(1951) Essenes and Greeks elevated Satan’s powers
The evolution of Satan is a revealing window into how people tried to explain evil in the presence of all-powerful and benevolent god. That Satan started as simply a fallen angel and over time morphed into a force of evil almost equivalent to God in terms of power lets us know that he is a fictional character. It appears that two groups were primarily responsible for elevating Satan’s status. The following was taken from:
Elaine Pagels, in her book The Origin of Satan, also gives credit to the Essenes, a group of mostly male celibates who lived by themselves in Qumran, for the elevation of Satan from a “rather unpleasant angel into a far grander—and far more malevolent—figure.”The Essenes, known for writing what came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, ranted against the impiety of their fellow Jews in Jerusalem from the second century BCE until 68 CE when their settlement was destroyed by the Romans. They were not the only group in the troubled times of the Roman occupation of parts of Israel that blamed the troubles on this newly expanded character. Yet neither the concept of Satan as a force equal to God nor the concept of hell as Satan’s dwelling place were part of Judaic thought. It is only in Christianity where the exposition of Satan as he is known today in many religions is truly made.
In the first century CE during the birth of Christianity other groups also played a role in the concept of good and evil, specifically the Greeks. (The Romans had no concept of an evil force). Since Plato, the Greeks had developed the concept of duality: good vs. evil, body vs. soul, etc. Indeed, we derive our word for the devil from the Greek word diabolos, which means slanderer. This nascent concept of an evil force characterized by a specific character, Satan, is greatly expanded in the writings of the New Testament.
Jesus is tempted by the devil in the desert. (Matthew 4:1)
Hell is defined as “eternal fire” and is the place prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)
Satan is portrayed as a fallen angel. (Luke 8:12)
Satan “binds” or cripples a woman for 18 years. (Luke 13:16)
Satan makes Judas Iscariot betray Jesus (John 13:2)
The Devil is the power of death. (Hebrews 2:14)
Jews are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelations 2:9-10)
Satan is equated with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. (Revelations 12:9).
The World is in the control of the devil. (1 John 5:18-19)
Pagels makes the claim that the role of Satan is crucial to the explanation for the death of Jesus. “How, after all, could anyone claim that a man betrayed by one of his own followers, and brutally executed on charges of treason against Rome, not only was but still is God’s appointed Messiah, unless his capture and death were, as the gospels insist, not a final defeat but only a preliminary skirmish in a vast cosmic conflict now enveloping the universe?”
Like so many aspects of Judeo-Christianity, the fact that a key figure changes over time indicates that what we are dealing with is not a revelation from a changeless god, but rather simply the way people’s ideas change as society advances. Modifying and empowering Satan created a useful tool for Christians to explain away some difficult questions that challenged the conventional doctrines. And lucky for us, it leaves a marker letting us know that we are dealing with myth, not fact.
(1952) Circumcision, menstruation, and gender equality
Judeo-Christian attitudes regarding circumcision and menstruation generated a one-two punch that elevated men, relegated women, and thus produced a regrettable deterioration of gender equality, a situation that remains a problem today. The following was taken from:
So how about men? Circumcision may well be the world’s oldest surgical procedure. One scholar believes it was practiced at least 15,000 years ago. The earliest known evidence comes from an image carved on a tomb in Egypt from 2400 BCE. Some hypothesize that it was a rite at puberty to mimic the onset of menstruation in young girls. Today, the procedure is coming under fire and many doctors no longer encourage circumcision of infant males. It is still an important rite in certain Hebrew sects. There was also a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis. One of its impacts was blood in the urine. From ancient times to the 20th century, it was seen as a male version of menstruation and therefore a rite of passage for boys.
The importance of these two “events”—menstruation in women and circumcision for a man—is the reversal in importance that took place when monotheism came to be the standard for the Jewish religion. A woman’s menstrual cycle, once revered with a Mother Goddess and life-giving attributes, became just the opposite—the symbol of something dirty and unclean. Just a few Bible verses will show what I mean.
When a woman has a discharge of blood that is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in her impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. Everything upon which she lies during her impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening. (Leviticus 15:19-21)
If she bears a female child, she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation; her time of blood purification shall be sixty-six days. (Leviticus 12:5)
You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. (Leviticus 18:19)
Mortal, when the house of Israel lived on their own soil, they defiled it with their ways and their deeds; their conduct in my sight was like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual period. (Ezekiel 36:17)
I think you get the picture.
Circumcision, whose origins do not reveal the purpose of such a rite, became very important in the history of the Jewish religion. This procedure became the evidence itself of the covenant between Yahweh and Abraham.
You (Abraham) are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. (Genesis 17:11-12)
While we do not know why this tradition started, we do know its impact on women. Circumcision became the evidence of male power. Because women were not circumcised and only men were, the men became the only ones who could be priests. It was they that were closest to God. In a time where there was no such thing as separation of church and state, they held all the municipal power as well.
While the early Christian community said that circumcision was NOT necessary to be part of the church, there was no change in the power structure. Women were still seen as unclean and unable to participate as priests in this fledgling religion, except in the very early days. And lest you think that this is all old history and not the way it is today, I close with the following (2008) quotation by Mark Driscoll, founder of the Mars Hill nondenominational mega-church franchise.
Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them. Ladies, if the hair on the back of your neck stands up it is because you are fighting your role in the scripture.
It is time for all women to leave religion. It is a mythology created by humans that justifies all sorts of constraints on women. Indeed, as I have said so many times, religion is the last cultural barrier to gender equality.
The artificial importance placed by Judeo-Christianity on circumcision effectively shut women out of leading roles in church, government, and society in general while the deplorable scripturally-endorsed revulsion toward menstruation further relegated them to being second-class citizens. This is not the work of a supernatural deity, but rather that of unenlightened, chauvinistic men.
(1953) Fifty reasons to dislike Jesus
People who revere Jesus as the epitome of moral rectitude and as the perfect model for how children and adults should behave have apparently never read or objectively considered how Jesus is characterized in scripture. The following list generated by Steve Wells puts to bed any argument for Jesus’s righteousness.
- He told his followers to hate their families.
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26
- He came to break apart families.
I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Matthew 10:35-36
The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. Luke 12:51-53
- He insisted that his followers love him more than anyone else (including their families).
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:37
- He encouraged people to abandon their home and family for his name’s sake.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:29-30, Luke 18:29-30
- He was rude to his own family.
Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! Matthew 12: 47-49, Mark 3:31-34, Luke 8:20-21
- He was dismissive of other people’s feelings toward their families.
- He discouraged marriage.
They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Luke 20:35
- He was a hypocrite.He told his followers not to call anyone a fool.
Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22
Yet he often called his critics and disciples fools.
Ye fools and blind. Matthew 23:17, 19
Ye fools. Luke 11:40
O fools, and slow of heart to believe. Luke 24:25
- He encouraged his followers to mutilate themselves to avoid hell.
Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out … And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:28-30
If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Matthew 18:8-9
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off … And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off … And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:43-48
- He encouraged men to castrate themselves.
There are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. Matthew 19:12
- He approved of God’s killings in the Bible.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words … It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Matthew 10:14-15
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:37
As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man … the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot … the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all … Remember Lot’s wife. Luke 17:26-32
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: John 3:14
- He believed in the Old Testament’s stories.
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. … Remember Lot’s wife. Luke 17:29-32
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40
- He accepted Old Testament laws.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Matthew 5:17
- He criticized the Pharisees for not killing parent-cursing children.
God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. Matthew 15:4
Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death. Mark 7:10
- He and his dad plan to torture billions of people forever after they die.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Matthew 7:19
Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:49-50
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment. Matthew 25:46
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16
Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Luke 12: 5
- He implied that all Jews are going to hell.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 8:12
- He was a false prophet.
Verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. Matthew 10:23
- He was a warmonger.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. Revelation 19:11
- He was a megalomaniac.
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed. Mark 8:38
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God … he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:18, 36
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:16
- He condemned cities to dreadful deaths and to the eternal torment of hell because they didn’t care for his preaching.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! … And thou, Capernaum … shalt be brought down to hell … it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. Matthew 11:21-24
Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Mark 6:11
But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not … it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! … And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. Luke 10:10-15
- He called an entire generation perverse, evil, adulterous vipers.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? … Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. Matthew 12:34-39, 16:4
Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation…. 17:17
- He invented George W. Bush’s false dichotomy.
- He approved of torture.
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Matthew 18:34-35
- He inspired the Republican Tea Party.
Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29
- He believed in an unforgivable sin.
Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men … whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:29, Luke 12:10
- He spoke in parables to confuse people so he could send them to hell.
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. Mark 4:11, Matthew 13:10-15
- He believed in a God (himself?) who had his enemies slaughtered in front of him.
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. Luke 19:27
- He believed in devils, evil eyes, and unclean spirits.
Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying … cast out devils. Matthew 10:5-8
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him. Matthew 12:22
And Jesus rebuked the devil. Matthew 17:18
And he … cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. Mark 1:34
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils. Luke 9:1
And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known. Mark 3:11-12
An evil eye … defile the man. Mark 7:22-23
There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit … And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. Mark 1:23-25
He gave them power against unclean spirits. Matthew 10:1
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. Matthew 12:43-45, Luke 11:24-26
- He was a bit of a racist.
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. Mark 7:26-27, Matthew 15:22-26
- He condemned people to hell for things that their ancestors supposedly did.
Ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. … Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? … Upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Matthew 23:31-35
- He got kind of gross sometimes.
And he … put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue. Mark 7:33
He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. Mark 8: 23
He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. John 9:6
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life … For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him … He that eateth me, even he shall live by me. John 6:53-57
- He approved of slavery (or at least didn’t object to it) and said that God is like a slave owner who beats his slaves and sells families to pay for debts.
And a certain centurion’s servant [slave], who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. … When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick. Luke 7:2-10
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. Luke 12:47
The kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. Matthew 18:23-25
- Someday he’ll fight against people with a sword sticking out of his mouth.
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Revelation 2:16
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. … And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. Revelation 19:15, 21
- He threatens to kill children (with death).
I will kill her children with death. Revelation 2:23
- He’s going to kill billions of people with his sickle.
Upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. ,,, And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. … And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. Revelation 14:14-20
- He unnecessarily killed 2000 pigs.
And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. Matthew 8:30-32
And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine … And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. Mark 5:12-13
Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. Luke 8:33
- He killed a fig tree by cursing it. (Because it didn’t have any fruit that he could eat.)
When he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. Matthew 21:19
And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. Mark 11:13-14
- He didn’t know much about Biology.
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. Mark 4:31-32
- He lied about prayer.
Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20
That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:23-24
If ye have faith, and doubt not … if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Matthew 21:21-22
If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. Luke 17:6
- He said some stupid things.
All things are possible to him that believeth. Mark 9:23
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19
That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15
Some of you shall they cause to be put to death … but there shall not an hair of your head perish. Luke 21:16-18
Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. Luke 21:23
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:38
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world … that they which see might be made blind. John 9:39
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. John 12:25
- He talked complete nonsense about the end of the world.
Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. … In those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. Mark 13:8, 24-25, Matthew 24:3-30, Luke 21:10-11
- He said that everyone who lived before him was a thief and a robber.
All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers John 10:8
- His neighbors rejected him.
Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. Matthew 13:55-57, Mark 6:3
Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? John 6:42
- Many that saw him up close and personal thought he was mad and possessed by a devil.
Many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? John 10:20
- His family didn’t believe in him.
For neither did his brethren believe in him. John 7:5
- His friends thought he was insane.
And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. Mark 3:21
- He said that his true followers would cast out devils, speak in tongues, handle snakes, and drink poisons.
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. Mark 16:17-18
- He said that disbelievers will be tormented forever in hell.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16
- He dresses kind of funny.
The Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass … and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword. Revelation 1:13-16
The Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass Revelation 2:18
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood … And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword … And … on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:12-16
- He is the living dead with keys to hell and death.
I am he that liveth, and was dead… and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelation 1:13-16
It’s easy to pick out some good quotes that Jesus said, but to systematically ignore the fifty issues listed above is an abominable case of hypocrisy. Even those rabid fans of Jesus, who wrote the gospels and made up most or all of what Jesus did and said, still couldn’t portray him, on balance, as someone that should be admired, much less worshiped.
(1954) The origin of evil spirits
Christians almost universally believe that evil spirits are sent by Satan to accomplish nefarious attacks on human victims. They evidently have not read their scriptures closely enough. They generally come from God himself:
The phrase “evil spirit(s)” occurs 14 times (in 13 verses) in the Bible, in 8 of which the evil spirits were sent directly and explicitly by God.
The first evil spirit was sent by God to kill people in war.
Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech. Judges 9:23
God sent the next evil spirit to cause Saul to have a mental breakdown. (But luckily, David plays his harp and makes Saul’s “evil spirit from the Lord” go away.)
But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. 1 Samuel 16:14-16
And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. 1 Samuel 16:23
Then God sent an evil spirit to cause Saul to prophesy and sit with a javelin in his hand.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from Godcame upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. 1 Samuel 18:10
And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. 1 Samuel 19:9
The other 6 “evil spirit” occurrences are in the New Testament. The Bible doesn’t say where the evil spirits came from, but they are usually associated with some type of illness (Which come from God, right?).
And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Luke 7:21
And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, Luke 8:2
So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spiritswent out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. … And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:12-16
So the Bible is fairly clear on evil spirits: they are either sent directly by God or their origin is unknown. The Bible never attributes evil spirits to Satan.
This biblical truth is never preached in any church because it doesn’t comply with the manufactured image of God that pastors foist on their congregations. God as a source of evil just doesn’t play well when you are trying to brainwash people to join and support your deceitful enterprise. And keep in mind, if evil spirits do not exist, then Christianity is necessarily false
(1955) Burning people to death
Throughout most of human history, burning people at the stake, such as Joan of Arc, was considered to be an acceptable, although intentionally sadistic, way to execute criminals. It is now generally universally considered to be cruel and unusual punishment and is no longer used by any country’s government. However, tucked away in a small corner of the Christian bible, we see where God identified a certain circumstance whereby burning people to death was his command. The following was taken from:
Is it wrong to burn people to death?
That’s an easy question for most of us to answer. It’s one of the few things that we can all agree on: it is wrong always and everywhere to burn to death anyone for any reason whatsoever.
And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.
Notice that God tells us to burn to death all three: man, wife, and mother-in-law. It may have been the man’s idea, but we must burn all three anyway. (Couldn’t we try counseling first?)
Is there anyone that really believes this is a good idea? Is there anyone who thinks it was a good idea a few thousand years ago? Will it be a good idea a few thousand years from now?
A god who commands people to burn other people to death is not a good god. This verse alone should be enough show that the Bible was not inspired by a kind and loving god.
(1956) Christian marriages
Christian pastors and promoters extol the sanctity of Christian marriages, as if they are the epitome of all nuptial relationships. This despite the fact that these marriages fail at rates greater than the overall average. And also despite the fact that what the Bible has to say about these marriages hardly makes them something to emulate. The following was taken from:
Christians claim that the Bible condemns gay marriage. It doesn’t.*
The Bible says nothing at all about gay marriage. But it has plenty to say about Christian “marriage.”
- The Bible says that Christians should not marry.
(God doesn’t want Christians to marry. We shouldn’t either.)
Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 1 Corinthians 7:27
For I would that all men were even as I myself…. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 1 Corinthians 7:7-9
- But if a Christian man decides to get married (which he shouldn’t), he can have more than one wife.
If he take him another wife…. Exodus 21:10
- And if he doesn’t like one of his wives (like if she’s unclean or ugly or something), he can divorce her.
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. Deuteronomy 24:1
- If a Christian man gets married and then discovers on his wedding night that his new wife is not a virgin, then he and the other Christian men must stone her to death.
If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate…. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you. Deuteronomy 22:13-17
- Christians shouldn’t have sex (even if they are married, which they shouldn’t be).
But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none. 1 Corinthians 7:29
It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2
- Christian parents must beat their children (which they shouldn’t have, since they shouldn’t get married or have sex).
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Proverbs 13:24
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. Proverbs 19:18
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:13-14
- Good Christians must hate their families.
(If you abandon them for Jesus, he’ll give you a big reward.)
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Mattthew 19:29
- And kill their disobedient children.
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother … Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city … And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 21:18-21
He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. Exodus 21:15
He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. Exodus 21:17
For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. Leviticus 20:9
God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. Matthew 15:4
- And kill their families, if they have religiously incorrect ideas.
If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you … Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 13:6-10
- And finally, like Abraham (Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, et al.), Christian parents should be willing to kill their children for God.
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him … Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of…. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.Genesis 22:1-2, 10
It’s unlikely that anyone would consider these biblical passages to be good advice for a marriage. Yet, Christians claim that the Bible is the word of God. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever read it.
(1957) Why the Exodus makes no sense
The seminal story of the Jewish people and the best example of how God was on their side (though not during the Holocaust) is the Exodus, when God unnecessarily brought 10 plagues on the Pharaoh and his people and delivered the Jewish slaves back to their homeland. There is only one problem with this story. It didn’t happen. The following discusses one of the ways we know this for sure:
God didn’t kill the Egyptian firstborn or drown Pharaoh’s army in the sea. He didn’t drown people in a world-wide flood or smash them with burning stones at Sodom and Gomorrah. And he didn’t kill Onan for spilling his seed or turn Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. None of this stuff happened.
