED! Bottomline – The Truth Works!
Real Truth is trustworthy, repeatable and reliable and may be readily demonstrated by others. Real Truth is consistent and doesn’t rely on magical powers or divine intervention. Real Truth provides practical help in solving problems without subjugating others or coercing them.
So, here is my question to you all…. Are there “Truths” in your life? If so, rejoice for great is your reward in the Real World. And be of good courage, for you won’t have to waste your time defending your Truths as the apologetists do. Instead, you can be busy applying these truths to your life and to the lives of those you love!
In summary, if a religious “truth” or doctrine needs copious quantities of apologetics, it is very likely untrue. This should be one of your first clues that something is amiss because the Truth needs little or no Defense! But, it will set you free!
Only a human-created religion would require so much explanation and so many excuses. Christianity requires interpretations that are too long and too complicated for it to acquire the potential pedigree of a true religion.
(1867) God is immoral
Christians often say that the Bible is the ultimate guide to morality, but a casual review of the scriptures reveals that Yahweh is not a moral being, not by a long shot. Anyone emulating him would be considered to be a horrible person. The following was taken from:
As I continued to read the bible it quickly became clear to me that the bible is not the moral guide book that Christians claim it to be and I realized that I was stretching the truth to support my assumptions. By far, the biggest assumption I had was that God is an all knowing morally perfect being incapable of evil. But the God the bible describes is much different and seems to be more human than divine. He sets a terrible example for people to follow. God, for some reason, hates handicapped people (Leviticus 21:17-24) and is many times jealous and vindictive, allowing slavery (Leviticus 25:44-46, Exodus 21:2-6, Exodus 21:20-21, Ephesians 6:5 , 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Luke 12:47-48) (including sex slaves) (Exodus 21:7-11), rape (Judges 21:10-24, Numbers 31:7-18, Deuteronomy 20:10-14, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, 2 Samuel 12:11-14, Deuteronomy 21:10-14, Judges 5:30), child abuse (Judges 11:29-40, Isaiah 13:16), and a lot of murder. God not only allows it, and clearly approves of it, but he specifically orders it many times. God, himself, killed hundreds of thousands of people. I cannot believe just how many instances of murder there are in the bible. There are even specific rules for who you are supposed to kill. Kill unbelievers (2 Chronicles 15:12-15), kill followers of other religions (Deuteronomy 17: 2-7, Deuteronomy 13:6-12, Numbers 25:1-9), kill witches (as if they were real!) (Exodus 22:18), kill fortune tellers (Leviticus 20:27), kill people who ignore priests (Deuteronomy 17:12), kill children for cursing their parents (Leviticus 20:9), kill adulterers (Leviticus 20:10), kill the child who hits his parents (Exodus 21:15), kill gay people (Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-32), kill entire towns if one person worships another god (Deuteronomy 13:12-19), kill women who are not virgins on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:16-21), kill anyone who blasphemes (Leviticus 24:10-16), kill anyone who works on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-15). God kills too. God killed 42 children for making fun of a prophet’s bald head by sending 2 bears to tear them to pieces (2 Kings 2:23-24), he sent a lion to kill a man because he didn’t strike the prophet with his weapon when the prophet told him to (1 Kings 20:35-36), he killed people for looking at the ark of the covenant, a box containing the 10 commandments (1Samuel 6:19-20), he killed all of the firstborn of Egypt just to prove He was real (Exodus 11:4-8), and of course he killed everyone on earth except for Noah and his family. God killed and ordered many more killings throughout the bible. I’ll let you read the rest yourself. The Christian justification to these crimes is always “they deserve to die because of their immorality”. Nobody deserves to die. But that’s the theme of the bible, some people deserve to live and some deserve to die.
(1868) Matthew vs. Luke birth narratives
The Gospel of Mark is silent on Jesus’s birth and early life, but a decade or two later, the authors of Matthew and Luke filled in the gap. Unfortunately for the sake of Christianity’s credibility, they told two completely different stories. The following was taken from:
“Mark,” as mentioned, was the earliest of the four Gospels and contains no details of Jesus’ miraculous conception, virgin birth, flight to Egypt, nor any event, prior to Jesus’ baptism at around 30 years of age. Before this time, Mark says nothing about Jesus’ life (see Mark 1). The later Gospel of “Matthew,” does contain a narrative of Jesusˇ miraculous conception (Matthew 1:18-2:11), his virgin-birth (Matthew 1:18-23), his flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), and other miraculous and mundane events from Jesusˇ youth, up until the age of twelve, anyway. “Luke,” the next in the series, chronologically speaking, also describes Jesus’ miraculous conception, his virgin birth, but it also contains quite a few key contradictions in relation to Matthew’s version of events. Here is a short list of some of them:
Was Jesus in danger of being killed by King Herod?
a. Matthew – Yes.
b. Luke – No.
Did King Herod slaughter the children of Bethlehem?
a. Matthew 2:16 – Yes.
b. Luke – No.
These are only the variations between Luke and Matthew regarding Jesus’ early life. If we were to look at the total number of contradictions and variations within the narratives of the four Gospels, we would find many more.
Another interesting discrepancy between the birth narratives we have today, versus a much older second century one, can be witnessed within the writings of the second century church father and apologist, Justin Martyr, who described Jesus’ birth as having taken place in a cave.
Now, the question for any objective observer of this situation is to ask whether Matthew or Luke was making up his story about Jesus, or were both of them doing so? No matter what, it seems clear that they were not coordinating with each other. Even if we assume that one of them was telling the truth, the fact that the other obviously false one made into the canon of the scriptures alerts us to be suspicious of everything else that is written there.
(1869) Use of remoteness to propagate the Jesus myth
The gospel writers employed the strategy of using remoteness, in terms of both time and geography, to perpetrate their myth of Jesus. Had they written earlier, or had it involved a greater breadth of landscape, no one would have accepted it. Therefore, it is not surprising that the gospels were written 40+ years after the events they allege and confined to a small area. The following was taken from:
This brings us to an additional aspect of remoteness as it pertains to the Christian myth. The myths described in the Gospels were set, not only in the remote past, but in a remote location. Unlike many of the Classical myths, which described a dreamlike world, almost entirely dominated by supernatural forces, events and people, the Christian myth localized its supernaturalism around a small “insignificant figure,” who, lived in a small insignificant region, at a real definable point in history. For this reason, many scholars refer to the stories about Jesus as, ‘legends,’ rather than myths, for the reason mentioned above. Namely, they are composed of unreal events, superimposed onto an historical canvass. As I’ve already discussed, a traditional tale may be a complex creature, involving legend, myth, and folk-tale. The myth underscoring the Christian religion is one such tale, as we have seen and will see; it contains all the elements which comprise a myth, according to Professor Vandiver’s definition, anyway.
Returning to the issue of the remoteness of the location of the Christ myth, apologists love to hide behind this aspect of remoteness when skeptical inquirers come storming in with demands, not only for proof of Jesus’ earthly existence, but for the miracles which he was alleged to have performed and the supernatural events surrounding his birth, life and death. They argue that, Jesus’ contemporaries did not mention him in their vast and voluminous chronicles, because he was an insignificant figure, living in an insignificant region of the empire. He was, in other words; a nobody from nowhere!
Regarding Jesus’ obscurity, Ehrman says
“What do Greek and Roman sources have to say about Jesus? Or to make the question more pointed: if Jesus lived and died in the first century (death around 30 CE), what do the Greek and Roman sources from his own day through the end of the century (say, the year 100) have to say about him? The answer is breathtaking. They have absolutely nothing to say about him. He is never discussed, challenged, attacked, maligned, or talked about in any way in any surviving pagan source of the period. There are no birth records, accounts of his trial and death, reflections on his significance, or disputes about his teachings. In fact, his name is never mentioned once in any pagan source. And we have a lot of Greek and Roman sources from the period: religious scholars, historians, philosophers, poets, natural scientists; we have thousands of private letters; we have inscriptions placed on buildings in public places. In no first-century Greek or Roman (pagan) source is Jesus mentioned.”(5)
According to the Christian apologists, on the popular apologetic website, Tektonics, the reason why no contemporary made mention of Jesus, was due to the fact that:
“As far as the historians of the day were concerned, he was just a “blip” on the screen. Jesus did not address the Roman Senate, or write extensive Greek philosophical treatises; he never travelled outside of the regions of Palestine, and was not a member of any known political party. It is only because Christians later made Jesus a “celebrity” that He became known.”
So, let us now look briefly at a possible reason why mythographers seemed to always employ the devise of remoteness to their tales. Why did they set their tales in the remote past, and in the Christian’s case, in a remote region of the empire?
Looking at the issue critically and somewhat skeptically, it is likely that these tale-tellers set their fictitious stories in the remote past and in remote locations for the sake of apology. By doing so, they could defend the alleged truth of these tales within the obscurity afforded by a lack of witness.
Imagine if someone was to tell you that; 2 years ago, the earth was covered with a great flood and that a 600 year old man, was given a weeks’ notice to build a giant ark, upon which, he was told to take two of every kind of animal, from bears to kangaroos, to grasshoppers and snakes! Following this, the storyteller claims that, this 600 year old man succeeded in achieving this miraculous task and subsequently the flood covered the earth, and only he, his family and the animals were saved. First of all, you were alive two years ago and can probably remember most of the events of that time. Surely, you would remember a global flood, or would have not been around to hear the storyteller’s tale! Furthermore, you would question the storyteller with regards to the age of the man. Human’s do not live this long, let alone build giant arks at such an advanced age. Also, you may, with your knowledge of geography, see the ridiculous nature of the claim made by the storyteller that, this 600 year old man managed to herd two of every animal onto this ark, in a week no less! You even may wonder how on earth, he could have built the kinds of refrigeration and heating systems, required to keep the polar bears cool and the snakes warm! Ultimately, you would come to the conclusion that, this storyteller is not telling the truth and that what you are hearing is fiction.
But what if, as a storyteller, you localized your myth? You could subtract the universal dreamlike state of the earth and replace it with a more localized supernatural event, one which could not be easily observed and thus, remain safe from refutation. You could set the tale as far back in time as necessary, to separate the audience from the time and place of the tale. You could say that, the miracles occurred around one little obscure man, a “blip on the screen,” in an equally small and obscure location. This way, your tale would be relatively safe from immediate dismissal and refutation. Finally, you could initially relay it to the meek, unlearned, the illiterate masses, who are prone to credulity, whose hopes can be fanned by the flagrant fantasies, those who wouldn’t know who Pontius Pilate was, or that Quirinius could not have been governor of Syria at the same time as Herod the Great’s rule. You could sell your tale, not only upon the grounds of remoteness, as it applies to both the location and the obscurity of a single insignificant figure, but also, upon the intellectual remoteness of your audience. This is precisely how I see the element of remoteness, as it applies to the development and propagation of the Christian myth.
The lack of contemporaneous accounts of Jesus is a big clue that at least the miraculous elements of his story are mythical. It took time for these tales to develop in the manner of escalating oral traditions and then and only then could they be put to writings that could be accepted as truth.
(1870) Awareness of death led to invention of the soul
The belief that humans have indestructible souls, which directly led to the creation of religion, was most likely related to the dawning realization that death was an inevitable part of life. The belief in souls became a coping mechanism for carrying the burden of being consciously aware of one’s ultimate demise. The following was taken from:
Imagine a small group of early humans. What did they think was happening when one of them was killed by a predator and became “something” that resembled the very same meat they had for dinner last night! What did they think? Did they consciously tell themselves “we are just mobile meat waiting to be killed by something bigger and stronger; everything is just meat, including us”?
What of the other death? The quiet, incomprehensible one? What do you think they thought when one of them suddenly entered a state that resembled sleep. The others surely waited and waited for him to wake up so they could move on to the next food source. They shook him but he wouldn’t wake up. He was pale and his skin cold. The others didn’t have a choice but to wait. Maybe they decided to carry him to their next campground? Well, whatever they did do, they eventually would have come to the conclusion that this was not normal sleep. It was something seriously different. Not only did he not wake up, but his body was starting to change. When they shook him again, they noticed that he had become rigid. Then, and it must have happened fairly quickly in the heat of the African jungle, he started to decompose. That’s when things really became ugly. The sleeper became bad meat full of worms. The sight and smell were so repulsive that they had to move away from him. Little by little he started reminding the group of that antelope that was killed by a lion and whose carcass they found recently.
