(2151) The zero curiosity factor
Sometimes the best way to judge the authenticity of an idea is to observe how people react to it. Christianity claims that the Bible is the veritable word of the Creator, meaning that its significance dwarfs by a mile any literary effort made by a human. If so, we would expect to see Christians spending more time reading the Bible than the time spent reading all other books combined. But we see the opposite. The following was taken from:
Ironically enough, most Christians don’t seem to be all that curious about the Bible. It’s supposed to be the Word of God, after all, so why not spend as much time studying the Bible as watching sports and movies? You know: really get in tune with God. But plowing through scripture isn’t all that rewarding; there is too much tedium, there are too many bog-down points. As John Loftus has wondered: Couldn’t God have done a better job of communicating?
“In 2013 a Protestant preacher told me that he estimates no more than 15 to 20 percent of his parishioners read the Bible on a regular basis. Many Christians do read the Bible, of course. Some read it on a regular basis, even daily, but how are they reading it? Are they working their way through it, page by page and line by line? Or are they merely leapfrogging from familiar sentences to comforting stories?
“One can spend a lifetime bouncing back and forth between popular passages without ever reading the more challenging and disturbing parts of the Bible. I have consistently found this to be the case during discussions and interviews with Christians all around the world. As most religious skeptics know, it’s common for Christians to react with surprise or to express outright denial when asked about some of the more awkward, bizarre, and disturbing passages found in the Bible.” (50 Simple Questions to Ask Christians)
Hence church bureaucrats are probably relieved that the Bible doesn’t get much traffic. In fact, their survival depends on the Zero-Curiosity Factor: “Keeping them in the dark” is a part of the strategy. They don’t welcome laypeople poking about where they don’t belong, i.e., exploring some of the major vulnerabilities of the faith. The Bible, a major accumulation of horrors, is just one of the hazmat zones.
The mismatch between the Bible’s purported credentials and the way Christians react to it indicates that, at least subconsciously, Christians don’t believe it is the word of God. And if they don’t revere this book, and undergo significant analyses of it, why should anyone else?
(2152) Hiding the Bible
Until the 1500’s, the Bible was beyond the comprehension of most Christians, unless they could read Latin. In 1526, the Tynedale Bible became the first published English version. Therefore, for approximately 75 percent of Christianity’s history, common Christians were unable to read the Bible and had to rely on their priests to interpret it for them. This strategy kept the Church more or less cohesive, but once the Bible became accessible to the masses, the trouble began. The Protestant Reformation led to the thousands of denominations that exist today. The following was taken from:
William Tyndale’s Bible was the first English language Bible to appear in print. During the 1500s, the very idea of an English language Bible was shocking and subversive. This is because, for centuries, the English Church had been governed from Rome, and church services were by law conducted in Latin. Most people in Europe were unable to speak Latin, and so could not understand the Bible directly. The Church therefore acted as the mediator between God and the people, with Priests interpreting the bible on behalf of their congregations.
By Tyndale’s day, vernacular Bibles (those written in local languages) were available in parts of Europe, where they added fuel to the fight for the Reformation, a political crisis that resulted in the splitting of Christianity into Catholic and Protestant Churches. But in England it was still strictly forbidden to translate the Bible into English. Tyndale believed that ordinary people should be able to read (or listen to) the Bible in a language they could understand, but his Bible was highly illegal. The book was banned and Tyndale was eventually executed. An astonishing number of Tyndale’s translated phrases are still in use today, including:
‘flowing with milk and honey’
‘the apple of his eye’
‘signs of the times’
‘eat, drink and be merry’
‘the salt of the earth’
The fact that Church leaders held back the Bible’s readability for so long indicates that they knew that it contained too much contradictory information and that exposing it to private interpretation would lead to chaos. Which it did. This is not what we would expect from a book that was supposedly ‘written’ by a supernatural source. If that had actually been the case, then it’s likely that aggressive efforts would have been undertaken as early as the 4th Century to get the Bible translated into local languages and to allow it to essentially sell itself as the singular work of the Creator.