These are all just stupid stories that no one should take seriously. The God of the Bible didn’t kill anyone, because the God of the Bible doesn’t exist.
But since half of the world still believes in him, I’ll keep counting the number of people believers believe that he killed.
So let’s pretend that the Bible is true and try taking the Exodus seriously.
Imagine Moses organizing the Exodus. He rounds up all the people (with their animals, baked goods, and silver, gold, and clothes that they stole from the Egyptians) and gets them all lined up and ready to go. Each family follows the next with a meter or so between them.
The Bible tells us that 600,000 men left Egypt in the Exodus, so there must have been about that many families. If each family was one meter apart, the line would be 600 kilometers long. That’s longer than the entire Exodus route from the the Nile delta to Israel, even allowing for a bit of wandering around in the wilderness. So the front of the line would have arrived in Israel before those at the end left Egypt. Yet the Bible says the trip took 40 years (everything takes 40 years in the Bible).So let’s say it took 40 years. How fast were they walking? If the entire trip was 600 kilometers, then they would have had to walk a bit more than 1 kilometer per month (about 40 meters a day).
Of course there’s no evidence that any of this happened. And if several million people were roaming around for 40 years in the Sinai desert, they would have left some evidence. But they didn’t.
That’s because it didn’t happen.
If the Exodus did not happen then it means that every other story in the Old Testament is likely to be fictional as well. This undermines the base upon which Christianity rests. It undermines the credibility of Jesus who believed it to be true. The above discussion is only one of the arguments against an historical exodus- the lack of archaeological artifacts and the absence of anything in the Egyptian historical records seals the deal- The Exodus did not happen. This alone comes dangerously close to proving that Christianity is false.
(1958) The Good Book?
It is interesting to compare the books of the Bible to see how many good and uplifting passages each possesses versus bad or repugnant verses. Any book authored by the universal god should have a net positive number on this scale of assessment. The following was taken from:
I tried to find the best book in the Bible by summing up the number of good things (that I could find) in each book. When goodness is measured in that way, Proverbs is the winner, with 56 good passages.
But Proverbs is, as Bible books go, a fairly big book. So I repeated the analysis using as the measure of goodness the number of good things per 100 verses. With this metric, Ecclesiastes (17.12) is by far the best book in the Bible. (The next best, James, has less than half as many, 8.33.)
There’s still a problem, though (as Jason Macker pointed out), with this measure of goodness. A book might have a few good things to say, but have twice as many cruel and intolerant ideas. How can the amount of bad stuff be accounted for in the goodness metric?
Well, here’s the way I did it. As before, I totaled the number of good things in each book, but I subtracted the number of bad things. That way, I come up the book’s “net goodness.” (I totaled cruelty, injustice, intolerance, family values, women, and homosexuality to get the number of bad things, since the verses marked with these categories are all morally objectionable.)
Here’s how it looks with this metric.
|Book||Net Goodness (good – bad)|
|Song of Solomon||-3|
So using this metric, Ecclessiates is the best book, with a net goodness of 36. The next best is Proverbs with 7.
What is surprising (to me anyway) is that these are the only two good books in the Bible. The other 64 are either neutral, with a net goodness of zero (Jonah, James, and 3 John), or bad (net goodness < 0).
But, as before, these values do not take into account the size of the book. To account for size, I found the net number of good verses per 100 verses. Here is the result, ranked from best to worst.
|Book||Net good per 100 verses|
|Song of Solomon||-2.56|
Once again, Ecclesiastes is the best, with over 16 net good things per 100 verses. The only other good book, as judged by this metric, is Proverbs, with less than one net good thing per 100 verses. All the other books in the Bible (including all the New Testament) are either no good or just plain bad.
(The overall average for the Bible is 9.02 net bad things / 100 verses.
Only two books out of 66 are seen to be positive on net by this method of evaluation. This makes it very hard to understand the logic behind the metaphorical epithet used by Christians for the Bible- “The Good Book.” A more apt alternative name would be “The Grim Book.”
(1959) God is not a nice person
There is a good reason why some Christians don’t read their Bibles. It’s because they know there is a lot of bad stuff in there and they fear having their image of God tarnished. Or if they do read it, it is a controlled process where they only read certain ‘safe’ passages, preferably the kind that are read during church services. But a more curious exploration of the Bible can reveal something that Christians are afraid to admit- the god they worship is a cruel, sadistic bastard. The following was taken from:
Is there anything that the God of the Bible could do that a believer wouldn’t call good? Could he, for example:
- Bury people alive?
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram … came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children. And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me …. If these men die the common death of all men … then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make … the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. And it came to pass … that … the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up…. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. Numbers 16:27-34
- Burn people to death?
- Burn people forever after they die (but keep them alive to torture them)?
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God …he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone … And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever. Revelation 14:10-11
- Force parents to eat their children and friends to eat each other?
And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend. Jeremiah 19:9
- Force people to kill their brothers and eat themselves?
Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts … no man shall spare his brother. And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm. Isaiah 9:19-20
- Force people to cut off their noses and women to pluck off their breasts?
And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears. … Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and thou shalt … pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 23:25-37
- Kill a newborn baby to punish its parents?
Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. 2 Samuel 12:14
- Dash little children to pieces and rip up pregnant women?
Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up. Hosea 13:16
- Cause birth defects and spread dung on peoples’ faces?
Behold, I will corrupt your seed and spread dung upon your faces. Malachi 2:3
- Order a woman’s hand to be cut off “without pity” for touching a man’s genitals?
When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. Deuteronomy 25:11-12
The Bible was written by barbarians, people who believed in the deliverance of pain, suffering, and torture as the best ways to control an unruly society. It is not the work of a super-enlightened deity, the maker of the universe, or the embodiment of universal love. The evidence is plain as day. By simply reading what the Bible says, we know that it reveals a divine character so short of grace, integrity, and morality that it just cannot possibly describe a real divine figure, unless it is conceded that such an entity is the embodiment of pure evil.
(1960) The true Jesus miracle
Using any reasonable standard of evidence, it is actually quite uncontroversial to say that we don’t have enough information to attest to the historical validity of Jesus as he is portrayed in the gospels and in the balance of the New Testament. This is seen as a justification for disbelief by atheists and an opportunity for the use of faith by Christians. But the real question is how could the otherworldly, supernatural story of Jesus be true given the fact that the evidence for him is so thin? That would be the true miracle. The following was taken from:
When it comes down to it, Jesus is the single most important figure in all of Christianity. That’s not controversial, I think. What is an issue is how little we really know and how the information we have about him is very suspect. There just is no way to conclude he’s the son of god.
- There are no firsthand accounts of him. Ask yourself this: why do we bother with written language? Why not just have fully oral history? It’s because memories are fallible and the story can change from person to person. With that in mind, it’s not good that all of our accounts of Jesus are secondhand or third hand.
- The accounts of Jesus are too far from when he allegedly lived. Mark, generally agreed to be the earliest written gospel, not only was written based on what someone said someone who knew Jesus said, but it’s written decades later. That’s the earliest. That’s not good for demonstrating validity.
- Nobody knows on what day he was born or died. This is important because I already know people will want to comment on how secular sources reported an eclipse when Jesus died. However, nobody can even say what day he died on, including Christians, so nobody can say that an eclipse matches. The same goes for what day he was born. A lot of special things were supposed to have happened, but if nobody can pin down the day, nobody can then check to see if special things did indeed happen that day.
- The gospels are the only recordings of any of the events Jesus participated in. This man allegedly performed miracles that were witnessed by dozens, and sometimes thousands, of people. Even after he allegedly rose from the dead, hundreds were supposed to have seen him. Why do we only have these gospel accounts, which were only written decades after? We should expect way more accounts but we don’t have them. The romans in particular are famous for recording practically everything. They were huge on keeping records and yet they forgot to write about someone who could bend the laws of reality.
- Because of points 1-5, the supernatural claims further reduce the likelihood that the accounts are true. If it is to be believed that the very laws of reality were suspended in this instance for this man, there needs to be tons and tons of proof and evidence to back up that belief. We even have higher standards of evidence for ordinary things in history, let alone claims of rising from the dead.
- The miracles attributed to Jesus are all ones that can be found in mythology beforehand. Everything from walking on water, turning water into wine, and coming back from the dead were all feats attributed to other mythological figures before the alleged time of Jesus. With all the other reasons to be suspect, this just further adds to the problem. He seems like another mythological figure and wouldn’t you know, he acts like one too.
- Prophets teaching an apocalyptic message similar and sometimes the same as Jesus’s were a dime a dozen back then. The Life of Brian actually is fairly historically accurate in how it portrays this. Wandering rabbis with radical messages were all the rage back then. It would be easy for the Jesus story to have been inspired by these people.
The real miracle that Christianity is asking us to believe is that all of these miraculous events surrounding Jesus actually occurred while nobody around at the time seemed interested in writing about them until well over one generation of people had perished. That fact is the most incredible aspect of the Jesus story- the determined silence of people exposed to the most miraculous events that had ever graced the face of the Earth.
(1961) It’s God’s fault if atheists go to Hell
If we assume that the Christian god exists and is the only true god, then it can be argued that if he intends to send atheists to hell, it is his solely his fault and not in the least the fault of the atheists. An omniscient god would understand that humans have differing thresholds that determine the amount of evidence that they require to believe in something. Some find it easy to believe on scant evidence while others demand a more robust amount. This is not a decision that any person makes, it is simply the way that their brain works. God would know about this.
God would of course be aware of the fact that he is withholding evidence of his existence to a degree well short of what he could be providing. There is no doubt that all Christians would agree to this- God could easily make his indisputable existence known at any minute of his choosing. He would know that the amount of evidence that he has provided to date is insufficient to convince a wide swath of the population, including both atheists and followers of other religions. He knows that, by design, his game of divine hiddenness will leave many in doubt.
God would know exactly what sort and quality of evidence it would take to make any given skeptic believe in him, but obviously he has decided not to do this. So, if God decides to send atheists and other non-Christians to hell after they die, who is at fault? It is God’s fault, for playing a ridiculously cruel hide-and-seek game that has the dire and built-in consequence of sentencing good, innocent people to eternal punishment.
(1962) Mailing body parts
Very few Christians are aware of a story in the Bible that involved a woman being carved up, possibly while still alive, into 12 pieces and having one of these pieces sent to each of the 12 tribes of Israel. It doesn’t matter how this story made it into the Bible. The fact that it is there is evidence enough that the Bible is not the work of a god or even of decent human beings, but rather in this instance a macabre barbarian. The following was taken from:
This time, though, the visitor that the men of the city found so attractive was a Levite, not a couple of angels. (As always, see the Brick Testament for the details.)
Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him. Judges 19:22
Can’t you just picture it? All the men of a city come to a house and demand to have sex with the new guy in town.
So what do you think the host did when he answered the door? Well, he offered the mob his virgin daughter (and his guest’s concubine), of course! It’s the polite thing to do. Any just and righteous man would do the same.
Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. Judges 19:22
But the the men didn’t want his virgin daughter, so he gave them the concubine instead.
But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning. Judges 19:25
The next morning, the concubine came back to the house and collapsed at the door.
The Levite opened the door, saw the concubine lying there, and told her to get up. But she didn’t answer. So he put her on his donkey and went home.
And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel. Judges 19:29
Did you catch that? The Levite cut the concubine into twelve pieces and sent the bloody body parts to the twelve tribes of Israel. (As Brucker points out, the text doesn’t even say whether the concubine was alive or dead when her body was dismembered.)
Now that is a strange way to send a message! Someone from each tribe of Israel got a rotting piece of flesh in the mail. What the fuck were they supposed to make of that? (Oh, look Martha, here’s a stinking hunk of putrefied abdomen that arrived in the mail parcel post!)
The story ends with this advice:
Consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds. Judges 19:30
Those who do consider it will immediately reject the idea that the Bible was inspired by God. Hopefully, they will then speak their minds.
There is nothing in this story that indicates that God disapproves of:
- A man having a sex slave (concubine)
- A father offering his virgin daughter to a sex-crazed mob
- Chopping up bodies (dead or alive)
- Sending messages with body parts
It’s just a stupid, nasty story that was put in the Bible because it is a stupid, nasty story.
It would be an interesting research effort to find the last time this story was weaved into a sermon delivered by a Christian pastor. Likely not for at least several centuries. Yet, here it is, in the Bible, the “Good Book.”
(1963) The test for whether God gives us our morality
It is often asserted that humans obtain their morality from God, and Christians in particular claim that it is offered through and only through Yahweh, mostly via the Bible. But there are many moral inconsistencies in the Bible, leaving a serious student of it in doubt as to what Yahweh would have us believe. There is an interesting test that demonstrates that we don’t get our morality from God or the Bible, as explained below:
It is often claimed that morality comes from religion — that without the Ten Commandments and such things, we would not know right from wrong. On this view, atheists can be moral, but only because we “borrow” our values from the religious principles that permeate society. Even some who aren’t religious, or aren’t in any sense orthodox about their beliefs, sometimes say such things. Thus, the influential psychologist Jordan Peterson argued not long ago that Sam Harris is “fundamentally” a Christian because “he doesn’t rob banks, doesn’t kill people, doesn’t rape.”
Yet there’s a simple argument that shows morality doesn’t originate in religion: If it did, we wouldn’t find anything in religion to be morally problematic. In other words, if we learned right and wrong from the Bible, then we wouldn’t find any of the moral pronouncements there to be disturbing. The religious wouldn’t struggle with how it could be that God commanded the mass killing of infants, for example. They would simply accept that as yet another instance of God’s perfect justice and goodness.
Now, one possible objection to this argument concerns the fact that the principles one finds in the Bible, at least if taken at face value, are inconsistent with one another. God says, “thou shall not kill”, yet also sometimes commands us to kill. Might this not be the explanation why we find the command to kill disturbing? No. If we truly viewed the Bible as the source of morality, the contradictions would be disturbing only in the sense that they would raise questions regarding what really should be done. We might have a problem figuring out what constitutes an exception to “thou shall not kill”; we wouldn’t be disturbed by the fact that in some cases infants can be killed in mass numbers. Moreover, there would be no reason to consider one commandment as more problematic than its opposite. If we learned morality from the Bible, then after learning of the killing of infants, we might wonder how it could be a good thing for God to command us not to kill!
Perhaps some will say that the great majority of God’s injunctions are of one type (against killing, for example), and that the problematic ones are those that appear to go against the majority. But actually, most of what God commands is rather bad, so if we go by this logic, our reactions should be the exact opposite of what they are. We should be disturbed by the fact that God sometimes commands us to love our neighbor. How could he command such a thing, when it goes against most of what he teaches?
Beyond this argument, it can be said that humans existed for at least 100,000 years before biblical times and yet apparently developed some successful moral principles just to survive. Also, higher intelligent animals, such as chimpanzees and dolphins, seem to do fine without a Bible god telling them what to do. Morality seems to be an innate property of generally all animals and is not a product of divine design, influence, or command.
(1964) God worship was based on ignorance of the natural world
In the ancient world people feared God, not in the sense that some do today, but in a real palpable way, because it was thought that keeping God happy and amused was essential for avoiding his wrath- pestilence, famine, disease, and disasters. This was the motivation for worshiping him, to keep safe from what they thought were god-engineered punishments. But now, in a post-scientific age, the idea of worshiping God seems a bit silly. The following was taken from:
One of the beloved hymns of my distant youth was Blessed Assurance, which includes this lyric: “This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.” One of the most popular hymns today is How Great Thou Art. This impulse to praise the Lordshould prompt another think-it-through moment: Just what kind of god expects, demands, to be worshipped? Well, for starters, it would be expected of the god of the Old Testament, who is famous for terrorism:
“When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark. And he died there beside the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:6-7)
In the ancient world, with gods hovering nearby, capable of causing a lot of damage, keeping them happy was part of self-preservation. Fawning and praise were part of that formula.
That was then, this is now. Especially during the last century, theologians have indulged in endless games of redefining God, aiming desperately for sophistication; that God who killed Uzzah on the spot just wouldn’t do. It would seem that the petty God of the Bible cannot be in the same league as a God who has oversight over billions of galaxies and, no doubt, even more billions of planets. Does this God insist on an endless flow of adulation and praise from countless intelligent species that may be scattered across the Cosmos?
How great thou art! “That’s right, you groveling mammals on Earth, how great am I! Please keep reminding me. Sing songs to me. Keep building churches for my glory.” How can a good God, devoid of imperfections, be needy and narcissistic? Never mind that the quarreling theists on this planet cannot agree at all on how God wants to be worshipped. What a mess and waste of time. Think it through, Christians. Worship must now rank as one of the silliest of theistic preoccupations.
Even if there is a Force, a deity of some kind that ignited the Cosmos, at this point we have no data whatever regarding its nature. The contradictory jumble of ideas about God in the Bible don’t count at all, conjured as they were by ancient priests who had no clue about the Cosmos. Maybe there are lots of gods—one for each galaxy? —maybe an Ultimate Force isn’t even aware of planets, civilizations, species, let alone individuals. If you want to go with the god thing, that’s the state of our knowledge.