Eventually humans realized that, even if they survived accidents and violent death, all the people in the group one day would fall asleep and never wake up and that they all were destined to become nasty meat. It didn’t take them too long to realize that this was going to happen to them personally, each and every individual in the group.
That is the beauty of becoming human. We are able to transpose onto ourselves what we see happening to others. We’re all going to end up like that! Bad meat full of worms. You! Me! All of us!
Can you imagine what must have gone on in the minds of those first humans? What did they make of this? How, at the dawn of mankind, could you live your life knowing that you’re going to become a piece of decomposed meat? We’re talking about a time long before any civilization or culture had appeared. We’re talking about humans who were barely humans just a few generations before. There was no culture, no philosophy, no 12 step program to help you, nothing! Just you, the lions and the worms. Nothing to get comfort from (except other meat!).
So what did we do not to go insane? Because now we had a brain that could go insane. When we were a different species, a lower primate, we were fine because never aware that one day we’d die. But along the way we graduated from being an animal, not knowing, to a human, painfully aware. When we gained those extra cubic centimeters of brainpower during our passage from clueless animal to human, it’s as if we had taken the red pill in the Matrix while we’d been on the blue one during all our previous animal life.
That big brain – what a double-edged sword! A poisoned present some would say. Sure, it allows you to invent tools, to hunt more efficiently but it also lets you be aware that one day you’ll die! Thank you, God! How were we going to live knowing that we will become stinky flesh full of worms in the African savannah? How do you live with that grim future?
I turned this around and around in my mind, and I don’t see any other way for those early humans, but to believe that there was a part of them, the “soul”, that the worms can’t get to. That’s it. This is the key to sanity. You and your loved ones have a soul that leaves the body and escapes all the ugliness of putrefaction and goes on forever. You will be, with all the members of your tribe, moved to another world and you will live forever and ever in a utopian “heaven” where no lion can get you!
Once we introduce this handy little invention into the picture, life becomes bearable again for the big human brain. We can take the bad meat. An immortal soul that escapes putrefaction to live forever has been created. Without it, I don’t believe the adventure of mankind, the human experiment, would have started.
From this perspective, it appears likely that the development of religion was not caused by supernatural agents interacting with humans but rather humans themselves finding a way to cope with their emerging conscious awareness that death is an inescapable element of life.
(1871) According to scripture, everyone is damned
A case can be made from scripture that no one alive today, at least as far as we know, has sufficient faith to pass God’s test for the afterlife. This is based on a passage in the Gospel of Mark (OK, it is a later insert, but it’s still there) saying that those with sufficient faith can do what nobody today seems able to do. The following was taken from:
Is Christianity a religion with real power or a fraud? If you listen to fundamentalists they clearly believe that they have “real power” at their fingertips. It’s not hard to understand why they believe this. After his resurrection Jesus stated to his disciples that those who follow him shall perform miracles.
Mark 16:15-20 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”
So, can you handle serpents? If I give you a glass of poison can you drink it and live? When you lay hands on people that are sick do they recover? When Jesus says “And these signs shall follow them that believe;” he’s talking about everyone that claims to “believe”. There is no “out” clause there. You either perform these miracles or you don’t and he makes the outcome certain for those who can’t.
Let’s go over this again. 1) You have to believe to be saved. 2) Those that believe shall perform these signs: take up serpents, cast out ‘devils’, speak in new tongues, drink poison and live, and lay hands on the sick and they recover. If you can’t do the things listed in #2 then you don’t really believe. If you don’t really believe then “he that believeth not shall be damned”. Jesus wasn’t making a list of what he wished his followers could do. He made a very clear statement as to what “real believers” ARE able to do. “And these signs shall follow them that believe… and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them…”. Poison anyone?
I’ll be honest, I haven’t exactly been keeping up with the number of people on planet Earth that can perform these miracles but I propose that such a number is quite low and somewhere in the neighborhood of zero. So, if not one of this god’s subjects can perform these miracles then it’s a fraudulent religion having no power.
Therefore, I have no other choice but to relegate Christianity into a pile with all of the other Pagan myths and superstitions. Don’t like what I’m saying? Want to prove me wrong? Produce me one single Christian willing to drink cyanide and we can settle the argument.
Serpents are killing them, they are unable to cure the sick, and they succumb to poison just like any atheist. Christianity imparts no unusual powers to its believers; therefore we can dismiss it as an impotent belief system.
(1872) God’s sickening choice
According to Christianity, God has set up a two-tiered kingdom where he will place reanimated dead humans, some in a nice place, and some in a very bad place. If we read scripture carefully, it is evident that most will go to the bad place. Now, the question is whether God’s plan is better or worse than simply letting people die for good and never regain consciousness. The best way to evaluate this is by way of a thought experiment, as follows:
Here is an illustration. You get to choose the outcome for a group of one hundred people. With option 1 the whole group get put in an oblivious drug induced coma for the rest of their natural lives. With Option 2, two of the people are flown to Grand Cayman where they get to live in the Sun, with their every social, medical, recreational and emotional need met by a group of loving friends and a wonderful attentive spouse. The remaining 98 are moved to a dark underground torture chamber where they are burned with acid and fire to the point of pure agony but not death, and are kept in solitary confinement and are emotionally and physically abused in every way for the rest of their natural lives. It’s your choice. Option 1 or Option 2. If you have any doubt, put your family in the group of 98. You are a caring person, and so, accepting that neither choice is great, you chose option 1 and save the suffering. If I could choose, I’d choose that Christianity is fiction.
Christianity tells us to be selfless, so surely it is not very Christian to wish Christianity is true. Shouldn’t Christians wish they could swap their heaven for oblivion and save billions from Hell?
God chose Option 2 but almost any caring person would chose Option 1. What does this say about the God that Christians worship? Would any loving parent not be willing to surrender heaven to prevent their child from being punished eternally? Christians might try to wiggle out of this conundrum and say that hell does not place people in a state of agony, but their scriptures hamstring them:
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
What can eternal punishment mean?
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
(1873) Christianity has all the characteristics of a cult
Christians hyperactively deny that they are members of a cult, often subtly inferring that cults are always small collections of people with strange ideas. But if we dismiss the size criterion, it is easy to see that Christianity, as a collective body, meets all of the characteristics of a cult, as explained below:
Here is a simplified list of “symptoms” that can be used to identify members of any cult:
- A belief in the core cult dogma that is independent of facts, logic, or even one’s own intuition. In other words an absolute and blind acceptance of any information provided by cult leaders and literature as undeniable fact.
- Tendency to isolate from the rest of society, often justified by the suggestion that those outside of the faith are wicked, lost, etc.
- A compulsive need to recruit others into the cult.
- The deriving of most or all of one’s self esteem from the cult collective and the cult dogma. Often cult members will see themselves as worthless (because this is what they are taught) and will insist that only through the practice of the cult’s teachings can they serve the world in any worthwhile manner.
- The complete loss of individuality, logic, and objectivity. The only reasons for continued existence becomes the serving of the cult’s agenda.
This list could be expanded substantially, but the items above effectively capture the primary indicators that can be used to determine whether an individual is involved with a cult group. Now let’s have a closer look at the global religion called Christianity in an effort to see how its practitioners reflect the previous list on cult member behavior.
Irrational Belief in Core Cult Dogma
Christians, like everyone, have their own beliefs about the origins of the universe, the meaning of life, and the nature of right and wrong. However in almost every case, followers of Christianity adopt what they are taught by their pastors and priests, and what they read in their biblical texts, as their own truths.
Rarely, if ever, do Christians make their own conjecture about the nature and phenomena of life and living. They accept without question everything given to them by the church leadership, even when the information is contradictive of science, history, logic, and previous information from the same church source.
In the event a Christian feels strongly about a particular issue, and these feelings are exposed as being contradictory to the official dogma, he or she will reject the original belief in favor of that presented by the clergy or by biblical texts. This means a Christian typically has no real ability to decide what he or she believes about the world and about life in general, as the church organization is allowed to “overrule” even what goes on in the individuals’ mind.
Furthermore, any attempt to challenge these beliefs will likely be met with hostility. Regardless of what scientific, historical, even mathematical evidence you can produce to offset any given church teaching, expect to be resisted or even attacked by any Christian you present this information to.
Justified Isolation from Society
The core Christian teaching insists that the world is evil, and only those who accept the Christian faith will be saved from eternity in hell. Therefore many Christians are afraid of anything and everything that is not directly condoned by leaders within their organization.
Christian organizations and individuals often target television, movies, music, games, politicians, retail organizations, and even children’s toy franchises. After declaring an entity wicked and wayward, Christians will use boycott and even public protest to show disdain for a wide range of institutions.
Granted, there are many movies, games, songs, politicians, and so forth that are distasteful or even downright uncouth. But Christians are not content to simply refrain from interacting with people, places, groups, and services they deem evil; indeed their objective seems to rid the world of such things and to label any who disagree with their position as evil as well.
Compulsive Tendency to Recruit Others
Anyone who has spent much time with Christian friends knows very well the policy of conversion this organization practices. In fact they believe god has charged them with the task of turning everyone in the world into a Christian.
As scary as this might sound, it’s critical that you understand I’m not joking here. Christians believe it is the will of the divine that they make every effort to recruit every other human being on the planet into their religious organization.
The idea of simply worshiping their god, observing their traditions, and allowing the rest of the world to do the same is unacceptable. In fact the suggestion is blasphemy to a Christian, and you are in danger of burning in hell for all eternity (as far as they are concerned) for having the audacity to resist their efforts to convert you.
Deriving One’s Self Esteem from the Cult Collective
Sadly, most Christians honestly believe they are intrinsically unworthy, powerless, and wicked. In order to be of any value at all they must denounce themselves, beg god to forgive them for their evil ways, and devote their lives to following the very specific tenants of the Christian faith.
That all humans are born evil and unworthy is one of the most basic teachings of the faith. And a primary reason for this belief is the assumed fact that Eve, the first woman ever created, collaborated with a talking serpent to steal and eat a piece of fruit from a tree god specifically told her not to bother.
At the risk of getting sidetracked here I am compelled to elaborate a bit on this whole “born evil” thing. In the very same book in the Christian bible (Genesis) where the reader learns of their inherent wickedness and unworthiness, they are also told that “god created man in his own likeness”.
So if you were to keep score, you would find that:
A. You were created by god in his own image and likeness.
B. God is good and great and loves you more than you can understand.
C. You are, at birth, an evil sinner whom must one day beg god to forgive you.
You may be a tad confused by the relation of items A and C. Refer to items #1 and #5 on our list of cult member behaviors to see how belief in the above contradictory premise can be accepted without challenge by millions of people worldwide.
Complete Loss of Logic, Individuality, And Objectivity
This list item is really a reflection of all the other listed items. I use it to explain how an otherwise intelligent, seemingly decent, full-grown adult can behave in a manner described in this article.
How people choose to think, believe, and even act is completely up to them. But I become concerned when a group – any group – has a clear and aggressive mission of subverting and disrupting the rights of other people in an effort to impose its edicts upon the masses.
Ironically, I remember a multi-part course on the dangers of cults being part of my Sunday school curriculum so many years ago. We were warned about such deviant religions as Mormon and even cautioned about certain Catholic practices by the protestant Christian minister who led the classes.
I didn’t realize until years after I had left the church that in fact Christianity is one enormous cult. Like the majority of organized religions I have encountered, this belief system seems to have originated as a method of fear-based mind control, and to this day remains a very powerful method of subtle tyranny.
Christian leaders have massaged and finessed the message to their congregations to an extent that the cultish properties of their enterprise are cleverly concealed. Christian worshipers see themselves as being self-actualized when in fact they are being psychologically controlled and artificially imprisoned within the confines of a fictitious belief system that they would immediately dismiss if they were not being so controlled. Those that break free of the cult can quickly see it for what it is.