(2153) The acid test for Christianity
One of the best ways to evaluate the authenticity of Christianity is to observe how the most ardent followers use their faith in real life situations. The following ‘test’ was taken from:
Answer the questions below to see if you are a true believer in God. In each situation, you are allowed only one course of action. Pick the one that you would most likely follow if only allowed one choice.
1..You are deathly sick. You will
A. Have the most respected man of God pray over you.
B. Go to the doctor or hospital.
2. When your Christian friend dies you will
A. Say, “Damn it! Why couldn’t it have been my turn?”
3. You would prefer to spend next week
A. In heaven (one-way ticket)
B. In Hawaii (two-way ticket)
4. You are caught in the middle of a big lake when a storm comes up and the waves are starting to inundate your boat. You will:
A. Command the storm to stop in the name of Jesus.
B. Act like “ye of little faith” and put on your life jacket.
5. Thieves with guns are invading your home. You will
A. Command them to stop in the name of Jesus.
B. Call the police.
6. You need an expensive operation to save your life that is not covered by insurance, and a rich relative offers to pay for it. You will
A. Tell him to give the money to support God’s work, and you will be thrilled to meet Jesus sooner.
B. Accept the offer.
7. You are retiring and have saved up a substantial “nest egg”. You will:
A. Give it to the church to further God’s work and trust in God to take care of you.
B. Use it.
8. There is a new gene therapy derived from chimpanzees. The doctor tells you that this may cure your fatal condition because humans are closely related to chimpanzees. You will:
A. Deny the therapy, telling him that humans did not come from monkeys.
B. Accept the therapy hoping that we are closely enough related that it will be effective.
9. There is a large piece of ledge sticking up in the way of where you need to put the driveway into your new church building. You will
A. Use your faith “as the grain of a mustard seed” that casts mountains into the sea to dislodge it.
B. Hire a contractor to blast it away.
10. When you hear God’s voice calling you to burn to death your child as an offering to him you will
A. With the faith of Abraham do as he tells you.
B. Visit a psychiatrist.
Score ten percent for each time you answered “A”. What is your final score? 80%-100% — You are a true believer! 40%-70% — You might be more secular than you realized. 0%-30% — Admit it! You are a damned atheist, and get on with your life!
It should be obvious that most Christians would flunk this test and fall into the ‘damned atheist’ category. So if most Christians are acting like atheists amid most all of life’s challenges, how can we possibly believe that they are connected to a supernatural divine source of inspiration and power?
(2154) Homosexuality and the Bible
Modern Christians are emboldened to view homosexuality as being sinful because of their faith in the divine nature of the Bible, which in (just) a few verses of the modern translations endorses this viewpoint. What is not realized, though, is that the original meaning of these salient verses were not focused on consensual sex between two men, but rather on a common practice of the time of (sometimes) non-consensual sexual encounters between men and young boys. The following was taken from:
THE WORD ARSENOKOITAI SHOWS UP IN TWO DIFFERENT VERSES IN THE BIBLE, BUT IT WAS NOT TRANSLATED TO MEAN HOMOSEXUAL UNTIL 1946.
WE GOT TO SIT DOWN WITH ED OXFORD AT HIS HOME IN LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA AND TALK ABOUT THIS QUESTION.
YOU HAVE BEEN PART OF A RESEARCH TEAM THAT IS SEEKING TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE DECISION WAS MADE TO PUT THE WORD HOMOSEXUAL IN THE BIBLE. IS THAT TRUE?