What is the state of our grasp of reality? George Carlin was raised Catholic, but he was lucky; his brain had a built-in bullshit detector: “This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it’s not for me.” Our simple-guy Christian, on the other hand, doesn’t have that kind of brain; he is not wired for curiosity and its consequences. Religious bureaucrats thank God—they praise their savoir all the day long—that there are millions of simple-guys who don’t want to rock the boat.
It’s no coincidence that the first four commandments all deal with honoring and praising god. A god who did nothing to become a god and whose behavior lacks the ethics and morality of a typical modern human. But they were afraid of what he could do if they rubbed him the wrong way. It is probably true that if Judeo-Christianity were being created today, worship would not be emphasized- respect, acknowledgement yes, but worship, no.
(1965) God’s two wives
Very few Christians realize that the God they worship was married to two women, both sisters, although neither wife worked out well for Yahweh. Their story is told here:
There’s a strange story in Ezekiel 23 about two sisters, Aholah and Aholibah. It is a story that is seldom told by Bible believers. And that’s a shame, since it sheds so much light upon God’s biblical plan for marriage.
Aholah and Aholibah were sisters, both of whom were married to Yahweh.
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother: … And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister. And they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Ezekiel 23:1-4
But the marriage between God and his two wives was a troubled one. The older sister, Aholah, was unfaithful to Yahweh, having sex with her Assyrian neighbors.
Aholah played the harlot when she was still mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours, Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses. 23:5-6
She committed whoredoms with them and defiled herself with all of their idols.
She committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself. 23:7
The Assyrians lay with her and bruised the breasts of her virginity, pouring all their whoredom upon her.
Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her. 23:8
So Yahweh delivered her into the hands of her Assyrian lovers who discovered her nakedness, enslaved her children, and killed her with the sword.
Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted. These discovered her nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the sword. 23:9-10
God’s other wife, Aholibah, was even more corrupt in her whoredoms than her older sister. She also doted upon her desirable, young Assyrian neighbors.
Her sister Aholibah … was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms. She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men. Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way. 23:11-13
When she saw the images of Babylonian men on her wall, she invited them to come visit her.
And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion … And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea. 23:14-16
So the Babylonians came to her on her bed of love, discovered her nakedness and defiled her with their whoredoms.
And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness. 23:17-18a
When God saw all this, his mind was alienated from her, like it was from her sister.
Then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister. 23:18b
Aholibah multiplied her whoredoms like she did in her younger days as a harlot in Egypt.
Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. 23:19
Where she doted upon men with donkey-sized penises and ejaculate as voluminous as horses.
For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. 23:20
Which reminded God again of the lewdness of her youth, where the Egyptians fondled her youthful breasts.
Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth. 23:21
To punish Aholibah, God brought lovers against her “on every side.”
Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side. 23:22
And set his jealousy against her, forcing her Egyptian “lovers” to cut off her nose and ears, enslave her children, and burn everyone else to death.
And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears; and … they shall take thy sons and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire. 23:25
He forced Ahobiah to drink from Aholah’s cup, to suck it out, and to pluck off her own breasts.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister’s cup deep and large: Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow … Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. 23:34
Then God killed Ahobiah (as he did to Aholah) by stoning her to death and killing her with a sword. Then he killed her children (which are also his children) and burned their houses–to punish them for forgetting him.
Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms. 23:35
For thus saith the Lord GOD … stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire. 23:46-47
In this way taught women a lesson. Don’t behave like God’s wayward wives (Aholah and Ahobiah) or God will do likewise to you.
Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness. 23:48
Okay, so what can we learn from Yahweh’s marriage to Aholah and Ahobiah?
Well, plenty, I’d say. After all it’s God’s own example.
Here are just a few things that come to mind:
- It’s OK to have two wives. If it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for anyone.
- If either of your wives is unfaithful to you, invite everyone over to rape her in public, then cut off her nose and ears, force her to pluck off her breasts, and kill her by stoning or with a sword or (if at all possible) both.
- After you kill your wife (or wives) kill any of her children. (Sure some of these kids may be your own sons and daughters, but since your wife was a whore, they might be some other guy’s kids. You just can’t be too careful.)
Anyway, very few Christians know that God was engaged in a plural marriage, or at least that situation can be inferred by Yahweh saying that the two women were ‘mine.’ None of what is written in this chapter is consistent with the view most Christians have of their god, but, as is often said, ‘it’s in their Bible.’
(1966) God violates his own commandment
Here is the clearest, most indisputable, and undoubtedly the most repugnant contradiction in the Bible. God openly violating his own commandment, his own principle, and what he expects of others. Compare the following two scriptures:
Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.
So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.’
This should be enough to enlighten any Christian to accept one of two things- either the god they worship is an evil hypocrite or the Bible is in error. Or, a much more likely third option- the god of Christianity doesn’t exist and the Bible is a poorly-written book of fiction.
(1967) The biblical value of women
We are fortunate that God gave us information about how much human lives are worth based on age and gender, as follows:
|Age||Sex||In Shekels of Silver||In 2014 US Dollars|
|less than one month
(Newborn babies and fetuses)
|one month to 5 years||male||5||$36.40|
|5 to 20 years||male||20||$145.60|
|20 to 60 years||male||50||$364.00|
|over 60 years||male||15||$109.20|
Thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels. And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels. And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver. And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels. Leviticus 27:3-7
Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the LORD, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem. And those that are to be redeemed from a month old shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. Numbers 18:15-16
The value of five shekels for humans above six months old seems to agree with the value given in Leviticus 27. But the other age/gender details are missing in Numbers 18. It’s also not clear whether the five shekel value refers to firstborn humans and animals, or to humans only.
The idea that a universal deity would be a male chauvinist and place a higher value on male versus female lives is laughably absurd and provides evidence within an eyelash of proving this god to be a myth.
(1968) Religion as a tyranny
Tyranny can be defined as cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control. Christianity as well as other religions meets this definition, as explained in the following quote by James Randi:
Consider: a man believes — beyond any doubt — that his god is the only god, is all-powerful and all-knowing, has created him and the entire universe around him, and is capricious, jealous, vindictive, and violent. That same god offers the man a choice between burning in eternal agony in a fully-defined hell, or living forever in a variety of paradises — some of which involve streets of gold and others an ample supply of virgin delights. Is there any choice here? Will the man fail to carry out any command or whim of this deity? How can we doubt that religion is a compulsory system that absolutely rules its adherents? It’s a tyranny, a trap, a disaster of infinite size and scope. I’ll have none of it.
Examine the notion of a “loving god.” This god only loves you if you follow the rules. No questions, no doubts, no objections, are allowed. “Because I said so, that’s why.” He/she/it loves you as a farmer loves a draft-animal; you’re useful, you obey, and you’re docile. If you stray, your firstborn will be murdered, if you don’t follow a capricious order, you’re a pillar of salt. This is “love”? If so, I’ll take indifference.
Christianity does not offer its followers a realistic choice. This would be similar to parents telling their child that they will pay for her university education only if she majors in law, and if she refuses to do so, they will take away her computer, car, phone, and jewelry. What choice does she have? Likewise, a Christian is forced to adopt a narrow set of beliefs and behaviors or else suffer an incalculable punishment. This is an unveiled threat masquerading as a loving offer, leaving the victim with no real choice. It is a tyranny, and it is highly unlikely that such a scheme would be employed by a true god.
(1969) Bacteria versus faith
It should be obvious that faith attached to an almighty creator of the universe would always work in a way that benefits human life, seeing as how the target of the faith, an infinitely intelligent being, would impute his knowledge in a way that comports to reality and the greater good of humanity. But when it comes to the dangers of bacterial infection, the faith of Christians was seen to do just the opposite- oppose the newly discovered findings and deny the existence of these unseen killers. The following was taken from:
At the time Pasteur lived, about half of those who underwent major surgery died of subsequent infections, particularly those wounded in battle. Gangrene set in and the wound putrefied. Sepsis, the spread of bacteria in the blood, overwhelmed the body’s immune system and the patients died or had to have their highly infected limbs cut off to try to save their lives. But nobody understood that bacteria caused gangrene, yet.
One year later, English medical doctor Joseph Lister picked up on Pasteur’s beer and wine discoveries. Dr. Lister spent a lot of time looking through microscopes at samples taken from infected wounds and announced that tiny living creatures (bacteria)— too small to see with the naked eye—were responsible for the deaths of those who had undergone surgery. These microbes came from the unwashed hands of the surgeons and from the surfaces of objects, like unclean surgical instruments, he announced. Other doctors didn’t want to believe it. Theologians were outraged. The resistance to this new idea was strongest in protestant Britain and the puritanical United States. This certainly didn’t fit with people’s religious model of reality in which only an unseen, father god determined if people got sick and when they died.
In that era, people reasoned theologically. Since man was made in god’s own image, if man couldn’t see it, then god couldn’t see it. And if the creator couldn’t see something, it obviously didn’t exist. Therefore, there were no tiny creatures eating the flesh of an open wound and multiplying rapidly! Microbiology was considered blasphemy against god. Punishment was common.
In 1847, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss, a Hungarian surgeon began washing his hands before operating on his patients. This reduced his patients’ death rate from 12 out of 100 to two out of 100. When Dr. Semmelweiss urged his fellow doctors to wash their hands thoroughly before operating. They were outraged. They were insulted that anyone would imply that they were ignorant and would promote such a non-traditional, heretical idea. They had Dr. Semmelweiss committed to an insane asylum.
Later more people looked through microscopes at bacteria taken from open wounds, rotting meat and spoiled beer. It was always the same. Microbes called bacteria were eating, multiplying rapidly, dying and decaying. The theological argument eventually became ridiculous, but some ultra-conservatives still denied that bacteria existed and demanded a return to the old view of life and death. The truth eventually won out. Bacteria eventually became a commonly used word. Just using the word brought about a revolution in understanding about how things really are in nature.
Faith in Christianity has been a perennial opponent of scientific advancement to the detriment of human society. Even today, it works its spoils- such as in the denial of climate change (God controls our environment, not humans), opposing stem cell research (a fertilized egg is a human), and demonization of gays (homosexual behavior is a choice). Throughout history, the story is the same, Christians oppose new things that science has discovered, then later embraces those things and saying they have done so all along. No, if Christianity was true, this story would be entirely different- Christians, enlightened by their connection to God, would be the first adapters to newly discovered knowledge, often before the skepticism of non-Christians was erased.
(1970) Celibacy and chastity
Christianity’s dismal view of sexual matters has caused tremendous misery throughout the past twenty centuries, for priests, nuns, congregants both Catholic and Protestant, and especially children who have often been targets of sexual release by repressed clergy. It is unlikely that this trail of tears was spawned by an all-knowing god, who would have been aware of the inevitable consequences. The following is taken from:
Priests (and nuns) throughout the world take oaths for the renunciation of marriage and to uphold vows of chastity. Where did the Christian priests get this dangerous idea to sacrifice their sexual life? They got it straight from the words of the alleged Jesus (and St. Paul) from the New Testament (see the Catholic Encyclopedia):
|For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.|
Priests throughout the history of Christendom have also interpreted Luke 20:34-36 as an insurance to get into heaven, where sexual marriage doesn’t exist (celibacy insures that they will arrive resurrected in an unmarried
Consider that if a Jesus did exist, he would have had to live as a virgin, either as a born eunuch, a forced castrated eunuch, a self-castrated eunuch, or from self imposed celibacy. Many health workers have observed that suppression of the sex drive goes against human nature and eventually produces an unnatural outlet at some point in their life. This appears most clearly in the thousands of child molestation cases that occurs within the Christian hierarchy and in millions of religious followers who consider sex a sin.
Who knows how many children throughout history have lived damaged lives or died as a result of this insane practice? As an example, many ancient Christian European cathedrals contain dark secrets within their foundation which consist of the concealment of buried infant bones born from nuns impregnated by the clergy. Many cathedrals, to this day, offer a view of the burial sites to the curious tourist. And who knows the extent of the damage that has occurred because millions of the faithful in the past and present believe that sex represents a sin.
No doubt some of you might wonder about the nuns who marry Jesus. Of course this kind of marriage doesn’t involve sex at all (at least not admitted). One can only wonder about the psyche of a sister whose main image of Jesus consists of a tortured naked male nailed to a cross. How can it not produce hidden desires that would embarrass the most jaded sadomasochist? Marrying Jesus also brings up a question about Jesus with all of his sex-suppressed wives. Would it not make him the most notorious polygamist of all time? In spite of this hilarious revelation, the real-world consequences of a sex-starved human being do not appear so hilarious.
In what manner should we admire the unnatural notion of sexual sacrifice when it does absolutely nothing for the clergy or their congregations except produce pedophilic tendencies? Consider the harm it has created from the thousands-of-years practice of raping male and female children (and adults). In what admirable light should we view Jesus’ chastity? Does this resulting sexual damage resemble the will of a divine being of good or does it better match the actions of an evil agent, or more likely, the wrongful ideas born from faith and ignorance? You decide.
The church’s attitude toward sexual matters is most certainly the creation of human minds, possibly motivated by the fact that a celibacy/abstinence injunction is one of the best ways to convince a person of his sinful nature and therefore the need for the church’s offer of absolution. This might have worked to grow the church but it was gained at a lamentable cost.
(1971) The fallacy of Jesus’ love command
Jesus is alleged to have commanded his followers to love their enemies… as though that was an easily achievable goal.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
Any attempt to force people to love or to guilt them to do so is irrational. It is not compatible with human nature. It makes more sense instead to encourage respect and fair treatment. The following was taken from:
Curiously, Jesus does not give a command to love all people, only neighbor’s and enemies, and above all, to love God (but not the other thousands of gods and goddesses). And although it might sound admirable to command one to love, the problems here stem from the fact that humans simply cannot turn on the emotion of love at will from a command. Love does not work like a light switch where one can simply turn it on at will. Love describes a complex emotion, a biological feeling, not a correct method of morality. Love can generate jealousy and greed just as easily as it can selfless acts. If, instead, the Biblical Jesus had requested us to respect, this would have stated something that might work. Respect does not require unreliable emotions but yet allows tolerance to flourish. Many times respecting others will in time lead to affection or even love. The character Jesus never even used the word respect and abstained from the concept of tolerance.
The command to love your enemy also does not fit with human nature. Just how can one will oneself to love an enemy of yours that threatens you or your family with death or destruction? Of course one can pretend to love or act as if one loves, but this cannot possibly serve as actual love. How many American Christians, priests or ministers have you known that claimed to love Osama bin Laden, Hitler, or Pol Pot? And those that do claim to love their enemies, do they do it with sincerity or do they simply act as if they do?
Some theologians try to escape this problem by claiming that Christian love doesn’t mean the feeling of love but the will of love, but people can’t turn on and off will any more than they can any emotion. Moreover, even the will has everything to do with mental faculty. You simply cannot separate any form of love (however you want to define it) from brain chemistry.
As for love of God, the Bible’s description of its jealous God and his vengeful actions which include the slaughter of men, women, children, and animals, hardly inspires one to love him. If you can’t understand this, try to imagine your father treating you like a dog, offering you love or reward only if you obey his commands and demanding that you ritually flatter him every day, killing your friends, and sometimes ordering you to kill, and all the while threatening you with everlasting fire if you speak ill of him. Do you really think such a father deserves respect? Do you actually think that this would make you love him, even if your father held ultimate power over the universe? Even if such a god existed, it would not inspire love. Rather, it would trigger fear and loathing and I would do everything I could to stay away from such a monster. Moreover, given that many Christians believe that no one can know or understand the mysteries of God, how can an unknown entity inspire the human emotion of love? And given that virtually anything can fit into that unknown (including devils, falsehoods, and deceivers), what moral advantage can love of an unknown possibly give to its believers?
Jesus’ command to love and his lack of knowledge about human emotions deserves no reverence, and inspires no love.
If there is anything in the Bible that Christians fail to achieve, it is this. Love of enemies- definitely not. Love of neighbors- maybe, but only if they are of the same faith. Love of God- how can you love an imaginary being, someone you cannot see, or talk to? Christian love is a non sequitur.
(1972) Why gods probably don’t exist
There exist solid arguments for why belief in gods likely results from irrational human mental processes rather than the actual existence of supernatural beings. The following essay expertly explains this point:
Since our perception of reality is limited (by virtue of being human), it is not possible for us to verify the veracity of any claim 100% (i.e. fallibilism). Therefore, one can only argue in terms of a strong likelihood of the truth of a given proposition. Therefore, I issue the positive claim: “There is most likely no God”, in which “God” refers to any non-mundane (e.g. not literally the sun) definition or concept put forth by any individual, and even includes the notion of a deistic god. I accept the Burden of Proof.
This is a brief portion of my argumentation for the truth of the proposition that no god exists, formatted as an opening to a formal debate setting that I had previously engaged in. This is not elaborated at all, and I could speak on my reasoning for days (probably literally). This is based in human nature and history.
(A) Driven to Seek Explanation Humans are strongly pattern-seeking, as the recognition of consistency in the world enables us to make predictions and achieve repetitive success in activities, which was especially vital in primitive times (e.g. seasonal patterns) . This is an intrinsic aspect of our cognitive abilities that allow us to successfully navigate the world, which forms a strong type of learning (Associative) which entails conditioning response(s) to stimuli . We are so strongly biased that we routinely see meaningful patterns even when they aren’t there (i.e. Apophenia) . The Need for Cognitive Closure describes the general desire for full closure on a subject while expressing aversion towards an ambiguous state . A study suggested that a need for closure may foster closed belief systems because openness to conflicting information might threaten a state of closure. Hence, need for closure and dogmatism appear to be conceptually related . This drive compels one to seek out explanations and we frequently respond to uncertainty by fabricating plausible explanations. What’s more, we hold on to these invented explanations as having intrinsic value of their own, and we don’t like to let them go .