(1874) Why liberal Christianity fails
There are many liberal, mainline Christians who decry the excesses of the conservative Christian movement and understand the limitations of the Bible, but who also believe that Christianity nevertheless provides commendable moral guidance and inspiration for modern lives. This cafeteria-style Christianity overlooks some inconvenient truths. The following was taken from:
The Bible is a book of vile trash. From cover to cover, Old Testament and New, from the mouths of Moses, Jesus or Paul, the “word of God” is an “inspired” mish-mash of instructions and commandments that promote MURDER, GENOCIDE, RAPE, ABORTION, INFANTICIDE, SLAVERY, HATRED, MISOGYNY, MANIFEST DESTINY, CONQUEST, INTOLERANCE, RACISM, BIGOTRY, CLASSISM, IGNORANCE, GULLIBILITY, SELF-MUTILATION, THE BELIEF IN MAGIC and just about every IMMORAL and HEINOUS DEPRAVITY a sick mind can imagine. And there is not one HONEST person, who has read the Bible, who can deny this fact.
However, I am being told by the Liberal Christian (Liberal, in this case, meaning any Christian who ISN’T a Fundamentalist.) that I need to ignore all these “bad” things, and simply focus on the “good”. Yes, the Liberal agrees, the Bible is guilty of having a few “blemishes,” but why not simply throw out these “aberrations” and focus instead on the “good moral teachings/lessons” we can learn from the Bible?
“Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water,” the Deluded Liberal will advise us. That sounds SO magnanimous and wise, doesn’t it? What a lovely compromise. Keep the good and get rid of the bad.
Well, I have a few problems with applying this specious “logic” and this trite cliché to something so influential as the Bible.
First off, this Holy Bible is SUPPOSED to be the “word of God.” An “inspired” tome from the mind and office of the Supreme Being. And you would think that something from “God” would be “good”. In other words, there shouldn’t BE anything “bad” to “throw out.” Admitting that there IS something “bad” to be avoided and discarded is an admission that this Bible is NOT inspired. It has not been vetted and proofread by the office of the Supreme Being. It is wholly a book of narrow-minded and ignorant goat herders who didn’t know their anus from a hole in the ground. Why should I labor to sift through their mess in the hopes of finding a “pearl” or two?
Secondly, who decides what is “good” and what is “bad”? Evil men, looking to validate their behavior, will view as “good” all commandments to murder the enemies of “God”, enslave races, steal property, subjugate women and discriminate against “God’s enemies” (gays, atheists, pagans, etc.). Everything becomes relative and excusable. We are once again left with individuals determining “morality” and “ethics” for themselves, while placing the blame for their behavior on “God”. It is precisely this “Buffet Style”, pick-and-choose methodology that has given rise to persecution, bloodshed and the 40,000 distinct Christian denominations world-wide. All of whom claiming to be the ONLY ones holding to the “truth of God’s Word.”
Third, the Deluded Liberal Christian is assuming facts NOT in evidence. That being the unproven assumption that there IS something “good” (the “baby”) in the Bible (the filthy bath water). Aside from the inherent flaw of determining what is in fact “good”, I grow weary of people trying to convince me that this “Jesus” was a great moral teacher and that his words and ways are to be emulated and revered as noble.
Such teachings as…
Telling people to love their enemies, while telling them to hate their families? Is that “good”? Telling people to accept abuse and a beating from evil people, thus short-circuiting your “GOD”-given survival instinct? Is that “good”? Telling people to go into poverty, abandon their familial responsibilities and follow “Jesus” the cult leader into a life of sacrifice and death? Is that “good”? Telling people to mutilate themselves for having “lustful” (and again “God”-given) thoughts? Is that “good”? TERRORIZING people by telling them they must follow and believe in him, even though he speaks in riddles thus making it impossible to believe in him, or else his “Father” (who is also “Jesus”?) will cast you into the Lake of Fire for an eternal torment? Is that “good”?
Of course not. THESE are clearly examples of “bad bath water” to be thrown out. Which only brings me back to my first two complaints. If this “Jesus” is supposed to be this brilliant, moral paragon of virtue, then WHY do we find him spouting such INSANE drivel that any rational person would cast aside? One moment he has flashes of brilliance (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. A “Golden Rule” common to MOST cultures BEFORE “Jesus” came along, by the way.) and the next moment this “Jesus” devolves into madness by telling people to gouge out their eyes and cut off their hands as punishment for lewd thoughts. WTF?
According to the Gospel accounts, even the “Virgin Mary”, Jesus’ siblings and John the Baptist had their doubts about his veracity and sanity. It seems to me that even the “Baby Jesus” needs to be chucked out, too!
This cliché about babies and bath water is not applicable. It assumes that there is something inherently “good” to be preserved, when no such thing has been proven. A more accurate analogy is that of a man rooting around in pig crap in the hopes of finding some food to eat. And personally, I wouldn’t be the one to EAT that food, even if you did manage to find it.
In truth, there is little good in the Bible, the gospels included. The ‘good’ Bible is a mirage created by huckster preachers who have manufactured an illegitimate and usually unchallenged piece of conventional wisdom. And it holds up only for those who do not read it with an objective mind. There is no way in hell that such a sordid book could emerge from the mind of a supreme celestial intelligence. The liberal Christian has no ground to stand on.
(1875) Satan is more powerful than God
Although Christian scriptures allege that Satan is a defeated foe, a careful study of the Bible can make a case that Satan is not only not defeated, but in fact that he is more powerful than God. It is written right in scripture that, in the end, Satan will command more souls than God. In other words he wins the end game, and, even in the interim, he is enjoying a healthy string of victories. The following was taken from:
Anyhow, here is a summary of what is generally believed by Christians regarding Satan and, crucially, how those beliefs contradict their very notion of an omnipotent God who is completely victorious over his less powerful foe:
- Satan is powerful enough to cause sickness, death and suffering. Christians “covered in the blood of Jesus” (a macabre concept if ever there was one), automatically have the advantage, but the devil is still able to cause sickness, death and suffering in the life of said believer should God, for some reason choose to allow it.
- That an all-powerful God is only able to protect his followers if they telepathically put on invisible, magic armor (Ephesians 6:10-17), which makes them immune to attacks from invisible monsters in the “spirit realm”, and that without this protection, this all-powerful God is utterly powerless to help them.
- That Christians can heal people “in Jesus’ name”, but that same Jesus is not powerful enough to keep them healed, and if a condition ever returns, it is ultimately the person’s fault for either sinning, forgetting to pray or not believing hard enough, thus allowing Satan a “foothold”.
- An unsuspecting person can be deceived by the devil into believing something that isn’’t true while God sits back and watches, knowing this will lead to their eternal damnation, even though it is actually his will “that none should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).
- Spiritually accomplished believers are more likely to be targeted and attacked by the devil and his cronies because of their “work for The Kingdom”. As some Christians put it “If you’re not bothering Satan, he won’t bother you”. (Does it not seem strange that the magical armor of God is even less effective to those whom would arguably benefit from it the most?)
- God created a perfect world that became imperfect within days of its creation because the devil tricked the first humans, resulting in millions of people being born imperfect and destined to roast in hell forever when they die because of something that allegedly happened before they were even born. Also because of this, Satan now rules and controls the world God created. Epic fail on God’s part.
- The devil can quote the bible to fool Christians and is even able to masquerade as “an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).
- Satan is the “prince of the powers of the air” (Eph 2:2) and can use this power to invisibly interfere with prayers and stop them reaching god.
From that list, it would appear that God is constantly on the back foot and always playing catch-up to a lesser being that seems able to best him at every turn. Where Satan acts, God reacts and when Satan’s “works” of death, sickness, deception are unleashed, God does absolutely nothing and even blames the deceived for being tricked by the devil unawares. What’s more, Christians would have us believe that at the End of Days, most of humanity will end up going to hell with Satan and his demons, which suggests an overwhelming majority win for the devil.
It is obvious to any clear-thinking person that Satan is an imaginary creature dreamed up to control and scare people and to explain why bad things happen in a world supposedly controlled by an omnipotent, benevolent deity. But beyond that truth, it is still interesting to observe how Christianity allowed itself to become entangled in such an absurd contradiction, and how Christians casually deflect their cognitive dissonance by asserting ‘God’s ways are above us.’
(1876) God fails to protect Christian missionaries
One of the highest, if not the highest, calling in the Christian religion is to spread the gospel message. This is inscribed scripturally at Matthew 28:16-20:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
According to the dogma of Christianity, God sees and has control over everything that happens, so it becomes a quandary why he does not offer a special supernatural protection for those men and women who sacrifice time, money, and their safety to spread the message of Jesus. The following was taken from:
At least 447 Christian missionaries have “died violently” in the first 17 years of the third millennium, the Fides news agency announced in a special report Saturday.
Five bishops, 313 priests, three deacons, 61 religious men and women, 16 seminarians, three members of institutes of consecrated life, 42 lay people, and four volunteers were killed while carrying out missionary work, Fides said.
“This figure is undoubtedly low since it refers only to the cases of which we have received confirmation,” noted Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
Most Christian apologists will explain this by saying that Satan is still active in the world and that he is trying to disrupt evangelism wherever he can by inciting criminals to harass or kill missionaries. But this is a cop out. God is supposedly much stronger than Satan and it would seem, at the very least, that he would protect his most ardent foot soldiers as they attempt to save souls from being sent to hell. On the other hand, if the Christian god does not exist, then we would expect that missionaries would face the same stochastic probabilities of meeting harm as would any other person, which is what we observe.
(1877) The art of self-deception
Christian clergy have trained their congregants in the art of self-deception. This is arguably the only way to maintain their allegiance to a belief system that seems to fail at every logical node of everyday life, science, and history. In the following, the basic tenets of this strategy are discussed:
The three basic principles of self-deception are these: 1) Testing god offends him, 2) You must always TRY to believe in Christian dogma, and 3) Much of Christian dogma is above human reason. Now, let’s expand on each of these time-honored and well-proven principles of Christian faith. But, first, we should recognize that all three basic principles underpin all other religions, as well; they are by no means exclusive to Christianity and will all stand you in good stead should you decide at some later date to pursue a different religion.
1) Testing god offends him.
This rule is discussed in an article by the apologist Ron Julian at http://msc.gutenberg.edu/2001/02/testing-god/ “Is God doing right by me? … That we ask such questions is not surprising; in fact, the Bible tells us that our troubles are intended to raise such questions. God has an agenda for His people, and high on the list is His intention that each of us confront the issue of God’s character.” But, clearly, we are to accept that character as it appears in the Bible. We are to read that god aided the Israelites in destroying the Canaanites and all other tribes which had taken up residence in the holy land during the Jews absence, but accept that he loves humanity. And, it is hard to see how praying to god is not somehow testing god. Is the god of the Bible the real god? Well, since we are forbidden from running any kind of test, we must accept the word of those anonymous ancient scribes who wrote the Bible. So, testing god offends him. Granted, this is a bit like my being offended when the bank asks for positive identification before giving me a loan, but good Christians must learn to accept.
2) You must always TRY to believe in Christian dogma.
The Bible and apologists tell us we must be open to the message; we must try to believe. Now, some might argue that this is a de facto introduction of confirmation bias into the equation of belief, but the Christian will argue that that’s not a problem if what you’re trying to believe is true. Now that sounds reasonable, and, after all, while the evidence alone will lead us to belief in electricity, or gravity, or love, the story of Jesus is a little more complicated, so it takes more effort to believe it. They assure us, however, that our effort will be amply rewarded.
3) Much of Christian dogma is above human reason.
The Bible and apologists are fond of reminding us that god is the supreme intelligence, the intelligence which underlies and sustains all creation, and that we shouldn’t expect to understand everything god understands. Yes, the trinity is a mind-bending concept which is beyond human understanding. And, yes, the human mind is grievously challenged to understand why a just, compassionate, and loving god would create a torture facility for those who won’t or can’t believe in him. But, god understands and will make it all clear to us after we die. It does seem strange, though, that god is so super smart, yet he can’t make things clear to us. Okay, there is perhaps an outside chance that what seems silly in Christian dogma really is just silly, and that the authorities are just trying to sneak stuff past us by convincing us we’re stupid. But, shouldn’t we have already learned those first two principles by now, that god is offended by testing, and we must always TRY to believe?
Now, I don’t pretend that these three principles are all you need to know to be a good Christian, but I do believe that there is no better training in the self-deception required to be a good Christian than you’ve gotten right here in this modest course. If you have read this far, and understood and believed, then Christianity may be just the thing for you. Good luck with that.