Ed: Yes. It first showed up in the RSV translation. So before figuring out why they decided to use that word in the RSV translation (which is outlined in my upcoming book with Kathy Baldock, Forging a Sacred Weapon: How the Bible Became Anti-Gay) I wanted to see how other cultures and translations treated the same verses when they were translated during the Reformation 500 years ago. So I started collecting old Bibles in French, German, Irish, Gaelic, Czechoslovakian, Polish… you name it. Now I’ve got most European major languages that I’ve collected over time. Anyway, I had a German friend come back to town and I asked if he could help me with some passages in one of my German Bibles from the 1800s. So we went to Leviticus 18:22 and he’s translating it for me word for word. In the English where it says “Man shall not lie with man, for it is an abomination,” the German version says “Man shall not lie with young boys as he does with a woman, for it is an abomination.” I said, “What?! Are you sure?” He said, “Yes!” Then we went to Leviticus 20:13— same thing, “Young boys.” So we went to 1 Corinthians to see how they translated arsenokoitai (original Greek word) and instead of homosexuals it said, “Boy molesters will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
I then grabbed my facsimile copy of Martin Luther’s original German translation from 1534. My friend is reading through it for me and he says, “Ed, this says the same thing!” They use the word knabenschander. Knaben is boy, schander is molester. This word “boy molesters” for the most part carried through the next several centuries of German Bible translations. Knabenschander is also in 1 Timothy 1:10. So the interesting thing is, I asked if they ever changed the word arsenokoitai to homosexual in modern translations. So my friend found it and told me, “The first time homosexual appears in a German translation is 1983.” To me that was a little suspect because of what was happening in culture in the 1970s. Also because the Germans were the ones who created the word homosexual in 1862, they had all the history, research, and understanding to change it if they saw fit; however, they did not change it until 1983. If anyone was going to put the word homosexual in the Bible, the Germans should have been the first to do it!
As I was talking with my friend I said, “I wonder why not until 1983? Was their influence from America?” So we had our German connection look into it again and it turns out that the company, Biblica, who owns the NIV version, paid for this 1983 German version. Thus it was Americans who paid for it! In 1983 Germany didn’t have enough of a Christian population to warrant the cost of a new Bible translation, because it’s not cheap. So an American company paid for it and influenced the decision, resulting in the word homosexual entering the German Bible for the first time in history. So, I say, I think there is a “gay agenda” after all!
I also have a 1674 Swedish translation and an 1830 Norwegian translation of the Bible. I asked one of my friends, who was attending Fuller seminary and is fluent in both Swedish and Norwegian, to look at these verses for me. So we met at a coffee shop in Pasadena with my old Bibles. (She didn’t really know why I was asking.) Just like reading an old English Bible, it’s not easy to read. The letters are a little bit funky, the spelling is a little bit different. So she’s going through it carefully, and then her face comes up, “Do you know what this says?!” and I said, “No! That’s why you are here!” She said, “It says boy abusers, boy molesters.” It turns out that the ancient world condoned and encouraged a system whereby young boys (8-12 years old) were coupled by older men. Ancient Greek documents show us how even parents utilized this abusive system to help their sons advance in society. So for most of history, most translations thought these verses were obviously referring the pederasty, not homosexuality!
This apparent translation error blows a hole in the Christian crusade against the LGBTQ community, but it also focuses a laser beam on the epidemic practice of priests and pastors to abuse young children. When the Bible becomes untethered to its original meaning, even if we make the wishful assumption that the original authors were divinely inspired, it leaves us with the uneasy feeling that God, assuming he exists, does not care if his message is accurately transmitted.
(2155) Jesus’ sacrifice is inconsistent with the OT god
It should be expected that throughout the sweep of the 66 books of the Bible that a consistent story would be told that speaks of a unique supernatural being as it interacts with humanity. But this is not the story of the Bible. In particular, the gracious ‘sacrifice’ of having Jesus die on the cross is spectacularly inconsistent with the character of the god described in the Old Testament. The following was taken from:
Aside from some of the questionable moral teachings allegedly delivered by the Jesus figure as described in the Christian bible, I have a few problems with the assumption that such a figure existed in the first place. Fortunately, my worldview does not hinge on whether or not someone like the biblical Jesus ever existed. As a result, I am able to take a step back and look at the matter without having a great deal of emotional attachment to either possibility.
The first of my concerns with the possibility of a historical Jesus deals with the character of the Christian god, as described throughout the Old Testament of the Christian bible. In brief, sending Jesus to die for our sins has always struck me as the last thing the evil sort of god described in the Old Testament would do.
I realize that there are many problems associated with the notion of an all-powerful god making a sacrifice of any kind. Since such a god could have accomplished the same ends without having to sacrifice anything, one cannot help wondering why this particular mechanism was selected. And of course, there is the question of whether such a benevolent being would have subjected the Jesus figure to the pain and suffering he allegedly experienced. But all of this can be set aside for now, as it is only somewhat relevant to the point I want to make here.