(B) Forming an Explanation We have a deep-rooted mindset for cause-and-effect; when coupled with imagination and the strong need for an explanation, we end up accepting irrational answers to avoid having no answer at all. This commonly takes the form of superstition and results in the invention of causal explanations for observed events, which is Magical Thinking . This is plainly obvious in the way people have their lucky hats and believe spilling the salt will bring back luck, and is strongly attributable to religious beliefs, such as miracles. When it comes to evaluation, cognitive theory of decision making supports the hypothesis that there are two independent processes involved in decision making. The first process is based on gut instinct, while the second utilizes logical reasoning to make decisions. A study showed that people who relied more on their intuitive decision-making were more inclined to believe in religion, and those who tend to solve problems more analytically also tended to be religious disbelievers .
(C) Preservation of Explanation Another common phenomenon, Belief Perseverance, describes the human tendency to retain a belief despite strong evidence to the contrary or when the very basis of it is shown to be unreliable [9,10]. Further, the Primacy Effect reflects the tendency to consider explanations and evidence that are encountered first with greater merit . This is plainly evident in the importance we place in first impressions, which is applicable because children are often subject to religious explanations first, which roots-in this bias. Humans are social beings and are innately biased towards that which will benefit social cohesiveness. This often entails the setting aside of individual reasoning and adopting the beliefs of the majority, which is a powerful phenomenon, Conformity . A study found that about a third of the participants who were placed in this situation went along and conformed to the clearly incorrect majority, and only a quarter didn’t conform . This is given an obvious error, so it’s quite reasonable to assume a much higher rate in terms of belief in God, where there really is no clear evidence to the contrary. Another potent factor is Authority, which greatly influences the beliefs and actions of individuals and is demonstrated in the famous Milgram Obedience Experiment [14,15]. This indicates that religious individuals who are perceived as authorities, be it parent or pastor, can largely shape the beliefs of others, even if those beliefs are erroneous.
(D) Cognitive Biases Confirmation Bias is the most prevalent of biases, and reflects a tendency to seek out evidence to affirm currently held beliefs while disregarding evidence to the contrary . This is often used to affirm the existence of God through observations like prayer, while ignoring studies which found that it doesn’t work [17,18]. This bias causes one to automatically interpret scripture (especially prophetic) in the most favorable way, as well. Due to character limitation, I can’t detail the array of relevant, powerful biases, but a few are: Backfire Effect, Bandwagon Effect, Just-World Bias, and Selective Perception .
(E) Human Religiosity The majority of humans believe in God. Countless religious of incredible variance have risen and fallen throughout history, and in primitive times, religion was indistinguishable from mythology , and religion emerged as a formalization of the mythology. The monotheistic notion of Christianity is said to have emerged from a polytheistic ancestry, so this religion has evolved much over time . Currently, there are 19 major religious groups (270 subgroups), and about 34,000 denominations of Christianity, alone . This attests to the great inaccuracy of our ability to perceive the truth of the matter if it is the case that a God actually exists, and the general lack of falsifiability renders attempts to discern who is correct futile. To presume the truth in the existence of some god based on the popularity would be an Appeal to Popularity fallacy , rendering such a conclusion invalid.
(F) Occam’s Razor This principle states that one shouldn’t make more assumptions than the minimum needed. It underlies all scientific modelling and theory building. It admonishes us to choose from a set of otherwise equivalent models of a given phenomenon the simplest one . It is trivially demonstrated that human reasoning is quite often not well suited towards reliable knowledge acquisition (as briefly demonstrated, above) especially in regard to matters further outside our daily and mundane experiences. This is precisely why the scientific method and formalized systems of reasoning exist in the first place, and why much of science, especially the deeper sciences, are utterly counter-intuitive to us. As such, it is quite evident that our best course of action towards the development of an explanation for a given phenomenon is to rely as on little unguided, intuitive human reasoning as possible. Now, I do realize the apparent irony of employing human reasoning to discount human reasoning, but the difference is that the reasoning employed here to justify Occam’s Razor is based on the observed and repeated successes of human technological and scientific advancement that could not have been possible without prioritizing a method of knowledge acquisition that specifically aims to remove the element of human intuition and “common sense” from the investigative processes.
Conclusion Setting aside numerous other factors (e.g. desire for justice, hypersensitivity to observation, flawed memory/intuition) and given just of few of the strong tendencies towards misunderstanding the world around us, we should utilize Occam’s Razor: it’s much less presumptuous to hypothesize that the belief in God in the result of our own flawed and biased perceptions and reasoning rather than to add to it the strong assumption that some god actually exists, as well. Until there’s direct evidence for a god’s existence, it’s an assumption. Therefore, the existence of God is improbable, and more likely a manifestation of our psychological nature.
We know that people have a proclivity to invent false gods. We do not know of any event or condition that necessitates the existence of a god. These two truths synergistically suggest (strongly) that no gods exist.
(1973) Self-identity disorders
Belief in religion and supernatural phenomena is sometimes fueled by brain disorders which disturb the normal cohesive sense of self that humans experience. Everybody suffers to some degree with mental anomalies, but it is the extreme outliers who often form cults or otherwise influence the beliefs of others. The following lists some of these afflictions:
Consider the following disorders which illustrate different aspects of self.
- Out of body experiences: patients with right fronto-parietal strokes report floating out into space watching their body down below—undoubtedly contributing to the myth of disembodied souls. Left hemisphere strokes result in the feeling of a mysterious presence—a phantom twin—hovering behind the patient’s left shoulder.
- Apotemnophilia: An otherwise completely normal person develops an intense desire to have his arm or leg amputated. The right parietal (a part of it known a SPL) normally contains a complete internal image of the body. We showed recently that in these patients the part of the map corresponding to the affected limb is congenitally missing, leading to alienation of the limb.
The patients are sometimes sexually attracted to amputees, We postulate that in ” normal” individuals there is a genetically specified homunculus in S2 that serves as a template acting on limbic and visual areas to determine aesthetic preference for ones own body type. Hence pigs are attracted to pigs not people. (Which is not to deny an additional role for olfactory and visual imprinting) But if the image in S2 is missing a limb this may translate into an aesthetic preference toward an amputee – mediated by reverse projections that are known to connect the (“emotional”) amygdala to every stage in the visual hierarchy.
- Transsexuality; A woman claims that for as far back as she can remember she felt she was a man trapped in a woman’s body—even experiencing phantom penises and erections. Our ordinary notion of every person having a single sexual identity (or self) is called into question. It turns out there are at least four distinct aspects of sexuality; your external anatomy, your internal brain-based body image, your sexual orientation and your sexual identity—who you think others think of you as. Normally these are harmonized in fetal development but if they get uncoupled you become a transsexual person. (It is important to note there is nothing “abnormal” about them, any more than you would regard being gay as abnormal.)
- A patient with a phantom arm simply watches a student volunteer’s arm being touched. Astonishingly the patient feels the touch in his phantom. The barrier between him and others has been dissolved.
- Cotards syndrome; the patient claims he is dead and rejects all evidence to the contrary.
- Capgras delusion; the patient claims that his mother looks like his mother but is in fact an imposter. Other patients claim that they inhabit a house that’s a duplicate of their real house. Bill Hirstein and I (and Haydn Ellis and Andrew Young) have shown that this highly specific delusion arises because the visual area in the brain is disconnected from emotional areas. So when our patient David sees his mother he recognizes her—along with the penumbra of memories linked to her. But no emotions and no jolt of familiarity is evoked so he rationalizes away his curious predicament saying she is an imposter. It is important to note that these patients are usually intelligent and mentally stable in most other respects. It is the selective nature of the delusion that makes it surprising and worth studying.
David also had difficulty abstracting across successive encounters of a new person seen in different contexts to create an enduring identity for that person. Without the flash of recognition he ought to have experienced in the second, third or n’th exposure, he couldn’t bind the experiences together into a single person. Even more remarkably David sometimes duplicated his own self! He would often refer to “The other David who is on vacation.” It was as if even successive episodes of his own self were not bound together the way they are in you and me.
This is not to be confused with MPD (“multiple personality disorder”) seen in psychiatric contexts. MPD is often a dubious diagnosis made for medico-legal and insurance purposes and tends to fluctuate from moment to moment. (I have often been tempted to send two bills to an MPD patient to see if he pays both.) Patients like David, on the other hand, may give us genuine insight into the neural basis of selfhood.
- In another disorder the patient, with damage to the anterior cingulate
develops “akinetic mutism”. He lies in bed fully awake and alert but cannot talk or walk—indeed doesn’t interact in any way with people or things around him. Sometimes such patients wake up (when given certain drugs ) and will say “I knew what was going on around me but I simply had no desire to do anything “. It was if he had selective loss of one major attribute of the self— free will”.
- Even odder is a phenomenon called “The telephone syndrome”. The patient (I’ll call him John) will display akinetic mutism—no visual consciousness—when seeing his (say) father in person. But if he receives a phone call from his father he suddenly becomes conscious and starts conversing with him normally. (S. Sriram and Orrin Devinsky, personal communication.) It’s as if there are two Johns—the visual John who is only partially conscious and the auditory John (with his own self) who talks over the phone. This implies a degree of segregation of selves—all the way from sensory areas to motor output—that no one would have suspected.
Most likely, much of humanity’s belief in supernatural agents and phenomena results from individuals inflicted with self-identity disorders. In times past, there was no knowledge of the organic cause of these conditions, and therefore the victims and witnesses of them resorted to a supernatural explanation. This to some degree remains in effect today as some of the most rabid religious cult leaders likely suffer from similar disorders.
(1974) How memories change over time
New research is consolidating the consensus expert opinion that memory recall is inherently inaccurate. Through no fault of their own, peoples’ memories are like stair steps, with each step dependent on the foundation of the previous step, and not the first step in the staircase. So little by little, the memory transforms into a poor depiction of the original event, and the way it changes is often subject to the person’s beliefs and biases. This research has implications for evaluating the reliability of scriptures, all of which are based on people’s long-term recollection of the reputed holy events. The following was taken from:
Remember the telephone game where people take turns whispering a message into the ear of the next person in line? By the time the last person speaks it out loud, the message has radically changed. It’s been altered with each retelling.
Turns out your memory is a lot like the telephone game, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.
Every time you remember an event from the past, your brain networks change in ways that can alter the later recall of the event. Thus, the next time you remember it, you might recall not the original event but what you remembered the previous time. The Northwestern study is the first to show this.
“A memory is not simply an image produced by time traveling back to the original event — it can be an image that is somewhat distorted because of the prior times you remembered it,” said Donna Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the paper on the study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience. “Your memory of an event can grow less precise even to the point of being totally false with each retrieval.”
Bridge did the research while she was a doctoral student in lab of Ken Paller, a professor of psychology at Northwestern in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
The findings have implications for witnesses giving testimony in criminal trials, Bridge noted.
“Maybe a witness remembers something fairly accurately the first time because his memories aren’t that distorted,” she said. “After that it keeps going downhill.”
The published study reports on Bridge’s work with 12 participants, but she has run several variations of the study with a total of 70 people. “Every single person has shown this effect,” she said. “It’s really huge.”
“When someone tells me they are sure they remember exactly the way something happened, I just laugh,” Bridge said.
The reason for the distortion, Bridge said, is the fact that human memories are always adapting.
“Memories aren’t static,” she noted. “If you remember something in the context of a new environment and time, or if you are even in a different mood, your memories might integrate the new information.”
For the study, people were asked to recall the location of objects on a grid in three sessions over three consecutive days. On the first day during a two-hour session, participants learned a series of 180 unique object-location associations on a computer screen. The next day in session two, participants were given a recall test in which they viewed a subset of those objects individually in a central location on the grid and were asked to move them to their original location. Then the following day in session three, participants returned for a final recall test.
The results showed improved recall accuracy on the final test for objects that were tested on day two compared to those not tested on day two. However, people never recalled exactly the right location. Most importantly, in session three they tended to place the object closer to the incorrect location they recalled during day two rather than the correct location from day one.
“Our findings show that incorrect recollection of the object’s location on day two influenced how people remembered the object’s location on day three,” Bridge explained. “Retrieving the memory didn’t simply reinforce the original association. Rather, it altered memory storage to reinforce the location that was recalled at session two.”
Bridge’s findings also were supported when she measured participants’ neural signals –the electrical activity of the brain — during session two. She wanted to see if the neural signals during session two predicted anything about how people remembered the object’s location during session three.
The results revealed a particular electrical signal when people were recalling an object location during session two. This signal was greater when — the next day — the object was placed close to that location recalled during session two. When the electrical signal was weaker, recall of the object location was likely to be less distorted.
“The strong signal seems to indicate that a new memory was being laid down,” Bridge said, “and the new memory caused a bias to make the same mistake again.”
“This study shows how memories normally change over time, sometimes becoming distorted,” Paller noted. “When you think back to an event that happened to you long ago — say your first day at school — you actually may be recalling information you retrieved about that event at some later time, not the original event.”
The original gospel writer (Mark) was writing about 40 years after the events allegedly occurred, so if he was using contemporary testimony as source material, it is highly likely that virtually none of it bore a resemblance to reality. This is why this lag time raises a red flag for the gospels.
(1975) Science is more important to God than salvation
There is no question that the rise of modern science, with its ability to explain in natural terms what previous generations saw as proof of a supernatural god, has resulted in a great deal of apostasy. Perhaps by now billions of people who would otherwise be or have been Christian have fallen out of faith because of science, and therefore have presumably lost their salvation. Did God deliberately ‘allow’ modern science to develop knowing the dire consequences for peoples’ souls? The following was taken from:
So when Christians admit science cannot detect a supernatural being what they’re doing is conceding the whole argument. They’re conceding science has correctly concluded that a supernatural being cannot be detected. Let. This. Point. Sink. In. Breathe slowly and deeply if you feel like fainting. Get some smelling salts on hand. Sit down if you must. For if science could detect a supernatural being then Christians would be crowing about it. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. Don’t try to Billy Goat me to death with your endless “buts.” I know them. I’ve used them myself in defense of an indefensible faith. There are no ifs ands or buts about this.
To drive this point deeper, if there is a supernatural being who wants us to detect her then she could have either, 1) kept modern science from arising in the first place, or 2) kept on providing scientific evidence in verifiable miracles in the same ways we read in the Bible. Such a supernatural God could easily have kept modern science from arising merely by keeping any thought of scientific progress away from the minds of people who were close to attaining such a thought. See, that was easy. *Snap* You’re now stupid. Or, much more interestingly, such a God could have created an earth as a flat disk in a much smaller universe just as we find described in the Bible, with the sun moon and stars created on the fourth day to revolve around the earth, with no amphibians so evolutionary science could not have arisen. If God had created the universe in six literal days then *BAM* along with other things modern science could never have arisen at all.
Christians, could your God have done this or not? Yes or no? Now then, please tell us all why the rise of modern science is a much greater value to your God than the loss of so many billions of people to hell. You do realize that modern science is one of the major factors reasonable people all over the world think your faith is bunk, don’t you? Of course, that’s why you reject the other religious faiths as well.
Assuming God is watching us, he must be observing that science is progressively driving towards a natural explanation for virtually everything, making it much more difficult for modern people to have faith in Christianity. Is this a concern? Or is the progress of science more important than the fate of human souls? Will he continue to remain hidden as science continues to erode any remaining evidence of his existence?
(1976) Wine and prophecy
It is a little known fact that in biblical times, safe water was a scarce commodity, so most people drank wine or diluted wine. This meant that low grade intoxication was pervasive, leading to the inevitable result that wild and exaggerated stories were routinely being passed around, some of which eventually found their way into the Bible. The following was taken from:
What was a primary beverage of the people and the prophets of the Bible? It was red wine. Open well water then, as it is today, was contaminated with bacteria that cause disease. One has to heat it to boiling it to make it safe to drink. Grapes, however, are sealed vessels of safe water and sugar. Unfortunately, grapes were only available at the end of summer (ripe on the vine), so storage of the juice for year-long consumption was necessary.
The storage of grape juice results in fermentation, creating alcohol in the juice. Alcohol kills most disease-causing bacteria, so the juice remained safe to drink. When people drank this, they got intoxicated. The ancient Greeks and Romans added higher-alcohol wine to water, making it safe to drink and less likely to get them drunk fast. Drunkards drank undiluted wine.
Noah was a wine-drinking prophet in the Old Testament. He predicted the future for his sons after he drank wine and then passed out, naked and drunk. (See Genesis 9: 24-27) There are 129 references to wine in the Old Testament. Since few people drank bad water and most drank wine, most people—including the sacred, religious leaders—were intoxicated much of the time. Prophesying was easy. Drunks told wild stories. Some really wild stories got passed on as biblical miracle stories, becoming “absolute truth” for believers today.