There would be no necessity to deceive oneself if the target of belief was centered on a real object. A child must also employ these strategies to maintain their belief in an imaginary friend. Adult theists, unwittingly, are simply replaying the script of their creative childhood.
(1878) Jesus’s primary mission failed
Jesus, as alleged in the Bible, stated that his primary mission on earth was to administer exclusively to the Jewish people, supposedly ‘God’s chosen.’ In the end, this mission largely failed, as the Jews rejected him, and it is important to note also that he apparently failed to foresee this failure. The following was taken from:
According to the Bible, Jesus’ primary mission on earth was to modify Judaism for the Jews, as their Messiah. In Matthew 15, for example, Jesus is quoted as saying: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And, in Matthew 10, Jesus’ charge to the disciples is: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Now, given that very few Jews converted to Christianity, so few that Paul later put the focus almost entirely on Gentiles (non-Jews), it becomes apparent that Jesus failed in his primary mission. But, not only did he fail to convert many Jews, he also failed to foresee that failure. Remember that in Christian dogma, Jesus is a god and can foresee the future: “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he (John 13:19).”
Now, recall that the Jews were fully primed to expect a Messiah; they were told in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be one of them, a Jew, and would lead them to renewed greatness in the world. They should have been eager to accept a reasonably convincing candidate.
Further, Jesus was born into, and spent virtually his entire ministry in Jewish lands. He also took special care to act in ways which would fulfill Old Testament prophesies concerning the Messiah. In entering Jerusalem, for example, to accord with scripture: “And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written (John 12:14).”
Interestingly, the Gospels disagree on just what Jesus rode, but all were trying to make the passage fit what they thought the Old Testament called for. John says Jesus rode on an ass, Mark and Luke say he rode on a colt, while Matthew says he rode on both an ass and a colt . . . somehow.
The Gospels also claim that Jesus was regularly followed by great crowds of mostly Jews. For example, Luke 12 reads: “In the meantime, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all . . . “of thousands of Jews must have been eyewitnesses to his sermons and miracles (if we are to believe the Bible). Yet, they were largely unconvinced. Many would have seen him turn water into wine, heal the sick, cast out demons, and resurrect the dead. Why didn’t the word travel like wildfire throughout the Jewish world of this miracle worker, a hero of their own, given all those eye witnesses?
According to Judaism.About.com, Jesus was seen as a false Messiah by the Jews in part because he was not an ordinary human being, as was prophesied, but claimed to be a “son of god.” Perhaps those early stories about Jesus and his miracles “oversold” him?
Whatever the reasons, so few Jews bought into the Jesus-as-Messiah story that Paul decided to concentrate on spreading the “Good News” to the Gentiles instead. Of course, the Jews’ rejection of Jesus doesn’t prove he wasn’t the son of god, but it should raise a very large red flag. Something very strange is going on here. Think about it: The son of god was sent to god’s chosen people and they largely rejected him, so god didn’t get what he wanted? How can such a story make sense to anyone?
According to the words of the Bible, it seems pretty clear that Jesus not only failed to convert the Jews, largely, but he also failed to foresee that he would fail. Does this sound like the work of a god to you?
Jesus failed to convert his own people and his movement would never have gotten off the ground if Paul had not taken it to the gentiles, and, at the same time, made strategic modifications that would appeal to those accustomed to the pagan religions of the time. Thus Christianity is a bastard child of whatever Jesus espoused and it was repackaged for sale to the gentiles. This is hardly the story of a project planned out and executed by an omnipotent deity.
(1879) Bible god has no interest in non-Jews
A very strong case can be made, citing scripture from both the Old and New Testament, that the god of the Bible is not a universal god of all people, as assumed by Christians, but is rather a regional god strictly of the Jews. Contradictory verses can be found, but these are likely the result of interpolations or the direct influence of Paul, who single-handedly extracted elements of the Abrahamic faith system to fashion a new gentile religion.
Christians insist that Bible-god is the one true god who seeks the worship of all humans the world over. Unfortunately for them, those who wrote the Bible, whether ancient humans or god himself, painted a very different picture. In fact, there is a wealth of evidence in the Bible that Bible-god was never intended for anyone other than the Israelites, the ethnic Jews. The Bible clearly states the Jews were god’s chosen people and that Bible-god is a strictly regional, tribal god who really didn’t give a damn about Gentiles (non Jews) of any kind.
In speaking of the Jews in Deuteronomy 7:6, Bible-god says:
“For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”
Now, could it be any clearer than that whose god Bible-god is?
Next, notice that Bible-god kills all the first-born of Egypt (who were not Jews) – even children of innocent slaves, because they didn’t matter to Bible-god:
“And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle” (Exodus 12).
If you weren’t a Jew, then king, slave, or cow, it was all the same to Bible-god.
As they leave Egypt, Bible-god makes exclusive and very specific promises to the Jews in Deuteronomy 6:
“And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not. . . ”
So, according to the Bible, Bible-god led the Jews out of Egyptian captivity and back into the Holy Land where everything – the cities, the houses, the vineyards, everything – was to be theirs. Prior ownership be damned. The best of the best the world had to offer was for the Jews, and only the Jews.
And, if those already in the so called Holy Land should resist? No problem. Bible-god simply commands the Jews to destroy whoever stands in their way, assuring them of his all-powerful assistance:
“When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; and when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them. . . “ (Deuteronomy 7).
It’s pretty clear in that passage that Bible-god was looking out for the interests of the Jews only, and other people simply didn’t matter to him; they were to be destroyed without mercy. Other tribes of the Holy Land were similarly a nuisance, so Bible-god orders the destruction of all the Amalekites, and tens of thousands of Syrians, Moabites, Philistines, Ammonites, Assyrians, 120,000 Judeans in one day, and many, many more.
Now how can anyone claim that Bible god is everyone’s god? How could it be any more obvious that Bible-god was invented by the Jews to be the god of the Jews and only the Jews?
We must ask, where do Christians get the idea that Bible-god wants their worship or gives a damn about them? Is it from an alleged new covenant based on the Gospels? A close reading of the words attributed to Jesus in the Bible easily debunks that theory. According to the Bible, only ethnic Jews were of interest to Jesus and he had no use or sympathy for the Gentiles except in extraordinary circumstances.
In Matthew 15, for example, Jesus travels to Tyre and Sidon and a Canaanite woman asks him to heal her daughter who is “grievously vexed with a devil.” Jesus at first ignores her, then his disciples ask him to send her away and Jesus says,
“I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
He is only there for the Jews, so he simply ignores her. She pleads with him further and he says, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs,” comparing this Gentile woman to a dog. Only her clever reply causes Jesus to decide to help her.
Now, Christians like to put a positive spin on this story in claiming that it shows Jesus will help anyone of great faith. Maybe so, but the passage clearly shows that Jesus favored the Jews, and had gone there to serve only the Jews. He really didn’t give a damn about this woman or any other Gentiles, but, if they groveled sufficiently, he might make an exception. Jesus clearly reflects his father’s crass, naked prejudice.
Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples in Matthew 10 appear to seal the case as he couldn’t be any more specific:
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, ‘Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.’ ”
His instructions, then, are to seek out ethnic Jews, to help them and bring them into the fold . . . and, he rather pointedly adds, to stay away from the Gentiles.
Jesus favored the Jews, and had gone there to serve only the Jews. He really didn’t give a damn about […] Gentiles, but, if they groveled sufficiently, he might make an exception. Jesus clearly reflects his father’s crass, naked prejudice.Yes, Paul comes along later and claims Gentiles are welcome in Jesus’ religion, but he does so by ignoring the plentiful evidence throughout the Old Testament that Bible-god has already chosen his favorites and doesn’t really care if all the others are wiped out. In fact, he seems to prefer that.
In his attitude toward the Gentiles, Paul also contradicts the Gospel’s teachings. Paul’s writings are widely believed to pre-date the Gospels, so he was apparently getting his impressions of Jesus and his teachings from oral histories. But, the important point here is that the Gospels show Jesus’ teachings to be in line with the Old Testament concerning Jews and Gentiles, while Paul’s views are antithetical to both the Old Testament and the Gospels. While the Gospel of John does chastise the Jews in places, the author no doubt saw himself as a Jew, and likely was just pleading with the Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah.
Now, the clever apologist will find Biblical passages which appear to contradict my thesis – as we all know, whatever position you’re trying to support, the Bible has what you need. However, he will still need to explain why those passages I have presented here don’t mean what they so clearly say; that is, that god and Jesus have no positive interest in non-Jews.
So, why do modern Christians take Paul’s attitude that Bible-god wants to be everyone’s god, in direct contradiction to the Old Testament and Gospel texts? Apparently, they choose to believe whatever they wish to be true (or fear might be true), despite any evidence to the contrary. Although, to be fair, most Christians don’t know enough about the Bible to even be aware of the conflict. They get nearly all of their Bible “knowledge” from Sunday sermons and seldom bother to look any deeper. And what are they getting for knowledge? Well, a recent survey of graduating American high school seniors (likely three-quarters Christian) revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. It’s really no wonder that very few Christians are aware that Bible-god and Jesus specifically deselected them from their godly concern.
I am continually fascinated by how much of the Bible Christians can ignore in order to support their wishful thinking.
There is too much contrary scriptural evidence to suggest that Yahweh was meant by his creators to be a universal god of all people. This is a critical problem for Christianity though it is thoughtlessly dismissed by most Christian clergy and apologists. Unless the scriptures cited above and other similar ones are deleted from the Bible, it is evident that the god Christians worship has no interest in them.
(1880) If Christianity is true, then…
If it is assumed that Christianity is true, a position commonly referred to as pre-suppositionalism, then there are some further assumptions that must be accepted. It is within these ancillary assumptions where Christianity runs into trouble, as the odds of any of them being true seems vanishingly small. The following is a list of some of the beliefs that Christians are ‘required’ to hold:
1) There must be a God who is a simple being yet made up of three inexplicable persons existing forever outside of time without a beginning, who therefore never learned anything new, never took a risk, never made a decision, never disagreed within the Godhead, and never had a prior moment to freely choose his own nature.
2) There must be a personal non-embodied omnipresent God who created the physical universe ex-nihilo in the first moment of time who will subsequently forever experience a sequence of events in time.
3) There must exist a perfectly good, omnipotent God, who created a perfectly good universe out of a desire/need to glorify himself by rewarding in heaven the few human beings who just got lucky to believe by being born at the right time and place, and who will condemn to hell those who do not believe.
4) That the highest created being, known as Satan or the Devil, led an angelic rebellion against an omnipotent omniscient omnibenelovent omnipresent God, and expected to win–which makes Satan out to be pure evil and dumber than a box of rocks.
5) That there was a first human pair (Adam & Eve) who so grievously sinned against God when tested that all of the rest of us are being punished for it (including animals), even though no one but the first human pair deserved to be punished. If it’s argued that all of us deserve to be punished because we all would have sinned, then the test was a sham. For only if some of us would not have sinned can the test be considered a fair one. But if some of us would not have sinned under the same initial conditions then there are people who are being punished for something they never would have done.
6) That although there are many other similar mythological stories told in Ancient Near Eastern Literature that pre-date what we read in the Bible, the stories in the Bible are about real events and real people.
7) That although we see completely different perspectives and evolving theologies in the Bible, including many things that are barbaric and superstitious to the core, it was authored by one divine mind.
8) That when it comes to verifiable matters of historical fact (like the Exodus, the extent of the reign of David, Luke’s reported world-wide census, etc) the Biblical stories are disconfirmed by evidence to the contrary as fairy tales, but when it comes to supernatural claims of miracles that cannot be verified like a virgin birth and resurrection from the grave, the Bible reports true historical facts.
9) That although a great number of miracles were claimed to have happened in the different superstitious cultures of the ancient world, only the ones in the Bible actually happened as claimed.
10) That an omniscient God could not foresee that his revealed will in the Bible would lead believers to commit such atrocities against others that reasonable people would conclude there is no divine mind behind the Bible. I call this The Problem of Miscommunication.
11) That God created human beings with rational minds that require evidence before they accept something, and yet this same God does not provide enough evidence but asks them to have faith instead.
12) That although people around the world are raised in different cultures to believe in their particular god(s) there is only one God and he will judge all people based upon whether or not they believe Jesus is Lord.