Consider for a moment the character of the god described in the Christian bible. In page after page of the Old Testament, we read about a jealous and bloodthirsty monster that engages in genocide and slaughters without mercy. This god punishes its human enemies through starvation and slavery. Human followers are commanded to engage in the most brutal sort of scorched earth warfare, the sort that leaves no animal behind. Virgins are captured and made into “wives.” Nonbelievers and persons who worship other gods are to be killed. This evil being appears to have little more than contempt for much of humanity.
How are we supposed to reconcile this god with the god who supposedly made some sort of sacrifice to save humanity? To say that a change of heart occurred as we move into the New Testament – even if true – would perhaps be the biggest understatement ever uttered. The sort of sacrifice which Christians insist Jesus represented seems thoroughly inconsistent with the character of this god.
Are we really supposed to believe that the same god that callously exterminated humanity before decided to forgive us (but of course, only if we pledge our servitude) through Jesus? Unless we decide that the Old Testament god died and a new and very different sort of god appeared in its place, this seems quite unlikely.
I suppose if we interpret Jesus as form of enslavement (i.e., accept the most farfetched things about me or you will be tortured forever), we would have something consistent with the character of the Christian god. Maybe this was what the authors of the Christian bible intended, but if so, it seems to have been misunderstood by most Christians.
The sort of god described in the Christian bible sounds quite different from the sort of god that might have sought to benefit humanity through Jesus. This poses a problem with Jesus-belief. At least, it ought to for those who place any stock whatsoever in the god in which they claim to believe.
When viewed from this perspective, Christianity has the same sort of appearance as an apple and an orange smashed together and then claimed to be a credible new variety of fruit. You have this god and you have that god, but please don’t tell me that they are one and the same. The OT god would have no use for a meek version of himself dying to save mankind.
(2156) Jesus’ ambiguous age
Contrary to the documentation of most important historical figures, the gospels do not provide consistent information to determine the age of Jesus at the time of his ministry and death. This limits their authenticity as credible historical sources. The following was taken from:
The Gospels do not record exactly when Jesus was supposedly born or when he died. They even contradict on the estimated age of Jesus: “Biographers of celebrated men are careful to state with exactness, or to approximate, the dates of the birth and death and of the principal events of the lives, of their subjects. The inspired biographers of the Son of God, for Christians the most momentous figure of history, ignore such dates or muddle them beyond even approximate probability… The age of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry is left in like uncertainty. Luke says: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. … Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age” (Luke 3: 1, 23 ). The reign of Tiberius began in 14 AD; the fifteenth year of his reign would be 29 AD If Jesus was born, as Matthew says, “in the days of Herod the king” (Matt. 2: 1 ), and was thus born in or before 6 BC, as Matthew’s account works out, Jesus would be thirty-five years of age in AD 29 and not “about thirty.” But if Jesus was born, as Luke says, “when Cyrenius was governor of Syria” (Luke 2: 2 ), which was in AD 7, Jesus would be but twenty-one or twenty-two years of age in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, 29 AD, when his ministry began.”
It is unlikely that these contradictions would exist if the gospels, as claimed by most Christians, were inspired by a supernatural source (Holy Spirit). Setting that assumption aside, it can be suggested that disparate authors writing about a fictional figure would likely produce the observed result. Whether or not a supernatural influence is claimed, the discrepancies of Jesus’s demographics leave a significant hole in his historical footprint.
(2157) Pets left behind
Many Christians take literally the scriptural promise that when Jesus returns, he will rapture up his faithful followers into heaven, leaving behind to endure tribulation those of us who don’t hold the correct beliefs. But this leaves a hole in the bucket- what about an elderly parent that depends on a Christian daughter who leaves the afflicted without support? Also what about their pets? Unless pets are assumed to be resurrected to eternal life in heaven, they will be left behind and likely die of starvation. However, a company was formed to address this problem. The following was taken from:
A new company has started up – a company that will rescue and care for pets once their owners are Raptured away. Christians, take note – this is no joke. Just as it says on the official Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA Web site, this is serious.
Have you ever wondered who will care for your pets once you are joined with your maker in Heaven? Well, now you can put your mind at ease. For a small fee, you can rest easy knowing that the fine folks at Eternal Earth-Bound Pets will rescue and care for your pets once you’re gone.