Intoxicated witnesses and story tellers are not to be trusted in most cases, but in general, we can assume that, at best, the stories they told were adorned with lots of extra drama. This certainly makes what we read in the Bible a bit less believable.
(1977) Misunderstanding of volcanoes fueled concept of hell
In biblical times, people were aware of the existence of volcanoes and the hot, smelly molten rock that they discharged, but they had no understanding of what was causing this. For superstitious minds, this must have been a puzzling question, but somewhat consistent with an emerging belief in an underground place of afterlife punishment. It is likely that Jesus, assuming he said what was reported in gospels, believed that these fiery discharges were evidence of the place ‘where the fire is not quenched.’ The following was taken from:
Christians slowly blended the Greeks’ concept of an underworld called Hades and Tartarus with the Vikings’ goddess of the underworld Hel. They also took the concept of an outcast angel-turned-devil from other old myths of previous religions. (See http://www.ask.com/web?q=beelzebub&o=0&qsrc=0) Now, for Christians, a devil is said to reside underground in a place of eternal fire and brimstone. This entity is said to have supernatural powers, to tempt humans telepathically from afar, to make evil deeds happen, which delight him.
In the Hebrew Bible there was no claimed afterlife, only Shoel (stillness) and no devil,only a prosecutor named Ha-satan, a servant of the judge (god). In the original Hebrew story, Ha-satan tests people’s worthiness. From this the early Christian and Islamic theologians re-crafted the character, as an evil being named Satan.
Ancient Mediterranean people had certainly seen or heard of volcanoes spewing fiery hot, sulfur-smelling flames and fumes from deep underground. For Christians, Hell then became this underworld, the awful, fiery, smelly, life-threatening place. (But science has shown that earth’s massive tectonic plates rub together creating volcanoes.) Jesus never used the word Hell. (He wasn’t a Viking.) However, the New Testament books did mention a horrible, sulfur-smelling place of torment called Gehenna. (See http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1067&Version=kjv)
It is likely that if today Christianity was inventing a place for non-Christians to live for eternity, it would be more like a modern-day prison, with at least a humanitarian aspect to it. The idea of eternal torture would never have flown in today’s world.
Religious belief survives in human brains through a process called doublethink- the ability to accept two contradicting ideas as both being simultaneously true. This creates, for lack of a better term, a split brain, one that operates in church and while praying, and another that operates at work and while performing tasks associated with regular life. The key to acquiring an accurate perception of reality is to disentangle this cranial ‘knot.’ The following was taken from:
Here is the proposition: The only reason that you can believe in your god is because of tangled thinking in your brain caused by things like doublethink. Doublethink is a mental process that lets you believe in two contradictory ideas simultaneously. Once you eliminate doublethink and resolve the tangles it creates, you will no longer believe in God. In addition, you will be a much better critical thinker, and the benefits of critical thinking will become available to you other aspects of your life. The goal of the book How God Works is to help you through this process. Let me give you several examples so that you can understand what I am talking about.
Let’s say I ask you this question: Why do you believe in God? Your answer might go something like this: “I have lots of reasons to believe in God: God hears and answers my prayers. He has answered countless prayers for me. I also have a personal relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, I hear God speak to me when I read the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word. There is so much evidence in my life that God is real.”
So I say to you, “OK, Great – let’s pray: ‘Dear God, please put ten $100 bills in my hand right now.’” How are you going to explain the failure of this prayer? You might say, “God can’t do that – that would take away faith. You would have evidence that God exists, but there can’t be evidence because God must remain hidden so people can have faith in him.” Do you see the problem? You have exposed a tangle in your thinking. An intelligent person cannot state, “My life is full of evidence that God exists” and then a minute later state, “God cannot provide evidence that he exists because of faith.” The two ideas contradict each other. Similarly:
You cannot claim that, “The Bible is God’s word” and also that, “God must remain hidden.” A being that is trying to remain hidden cannot also be the author of a well-known book.
You cannot claim that God is answering your prayers all the time, and that’s OK, but then claim that he won’t answer my prayers because that would take away faith.
You expose the doublethink happening inside your head when you contradict yourself like that.
Let me show you another one of these tangles. You believe that God is answering your prayers. Yet today, and every day, 29,000 children will die of simple, easily solved problems like starvation or cholera [ref]. It adds up to about 10 million innocent children dying per year. So why don’t you pray to save the 29,000 children every day instead of praying for solutions to the trivial, tiny problems you have in your life? And why wouldn’t your god answer a prayer like that immediately, meaning that zero innocent children die today and every day? Or why doesn’t God save those children immediately even without your prayers? Being omniscient, he can surely see their suffering. Your ability to hold these two contradictory thoughts simultaneously – “God answers my prayers” and “God will let 29,000 innocent children die today” – is a clear marker for doublethink.
Here is another example. I ask you this question: “Is God a good, loving, moral being?” Your answer might be, “Absolutely! God is love. God is good. The Bible says so. And God judges us when we die because God is the absolute moral authority.” So I respond, “How can you believe that God is good and moral in light of Noah’s Ark, where God killed millions of adults, children and animals?” If you are an intelligent person, you can see the contradiction immediately. God cannot be good, loving and moral, and then simultaneously be a heinous, genocidal murderer at a global scale. Doublethink is the only thing that allows you to hold those two contradictory ideas in your head simultaneously. As soon as you eliminate the doublethink and accept that God is a heinous monster in the Bible (there are dozens of examples), you can no longer believe in God as a good, moral being.
Here is the thing that I would like to help you understand today: Doublethink is a mental process that harms your ability to think clearly. It is a staple of talk radio and politics as well as religion, and our society would be a much better place if we would work together to eliminate doublethink and a dozen other similar thinking problems from the public dialog that shapes our society.
Most people who pass from being Christian to atheism have successfully overcome this mental malfunction and find themselves for the first time experiencing the joys of ‘singlethink,’ the freeing condition where all accepted truths combine synergistically to form a consistent, holistic world view.
(1979) Biblical gender roles
It only takes a cursory look at how Christians, using their Bibles, defend their allegedly god-given rules about the relationship between men and women, to realize that what the Bible says about this subject is exceedingly unlikely to be an accurate communication from an infinitely intelligent brain, a god-brain that undoubtedly would have been aware of the type of societal changes that would occur in the (then) future. The following list of biblical principles concerning gender roles was taken from:
- God made man, specifically male human beings, to be his image bearers and thereby bring God glory (Genesis 1:27, I Corinthians 11:7). This is why God is always referenced in the masculine sense as a father, a son or a husband in the Bible and should always be referenced by us in the masculine sense and not in the feminine sense.
- For man to fully exercise the image of God in him as a husband and a father he needed another being that was similar to man but also very different than man. So God made woman as a subordinate companion and helper suitable for man because she would share a common human nature with him (Genesis 2:18-24, Genesis 3:16, I Corinthians 11:7-9, Ephesians 5:22-24).
- God created woman and by extension marriage to model the relationship between himself and his people. This is why God is referred to as Israel’s husband in the Old Testament(Ezekiel 16:8, Jeremiah 31:31-33) and why Christ is referred to as the husband of the Church in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:2).
- In marriage God has placed the husband as the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church so that man can exercise the leadership and authority attributes of God’s image in him(Ephesians 5:23).
- In marriage God has not only placed husbands in authority over their wives, but he also given them ownership of their wives. The Hebrew word for marriage in the Old Testament is literally “to be owned” as in a woman coming to be owned by a man. When a man married a woman he became her “owner” and she became “owned by” him (Deuteronomy 22:22, Deuteronomy 24:1, Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 31:10-11). In the New Testament we read that Christ “purchased” his bride, the Church as men had purchased their wives since the beginning of creation (Acts 20:28).
- The husband/wife relationship is the only human authority relationship where God commands the one under authority to submit to the other as “unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands “in everything” (Ephesians 5:24) and in spiritual matters “…if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home…” (1 Corinthians 14:35). The only exception to a woman submitting to her husband in everything is if he asks her to disobey God’s law (Acts 5:29).
- In marriage God has given the husband the responsibility to be the provider for his wife so that he can exercise God’s attribute of being a provider for his people(Exodus 21:10-11, Ephesians 5:29).
- In marriage God has given the husband the responsibility to be the protector of his wife so that he can exercise God’s attribute of being a protector for his people(Nehemiah 4:14, Luke 11:21, Ephesians 5:29).
- In marriage God has called on men to love their wives not only by leading them, providing for them and protecting them but he has also called men to give themselves up to sacrificially love their wife by washing her spiritual and spots and wrinkles to make her the glorious wife God intends her to be (Ephesians 5:25-27). This means if a husband is loving his wife as Christ loves the Church he will do as Christ does to his Churches and “rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19) his wife. In other words he will discipline his wife.
- God made woman as “the weaker vessel”(I Peter 3:7) or weaker human so that woman would need man’s leadership, protection and provision as God’s people need his leadership, protection and provision. When a woman desires a man to lead her, protect her and provide for her these desires are part of her God given design.
- God made woman to bear man’s children and be the keeper of the home (Proverbs 31:27, 1 Timothy 5:14, Titus 2:4-5). When a woman strongly desires to bear children this desire is part of her God given design. When a woman desires to make her home beautiful and wants to organize it this is also part of her God given design.
- God made woman beautiful and he designed man to desire the beauty of woman because God desires the beauty of his people (Psalm 45:11). When a woman desires to make herself beautiful this is because God has placed this strong desire in her so that she will make herself beautiful for man.
- God made woman to desire and receive sexual pleasure from her husband to bring him pleasure (Song of Solomon 2:3-13). But God also designed her as the gatekeeper of sex so that she would only desire sex within the confines of marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-29).
- God made woman to bring man pleasure because God desires pleasure (Proverbs 5:18-19, Revelation 4:11).
- God made man to strongly desire pleasure, especially sexual pleasure to image God’s own desire for pleasure (Revelation 4:11).
- God compares a man’s desire for sex to our human desire for water (Proverbs 5:15). To this end God commands that men drink their fill of and satisfy themselves “at all times” with the sexual well that is their wife’s body and he commands them to be ravished (intoxicated) with her love (Proverbs 18:19).
- God says that husbands and wives have the responsibility to render their bodies to one another for their sexual pleasure in marriage (I Corinthians 7:3). God also states that husbands and wives have the power to take sexual pleasure in their spouse’s body in marriage (I Corinthians 7:3). There is no requirement that both the husband and wife must mutually desire sex to have sex. In fact, the only time there must be mutual consent regarding sex in marriage is for the couple to mutually agree to stop having sex for a short time (I Corinthians 7:5).
- Man and woman were designed to come together as one flesh in marriage (Genesis 2:24) to help man fully image God. This is why God’s first command to mankind was to “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). To fulfill this command, men and women must marry, have sex and thereby have children.
- Celibacy is God’s exception to his rule that he wants men and women to marry and be fruitful and multiply. But we should only choose the celibate life if we truly have the “gift” (I Corinthians 7:7) for as the Scriptures say it “it is better to marry than to burn” (I Corinthians 7:9) with desire for marriage than to remain celibate with this God given desire for marriage.
- Because man is God’s image bearer it is God’s design that men should rule over women in all areas of life including the home (Ephesians 5:22-24, I Peter 3:1-6), the church (1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 14:34) and in society (Isaiah 3:12, I Corinthians 11:3). This is why God only allowed male priests(Leviticus 21) in Israel and he only allows male pastors in the Church (1 Timothy 3:1-4). This is why all twelve of Christ’s Apostles were male and even his replacement for Judas was male. Female prophets were God’s exception to his rule that women should never occupy any position of authority spiritual or otherwise over men.
A liberal Christian apologist might concede that these rules are no longer compatible with modern society, in view of women CEOs, university professors, prime ministers, and so forth, but that they were written for that specific time and place. This only moves the goalposts. So why doesn’t he offer an update?
(1980) Jesus’s vacant birth date
Only naïve Christians believe that Jesus was born on December 25. It has been well established that Christmas was first celebrated in CE336 at the direction of the Roman emperor Constantine. The date of December 25 was chosen because it was already a pagan holiday focused on the Winter solstice and it was thought, possibly, that this would be a good strategy for enlisting more followers in the faith and also to keep the revelers from overindulging during this holiday- as had been their habit for centuries.
If Jesus was a real person and if any credibility can be placed in the nativity gospel story in Luke, then the best estimate of his birth would be in the Summer or early Fall. This is because his birth was announced to shepherds who were in their fields at the time, an unlikely situation in December. Also censuses were not conducted at that time of year.
But the real point is that there appeared to be no resistance or complaint by Christians to the Romans establishing December 25 as the official birth date. This indicates that Christians of that time were probably not celebrating Jesus’s birthday, so, consequently, there would have been a 300-year period following the resurrection where it appears that no one was aware of the date of the nativity.
But what if that was not the case? Suppose it was well known that Jesus was born on August 12 and that Christians had been celebrating this date all along. In that case, there would have been a strong push-back against the Roman officials who were trying to move a major holy day to one that Christians would have known to be false, and, to top it off, one that was tinged by paganism. There would have been historical evidence detailing this dispute, but there is none. Additionally, it would be expected that some Christians today would still be celebrating Jesus’s real birth date.
Assuming that Jesus was a real person, is it likely that Christians in CE336 as well during the centuries before would have been celebrating or at least been aware of Jesus’ birth date? The answer to this question is ‘yes’- as long as it is assumed that the gospels are reliable historical accounts. Jesus’ birth was allegedly accompanied by a miraculous star, regal visitors, shepherds, and others, stirred the jealousy of King Herod, and of course was well known by his parents and Mary’s sister Elizabeth and her husband. The date would have been observed at Jesus’ bar mitzvah when he turned 13. Also, Jesus would likely have told his disciples of his birthday. Further, there was an age requirement in Numbers 4:3 that a man must be 30 years old to be accepted as a priest, so it is likely that Jesus would have presented himself for baptism just after his 30th birthday as implied by Luke 3:23, and he was likely questioned at that time about his age. Given all of these facts, it is difficult to believe that the disciples and other followers of Jesus would not have been aware of his birthday. And if that was true, then it is almost certain that the Christian community would have been celebrating the miraculous nativity on that date every year following the resurrection. It should have been an important holy day for them, but….as noted above, we have strong circumstantial evidence that it was not.
So what does this mean? To summarize, Christians had no objection to establishing the almost certainly incorrect date of December 25 as Jesus’ birth date, meaning that they were not celebrating a different date before. But if Jesus was a real person and the gospels are accurate, they should have been doing so. This leaves a conclusion that either Jesus was not a real person, or else the gospels are not reliable- that is, his birth was not miraculous, no star, not attended by shepherds or nobility, and not noted by jealous kings. Just a regular birth and from then on, for reasons unknown, ABSOLUTELY NOBODY seemed to be curious about when he was born.
(1981) God failed to communicate
For some reason, God chose an ancient book, cobbled together by committee, originals lost, heavily edited and redacted, and determinedly interpolated as his means to communicate to the human race. The final product, nevertheless, could have been of divine quality, but, no, it was not even close. In the end God failed in his effort to communicate on every conceivable level. The following was taken from:
Loftus devotes eight pages (pp. 184-192) to a detailed description of how Bible texts have been used to justify racism, slavery, misogyny, anti-Semitism, homophobia, dominionism, theocracy—and many other misdeeds and violations of human dignity. This a good catalogue: some of the go-to texts in bringing attention to the horrible role that the Bible has played in causing so much persecution and suffering. Yet, God didn’t issue the requisite warning, “You’re not allowed to interpret these texts to hurt people.” God failed to communicate.
We are driven to an inescapable conclusion: it was just poor policy, bad management by the CEO, to use a book to get a message across to humans. Interpretation begins—and interpretations diverge—as soon as people read the book and claim to know what it means; they enforce their confident misunderstandings about ‘what the book says.’ God’s original meaning—whatever it may have been—vanishes in the clutter of human opinion.
Loftus includes Genesis 19 in his list, and this must rank as one of the most despicable texts in the Bible. It is perfectly understandable as Hebrew folklore; the story culminates in the offhand comment that Israel’s ancient enemies were the product of drunken incest, i.e., Lot’s two daughters got him drunk to have intercourse with him; the resulting babies were the ancestors of the Moabites and Ammonites. And earlier Lot had offered these two daughters to be raped by the angry crowd at his door, which undermines the traditional take on the story that it was a mob of homosexuals. Why would they be interested in his daughters?
Loftus makes the point that it is not okay that this story has been used to condemn homosexuals. Nor is it okay that God failed to mention that it was wrong that Lot offered his daughters to be raped. Neither was it okay that his daughters got him drunk and fucked him. God failed to communicate the morally reprehensible nature of this story; it is comes along matter-of-factly as Genesis unfolds. Of course we can just accept the story for what it is: the Hebrews had their own Balzac who created a ribald tale to amuse the menfolk. Please don’t even try to rationalize it as ‘God’s word.’
One of the champion bad Bible texts is the authorization of slavery in Leviticus 25:44-46:
“As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property.”
How in the world could a competent God have blundered this badly, allowing a vicious text to remain in his holy book, supposedly the ultimate guide for morality for centuries to come? The American Civil War has its roots in these verses, as Loftus notes:
“What did the southern states do that isn’t found here? Just picture yourself as a slave who was forcibly ripped from her homeland, stripped naked on the auction block and ‘inspected,’ sold independently of her family, brutally broken to obey if disobedient, and forced against her will to be a lifelong servant.