13) That Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy even though there is not one passage in the Old Testament that is specifically fulfilled in his life, death, and resurrection that can legitimately be understood as a prophecy and singularly points to Jesus as the Messiah using today’s historical-grammatical hermeneutical method.
14) That although there were many false virgin birth claims about famous people (like Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Plato) mythical heroes (like Mithra, Hercules) and savior gods (like Krishna, Osiris, Dionysus) in the ancient world, Jesus was really born of a virgin.
15) That while there is no rational explanation for how a person can be 100% man and 100% God, and although ancient pagan superstitious people believed this can take place (Acts 14:11-12; 28:6), Jesus was incarnate God in the flesh.
16) That while the results of science are assured when it comes to chemistry, physics, meteorology, mechanics, forensic science, medical science, rocket science, computer science, and so forth, when it comes to evolutionary science that shows all present life forms have common ancestors, or when science tells us that dead bodies do not arise from the grave because total cell necrosis is irreversible, the results of science are wrong because the Bible says otherwise.
17) That although there is no rational explanation for why Jesus had to die on the cross to atone for our sins, his death atoned for our sins.
18) That although historical reconstructions of the past are are notoriously difficult because they depend on the poor evidence of history, and even though historians must assess that evidence by assuming a natural explanation for it, and even though historical evidence can never establish how to view that evidence, the Christian faith can be established historically anyway. My argument is that when it comes to miraculous claims, yesterday’s evidence no longer can hold water for me, for in order to see it as evidence, I must already believe in the framework that allows me to see it as evidence. In other words, in order to see yesterday’s evidence as evidence for me, I must already believe the Christian framework that allows me to see yesterday’s evidence as evidence for Christianity.
19) That although there is no cogent theodicy that can explain why there is such ubiquitous and massive human and animal suffering if a perfectly good omnipotent God exists, God is perfectly good and omnipotent anyway.
20) That while scientific tests on petitionary prayers have produced at best negligible results and at worst completely falsified them, God answers these kinds of prayers anyway.
21) That even though Christianity shows evidence that it is nothing but a cultural by-product of human invention there is a divine mind behind it anyway.
22) That Jesus is the Son of God even though the textual evidence in the New Testament conclusively shows that the founder of the Jesus cult was a failed apocalyptic prophet who prophesied that the eschaton would take place in his generation, which would involve a total cosmic catastrophe after which God inaugurates a literal kingdom on earth with the “Son of Man” reigning from Jerusalem over the nations.
23) That although there can be no moral justification for the sufferings of animals in this created world, a perfectly good God created this world anyway. We don’t even see God’s care for the lower animals in his supposed revealed word, which is described in Psalm 119 as his “perfect will.” Think otherwise? Then read what I wrote here.
24) That although the only method we have for determining the truth in factual matters is methodological naturalism, which assumes a natural explanation for any phenomena, and although this method is the hallmark of the sciences, the phenomena of the Bible can be exempted from this method as applied through Biblical Criticism, and believed anyway.
25) That although God’s supposed revelation in the canonical Bible is indistinguishable from the musings of an ancient, barbaric, superstitious people, the Bible is the word of God. As SilverBullet recently said: “…the lord doesn’t work in mysterious ways, but in ways that are indistinguishable from his non-existence. It seems to me that there is nothing in the Christian scriptures, no sentence, paragraph, or idea, that couldn’t be anything more than the product of the humans alive at the time that the apparently divinely inspired scriptures and ideas were “revealed”. Sure, it’s possible for a god to reveal himself in an inspired book, and throughout history, in ways that are indistinguishable from the work of human minds and human minds alone. But how probable does that seem to you?”
The odds that anything on this list is true is very small, while the odds that they are all true is essentially zero. Unfortunately, very few Christians entertain these types of intellectual challenges, preferring to frame their worship in the form of superficial platitudes. This would be similar to confining one’s study of mathematics to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
(1881) Yahweh has no class
The god of the Bible is alleged by Christians to be sole supernatural agent of the universe, or at least the only one that has the properties of omniscience and omnipresence (though it’s not clear if Satan has these properties as well). As such, it would be expected that Yahweh would be the epitome of class, polish, and elegance. But, in reality, he is the opposite. The following was taken from:
Even a cursory reading of the Bible demonstrates that Bible-God is a crude caricature of a god. And this may be all the evidence one needs to believe that Bible-God is merely a man-made construct, and not a real god. Now, I’m not talking about any “higher order” conceptions of a god as, say, a spirit of love, or as a ground of being, or the Deist god. I’m talking about the god portrayed in the Bible.
It seems to me that we should expect, in a real god, all of the best personality attributes we find in the best of humans – and more. Yet, in Bible-god we find mostly what we find in the worst of humans. We don’t have to read very closely to see that Bible-god simply has no class.
Think about the character of Bible-God. He is claimed to be the ultimate intelligence and all-powerful, yet he is jealous of other gods and, indeed, says as much in Exodus 20. How does this make sense? This is like the President of the United States being jealous of the Mayor of Tulsa.
Bible-God is exceedingly insecure. He apparently created man for the companionship, but he requires worship from him. Wouldn’t we think a man was a bit weird if he demanded worship from his children? Does a mentally healthy man need worship in order to justify his existence? We normal human fathers try to act such that our children will love and respect us, but worship? That’s not necessary. If my children love and respect me, then I feel validated as a good parent; I neither require nor want their worship.
Worse still, Bible-God has a major hang up about having physical sanctuaries near man, where he can be constantly re-validated and worshipped. As one Christian blogger wrote, “God said something most interesting to Moses in Exodus 25:8, ‘And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.’ There is more physical space in the Bible devoted to the subject of the tabernacle than any other subject even heaven, hell, Jesus, or the cross… anything.”
Bible-God is allegedly the ultimate intelligence, yet he lets some men change his mind, as Moses did in Exodus 32. In this instance, god says Moses’ people had corrupted themselves and would be destroyed. But Moses talks him out of it, apparently by appealing to god’s vanity as he asks, but what will the Egyptians think? Doesn’t it seem that god is rather unsure of himself here, since he defers to Moses’ judgment in this matter?
Bible-God is a bully. You won’t find any Mr. Nice Guy in these threats:
“Behold, I the Lord will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.” – Malachi 2:3
“Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you” – Deuteronomy 28:53
Bible-God is also a braggart. In Job 38, God is perturbed at Job for questioning god’s treatment of him. But, does god give him a simple explanation? No, god goes on for 71 verses, largely rhetorical questions asking what business has Job got judging god, since god has done so many amazing things. Was Job there when he laid the foundations of the earth? “Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?” And, “Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?” and “Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” And so on, and on, and on. One can almost see god pounding his chest as he shouts his defense.
Bible-God is certainly lacking in compassion. He apparently stood by unmoved as the waters of the great flood rose over the heads of nearly everyone on earth, including crying little children and babies. But those people were evil, you say? Really? Were the children and babies all evil?
Bible-God claims that to believe in him is the most important thing a man can do. So, it’s not what a man does or doesn’t do that matters most, not whether he treats others with fairness and compassion, it’s what he believes. Yet this god takes extraordinary measures to stay hidden. This may be the weirdest thing about this god; the most damaging evidence against his existence. We never see this god, or hear him, so he never really proves his existence beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet, he insists that we must worship him.
But, why is it so important to Bible-god – life and death important – that we believe in him? Doesn’t this speak of a pathological insecurity? Bible-god essentially says that if we don’t believe in him, he will send us to hell to be tortured by fire for an eternity. What is the reason for this intense insecurity? When someone who knows me ignores me in the supermarket, I can feel a little hurt, but I can’t imagine wanting to torture that person. My discomfort generally leads me to thinking of a way to let him – and me – off the hook. Maybe that person was just in a hurry, or maybe he is actually a bit shy, or perhaps he can’t remember my name – that happens to me sometimes. I am seldom troubled for more than a few minutes about this. In other words, I do not need recognition from everyone, all the time, for self validation. I seem to be much better adjusted than Bible-god about such things. Now isn’t that kind of strange?
As we have shown, Bible-god is a jealous, insecure, bullying braggart who is lacking in confidence and compassion. Now, would any of us really want to be like this god? Can we really admire and emulate him?
Of course, none of this actually proves anything, but I cannot believe that any real god worthy of worship would be so psychologically messed up. Wouldn’t any modern mental health professional recommend regular analysis and possibly medication for such a being? Indeed, if one reads the Bible and actually thinks about it, how can he take this mean-spirited, domineering creep seriously?
In sum, Bible-god is but a crude caricature of a god, totally lacking in the genius, wisdom, self-confidence, compassion, dignity, and grandeur we should expect of a real god who created and rules the universe. Put simply, Bible-god has no class, and that – at least to me – renders him unbelievable as an all-powerful, wise creator and sustainer of the universe.
It’s funny, but not surprising, that when classless people invent a god, the god they create is also classless. He is a reflection of themselves, with all of the same hang-ups and insecurities that they possess. And one thing that seems obvious- a god without class is almost certainly a god that does not exist.
(1882) Gospel mysteries
Christians often say that we humans cannot understand God’s ways of doing things, and, by inference, that we shouldn’t even try. But being inquisitive, it is instructive to list a few of the conundrums that critical thinking people encounter when reading the gospel accounts of Jesus. The following was taken from:
1) Jesus /god never told anyone that slavery is immoral, so we humans had to figure it out by ourselves. But, didn’t we get our sense of right and wrong from god in the first place?
2) How is it that Jesus, supposedly a powerful god, could perform such miracles as healing sickness with a touch, banishing demons with a wave of the hand, and feeding the multitude out of thin air, but couldn’t stop a couple Roman soldiers from nailing him to a cross?
3) Why did Jesus, a Rabbi, and supposedly educated, not leave us any written words? Written records could have at least buttressed the case that he actually existed.
4) Why didn’t Jesus take the opportunity in the Gospels to prove he was divine by seeing into the future? He could have mentioned , or that nothing travels faster than light, or given us the germ theory of disease, for example, things people of his time had no way of knowing, thus pretty much proving his divinity.
5) How come Jesus’ last words vary from Gospel to Gospel? Mark: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Luke: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” John: “It is finished.” And to claim that he said all of them doesn’t work either, because, according to Matthew, Jesus said no words but cried out in a loud voice.
6) Why did no historian of the time ever mention Jesus? Supposedly, he drew great crowds, and the Roman and Jewish leaders knew all about him. Wasn’t this the most important event in human history? Wasn’t Jesus the most important person in history?
7) Why did the Gospel writers wait for 35-plus years after Jesus’ death to write the Gospels? Didn’t they think it was important to make an accurate and timely record of Jesus’ life and achievements?
8) Why are there no writings of the period arguing AGAINST Jesus’ theories and miracles, not even by Orthodox Jews who did not accept that he was the Messiah? (Thanks to Carl S. for this one.) Could it be that Jesus was just a small time preacher who gained little attention during his lifetime, but had legendary feats grow up around him with the telling and retelling of his story, until someone finally wrote the Gospels 35+ years later?
9) Why did not one of the 5,000 men who supposedly witnessed Jesus feeding the multitude (with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish) ever write that he was there, since there surely have always been “name droppers” who love to brag? Was every last one of them illiterate? (Similarly, why do we not have a single account of any of his miracles, performed before many, from any source outside the Gospels? According to John 6:1-2: “. . . a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.”)
10) Why were none of the astounding events surrounding the crucifixion written about by local, contemporary astronomers, other scientists, or philosophers – events like the three hour darkness in the middle of the day (an eclipse only lasts a few minutes), the earthquake, and the saints coming out of their graves and walking around the city?
When taken together, these questions add up to a major stumbling block for skeptical people who generally prefer to believe in things that make sense both externally and internally. The mysteries of the gospels are too numerous and substantial to explain them away as insignificant inconsistencies. Rather, they form a formidable basis for concluding that the gospel accounts are largely if not wholly fictional.
(1883) Archaeology disproves Christian persecution
One of the pillars upon which Christians place their belief in the faith is the unlikelihood that early Christians would have accepted the campaign of persecution waged upon them by the Romans if they did not have solid evidence that what they believed was true. But on the flip side, it can be hypothesized that Christian authors would have had an incentive to exaggerate the depth of this persecution to gather more recruits, using the same logic. A recent archaeological find appears to confirm that this is what happened. The following was taken from:
According to a report at the Daily Beast, archaeologists working in Jordan claim that Christian historians may have inflated reports about the torture of the faithful at the hands of Romans.