They are currently operating in 20 states. According to their Web site, they will care for “dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and small caged mammals.” Oddly enough they do not offer this service for camels. Why do I say “oddly enough” in regard to camels?
This silly speculation nevertheless exposes a hole in the theology that the Apostle Paul likely never even considered. The concept of the rapture is ridiculous and its inclusion in the dogma does much damage to Christianity’s credibility.
(2158) God violates people’s free will
In the following Bible passage, it can be seen that the God of Christianity engineered the genocide of Israel’s neighboring tribes by violating the free will of the people, essentially forcing them to wage a futile battle that guaranteed their demise:
So Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and put them to death. Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Christians often assert that each person has free will to do as they see fit, but in this case, by hardening the hearts of these unfortunate people, God violated this dictum. If he did this once, how do we know he is not doing it currently- that is, hardening people’s hearts, not so much to have them slaughtered, but to condemn them to hell?
(2159) Jesus lied about prayer
If the Bible is the word of God, and that it says what it means, then an objective observer can conclude that Jesus lied about the effectiveness of prayer. The following was taken from:
Here are the quotes from Jesus that proves that he lied:
1) And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”(Matthew 21:21-22 NAS)
2) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NAB)
3) Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)
4) Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. (Mark 11:24-25 NAB)
5) And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-13 NAB)
6) And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 NAB)
7) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. (John 15:7 NAB)
8) It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (John 15:16 NAB)
9) On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23-24 NAB)
A lot of Christians ignore what Jesus actually says in the Bible. They also tend to add things to the actual words to make them say something else. If you honestly and truthfully read these quotes, without adding to them, it is very easy to see that Jesus is not saying that God will think about your prayers. He says God will grant all your prayers. Clearly, God doesn’t grant all prayers and this proves that Jesus was a habitual liar.
It is not controversial to state that these alleged quotes from Jesus greatly exaggerate the rate at which Christian prayers are answered. So, the question is- why would the gospel authors insert such outrageous claims that can so easily be refuted? Did they think that Jesus actually said these things, or did they invent them for a purpose- perhaps to achieve the short-term goal of quickly recruiting followers? Either way, they are lodestones that sink Christianity to the depths of falsehood.
(2160) Biblical séance
Although modern-day people no longer believe that dead people can be conjured up by mediums, this was not true in the times when the Bible was being written. This results in an embarrassing situation for those who hold the Bible to be the true and literal word of God. The following is a good example of this, as Saul uses a medium to talk to the recently deceased Samuel:
1 Samuel 28: 3-20
Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.
The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”
“There is one in Endor,” they said.
So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”
But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”
Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”
Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”
“Bring up Samuel,” he said.
When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”
The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.”
“What does he look like?” he asked.
“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”
Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”
Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and all that night.
Any sane Christian would have to concede that this story is fictional while desperately trying to hold that other parts are factual. This gets to be dicey- are only the implausible parts fictional, or do some plausible stories fall into the same category? We can’t be sure that the authors made up only fanciful tales and not those that seem reasonable. But the story above is a good indicator that the men who wrote the Bible were mired within a superstitious and scientifically-bereft mindset, and this should cause one to be suspicious of anything they wrote.
(2061) Undercutting Christianity’s foundation
The critical pillar upon which Christianity rests is that Jesus was the messiah as prophesized in the Old Testament. If this is not true, then Christianity fails the test as a legitimate faith. In the following, a case is made that Jesus actually had no theological connection to the Old Testament and therefore was, if he truly existed, a false prophet, and therefore that Christianity is false:
According to Jesus’ admissions, as well as the Bible’s prophecies, Jesus of Nazareth could not have been the Messiah. This of course, would invalidate Christianity as we know it. The compilation presented here shall be split in three sections. The first shall be the biblical prophecies that were made in order to identify the messiah, which Jesus does not fulfill. The second shall be the prophecies that Christians use to say that Jesus was the Messiah, yet they clearly fail. The third set shall be the prophecies and statements Jesus made yet they are false and have never came true.
Prophecies to Identify the Messiah, Which Jesus Does Not Fulfill:
1) Matthew 1:23 says that Jesus (the messiah) would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Yet no one, not even his parents, call him Immanuel at any point in the bible.