“Would you really want to say that a perfectly good God: (a) could not have said anything different or (b) that this expresses God’s complete and utter love toward you as an individual? I don’t think so. Not at all. Not by a long shot. It can’t. On this rock the Christian faith dies.”
This is not a close race, the decision is overwhelmingly lopsided and only brainwashed individuals fail to see what is right before their eyes- there is no conceivable way that the Bible is the word of a supreme, supernatural deity. It has all the earmarks of fallible human creation. But if we graciously credit God with the product anyway, then the verdict is in- he failed, and failed miserable, to communicate to the human race.
(1982) No mention of Winter in the gospels
The gospels tell a story of Jesus and his disciples walking around Galilee and Judea for a period of one year (Mark, Matthew, Luke) or three years (John). In either case, it is certain that they were out and about during at least one winter (especially because Jesus was allegedly crucified in March or April during the Passover season). The average low temperature in Jerusalem in January is 39F (4C). The temperatures where Jesus spent most his time, among the highlands of Galilee, would have been even colder.
It would seem that Jesus’s missionary trip would have had to take a winter break as it would have been too harsh to spend an Israeli winter predominantly in the outdoors, sleeping in tents, not having a good supply of meat or fruit, and dealing with the extra rainfall and snow that occurs at that time. However, the gospels give no sign of any seasonal changes in the weather or any hint of a winter sequestration for the cohorts.
This silence is telling because it hints at a person authoring a story without thinking through the logistics of what they were writing. It also hints at an author who had never talked to anyone who experienced the events first hand. What is missing is something like this:
As the weather turned cold during the winter, with driving rain and snow, Jesus and his disciples stayed in various homes of the faithful in Capernaum. During this time, Jesus taught the disciples the meaning of many of his parables and outlined the plans for returning to Jerusalem in the Spring. He continued to prepare them for what was to come.
(1983) God not needed for origin of life
Science has continued to overrun the domain of God with naturalistic explanations, first for lightning, then volcanoes, and ultimately for the evolution of life. But Christian apologists, at least those who are scientifically literate, have held the line at the original formation of life, saying that that was where God’s hand was needed. Biological evolution only starts at that point and science cannot explain how it first happened. Now it appears that it can. The following explains new research showing that life under the right conditions is inevitable without the requirement for a divine miracle:
Darwin also didn’t have anything to say about how life got started in the first place — which still leaves a mighty big role for God to play, for those who are so inclined. But that could be about to change, and things could get a whole lot worse for creationists because of Jeremy England, a young MIT professorwho’s proposed a theory, based in thermodynamics, showing that the emergence of life was not accidental, but necessary. “[U]nder certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life,” he was quoted as saying in an article in Quanta magazine early in 2014, that’s since been republished by Scientific American and, more recently, by Business Insider. In essence, he’s saying, life itself evolved out of simpler non-living systems.
The notion of an evolutionary process broader than life itself is not entirely new. Indeed, there’s evidence, recounted by Eric Havelock in “The Liberal Temper in Greek Politics,” that it was held by the pre-Socratic natural philosophers, who also first gave us the concept of the atom, among many other things. But unlike them or other earlier precursors, England has a specific, unifying, testable evolutionary mechanism in mind.
Quanta fleshed things out a bit more like this:
From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.
It doesn’t mean we should expect life everywhere in the universe — lack of a decent atmosphere or being too far from the sun still makes most of our solar system inhospitable for life with or without England’s perspective. But it does mean that “under certain conditions” where life is possible — as it is here on Earth, obviously — it is also quite probable, if not, ultimately, inevitable. Indeed, life on Earth could well have developed multiple times independently of each other, or all at once, or both. The first truly living organism could have had hundreds, perhaps thousands of siblings, all born not from a single physical parent, but from a physical system, literally pregnant with the possibility of producing life. And similar multiple births of life could have happened repeatedly at different points in time.
That also means that Earth-like planets circling other suns would have a much higher likelihood of carrying life as well. We’re fortunate to have substantial oceans as well as an atmosphere — the heat baths referred to above — but England’s theory suggests we could get life with just one of them — and even with much smaller versions, given enough time. Giordano Bruno, who was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1600, was perhaps the first to take Copernicanism to its logical extension, speculating that stars were other suns, circled by other worlds, populated by beings like ourselves. His extreme minority view in his own time now looks better than ever, thanks to England.
Assuming that this theory holds up and is confirmed through continued research, it would leave only one task for God to have accomplished- setting off the big bang. Unfortunately for Christianity and other religions, even this barrier will likely fall in next several decades. Then we will be left with a universe for which no god will be needed to explain anything.
(1984) Lack of ascension shrine
One of the most important events in the life of Jesus was his ascension into heaven as witnessed by eleven of his disciples and perhaps others. It is certain that if this event happened, the place where this occurred would have immediately become a sacred shrine for the disciples, Jesus’s other followers, and newly converted Christians, who would have taken pilgrimages to this spot. It is also likely that some sort of a marker would have been constructed on the location with words such as “On this spot in 3779 (Jewish calendar), the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven in the presence of his beloved disciples.” Such a location or shrine does not exist and there is no evidence that it ever did.
Part of the problem in trying to locate the place of the ascension is that scripture gives three contradictory versions of where it happened:
In Mark 16:20, the ascension occurs in room where the disciples were gathered (relined at table per verse 14):
So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
In Luke 24:50, the ascension occurs outdoors in the town of Bethany, a few miles outside Jerusalem:
And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
In Acts 1:10-12, the ascension takes place on the Mount of Olives:
And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.
The gospels of Matthew and John are inexplicably silent on this event.
So what we are asked to believe is that nobody really made a big deal about the place where Jesus miraculously flew up into the sky, no shrine was constructed, no Christians came to see where it happened, and that the biblical authors, at least two of them, got the details all wrong. Or otherwise, we can believe this: the ascension never happened, biblical authors made up conflicting stories decades later, and therefore, and for those reasons, an exact location was never established.
(1985) Jesus’s crucifixion words are all from scripture
It is a telling sign that the words ascribed to Jesus during his crucifixion appear not as those of a man under the pain and duress of excruciating punishment but rather a recitation of Old Testament scripture. The following was taken from:
It is a strange fact that nearly all of Jesus’ spoken words during the crucifixion are not direct quotes; Matthew‘s and Luke‘s account are mostly a copy of Mark‘s, and Mark has Jesus mostly speak using extracts from Hebrew scriptures. Robert M. Price (2003) points out that “virtually every bit of that narrative seems to have come not from eyewitness memory, even indirectly, but rather from scripture exegesis. The crucifixion account of Mark, the basis for all the others, is simply a tacit rewrite of Psalm 22, with a few other texts thrown in”
The account of Jesus’s vocalizations on the cross appear much more like a fictional literary device than any semblance of actual historical truth. In fact, it appears to be a continuation of the gospel writers desperate attempt to equate Jesus to the mantle of the Jewish messiah.
(1986) Christianity’s problem with alien life
Although alien life has not been found, given the discovered vastness of space, it is considered to be likely to exist even if it is extremely rare on a star by star basis. There are at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one hundred billion trillion) stars in the observable universe, most probably with planets, so if no life exists anywhere but on the earth, it would seem unlikely from both the atheistic and Christian perspective. For atheists, that the evolution of life is so extremely unlikely to have happened just once, and for Christians that God would create such a vast universe just for us. The following was taken from:
“When we discover intelligent life in the universe we will have to face certain facts. The first would be that the appearance of an intelligent humankind was not a special act of creation by god(s). If intelligent life can arise in a multitude of conditions it makes it less arguable that God needed to act specially in order to create humankind. Yet such actions are part of the creation stories of all major religions. The particulars of our religions would be reduced to local symbolism and relative truths that apply only in some parts of the Universe, to some species.”
In Christian theology Adam and Eve were punished for the original sin (of eating the apple); this punishment would be passed on from parent to child, and included not only suffering in general and death, but also many specifics, such as having a painful childbirth. Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”. Humankind was also expelled from the Garden of Eden at that point. Clearly, aliens on another planet are not subject to original sin, and, the punishments listed in the Bible may not even be applicable for the various possible life forms which exist in the Universe. Jesus was god’s only son, crucified once here on earth, for us humans. Alien life makes a mess for the entire Christian idea of sin and salvation.
“Making our Earth just one amongst many raised thorny questions about Christ’s uniqueness. It was hard to reconcile multiple inhabited worlds with the fundamental tenet of Christianity, that God singled out the human race for special attention.”
“Science: A Four Thousand Year History”
Patricia Fara (2009)
“The existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence would have a profound impact on religion, shattering completely the traditional perspective of God’s special relationship with man. The difficulties are particularly acute for Christianity, which postulates that Jesus Christ was God incarnate whose mission was to provide salvation for man on Earth. The prospect of a host of ‘alien Christs’ systematically visiting every inhabited planet in the physical form of the local creatures has a rather absurd aspect. Yet how otherwise are the aliens to be saved?”
“God And The New Physics” by Paul Davies (1984)
Although Paul Davies talks of the humorous idea of thousands of Christ’s resembling various aliens, being sent to all those planets by God, it contradicts the main messages of the Bible: that Jesus was God’s only son and that the Crucifixion was a unique event specific to Jesus (1 Peter 3:18). So, there is no salvation for aliens. Also, Biblical eschatology has Zion descend on to Earth after Judgement (Revelations 10), with no more stars in the sky. Genesis 1:26 says that man is made in the ‘image’ of God and the angels, ‘in our likeness’; so where would aliens come from? Are we to believe that intelligent life evolved throughout the universe but that our species in particular was created by the Creator, and that the Creator happens to look Human, along with the ‘only’ son of God who is also Human-shaped? To believe such things is known as anthrocentrism, a prideful and egotistical speciesism. Do aliens who live countless light-years away from Earth really have to know Jesus in order to be saved? But if you alter the Bible’s stories to make them compatible with alien races on other planets, you also alter the central truths of Christianity; the religion you end up with after taking aliens into considering simply isn’t Christianity any more.
These questions have few answers that Christians can accept and this problem has led some theologians down crazy routes. Some have postulated that all life in the Universe is descended from Adam and Eve; that aliens will also turn out to be Christians; or that because it is incompatible with the Bible, that there simply cannot be alien life elsewhere in the universe. We will see!
The theology of Christianity works best in the framework of the cosmological beliefs of its time of origin- the Earth at the center and stars, sun, and moon revolving about. Once the vastness of space was revealed, it became silly to think that this planet was the sole focus of God, and when this fact is extrapolated to the likelihood of alien life forms, it becomes even more absurd.
(1987) The cliff analogy of Christian immorality
The following analogy of a person perilously clinging to a cliff exposes the immorality of Christianity in an easy-to-understand manner. As you step through the four sequences, it becomes obvious that a real god would operate under the #1 scenario whereas the Christian god operates under #4. The following was taken from:
That ‘Jesus died for our sins’ in a central theme of most of the New Testament, becoming a more symolic, dramatic and haughty statement as the decades went on. For example by the time of 80-100CE when the pseudepigraphic Epistle to the Ephesians was written, the matter of Jesus’ sacrifice could be described in long and flowery phrases (e.g. Ephesians 1:7).
It means of course that the core Christian belief is that without the crucifixion salvation would be impossible. However this calls into question the ability of God to judge people fairly before the time of Jesus – Moses, Abraham and Lot, for example, all appear to have been judged without the crucifiction.
God makes the rules of the Universe. Adam and Eve sinned: We suffer for it. This is God’s rule. He then creates a Son, lets it be murdered in a brutal way, so that we no longer suffer the Original Sin. It would have been much more logical if God simply never allowed us to inherit the sins of Adam and Eve. God makes the rules… then creates more suffering (of Jesus) in order to repeal one of his own rules? It is a contradiction, and a moral absurdity, and therefore can’t be true of a perfect, moral or just God.
An analogy can be used to explain the fall of man and the salvation offered by God’s plan for Jesus1. Each successive part of the story is less moral than the version before it:
- You have slipped, and are hanging from a mountain ledge. A man sees your predicament and pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.
The next version introduces the idea that you have to ‘accept’ Jesus as your saviour before God will save you:
- You have slipped, and are hanging from a mountain ledge. A man sees your predicament and tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, He pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.
The next version introduces the idea that God created the system of original sin (‘the fall’) in the first place, and makes us subject to it:
- You’re on a mountain ledge, when the man pushes you off. You have no chance except to grab onto the ledge. He tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, He pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.
And the final story of Christian salvation introduces the idea of the crucifixion of Jesus to atone for our sins:
- You’re on a mountain ledge, when the man pushes you off. You have no chance except to grab onto the ledge. The man is holding baby Jesus in his arms. He tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, the man throws the child over the edge so he can then pull you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.
There is no reason to throw the child over the cliff in order to save mankind. None at all… God can just save us, even if its son never existed. Some argue that it was necessary because of the laws of the Universe, that a sacrifice had to be made. However… who made the laws of the Universe? God! Jerome Luther, who provided the original inspiration for the analogy above, continues:
“They call God´s act the ultimate sacrifice. Indeed, he seems to have sacrificed his own morals. He killed his own son, in cold blood, when he could have done otherwise. He created us, sentenced us to hell, hung a weight of guilt about his son over our shoulders, and then told us he would save us if we bowed down before him.
Now all we have to do is take his hand. If we grasp his hand, we will be raised up high to live among the elite, to live in ecstasy until the end of time. If we refuse it, we will fall, and live a tortured existence beyond our worst imaginings.
There is only one sane answer, one obvious choice we must make: let go, and face the consequences.”
Submitting to such a monstrous scheme is to condone its immorality, to sacrifice our morals too, along with our dignity. We are granted knowledge between good and evil… and I know an evil scheme when I see one! If I am a selfish person, I would do anything to attain heaven… but if I am a moral person, I cannot accept God’s scheme as portrayed by Christian beliefs. A more sensible alternative is to admit that there is no God at all.
Christians are dealing with an immoral, unethical, pernicious (#4) god, but any person hoping that a real god will finally reveal itself would certainly wish for a #1 god, who loves us unconditionally and would give us assistance without making unreasonable demands or requiring the torture of another person.
(1988) Hell invented out a desire for justice
Most likely the greatest motivating factor for humans to invent the idea of hell, a place of everlasting punishment, was a desire to see justice applied in the final sense, given that it was evident to all that often it didn’t happen in this life. For example, it would have been agonizing for someone to see someone kill one of their loved ones and then to get away with it. The anger and frustration would have been salved somewhat by thinking that ‘they will get it in the end.’ Thus creating the idea of post-life punishment was seen as a way to even the score and erase the current injustice.
This is an example of a desire-generated belief and it is one of the aspects of Christian doctrine that needs to be examined with suspicion. The universe doesn’t necessarily operate on a paradigm of ultimate justice and when people try to bend it in that direction, it has the earmark of wishful thinking. This fact makes it likely that heaven and hell were inventions of people who craved for their world to be fair and just and were less probably the creation of a benevolent deity.
(1989) Christian elites afflicted with psychotic disorders
Neuropsychiatry had matured to point where today it is possible to analyze posthumously the personalities of religious leaders of the past. Based on this research, it appears highly likely that Judeo-Christian prophets, including Jesus, among other religious luminaries were afflicted with psychotic disorders. Despite (and evidently because of) their afflictions, they had an enormous impact on human history. The following was taken from:
The authors have analyzed the religious figures Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and St. Paul from a behavioral, neurologic, and neuropsychiatric perspective to determine whether new insights can be achieved about the nature of their revelations. Analysis reveals that these individuals had experiences that resemble those now defined as psychotic symptoms, suggesting that their experiences may have been manifestations of primary or mood disorder-associated psychotic disorders. The rationale for this proposal is discussed in each case with a differential diagnosis. Limitations inherent to a retrospective diagnostic examination are assessed. Social models of psychopathology and group dynamics are proposed as explanations for how followers were attracted and new belief systems emerged and were perpetuated. The authors suggest a new DSM diagnostic subcategory as a way to distinguish this type of psychiatric presentation. These findings support the possibility that persons with primary and mood disorder-associated psychotic symptoms have had a monumental influence on the shaping of Western civilization. It is hoped that these findings will translate into increased compassion and understanding for persons living with mental illness.
A man in his late 20s with paranoid schizophrenia explained during a neurological evaluation that he could read minds and that for years he had heard voices revealing things about friends and strangers alike. He believed he was selected by God to provide guidance for mankind. Antipsychotic medications prescribed by his psychiatrists diminished these abilities and reduced the voices, and therefore he would not take them. He asked, “How do you know the voices aren’t real?” “How do you know I am not The Messiah?” He affirmed, “God and angels talked to people in the Bible.”
Later, we reflected on what he had said. He raised poignant questions that are rarely discussed in academic medicine. Every day, physicians, nurses, psychologists, and social workers alike encounter and care for people who experience psychotic symptoms. About 1% of emergency room visits and 0.5% of all primary care visits in the United States are related to psychotic symptoms. As many as 60% of those with schizophrenia have religious grandiose delusions consisting of believing they are a saint, God, the devil, a prophet, Jesus, or some other important person. Diminished insight about having a mental disorder is part and parcel of the condition, occurring in 30%–50% of persons with schizophrenia. How do we explain to our patients that their psychotic symptoms are not supernatural intimations when our civilization recognizes similar phenomena in revered religious figures? On what basis do we distinguish between the experiences of psychiatric patients and those of religious figures in history?