The report states that “In his Church History, Eusebius of Caesarea, the first Christian historian, tells the story of the rise of Christianity from a regional Jewish splinter group to the dominant religion of the Roman empire. Eusebius wrote in the fourth century and was at least acquainted, if not actually friendly, with the Roman emperor Constantine. A main focus of Eusebius’s history was the persecution.”
Archaeologists working at a mine in Jordan where Christians were reportedly the subject of such indescribable torture beg to differ — based upon their findings.
The report states that Megan Perry, a bio-anthropologist from East Carolina University, has spent years analyzing excavated human remains from a cemetery near a Byzantine mining camp at Phaeno. According to the results of her analysis — recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science and the American Journal of Physical Anthropology — what she found doesn’t match up with what has previously been claimed by Christian writers.
According to the Beast, remains of the workers in the mine suggest, “… good health that many of these individuals seemed to have enjoyed. An analysis of skeletal indicators of iron-deficiencies led her to conclude that ‘the general health of the Faynan population is not substantially poorer than the health of residents of a typical Byzantine agricultural village.’”
The report adds that Perry’s findings show that locals “also had lower-than-expected levels of bone degeneration, considering their supposedly hard lifestyle.”
In an interview, Perry was asked about claims of torture and she said that her research didn’t bear the reports out.
“When I asked Perry if she or Lotus Abu-Keraki (the first to examine the samples for her MA thesis in 2000), had seen evidence of torture or martyrdom she said that she had not,” the Beast’s Candida Moss writes, adding that Perry told her, “Neither of us note evidence of beheading in the cervical vertebrae, nor evidence that eyes were removed using sharp utensils, or that feet were maimed. Cauterization [for example, of the eyes that Eusebius tells us were removed] would be more difficult to identify in skeletal remains, since it generally just impacts soft tissue.”
Perry did add that her sample was small, stating “her team worked only on 45 skeletons from the cemetery,” and that conditions and the archaelogical record elsewhere where Christians and Romans interacted might offer different conclusions.
“It is therefore possible that they simply did not examine any of the ‘innumerable’ Christian martyrs that Eusebius says were sent to the mines,” Moss wrote, adding that Perry remarked, “While the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, no evidence for individuals subjected to bodily harm or shipped in from outside regions was found in this 4th-6th-century cemetery.”
Even today, Christians exaggerate their exposure to persecution, such as in the ‘war on Christmas’ or the legalization of same-sex marriage. It has been a tool for growing their numbers for the past twenty centuries, and, If only one thing is true, it is that Christians believe that lying is fine as long as it brings more people into their fold.
(1884) God is either limited or evil
Christians traditionally portray God as being omnipotent and benevolent. Omnipotent meaning that he has the capability to do anything he wants, and benevolent meaning that he truly wants the best for all people. The problem with this belief is that one of these two attributes must be discarded when it comes to his relationship to Satan, the Devil.
We are told by scripture and church tradition that Satan is the ‘god’ of this world and that he, along with his army of demons, infiltrates the lives of humans in an attempt to keep them from being saved, or, in other words, to recruit them for assignment to an eternity in hell.
This is where the problem occurs. If God is omnipotent, then he could vanquish Satan and simply allow people to struggle for themselves to attain salvation without having to face the headwinds of a demonic supernatural force. That is what a benevolent god would do. But God evidently does not do this, or so we are told, as Satan remains alive and active at the present time. So either God is limited and has no control over Satan’s activities or else he is unlimited while at the same time purposefully allowing Satan free reign to do his dirty work, meaning he is not benevolent, and is not allowing humans the free opportunity to meet the criteria for entry into heaven on their own terms.
(1885) The evolution of a Christian’s prayers
When a person first accepts Christianity, they are on high and feel as if they had just won the lottery. Not only have they secured eternal life but they also have a direct link to a god who has scripturally promised that he will give them whatever they ask for. Their first prayers ask for dramatic things, such as curing baldness, cancer, or diabetes, adding gas to their cars, getting a job, or turning away a storm or wildfire that might be heading their way. After a time, they realize that none of these prayers were answered, at least not in any definitive manner. This begins to rock their faith. So, in an effort to preserve their faith and in particular the belief that they will spend eternity in paradise, they tamp down the scope of their prayers to more subtle requests, such as to help them get over a cold, find a parking space or car keys, or get a good night’s sleep. They subconsciously stop asking for anything that is unlikely to happen on its own. In this way, they trick themselves into thinking that their prayers are still being answered for the most part. It is a defense mechanism to cover over the disconnect between biblical promises and real life. And it is the failure of Christianity to align with real life that compels an objective observer to conclude that it is a false religion.
(1886) Uncertainties concerning hell
The primary motivating factor for becoming a Christian is not to attain heaven, but rather to avoid hell. Fear is the greatest motivator of all. Hell plays a disturbingly prominent role in Christian theology, but ironically there seems to be no consistent description of what it is or how it works or who will be sent there. It seems counter-intuitive that so much about hell is left up to the imagination of clueless devotees. The following was taken from:
I don’t believe in hell. After studying the Bible thoroughly on the concept of hell and discovering that it has no consistent, cohesive description of this “place”, I concluded for myself with a high degree of certainty that it doesn’t exist. It saddens me that so many people, including atheists, are tormented daily by the very idea, thinking “what if?”
So let’s suppose there is such a thing. Then there are questions that need to be asked:
1) What is it? Is it “outer darkness”? What is the outer darkness? Is it space? Is it a fiery pit under the earth? Is it a fiery pit in outer darkness (which makes no sense whatsoever)? Is it a physical place? Or is it a “spiritual” place of torment beyond time and space? One would think the imaginary God would think enough of us to explain this shit.
2) What happens there? Do people just burn forever? For what intelligent reason? What burns? The “soul”? If there is a soul, how does the soul burn if the soul is immaterial? Does the body burn? The gospel of Matthew indicates that God can destroy both soul and body in hell. This so-called destruction of the physical body implies a physical place where it is destroyed, doesn’t it? So where is this physical place…….with this physical fire? How does one “destroy” the soul? Even more, how is it possible for the body to be destroyed in a place called hell, when we all know the human body at death (meaning void of life) is either buried and gradually decomposes in the ground, or is cremated to ashes? Then God destroys it…….again……..in hell? Wait……..what?
3) If hell exists, who is actually sent there? Look carefully at what the scriptures say. It is not even clear on that. And the Old Testament is completely silent on it.
The hell concept has more holes in it than the streets of Chicago. When a Christian tries to push it in your face, consider asking them these questions. Chances are they will not be able to give a coherent answer. Their only answer will likely be, “God chose not to tell us everything for our own good.” Then that god is a jackass because he is really insulting our intelligence.
So hell is not just a ridiculous concept, but it is also one that no god would leave in such a state of confusion for his followers. Based on the way it seemed to evolve over time and failed to ever be definitively defined, hell for sure is a human-generated piece of crap.
(1887) Belief in eternity prevented a nuanced justice system
The Christian doctrine of eternal life after death hamstrung the faith’s justice system, essentially guaranteeing that it would evaluate all sins, no matter their severity, as deserving the same punishment. In this life, if someone is sent to prison for five years, that represents a fairly significant chuck of time taken out of their lives, and thus it qualifies as a severe punishment. But if someone is eventually bound for eternal life in heaven, then putting them in prison (or limbo) for five years or even five million years is insignificant, because once they get out, they will enjoy the next trillion, trillion, trillion years and beyond in paradise. The incarceration time is nothing compared to the subsequent eternity of being free.
Because of this, Christianity could not develop a justice system where the punishment was commensurate with the crime, so lying is seen as being just as severe as murder, and both, if not forgiven, would send the perpetrator to the same punishment, hell. It seems obvious that the Christian god does not punish people in this life. He does so only in the afterlife, and there, he has only two options to play with. There is no nuance. The Christian justice system is a crude construct of superstitious minds and is vastly inferior to almost all human-generated ones.
(1888) Discrepancy in date of crucifixion
The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke disagree with the Gospel of John concerning the date of Jesus’s crucifixion. Although all four gospels claim that he was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on a Sunday, the more precise delineation of the date was based on the Jewish month of Nissan. In the synoptic gospels Jesus was crucified on the 15th of Nissan, while the Gospel of John has the crucifixion happening on the 14th of Nissan. The only way these could have both been on a Friday is if Jesus was crucified during two different years. There is a good explanation for why the author of John decided to contradict the other gospels on this matter. The following was taken from:
The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke, which are all telling effectively the same story. In their story, there is a Last Supper (you remember – Jesus gives out the bread…’my body’ … etc.), and that Last Supper is what Jewish holiday meal? Passover. Correct! So, Passover is the same day every year: the night of the 14th of the month of Nissan. That means that the next day, the 15th of Nissan, Jesus is crucified (making the 15th a Friday, right?), and then he is resurrected on Sunday the 17th (three days later – Bible counts each of the days whether it’s whole or not).
You with me?
Now, in John, there is a symbolism different than in the Synoptic Gospels: there is no Last Supper (well, at least not an important one that’s mentioned and thought to be Passover), and Jesus is actually crucified on the 14th of Nissan (which is thus, in this story, a Friday) and resurrected on Sunday, which in this story is the 16th of Nissan. But why different dates?
Well, on the 14th of Nissan, during the day, Jews would sacrifice the lamb that was then eaten that night during Passover (an important ritual we won’t get into here). The lamb was always sacrificed on that day, the 14th of Nissan, and the Passover meal eaten that night. For John, Jesus was the Lamb of God (no other gospel uses this language) and John wanted Jesus to be the Passover sacrifice – the ultimate sacrifice that atoned for our sins (which is mostly the purpose of sacrifice – atoning).
John felt this symbolism stood above all else in importance – making Jesus the ultimate passover sacrifice – and so he crucifies Jesus on Friday, the 14th of Nissan. However, considering the Last Supper, as the Passover meal that had the symbolism of the bread and wine as Jesus’ body and blood, to be of utmost importance, the writers of Matthew, Mark and Luke made Jesus’ crucifixion the following day, Friday the 15th of Nissan (since the Passover meal is always the night of the 14th).
Pretty crazy and cool, huh? Today, the symbolism of either gospel is used to create a much larger theology though the dating ultimately makes the two stories irreconcilable with their portrayal of facts. Fascinating theology but impossible factually. Which one is true? We’ll never know, but both are holy canon in Christianity and considered to be 100% accurate.
Although this might seem to be a trivial inconsistency, it is rather revealing that the author of John was willing to manipulate the crucifixion date sequence from what was previously accepted as fact (the other three gospels were previously in existence by a decade or more) in order to make it fit his personal theological theory. This is another piece of evidence that the gospel authors were not rigorous historians.
(1889) Christian values
Conservative Christians in the United States and presumably elsewhere are continually exhorting society to return to Christian values, as if that is the gold standard by which we should all strive. Sometimes it makes you wonder if these people have ever read the Bible. Here is a sample of some of the ‘values’ that can be gleaned from the New Testament:
- Do not worry about the future, or save money for retirement, but rather just live for the moment.
- If someone steals from you, do not attempt to retrieve your property, but offer more to the thief.
- Do not get married, that is, unless you cannot control your lust.
- Do not waste time burying your parents, follow Jesus instead.
- Disdain homosexuals, as they are an abomination.
- Remove your eyes or hands if they cause you to sin.
- Do not seek confirming evidence, use faith instead.
- Do not allow women to have authority over men.
- Do not marry a divorced woman.
- Do not protect yourself if someone hits you, let them hit you again.
- If you lose a lawsuit, give more than the settlement.
- Beware of becoming wealthy, give it all to the poor.
- Do not wash your hands before a meal.
- If someone is sick, exorcise their demons.
- Hate your family and follow Jesus.
- Be innocent like children and do not seek worldly wisdom.
- Violently disrupt commercial enterprises at church.
- Do not mingle with non-believers.
- Seek not peace, but rather take up a sword.
- Simulate cannibalism by eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood.