2) The Messiah must be a physical descendant of David (Romans 1:3 & Acts 2:30). Yet, how could Jesus meet this requirement since his genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 show he descended from David through Joseph, who was not his natural father because of the Virgin Birth. Hence, this prophecy could not have been fulfilled.
3) Isaiah 7:16 seems to say that before Jesus had reached the age of maturity, both of the Jewish countries would be destroyed. Yet there is no mention of this prophecy being fulfilled in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus, hence this is another Messiah prophecy not fulfilled.
Prophecies Christians Use to Verify Jesus as the Messiah, Yet Clearly Fail:
4) The gospels (especially Matthew 21:4 and John 12:14-15) claim that Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. But the next few verses (Zechariah 9:10-13) show that the person referred to in this verse is a military king that would rule “from sea to sea”. Since Jesus had neither an army nor a kingdom, he could not have fulfilled this prophecy.
5) Matthew (Matthew 2:17-18) quotes Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:15), claiming that it was a prophecy of King Herod’s alleged slaughter of the children in and around Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. But this passage refers to the Babylonian captivity, as is clear by reading the next two verses (Jeremiah 31:16-17), and, thus, has nothing to do with Herod’s massacre.
6) John 19:33 says that during Jesus’ crucifixion, the soldiers didn’t break his legs because he was already dead. Verse John 19:36 claims that this fulfilled a prophecy: “Not a bone of him shall be broken.” But there is no such prophecy. It is sometimes said that the prophecy appears in Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12 & Psalm 34:20. This is not correct. Exodus 12:46 & Numbers 9:12 are not prophecies, they are commandments. The Israelites are told not to break the bones of the Passover lamb, and this is all it is about. And Psalm 34:20 seems to refer to righteous people in general (see verse Psalm 34:19, where a plural is used), not to make a prophecy about a specific person.
7) “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”Hosea 11:1. Matthew (Matthew 2:15) claims that the flight of Jesus’ family to Egypt is a fulfillment of this verse. But Hosea 11:1 is not a prophecy at all. It is a reference to the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and has nothing to do with Jesus. Matthew tries to hide this fact by quoting only the last part of the verse (“Out of Egypt I have called my son”).
8a) “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2 The gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:5-6) claims that Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem fulfils this prophecy. But this is unlikely for two reasons.
8b) “Bethlehem Ephratah” in Micah 5:2 refers not to a town, but to a clan: the clan of Bethlehem, who was the son of Caleb’s second wife, Ephrathah (1 Chronicles 2:18, 2:50-52 & 4:4).
8c) The prophecy (if that is what it is) does not refer to the Messiah, but rather to a military leader, as can be seen from Micah 5:6. This leader is supposed to defeat the Assyrians, which, of course, Jesus never did. It should also be noted that Matthew altered the text of Micah 5:2 by saying: “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah” rather than “Bethlehem Ephratah” as is said in Micah 5:2. He did this, intentionally no doubt, to make this verse appear to refer to the town of Bethlehem rather than the family clan.
Statements Jesus Made Which Are False:
9) Jesus in John 14:12 & Mark 16:17-18 said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” This implies that Jesus’ true followers should be able to routinely perform the following tricks: 1) cast out devils, 2) speak in tongues, 3) take up serpents, 4) drink poisons without harm, and 5) cure the sick by touching them and MANY other of Jesus’ “works”. Curiously I have yet to see a Christian that can do any of the above on demand.
10) In John 14:13-14 Jesus stated: “And whatsoever ye ask in my name I do, that the Father may be glorified in the son. If ye ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” In reality, millions of people have made millions of requests in Jesus’ name and failed to receive satisfaction. This promise or prophecy has failed completely.
11) Paul says Christianity lives or dies on the Resurrection (1 Corinthian 15:14-17). Yet Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 that he would be buried three days and three nights as Jonah was in the whale three days and three nights. Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning is only one and a half days, so he could not have been the messiah by his own and Paul’s admission.
12) Jesus’ prophecy in John 13:38 (“The cock shall not crow, till thou [Peter] hast denied me three times”) is false. Mark 14:66-68 shows the cock crowed after the first denial, not the third.