At a time before the general population was aware of the nature of psychotic disorders, those afflicted as such must have been seen as being special, with insights into the haze of reality that most others could not see. Therefore, they became revered religious and spiritual leaders. To some extent this phenomenon still exists today, for example Jim Jones and David Koresh. But what should be gleaned from this research is that true reality is most likely exemplified by persons possessing healthy (and not defective) brains.
(1990) Mythological backdrop to Jesus’s water walk
The gospel accounts of Jesus walking on the water conflict with each other, like almost every other account of his life and ministry, but it seems that the origin of this miracle belief resides in the sky- or the stars and constellations to be exact. The following was taken from:
Jesus’ supernatural stroll across the Sea of Galilee endures as one of the most popular Christian miracles. The outset of each version is identical: Jesus directs his apostles to row to the other side of this inland freshwater sea, while he departs to a nearby mountain to pray. Later that evening Christ notices the apostles’ ship far from shore and foundering in a roiling sea stirred by fierce headwinds. He then steps down from the mountain and strides across the surface of the sea for three or four miles until reaching the apostles’ boat, presumably to keep it from sinking
At this juncture the stories become utterly irreconcilable. Matthew 14:29-31 reports that the disciple Peter climbed out of the boat and, for a short time, walked upon the waves towards Jesus before his wavering faith caused him to sink beneath the surface—a paranormal act in its own right yet one omitted by Mark and John.
Equally perplexing are the words of Mark 6:48, which recount that Jesus “wanted to pass by” ( ēthelen parelthein ) the apostles’ ship during his sea-walk, as if unconcerned by their life-threatening circumstances! Finally, John 6:21 incorporates a second miracle into the story, stating that the disciples’ ship instantaneously teleported several miles to the other side of the lake the moment they tried to bring Jesus aboard!
The glaring discrepancies indicate that the Sea-Walk miracle was not the product of eyewitness testimony. So how did the evangelists come to accept a common Sea-Walk miracle as an historical fact, yet incorporate details so jarring they leave the vignettes incompatible?
The answer appears to have been “written” in the stars, in the form of two esoteric systems of truth verification circulating throughout Syria-Palestine in the 1st century AD. Christian theologians unanimously concede that the Gospel authors were anonymous Hellenistic Jews who had never met Jesus and had no eyewitness testimony to draw upon. Yet each shared the belief that Jesus was the deified, “Son of God” ( huios theou ), and “Anointed One” ( Christos) whom had ascended into ouranos, “heaven,”—a word that simultaneously meant “sky, firmament” and referred to the realm where one finds the constellations. Moreover, as educated Jews fluent in Greek and living in a land that had been colonized by Greek-speaking peoples, the evangelists had surely been exposed to the Hellenic religious tenet called katasterismos, or “placing among the stars”, which proclaimed the forty-eight ancient constellations as a sacred record of monumental events that had once occurred on earth—each star-figure engaging in one or more of the preternatural feats that made it, like Jesus, immortal.
Seven centuries before Jesus strode across the Galilean Sea, the Hellenic astronomer-poet Hesiod, in a work entitled Astronomy, reports that Orion was able to walk on water:
Orion’s preternatural ability to “sea walk” was reiterated in The Library of the Greek mythographer Apollodorus (50 BC), the Latin Aeneid of Virgil (20 BC), and the celestial mythology of the Roman astronomer-poet Gaius Julius Hyginus (15 AD).
Since Orion’s ability to “sea walk” was reported by two astronomer-poets (Hesiod and Hyginus), it’s unsurprising to find that this concept was embedded within a stellar tableau. When plotted on a star-map, Orion’s outstretched legs portray him striding away from celestial land and onto the astral “Sea” delineated by the eight, contiguous aquatic constellations consisting of the Dolphin, Goatfish, Southern Fish, Water-pourer, Sea Serpent, River, Twin-Fishes, and Ship.
The notion of “sea walking” was accentuated by the position of this constellation-god’s front foot, demarcated by the star Rigel (β Orionis), which appears to be stepping onto the first star in Eridanus (λ Eridani), the River constellation. Also noteworthy is that Mesopotamian astronomical lore identifies Gemini as Mount Mashu, the “Twin-Mountain”, and Aquarius as the Water-god, Ea, a constellation-deity whom inhabited the stellar Sea and is best-known for sending the Great Flood popularized in the Biblical Noah legend .
Thus, ancient astronomical accounts lead to the same conclusion: whenever Orion appears in the heavens he is actively engaged in “walking upon the sea”. Because Hellenic mythology was taught in the Greek schools of Syria-Palestine in the 1st century AD, it’s highly plausible that the evangelists had become familiar with Orion’s stellar sea-walking ability before writing their Gospels.
Jesus’s sea walk almost certainly never happened, but it is enlightening to conjecture how it became incorporated into the gospel narratives. Symbolism was an important technique for authors of that time, and including an account of a man walking on the water would have been familiar to their Greek-literate readers, most of whom, it would be presumed and unlike contemporary Christians, understood the story to be allegorical.
(1991) Jesus’s divinity resulted from an unbalanced use of scripture
The Christian Church convened a series of councils in the 4th Century that continue to form the basis of contemporary conventional Christian doctrine. The Trinity (three gods in one) was the pinnacle concept that was enshrined in the faith’s creed. However, even a cursory review of the New Testament reveals that this decision was based on an unbalanced use of scripture. The following was taken from:
There is a growing concern among evangelical scholars that evangelicalism, its doctrine of God and of the Gospel, may not be as securely rooted in Scripture as is often uncritically imagined. The accounts of the historical Jesus and his saving teaching, given us in three corroborating reports in Matthew, Mark and Luke, are often played down in favor of a set of verses from the letters of Paul. That “treadmill” of favorite evangelical proof-texts also relies heavily on John’s Gospel. This unbalanced use of Scripture results in a distortion of Jesus’ claim to be Messiah, Son of God, in relation to his Father whom he defined as “the only one who is truly God” (John 17:3).
The crux of the problem lies in this fact: Jesus’ own very Jewish creed, which he affirmed as the most important truth of all in agreement with a Jewish scribe (Mark 12:28-34), has been allowed no voice in the traditional creeds recited in Church. Worse still, when the unitary monotheistic creed of Jesus and Paul is advanced as the necessary bedrock of good Christian thinking, its exponents are likely to be charged with upsetting the longstanding findings of the church councils. They are even made unwelcome in church settings.
There are two critical pieces of counter evidence to the Christian doctrine of Jesus being declared a god- the entirety of the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) in which Jesus continually declares his subservience to the Father, and the fact that Jesus was a faithful follower of the Jewish faith, which by that time had for centuries held to a strict belief in a singular god as well as an emphatic declaration that no human could ever be divine. For the Church councils to jettison this evidence in favor of quote mining a few verses from Paul and the Gospel of John, and by so doing forming the Trinity dogma, was a deceitful ploy that firmly separated Christianity from Judaism and set about creating a religion that Jesus himself would have soundly rejected.
(1992) Asymmetric conversion
It is well established that many young people enter university as theists and exit as atheists or agnostics. There may be some, but far fewer, that convert the other way, but those conversions are commonly based on immersion in group dynamics, satisfying a need for social interactions, or in consideration of a romantic relationship with an arriving theist. What is missing are atheists that become theists in response to increased exposure to and mastery of the sciences, history, and philosophy. The following was taken from:
Or consider this anecdotal evidence. Among the intelligentsia it is common and widespread to find individuals who lost childhood religious beliefs as their education in philosophy and the sciences advanced. By contrast, it is almost unheard of to find disbelievers in youth who came to belief as their education progressed. This asymmetry is significant; advancing education is detrimental to religious belief. This suggest another part of the explanation for religious belief—scientific illiteracy.
The existence of this asymmetric conversion process should be of concern to Christian believers. Why would an increase in knowledge lead someone away from instead of toward the ultimate truths of our existence? Why do we see Christians fighting science instead of embracing it as establishing further evidence for their faith? The answer might be simply that knowledge is kryptonite to religious belief and that maintaining a detachment from a greater understanding of science is fertilizer for the same.
(1993) Christianity’s principal foundation is fear
If you perceive Christianity as a skyscraper and then dig down into the ground to see the pillars that bore into the subterranean bedrock, forming the main foundation, you can see it is fear- fear of a whole host of real and imagined evils. The following is a quote from Bertrand Russell:
“Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown, and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing—fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion has gone hand-in-hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things. In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the Christian religion, against the Churches, and against the opposition of all the old precepts. Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look round for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the churches in all these centuries have made it.”
As humanity slowly but surely works its way out of the clutches of ignorance and superstition, the need to assuage our fears is becoming less of a need, meaning that Christianity is a product that is becoming less marketable, save for one thing- its promise of eternal life. The fear of death remains a potent motivator for some people to cling to an improbable claim, even as scientific evidence continues to erode its plausibility. But once a person accepts the overwhelming evidence that life is a temporary experience, and perhaps even realizes that this is for the best, the final expression of fear dissipates and Christianity is then viewed as an antique product that is no longer applicable to modern life.
(1994) Christians stole a religion not intended for them
A huge contradiction for Christianity exists within their bedrock scripture (The first five books of the Old Testament, aka Torah). These scriptures not only state that Yahweh will forever be the god of the Jews (exclusively), but they also predict the rise and demise of Christianity. In other words, Christians carry a bible that states that their faith is an illegitimate theft of the Jewish religion. The following was taken from:
Eighth fact: The Bible explicitly states that G-d will never renege on His covenant with the Jewish people
It is an exceedingly bizarre argument that the eternal and infinite Creator who “knows all generations in advance” (Isaiah 41:4), and who gave prophecy of the End of Days to the prophets, would one day change His mind because of one reason or another. Is it believable that one day He selects the Jewish people, and another day the Christian faith or the Muslim Koran? The Bible explicitly says about G-d that He doesn’t renege on His decisions and promises — “The Mighty One of Israel will not lie nor regret, for He is not a person who has regrets” (Samuel I, 15:29).
For some reason, Christians (and Muslims) would have us believe that G-d changes his mind, and is capable of suddenly choosing a new prophet who contradicts prophecies that He had given earlier. However, the Torah has already told us (Deuteronomy 7:6): “For you are a holy people to the L-rd, your G-d: the L-rd your G-d has chosen you to be His treasured people out of all the peoples upon the face of the earth. Not because you are more numerous than any people did the L-rd delight in you and choose you, for you are fewer than of all peoples.” (Ex. 19:6): “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of princes and a holy nation.” (Ex. 19:5): “And you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples, for Mine is the entire earth.” (Leviticus 20:26): “And you shall be holy to Me, for I, the L-rd, am holy, and I have distinguished you from the peoples, to be Mine.”
In the Torah’s prediction of the End of Days in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it emphasizes that the L-rd will never renege on the Torah’s words which He transmitted at Sinai, even when the Jewish people sin and are negligent in observing His commandments.
Deuteronomy (Chapter 31:16) says: “And the L-rd said to Moses: Behold, you are [about to] lie with your forefathers, and this nation will rise up and stray after the deities of the nations of the land, into which they are coming. And they will forsake Me and violate My covenant which I made with them…”
(Leviticus 26:44): “But despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant with them, for I am the L-rd their G-d. I will remember for them the covenant [made with] the ancestors, whom I took out from the land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations, to be a G-d to them. I am the L-rd. These are the statutes, the ordinances, and the laws that the L-rd gave between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses.”
G-d requires the Jewish people to keep the commandments forever (Leviticus, 17:7): “This shall be an eternal statute for them, for [all] their generations.” (Exodus 31:16) “Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant.”
The prophets also explicitly say that the Torah is eternal (Isaiah 59:21): “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the L-rd. “My spirit, which is upon you and My words that I have placed in your mouth, shall not move from your mouth or from the mouth of your seed and from the mouth of your seed’s seed,” said the L-rd, “from now and to eternity.”
If that is not enough, the Torah also promises that what will bring the Jewish people’s Redemption in the End of Days is their fulfillment of the commandments (Deuteronomy, Chapter 30): “And it will be, when all these things come upon you the blessing and the curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart, among all the nations where the L-rd your G-d has banished you, and you will return to the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children, then, the L-rd, your G-d, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the L-rd, your G-d, had dispersed you. Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the L-rd, your G-d, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there. And the L-rd, your G-d, will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed, and you [too] will take possession of it, and He will do good to you, and He will make you more numerous than your forefathers. And the L-rd, your G-d, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, [so that you may] love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, for the sake of your life. And the L-rd, your G-d, will place all these curses upon your enemies and upon your adversaries, who pursued you. And you will return and listen to the voice of the L-rd, and fulfill all His commandments, which I command you this day. And the L-rd, your G-d, will make you abundant for good in all the work of your hands, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the L-rd will once again rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your forefathers, when you obey the L-rd, your G-d, to observe His commandments and His statutes written in this Torah scroll, [and] when you return to the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul.”
This prophecy tells us that Israel should believe only in G-d, and only through faith in Him and observance of the Torah’s commandments will they merit G-d’s redemption and deliverance in the End of Days.
The Torah also seems to have predicted the destruction of Christianity. Deuteronomy contains a prophecy of the destruction that will befall the Jewish people, and that the Gentiles would claim that G-d had forsaken them, a claim that has been stated by the Christians from their earliest days. After predicting this, the Torah writes (Deuteronomy 29:21-24), “And a later generation, your descendants, who will rise after you, along with the foreigner who comes from a distant land, will say, upon seeing the plagues of that land and the diseases with which the L-rd struck it.. And all the nations will say, Why did the L-rd do this to the land? What [is the reason] for this great fury? Then they will say, It is because they abandoned the covenant of the L-rd, G-d of their fathers, [the covenant] which He made with them when He took them out of the land of Egypt.”
Here is a specific prophecy that the gentiles will think that G-d has violated His covenant with Israel, as Christians claim according to the “New Testament”.
But the Torah tells the Jewish people not to worry because (Deut. 31:21), “And it will be, when they will encounter many evils and troubles, this song will bear witness against them, for it will not be forgotten from the mouth of their offspring.”
The prophet also says (Jeremiah 31:32): “For this is the covenant that I will form with the house of Israel after those days, says the L-rd: I will place My law in their midst and I will inscribe it upon their hearts, and I will be their G-d and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 32:36-41): “And now, therefore, so said the L-rd, G-d of Israel … And they shall be My people, and I will be their G-d. And I will give them one accord and one way to fear Me all the time, so that it be good for them and for their children after them. And I will form with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from them to do them good, and I will place My fear in their heart, so they will not turn away from Me. And I will rejoice over them to do good to them, and I will plant them in this land truly with all My heart and with all My soul.”
I have heard of a not inconsiderable number of Christian priests who, after reading these Torah prophecies (which they call the “Old Testament”), abandoned the Christian faith, immigrated to Israel and converted to Judaism. I have still not found a Christian who managed to explain away these prophecies which were explicitly written in the Torah, and I do not know how they can remain a Christian (or “Messianic Jew”) after reading them.
It should worry Christians that their faith is based on a tribal god who selected one specific people as his chosen ones, to the exclusion of all others. It is a breach of reason to think that such a god would change his mind, especially after making the promises documented in the Torah. This would be like taking the Bill of Rights from the United States constitution and saying that these same rights apply in China. No, they don’t apply to everyone. Christians stole a religion that wasn’t intended for them.
(1995) God allegedly uses mass revelations
According to the Torah, God announced his covenant to the Jewish people in the presence of 600,000 men, plus women and children. It is their contention, that to be consistent, it would be expected that God would also use a mass revelation to announce a cancellation or modification of a covenant and also to announce a new covenant. But Christianity has no such thing, its ‘new covenant’ appears to be a claim of a single individual, Paul of Tarsus. To some extent, this inconsistency de-legitimizes Christianity. The following was taken from:
Malbim explained in his commentary on the Torah (Exodus 19:9): “G-d wanted to give the Torah in a mass revelation, in front of the huge number of six hundred thousand (men, besides women and children), so they would pass down the tradition of what their own eyes saw to their children after them until the last generation. Therefore, any one who will arise and say that he is a messenger from G-d to give a Torah to the people, we respond to him: Any Torah from G-d that will not be given in a mass revelation, cannot be divine. And certainly if he comes to cancel the Torah given by Moses, we will reply to him that G-d Himself has to appear before six hundred thousand in a mass revelation as He did when He gave the Torah, because in any manner concerning what He commanded a prophet, it is doubtful what he said even to the prophet’s generation, and certainly to other generations.”
Those who understand this argument, will immediately understand why Jews have never believed in Christianity. Judaism is based on a revelation to the entire people, while Christianity is based on the claim of an individual.
Israel’s Torah was given to all the Jewish people, with their knowledge and consent, in a national divine revelation to millions. G-d made an eternal covenant with the children of Israel, for all generations.
In contrast, the Christians believe that G-d repudiated the covenant He made with the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, and created a “new covenant” to all nations, which depends on believing in one man by the name of Yeshu / Yeshua. The Christians believe that G-d reneged on the covenant, without announcing another revelation to millions of witnesses to cancel the covenant with Israel. Christians admit that G-d did not to cancel the first covenant in a revelation to millions of people as He did when He established the covenant at Mount Sinai. They also admit that G-d didn’t appear again before millions to establish a new covenant with the nations of the world.