- If you are a slave, mind your master.
- If you are a wife, obey your husband, as he is the head of the family.
- Do not use law courts for disputes.
- Do not do physical exercise, focus on the spiritual body.
- Women must keep their hair covered, and men must keep their hair short.
It can be argued without a whole lot of debate that each of these values or lessons from the New Testament are counter-productive, and that very few Christians follow any of them. So the exhortation for us to return to Christian values is nothing more than a vapid platitude.
(1890) Forty ways Christianity poisons the world
The truth of a religion can be evaluated at least in part by the consequences resulting from its practice. A true religion designed by an omnipotent god would be expected to produce benevolent, productive results, especially if it was practiced by a large segment of society. Christianity, as well as other religions, fails this test. Here below is a list of forty ways that Christianity makes our world a worse place to live:
- The discouragement of rational, critical thought.
- Vilification of homosexuality, resulting in discrimination, parents disowning their children, murder, and suicide.
- Women treated like second-class citizens based on religious teachings.
- Children growing up to hate and fear science and scientists, because science disproves their parents’ religion – leading to appalling scientific illiteracy.
- Tens of thousands tortured and killed as witches (a practice which still continues today).
- People aren’t making the most of this life because of their belief in an afterlife.
- People dying because they believe their faith makes them immune to snake venom, or other lethal aspects of reality.
- People dying – and letting their children die – because their religion forbids accepting medical help.
- People choked, starved, poisoned, or beaten to death during exorcisms.
- Genital mutilation of babies endorsed by religious texts.
- Psychological and physiological conditions blamed on demons, preventing believers from seeking medical care for themselves and their children.
- People disowning family members for leaving their religion.
- Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.
- “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.
- Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.
- Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs and, if possible, thought.
- The demonization of other religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans (“They’re devil-worshipers!”)
- Children spending the period of their lives when the brain is most receptive to learning new information reading, rereading, and even memorizing religious texts.
- People who believe the world is about to end neglect their education, are not financially responsible, and in extreme cases take part in mass suicides.
- Long-term environmental issues ignored because of beliefs that the rapture/apocalypse or something will happen soon, so they don’t matter.
- Wives told they will be tortured forever if they leave their abusive husbands (and vice versa).
- Holy wars – followers of different faiths (or even the same faith) killing each other in the name of their (benevolent, loving and merciful) gods.
- The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.
- Slavery condoned by religious texts.
- Children traumatized by vivid stories of eternal burning and torture to ensure that they’ll be too frightened to even question religion.
- Terminal patients in constant agony who would end their lives if they didn’t believe it would result in eternal torture.
- School boards having to spend time and money and resources on the fight to have evolution taught in the schools.
- Persecution of “heretics”/scientists, like Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake) and Galileo Galilei.
- Blue laws forcing other businesses to stay closed or limit sales, while churches can generate more revenue.
- Mayors, senators, and presidents voted into office not because they’re right for the job, but because of their religious beliefs.
- Abuse of power, authority and trust by religious leaders (for financial gain or sexual abuse of followers and even children).
- People accepting visual and auditory hallucinations unquestioningly as divine, sometimes with fatal results.
- Discrimination against atheists, such as laws stating they may not hold public office or testify in court, or in half a dozen countries around the world, laws requiring their execution
- Missionaries destroying/converting smaller, “heathen” religions and cultures.
- Hardship compounded by the guilt required to reconcile the idea of a fair god with reality (“why is God punishing me? What have I done wrong? Don’t I have enough faith?”).
- Human achievements—from skillful surgery to to emergency landings—attributed to gods instead of to the people actually responsible.
- Mother Teresa, prolonging the agony of terminal patients and denying them pain relief, so she can offer their suffering as a gift to her god.
- Tens of billions annually in the US alone spent to build, maintain, and staff houses of worship.
- Grief and horror caused by the belief that dead friends and family members are tortured as punishment for disbelief.
- Natural disasters and other tragedies used to claim God is displeased and present demands to avoid similar events (it’s like terrorism, but without having to plan or do anything).
Obviously, a list could be made of the benefits that Christianity provides, but that list would be shorter and would not successfully cancel out the deleterious ones listed above. This is simply not the work of a divine all-powerful being.
(1891) Bible authors disagree over prophecy
In the following example, the authors of John and Mark interpreted a passage in Psalm 22 differently and therefore produced contradictory stories related to Jesus’s crucifixion. Here are the salient scriptures:
They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
“They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”
The two scenarios in Mark and John are mutually incompatible. The following was taken from:
Another indication that the evangelists have composed stories about Jesus without historical foundation is their interpretation of what they considered to be Old Testament ‘prophesies’. Because the author of John understood the Hebrew parallelism of Psalm 22:l8 as two completely separate actions, he has the soldiers carrying out two separate actions (l9:23-24). The other evangelists who did not misunderstand this, only have one action in the disposal of Jesus’ clothes (Matt. 27:35, Mark l5:24, Luke 23:34). In the same way, the author of Matthew misunderstood the parallelism of Zech. 9:9 and had two animals involved in Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (21:2-7) when in fact there is only one animal being spoken about. The other evangelists do not make this mistake and therefore only have one animal – Mark 11:2-7, Luke 19:30-35, John 12:14-16.
These examples show that the evangelists, rather than being historians, were only interested in the theology of what they were writing about. In these two cases they have deliberately introduced details to ‘agree’ what they felt to be an OT prophecy. One commentator admits that the whole of Jesus’ trial is based on OT prophesy; therefore rather than the Christian statement that the life of Jesus ‘fulfilled’ OT prophesies (although in reality few are actual ‘prophesies’), the very reverse is true – Jesus’ earthly life was built up on these ‘prophesies’.
This example points out that the gospel authors were reverse engineering prophecy fulfillment, mining the Old Testament for themes that they could add to their accounts and thereby construct the false perception that Jesus was the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies.
(1892) Jesus is made more powerful in John
In the Gospel of John, the latest of the four gospels to be authored, Jesus is made out to be stronger in almost every way. This is especially seen in the scene where he is arrested and shows that he is in complete control of the situation- there was no lamentation, sweating blood, or upset that the disciples were sleeping in the garden beforehand. More examples are listed in the following:
John gives the picture of the Logos in full control of every situation with his power being considerably greater than the Synoptics, e.g. whilst the Synoptics record resurrections of people who had only just died (e.g. Matt. 9:l8), Jesus resurrects a man who had been dead for four days (ll:l7), the blind man healed was not like the man who had once seen in the Synoptics (Mark 8:24), but had been blind from birth (9:l), Jesus carries his own cross (l9:l7) and does need not this to be carried for him as in the Synoptics (e.g. Matt. 27:32). Again, the theological view of John’s author completely overshadows any desire to present a historical account; his account is to show that Jesus was the Son of God and historical facts are not relevant. In the same way, the author of Matthew is keen to show that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, while the authors of Luke and Mark are more concerned with portraying a Jesus who would be acceptable to Gentiles.
What this shows is that the growing myth surrounding Jesus propelled the author of John to make Jesus a more powerful character, and it didn’t really matter to him if this effort resulted in some troubling contradictions with the other gospels. This can only be seen as an exercise in fictionalizing whatever truth previously existed.
(1893) Gospels appear missing for 100 years after Jesus
Using letters written by Christians during the first 100 years following the time of the crucifixion, the case can be made that the gospels were generally not in circulation for this period of time. In a present-day example, this would be like having the first written accounts of World War 1 just now becoming available for people to read. What this implies is that the growth of tales, dogma, and doctrine associated with Christianity was unrestrained by any authoritative written documents for a time that saw many generations of Christians live and die. It also raises important questions about the historical reality of Jesus himself. The following was taken from:
The church has failed to show any proof that the Gospels were in existence before 125 CE. This is demonstrated if one looks at the second century Christian writings. The author of 1 Clement, an anonymous letter, usually dated as ca. 96 CE, and attributed to Clement writing from Rome to the church at Corinth, does not appear to be aware of any written Gospels. On two occasions he refers to what Jesus had said; in chap. l3, he repeats the words of Jesus, very similar to those in the Gospels, although they are not quotations. In chap 46 he brings together two unconnected Markan statements (9:21 and l4:21) and he appears to be quoting loose sayings that were circulating, but not in a fixed form; this view is strengthened by the fact that he never refers to Gospel stories, or sayings, when it would be very appropriate, applicable and would support the argument he is making; instead he quotes or refers to the OT.
Ignatius, ca. ll0 CE, mentions the Gospel although it again appears he is referring to the Gospel message, rather than written documents. He gives much more information about Jesus’ life, but as he refers to things not found in any of the four canonical Gospels, e.g. the story of Jesus speaking after the resurrection, (Smyrn. 3) which is apparently from the apocryphal Gospel according to the Hebrews and not from the canonical Gospels, and he describes the Bethlehem star in a way that is not found in Matthew (the only canonical Gospel to mention this), it is not clear what written Gospel was available to him. He refers to other NT writings, but there is no clear indication he knew of any written Gospels. In his letter to the Philippians he uses terms found in Matthew and Luke although it is noteworthy that the author of l John, facing the same Docetic problem as Ignatius, but at an earlier time, clearly did not have the biographical information about Jesus, which was available to Ignatius.
The Epistle of Barnabas ca. l30 CE, uses OT references to support its contents when NT ones would have been far more appropriate. It refers to a passage in Matthew 20:l6b and 22:l4 and surprisingly for this early date calls it ‘Scripture’; this is quite unique. However, 20:l6b appears to have been an interpolation and if it was a loose saying, it is more likely the author is using Matthew’s source, rather than Matthew itself. The author chose to use the apocryphal Enoch when writing about the end (instead of Mark l3), and in referring to the crucifixion he refers to the Psalms, not the Gospels. The Epistle (chap. 7) has a saying attributed to Jesus not found in the Gospels.
Polycarp, ca. l30 CE, apparently knew Matt. and/or Luke and improves upon Clement’s “quotations”, but apparently didn’t know of John’s Gospel.
Papias, ca. l40 CE, mentions Matthew and Mark in written form, but not Luke or John and he also made use of non-canonical apocryphal literature indicating that Matthew and Mark were not seen a sole source of the gospel message.
Justin Martyr, in the middle of the second century, refers to written Gospels which were deemed as authoritative as the OT, but he does not name them, nor state their number so it is not known what he was referring to. He too, used non-canonical material.
It was only by ca. l70 CE that Tatian was using all four Gospels for his Diatessaron harmony and about a decade later Irenaeus was arguing for acceptance of the four canonical Gospels, and only those. Therefore it appears that the writings that give Jesus a historical place only appeared in the closing years of the first century and even these took quite some time to be established and accepted. Therefore with regard to Jesus of Nazareth being some kind of historical person, surely one is justified in asking why there appears to be so little said by this figure that is original; for example, a good deal of the Sermon of the Mount goes back to the Old Testament or lst century BCE apocryphal writings, e.g. the Book of the Secrets of Enoch. Secondly, why there is the astounding silence over biographical – or chronological – details about Jesus’ life until ca. 90 CE. Paul, in the period before this time, never invokes his words when they would be invaluable in supporting his argument, and this is not only with Paul, but also elsewhere, e.g. l Peter. The authors of Romans l3:l-3 and l Peter 2:l3-l4 certainly couldn’t have been aware of the story of Jesus appearing before Pilate in view of what they say. This silence continued over into the end of the 1st century; in fact when the author of 1 Clement wrote, he seems to suffer from the same problem as Paul and others – total ignorance about Jesus and the Gospels; obviously as is so clearly demonstrated, Christians always used scripture or suchlike to support any argument they were making, so is it somewhat bizarre that Clement does not do this. In chap. 3-6 he lists Abel, Joseph, Moses and David as examples of people who suffered through jealousy – but surely Jesus would have been the ideal example of this – Matthew 27:l8/Mark 15:l0??? When he speaks about people preaching repentance in 7-8, he uses Ezekiel and Isaiah as examples – but again surely Jesus would have been the ideal example to use – Luke 13:3,Matt l8:3? In 9-l2 he lists examples of faith – but yet again they’re all OT and fails to give any Gospel example that would be more fitting.
It should be deeply troubling for a Christian to realize that for the first hundred years following the establishment of the faith, almost all Christians had no access to the gospel writings. Imagine if that was the situation presently. Preachers would be free to fashion their sermons without being fact-checked by any scriptures, allowing them to create whatever historical tapestry that suited their agenda.
(1894) Paul didn’t know Jesus raised up dead people
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul makes a heartfelt appeal to the Christians in Corinth for them to believe (against all intuition) in the resurrection of the dead. What is conspicuously missing from his discourse is any reference to Jesus doing exactly that, restoring life to dead people, in front of multiple witnesses.
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Paul seems unaware of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Luke 8:49-56) or the widow’s son in Naim (Luke 7:11-17). Even more glaring, he apparently was unaware of the world’s greatest feat of raising the dead, Lazarus, who had died four days previous (John 11:1-44). Certainly, if he had been aware of these miracles, he would have referred to them to bolster his point that the dead will be raised up. What’s missing is something like this: “Just as Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son, and Lazarus, so will he raise you up to join him in his new kingdom.” In addition, he seemed not to know that many deceased people buried in Jerusalem cemeteries climbed out of their graves after Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 27:52-53). This would certainly have been a good confirmation of his promise that the dead will be brought back to life.
It is hard to understand how Paul could have not known about these spectacular miracles if they had actually occurred. The telling and retelling of them would have spread like wildfire throughout the entire Christian community. When Paul visited Peter and James, and other disciples, they would have informed him of the same, themselves being eyewitnesses. So, what to make of this? The best explanation is that the raising-the-dead miracles were the inventions of the gospel writers who wrote these fictional accounts after Paul had died.
(1895) Lack of First Century pilgrimages
When looking at all available facts, it appears that interest in the places and relics important to the life and death of Jesus did not develop until well after hundreds of years had passed. This is spectacularly counter-intuitive and suggests that much if not all of the Jesus story is a fictional creation. The following was taken from:
Where are the holy places? In all the Christian writers of the first century, in all the devotion they display about Christ and the new faith, not one of them expresses the slightest desire to see the birthplace of Jesus, to visit Nazareth his home town, the sites of his preaching, the upper room where he held his Last Supper, the tomb: where he was buried and rose from the dead. These places are never mentioned. Most of all, there is not a hint of pilgrimage to Calvary itself, where humanity’s salvation was consummated. How could such a place not have been turned into a shrine?
Even Paul, this man so emotional, so full of insecurities, who declares (Philippians 3:10) that “all I care for is to know Christ, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings,” even he seems immune to the lure of such places. Three years were to pass following his conversion before he made even a short visit to Jerusalem. And this—so he tells us in Galatians—was merely to “get to know” Peter; he was not to return there for another 14 years.
Is it conceivable that Paul would not have wanted to run to the hill of Calvary, to prostrate himself on the sacred ground that bore the blood of his slain Lord? Surely he would have shared such an intense emotional experience with his readers. Would he not have been drawn to the Gethsemane garden, where Jesus was reported to have passed through the horror and the self-doubts that Paul himself had known? Would he not have gloried in standing before the empty tomb, the guarantee of his own resurrection? Is there indeed, in this wide land so recently filled with the presence of the Son of God, any holy place at all, any spot of ground where that presence still lingers, hallowed by the step, touch or word of Jesus of Nazareth? Neither Paul nor any other first century letter writer breathes a whisper of any such thing.
Nor do they breathe a word about relics associated with Jesus. Where are his clothes, the things he used in everyday life, the things he touched? Can we believe that items associated with him in his life on earth would not have been preserved, valued, clamored for among believers, just as things like this were produced and prized all through the Middle Ages? Why is it only in the fourth century that pieces of the “true cross” begin to surface?
By comparison, consider the assassination of United States president John F. Kennedy, who is some circles was seen as a quasi-saint. After his death, thousands of people immediately flocked to the scene of his death in Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas. The same phenomenon happened after John Lennon was killed in New York City. And decades later, people still make pilgrimages to these locations. But nothing like this, apparently, happened at the critical locations associated with Jesus, at least not for many decades if not centuries. This fact is consistent only with the hypothesis that nearly everything written in the gospels about Jesus’ final days is mythical.
(1896) John appended to path Luke/Matthew discrepancy
There is a howling discrepancy of the Easter appearances of Jesus to his disciples that cannot be explained….unless a new chapter is added to another gospel to patch up the fault. In Matthew, Jesus appears post-resurrection in Galilee, but in Luke, this happens in Jerusalem, many miles away. To the rescue, a substitute author added John Chapter 21. The following was taken from:
Matthew makes Jesus’ appearances to his disciples occur exclusively in Galilee, while Luke sites them exclusively 80 miles away at Jerusalem. (The final redactor of the fourth gospel tries to harmonize such discrepant traditions by appending a chapter of Galilean appearances, John 21, to a chapter of Jerusalem appearances.) I know that witnesses of an event can give discrepant accounts of it, but one would not expect the discrepancies to extend to essentials. If one witness of a street accident affirmed that it took place in London, we should not expect another to site it in Birmingham. If we were faced with such discrepant reports, and also had no other evidence that there had been any accident, we should dismiss the whole thing. But this is our position in regard to the Resurrection. As Elliott has said: There is no independent witness to the Easter events outside the New Testament
It is well established, for a host of reasons, that the 21st chapter of John is a later addition to the original. It can be speculated that the motivation for this addendum was to partially erase the embarrassing conflict between Luke and Matthew- partially, that is, because it now implies that both Luke and Matthew missed an important episode in Jesus’ resurrection, whereas before, it could be argued that one them was fully complete and correct.
(1897) Empty tomb likely was not an early tradition
From history of the Roman occupation of Judea, it is well established that people who were crucified were unceremoniously buried in a common grave after their bodies had decayed and been picked apart by birds of prey. This is likely what actually happened to Jesus, assuming he was a real historical figure. Then, visions of him fueled the belief in his resurrection as a spirit entity. There is some evidence to bolster this theory in the Gospel of Mark, specifically in the final verse of the original writing (16:8, not including the addendum that was later added v.9-20). The way that Mark ended his account lends support to the likelihood that the story of the missing tomb was a later tradition that was missing from the earliest days of the faith. The following was taken from:
Mark continues by representing the women as too afraid to deliver the young mans message to the disciples, so that they said nothing to anyone. Fuller, like many others, thinks that the empty tomb story is no part of the early tradition, but a later legend, introduced by Mark for the first time into the narrative (p. 52). And it has often been suggested that Marks motive for making the women keep silent was to account for the fact that, as he well knew, there was no already existing tradition about an empty tomb when he wrote. As Lampe says: The fact that the women do not pass the message on may suggest that the evangelist, or his source, knew that the story of the tomb and the angel was not part of the original Easter proclamation and had only developed at a relatively late stage in the tradition (p. 48).
Whatever Marks motive may have been, Luke reworded this passage so as to make it lead in to the Jerusalem appearances he has added to Mark:
And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them: and they said nothing to anyone; for they were afraid.
And they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest.
I do not mean to suggest that Luke is here concocting a narrative he knew to be false. As he was convinced that it was beginning from Jerusalem that the Christian mission went forward to all the nations (Luke 24:47), he will naturally have supposed that his predecessor had got his facts a bit wrong, and so will have amended the Marcan narrative in perfectly good faith. One thing that this kind of editing clearly indicates is that Marks gospel was not regarded as authoritatively based on reliable eyewitness information.
So it seems possible that that author of Mark added the account of Jesus being given the unusual honor of being buried in a tomb and that the tomb was later found empty to advance the growing concept that Jesus bodily resurrected, as opposed to just in a spiritual sense. But at the same time, he needed to offer an explanation for why this belief had not yet fully taken hold among the faithful- and that was to simply say that the women kept it to themselves.
(1898) Matthew’s blatant contradiction
There is evidence that the Gospel of Matthew was pieced together without a concluding effort to coordinate the material into a logical whole picture. The birth of Jesus is announced with a miraculous guiding star along with an accompanying slaughter of infants in Bethlehem, which should have been sufficient for everybody in Judea to be aware of the special nature of Jesus. But later, these same people are wondering why Jesus is anybody out of the ordinary. It is evident that the latter was written before the birth narrative was added and that Matthew or another writer failed to see the conflict. The following is taken from:
According to Matthews infancy narrative, Herod and all Jerusalem knew of the birth in Bethlehem of him that is born King of the Jews (2:23), and Herod proceeded to slaughter all the male children of Bethlehem in order to eliminate him (2:16); yet when the adult Jesus comes to his own country and preaches there, he is regarded by the inhabitants as a familiar but totally undistinguished citizen, whose wisdom and mighty works take them completely by surprise. They say of him:
Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things (i.e. this wisdom and these mighty works)? (13:54-56).
It is, then, precisely the indisputable ordinariness (Von Campenhausen, pp. 12-13) of Jesus’s home, occupation, and family relationships that is alleged to have stood in his way. Even Herod’s son has no inkling of his origins (14:12). The foremost Catholic exegete of the nativity stories, Raymond E. Brown, has said that it is obvious from these and other discrepancies that the stories of the ministry were shaped in Christian tradition without a knowledge of the infancy material, and Matthew never really smoothed out all the narrative rough spots left by the joining of two bodies of once-independent material.
The birth narrative is believed to be a later addition to the Gospel of Matthew, not part of the original, which explains the existence of the contradictory verses in Chapter 13. A more perspicuous editor would have noted this and removed or modified these verses.
(1899) The end is near?
The Bible’s New Testament contains a drumbeat of promises that Jesus is ready to return any day now, implying that it will happen so soon that it would be wise to keep it in mind when making any kind of life decision. But it didn’t happen. The following is a sample of verses professing this theme:
Matt 10:23: [Jesus said to his disciples] ‘When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes’.
Matt 16:28: [Jesus said to the disciples], ‘Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom’.
Mark 9:1: And he [Jesus] said to them [the disciples], ‘Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power’.
Mark 13:30: [After detailing events up to end of world, Jesus says] ‘Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place’.
Mark 14:62: And Jesus said [to the high priest – died 1st cent. AD] ‘You will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven’.
Rom 13:12: The day is at hand.
1 Cor 7:29: The appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none.
1 Cor 7:31: For the form of this world is passing away.
Phil 4:5: The Lord is coming soon.
1 Thess 4:15: We who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord.
Hebrews 1:2: In these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.
Hebrews 10:37: For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry.
James 5:8: The coming of the Lord is at hand.
1 Peter 1:20: He [Christ] was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times.
1 Peter 4:7: The end of all things is at hand.
1 John 2:18: It is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming.
Rev 1:1: The revelation of Jesus Christ (i.e., the end of the world)…to show to his servants what must soon take place.
Rev 3:11: [Jesus said] ‘I am coming soon’.
Rev 22:6: And the Lord…has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.
Rev 22:20: [Jesus said] ‘Surely I am coming soon’.
It is puzzling to understand why Christianity survived the failure of this prediction. It is not ambiguous. This would be like a rich uncle who promises to give you $10,000 ‘very soon.’ Ten years pass and he still hasn’t given anything to you, but he still says he will do it very soon. Would you still believe that it will happen any day? No, you would realize that it is a false promise. For some reason, Christians cannot comprehend that they have been scammed. Jesus is not coming back, not tomorrow, not next year, not ever. But they still think it will happen any day.
(1900) Jesus the cult leader
In the following scripture, Jesus is made out to be a quintessential cult leader:
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Cult leaders have historically encouraged prospective followers to cut family ties and follow them exclusively. Much of this is due to the fact that almost all members of a person’s family and their friends will discourage them from joining such a group. Cult leaders of the past, including Jim Jones (People’s Temple), David Koresh (Branch Davidians), and Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate) no doubt used this scripture to grow their flocks. It’s a fool’s bargain to believe that by giving up much in this life you will receive a greatly multiplied return in the next one.
It is probable that Jesus, if he was a real person, never said this, but the author of Mark, obviously an enthusiastic Christian, who was writing at a time (approximately 70CE) when Christianity was a small, struggling faith facing significant headwinds from the more entrenched pagan religions, saw this as a good way to convince those who were ‘on the fence’ about joining to not listen to their family and friends who were discouraging them from doing so. It is not surprising that this type of ‘agenda scripture’ is replete in the gospels and elsewhere in the Bible, but it does give a significant clue about the intent of the author.
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