If someone has signed a contract with two witnesses, and now he wants to change or cancel the contract, can he do so without witnesses? Of course, if G-d decided to cancel the old covenant, He had to appear again before at least three million witnesses to cancel it. Nor may one side cancel the agreement while the other side continues to comply with it, and while the other side is not even aware of the contract’s cancellation. The Jewish people continues to fulfill the contract until this day, “in all their generations” as the Torah says: they keep Shabbat, circumcision, Passover, Yom Kippur and so on. As long as they fulfill the old covenant, that means that no new covenant was made.
This is the most powerful historical argument against belief in Jesus and the New Testament. The very fact that Christianity came to cancel a national event that occurred before millions, and tried to do so through the claim of one individual, appears preposterous to a Jew. No rational Jew can believe Messianic Jews’ claim that the Torah, which was given in an historical revelation to an entire people, was cancelled without an equivalent counter-revelation.
To accept Christianity, one has to acknowledge that God not only (effectively) cancelled the covenant with the Jews but also established a new covenant with all nations, but did so in an entirely different fashion than was done previously. Judaism has to be true for Christianity to be true, but if Judaism is true, then Christianity is almost certainly false because it requires a drastic change in the way God operates.
(1996) Visions in Galilee started the Easter faith
The opinions of liberal and middle-of-the-road biblical scholars have coalesced around the idea that the belief in Jesus’s resurrection probably originated with visions from his disheartened disciples after they had returned to their homes in Galilee following Jesus’s execution. This, of course, assumes that Jesus himself was not mythical. The following was taken from:
There is general agreement, among all but conservative scholars, that the Easter faith began with visions in Galilee and not with the discovery of an empty tomb in Jerusalem. Now visions and dreams, as many traditions record, have frequently been the raw material of religious experience, especially in times of religious origins. Until this century we did not appreciate, as we can now, why this is so. Carl Jung and others have discovered and drawn to our attention the creative powers of the human unconscious.
The unconscious is a vast area of the human mind or psyche which is hidden beneath the surface of consciousness as nine-tenths of an iceberg is hidden under the surface of the ocean. Its discovery has made possible an entirely different explanation of what had commonly been called religious experiences.
Previously, when a person saw visions (which no one else saw) or heard voices (which no one else heard), the only explanation was that such a person was receiving revelations and messages from an external source of a supernatural or divine kind. Depth psychology provides a natural explanation. The experiences do enter into consciousness from another source but that source is the unconscious, thus making appeal to a supernatural external source unnecessary.
By this means we come to a new understanding of the visions Muhammad had of the angel Gabriel, of the vision Paul had of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, and of the visions from which sprang the Easter faith in the Apostles before him. According to Paul (and his is the earliest and first-hand witness we have) the first to have a vision of the risen Christ was Peter. Yet nowhere does the New Testament supply us with any record of that vision. Some have surmised that the tradition of this vision, if there had been one, became superseded and was discarded in favor of later and more convincing traditions. It could have been a vision similar to what is now attributed to Stephen before his martyrdom (Acts 7:55–56):
He looked to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God and he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.
It has been suggested that the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus does not belong chronologically within the ministry of Jesus, where Mark’s Gospel has mistakenly placed it, to be followed by those of Matthew and Luke. Rather, it originated as an early Resurrection story. This suggestion has been supported by such internationally acclaimed scholars as Heinrich Meyer (1800–1873), Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918), Adolf Harnack (1851–1930), Alfred Loisy (1857–1940), Maurice Goguel (1880–1955) and Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976). Indeed, this story could be pointing to the very earliest vision which gave rise to the Easter faith.
It is generally agreed, with Gospel record support, that when Jesus was crucified the disciples deserted him and fled. They returned to Galilee greatly dispirited, suffering acute anxiety and bewilderment, asking themselves why a man of such quality and power could have been allowed by God to come to such a tragic end. Those are the very conditions in which the unconscious depths of the human psyche can prove to be so creative. The psyche, drawing upon the previous experience and basic symbols already embedded there, creates a vision which resolves the issue.
Here, then, were Jewish disciples whose minds, like that of Elijah before them in his time of crisis, would turn back to Sinai, the source of their faith. In the vision created by the unconscious (possibly of Peter), he and his two closest companions James and John were led back by the memory of their Master to climb that same high mountain. This is the story as Mark tells it:
And Jesus was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white . . . And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus … And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved son; listen to him.” And suddenly looking around they no longer saw anyone but Jesus only … Mark 9:2–8
There are some very significant ingredients in this vision.
When Moses went up Mount Sinai the glory of the Lord enveloped it in a cloud. And when he went down his face glistened.
Moses and Elijah were the chief Israelite representatives of the Law and the Prophets, respectively.
Elijah, as we have noted, did not die but was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire.
Moses had died and was buried. But a late Jewish tradition, reported by Josephus and narrated in a book “The Ascension of Moses,” told how Moses had been taken by God into heaven.
Moreover, they were the only two Israelites who in Jewish tradition were believed to be with God in heaven.
The vision of the Transfiguration has Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah, thus placing him on a level with them.
These ingredients from the Jewish tradition, coupled with the bewilderment of the disciples, supplied ample raw material for an apostolic vision. What the vision was chiefly affirming was that the death of Jesus was not a meaningless tragedy. It showed this Jesus was placed by God on a level with Moses and Elijah. The glistening or transfiguration demonstrated symbolically that Jesus had been glorified.
I am suggesting that this vision of the glorification of Jesus marked the beginning of the Easter faith. According to Paul there was more than one vision, including that which he himself had. They are not described. They no doubt varied but they had one thing in common—the glorified Jesus was seen by his followers and only by his followers. At the time Paul was writing, say about 50 c.e., the Easter faith rested solely on the testimony of visions.
But such is the nature of the inquiring human mind that it was not sufficient for the ongoing Christian community just to say that the glorified Jesus had been seen in visions. How did he get to be where he was, in heaven with God and sitting at God’s right hand? So, in the second half of the first century, all sorts of stories began to emerge, such as that in John 21 where Jesus breakfasted with the disciples after their catch of fish.
This implies that the Jesus movement started in Galilee instead of Jerusalem/Judea and could help to explain the lack of any historians in the area of Jerusalem taking note of anything related to Jesus. The ‘Jesus movement’ could have started as a small seed in Galilee and then slowly spread outward, eventually finding the attention of Paul of Tarsus. Then Greek scholars, writing in a figurative fashion, composed the gospels based loosely on handed-down traditions.
(1997) Mark’s gambit failed
The author of the Gospel of Mark wrote the first of the four gospel accounts of Jesus’s ministry around 70CE, or shortly after the fall of the Jewish Temple during the Roman-Jewish War. This was about 40 years after the alleged death of Jesus. This fact combined with what he wrote below suggests an interesting observation about what he was trying to do:
“But in those days, following that distress,“ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
When Mark wrote that Jesus had said that ‘this generation will certainly not pass away’ until these things had happened, he was writing something that Jesus had said 40 years prior, not in the current day. That means that for Jesus’s prophecy to come true, the return of Jesus would have had to happen very soon, within a few weeks, months, or at most a couple of years of the completion of Mark’s gospel. That’s because “this generation” who allegedly heard Jesus say this 40 years ago was very old by then and was about to pass away. So it appears that Mark inserted this (probably fictional) quote of Jesus in order to stir up an urgent sense of immediacy for his readers- that they must act now to take advantage of the Christian heavenly offer.
Although this ploy might have galvanized a quick response at that time, it eventually backfired as time went on without the appearance of Jesus. Over time, it started to look very similar to a failed prophecy, providing fuel for Christian skeptics over the ensuing 19 centuries to point out the fact that Jesus was behind schedule, a tardiness that continues to expand to this day. So Mark’s attempt to kick-start the faith ended up causing it considerable damage.
(1998) Christianity before Paul
After Jesus died and before Paul began writing his letters, the original followers of Jesus, including his disciples and his brother, continued to live a very Jewish existence. They were not Christians by today’s definition. They believed that Jesus had risen only in a spiritual sense, not bodily as would later be documented in the gospels, nor did they believe that Jesus was a god or that he would return in glory. They remained as Jews, strictly monotheistic, and certainly had no concept or belief in a trinity of gods. Unfortunately, none of their theology made it into the New Testament- it was all a product of Paul and the authors of the gospels and epistles who endorsed Paul’s Romanized, pagan-influenced theology. Jesus’s disciples would not have recognized any of this. The following was taken from:
It is difficult for one to imagine a version of Christianity pre-dating Paul with none of the core theological affirmations we find in the Apostles Creed. Yet that is precisely what our evidence indicates.
The original apostles and followers of Jesus, led by James and assisted by Peter and John, continued to live as Jews, observing the Torah and worshipping in the Temple at Jerusalem, or in their local synagogues, while remembering and honoring Jesus as their martyred Teacher and Messiah. They neither worshipped nor divinized Jesus as the Son of God, or as a Dying-and-Rising Savior, who died for the sins of humankind. They practiced no ritual of baptism into Christ, nor did they celebrate a sacred meal equated with ‘eating the body and drinking the blood’ of Christ as a guarantee of eternal life.
Their message was wholly focused around their expectations that the kingdom of God had drawn near, as proclaimed by John the Baptizer and Jesus, and that very soon God would intervene in human history to bring about his righteous rule of peace and justice among all nations. In the meantime both Jews and non-Jews were urged to repent of their sins, turn to God, and live righteously before him in expectation of his kingdom.
Contemporary Christians are not followers of Jesus, assuming that he was an actual historical figure, or of his disciples, or of those who had witnessed the events first-hand. They are followers of a fictional version of the story invented by Paul. Christianity as it existed before Paul was actually a form of Judaism where Jesus was revered merely as a great prophet, signaling the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. Paul changed it into a completely different religion, one that was appealing, acceptable, and familiar to a Roman audience.
(1999) The Sabbath dispute
One of the best examples that the gospels were not written as historical accounts but rather as propaganda literature is the way that the authors of Matthew and Luke distorted the original Gospel of Mark regarding a dispute over working on the Sabbath. This can be viewed as the proverbial ‘smoking gun’ against any arguments claiming that the gospels are true history, or, much less, inerrant.
Little details, such as Matthew turning a Pharisee’s statement in Mark into a question, and Luke adding the little word “some” to Mark’s account, on closer inspection turn out not to be haphazard variations, but evidence that the gospel authors were more focused on creative story telling than passing on “traditions”.
The example of this that I noticed most recently is the slightly variant accounts of Jesus’ dispute with the Pharisees over his disciples’ corn-plucking on the sabbath. (I was thinking through James Crossley’s argument for these different accounts revealing evidence that Mark was written before “the church” experienced any controversy over sabbath observance. In his efforts to uncover “assumptions” being made by Mark, and reliance on a presumed Aramaic source text, he misses much of what actually is there to be seen on the surface.)
Here are some of the differences:
|Mark 2:23-28||Matthew 12:1-8||Luke 6:1-5|
|On the sabbath, the disciples began to pluck ears of corn||On the sabbath the disciples were hungry so they began to pluck corn to eat||On the sabbath the disciples plucked ears of corn, ate them, rubbing them in their hands|
|The Pharisees ask Jesus why the disciples are doing what is not lawful on the sabbath||The Pharisees accuse Jesus’ disciples of doing what is not lawful on the sabbath||Some of the Pharisees ask Jesus why he is doing what is not lawful on the sabbath|
|Jesus replies that David also acted unlawfully by eating the sacred shewbread when he was hungry||Jesus replies that David also acted unlawfully by eating the sacred shewbread when he was hungry||Jesus replies that David also acted unlawfully by eating the sacred shewbread when he was hungry|
|Jesus adds that on the Sabbath the priests work in the temple but are guiltless|
|Jesus makes it clear that he is greater than the temple|
|Jesus quotes the prophets to say that mercy is greater than sacrifice, and accuses the Pharisees of not understanding this, and of wrongly accusing his disciples who are innocent.|
|Jesus concludes that the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath|
|And says that therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath||And says that therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath||And says that therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath|
Matthew’s changes certainly do not point to any historical sayings of Jesus. Jesus is hardly likely to have got away with saying that he was greater than the temple without provoking a little bit of noticeable response. His preaching mercy to the Pharisees is also a caricature (and an early anti-semitism?) of the Pharisees who, as far as we understand historically, had popular support because they did indeed preach mercy rather than sacrifice.
So if Matthew is not bothering to pass on another tradition about the historical Jesus, why is he reshaping Mark’s material? He clearly does not think Mark’s story is something to be preserved as a historical memory of Jesus. If he did, why not repeat (not change) the story and then add his own commentary if he felt certain details needed explaining for his audience?
What Matthew seems to me to be doing is extending his Sermon on the Mount message that followers of Jesus must be more righteous than the Pharisees themselves. In that Sermon he stresses the superiority of Jesus over Moses, not by kicking Moses out, but by going even further than Moses. Moses said murder and adultery were wrong, Jesus says even hate and sexual feelings are wrong, etc.
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. . . . Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matt 5:20, 48)
So continuing this theme (of messing up with converts minds and making them intolerant and mental wrecks in the end as they strive to deny their humanity with all sorts of thought-tourniquets to become “perfect”) Matthew in part turns Mark’s cornfield story into an illustration of how unrighteous the Pharisees are compared with Jesus and his disciples.
Firstly, he does not give the Pharisees a chance to ask questions as they did in Mark. He shoots them before they do. He has them make an unjust and merciless accusation. The poor disciples are hungry and need to eat! They don’t need Pharisees coming along and finding fault with them for that!
Mark’s original was not really about hunger or a desperate need to eat to stave off a hypoglycemic low. But Matthew introduces this in order to have a reason to bring in the punch line:
But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
The hunger, the accusation and the mercy outweighing sacrifice are all part of Matthew’s interest in asserting the moral superiority of Christians while at the same time denigrating Jewish righteousness as legalistic and hypocritical. (Remember that this was the same Matthew who had the Jews call out for the blood of Jesus to be on them and on their children.) At the same time he reminded his readers that Jesus was greater than Moses by being even greater than the temple whose purpose was to carry out the laws of Moses.
Luke has more modest plans for his change to Mark.
Firstly, only “some” of the Pharisees are involved. Naturally, if we are right in thinking that the author of this was also responsible for Acts in which many Pharisees did become Christians. Elsewhere in this gospel we read of Jesus visiting a Pharisee’s house for dinner.
Luke also sees the desirability of making Jesus assume direct responsibility for his disciples’ behaviour. So the Pharisees blame him for what his disciples are doing. This, also, would cohere with the theme of Acts in which Jesus carries on his work through his disciples — all in perfect harmony with their Head.
Mark’s “original” written out?
Mark has a number of curious details that indicate his “christology” was quite different from that of other evangelists. I sometimes wonder if he also contains little hints that his theology has more in common with less orthodox ones that, to mention just example, taught that Jesus was attempting to restore his disciples back to an “original” ideal condition before “the Fall” of Adam.
If so, would this explain why Mark has Jesus appear to repudiate Moses’ allowance for divorce. Mark first has the explanation of Moses’ teaching on divorce, and then follows with a BUT:
BUT from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female . . . Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mark 10:1-12)
Matthew reverses the order of Mark’s narrative so that the creation story is told first, and it is this ideal story that is then butted out of real life, and the Moses exception (although necessarily tightened — Christians have to be more righteous than Pharisees, remember) is allowed to stand:
Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate . . .
Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce . . . And I say unto you, whoever divorces his wife, except for . . . (Matt. 19:1-9)
I wonder if Mark is rightly seen by Matthew as some sort “good old days”, pre-Flood, pre-Fall theologian who saw Jesus as attempting to restore how things were at the beginning.
Does Mark’s reference to the sabbath being made for man also point to some sort of “origin” or pre-Fall theology? If so, this might explain why it was omitted by Matthew and Luke.
Including the four gospels in the Bible, and claiming that they all are inerrant accounts of history, was a mistake for Christianity. The comparisons reveal inconsistencies and purposeful changes made to advance the author’s personal beliefs. It would have been much better for the faith to have chosen just one gospel and to go with that.
(2000) Heaven and Hell cannot coexist
The Christian concepts of Heaven and Hell are mutually incompatible, as long as Heaven is defined as a place of eternal bliss and Hell is a place of eternal and (potentially) painful punishment. Given Jesus’s statement in Matthew 7:13-14, (“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”), it is certain that anyone who goes to Heaven will have a parent, spouse, child, relative, friend, or co-worker who will go to Hell. For this example, let’s assume it is a daughter. Given this assumption, there are two possibilities:
- The parent in Heaven is aware that their daughter is in Hell. This precludes any possibility of an eternity in bliss. Rather it would be a torturous experience to be expected to eternally praise their daughter’s torturer.
- God erases the memory of the daughter, but in this case, it is no longer ‘you’ who is in Heaven, but just a facsimile.
In either case, Heaven cannot exist if Hell exists. The creators of Christianity did not think this problem through, but just haphazardly tossed out their ‘carrot and stick’ doctrine, blind to the inevitable ramifications.
Please follow this link to #2001.