13) In Mark 10:19 Jesus said: “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.” Jesus needs to re-read the Ten Commandments. There is no Old Testament commandment against defrauding. The only relevant statement about defrauding is in Leviticus 19:13 , which says : “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor.” This is an OT law, but is not listed with the Ten Commandments. Surely, if Jesus was god incarnate he would know the commandments.
14) “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). If Jesus is in heaven, how can he be down on earth speaking? Moreover, according to 2 Kings 2:11 (“and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven”) Jesus was not the only person to ascend into heaven, nor was he the first. Elijah preceded him and apparently Enoch did also (“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him”–Genesis 5:24).
15) In Luke 23:43 Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” This obviously has to be false, for Jesus was supposed to lay dead in the tomb for three days following his crucifixion.
1 6) Jesus says : “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy” (Matthew 5:43). This statement does not exist in the OT either. In fact, Proverbs 24:17 says, “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth…”
17) Jesus is reported to say: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it”(Luke 16:16). Certainly every man is not pressing to enter the kingdom of God. The very fact that I am an atheist (one third of the world’s population does not believe in a god) proves this verse to be false.
18) “Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” (Matthew 12:5) Nowhere does the OT state that the priests in the temple profaned the Sabbath and were considered blameless.
19) “Yea; have ye never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise’” (Matthew 21:16). Jesus is quoting Psalm 8:2, which says, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies…”. “Perfect praise” has little to do with “ordaining strength because of thine enemies.” Another misquotation!
20) “But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him” (Mark 9:13). There are no prophecies in the OT of things that were to happen to Elijah.
Jesus, in all his “God incarnate” wisdom, contradicts himself:
21) Jesus consistently contradicts himself concerning his Godly status. “I and my father are one.” (John 14:28) Also see Philippians 2:5-6 Those verses lead us to believe that he is a part of the trinity and equal to his father being a manifestation of him. Yet, Jesus also made many statements that deny he is the perfect men, much less God incarnate. Take the following for example: “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God” (Matthew 19:17). “My father if greater then I.” (John 14:28) Also see Matthew 24:26 Clearly, Jesus is denouncing the possibility of him being the Messiah in those three verses.
22) Jesus said, “whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire”(Matthew 5:22). Yet, he himself did so repeatedly, as Matthew 23:17-19 and Luke 11:40 & 12:20 show. Clearly Jesus should be in danger of hell too?
23) Does Jesus support peace, or war? Matthew 5:39 “Resist not evil, but whoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Also note Matthew 6:38-42 & 26:52 where Jesus teaches non-resistance, Non-violence. Now read (Luke 22:36-37) Where Jesus commands people to take arms for a coming conflict. (John 2:15) Jesus uses a whip to physically drive people out of the temple.
24) Matthew 15:24 Jesus said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of lsrael,”. This would of course mean that he is here only to save the Jews. The scriptures repeatedly back up this notion that Christ is savior to the Jews and not the gentiles (see Romans 16:17, Revelations 14:3-4 & John 10). The contradiction lies in what Jesus later tells his followers: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
25) Can we hate our kindred? Luke 14:26 Jesus says “If any man come unto me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brother, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he can not be my disciple.” John 3:15 “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” Also see Ephesians 6:22, 5:25, & Matthew 15:4
26) Even many of the staunchest defenders of Jesus admit that his comment in Matthew 10:34 (“I came not to send peace but a sword”) contradicts verses such as Matthew 26:52 (“Put up again thy sword into his place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword”).
27) Deuteronomy 24:1 & 21:10-14 all say that divorce is allowed for the simple reason if a “man no longer delighteth in his wife”. Yet Jesus comes along and breaks his father’s law by saying in Matthew 5:32 that adultery is the only way one can be divorced.
28) In Mark 8:35 Jesus said: “…but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s the same shall save it.” How could Jesus have said this when there was no gospel when he lived? The gospel did not appear until after his death.
29) Matthew 6:13 Jesus recites a revised prayer and states, “Don’t bring us into temptation.” God is the cause of everything, even Satan. God has been leading people into temptation since the Garden of Eden. Otherwise, the trees of life and knowledge would have never been there.
30) Matthew 12:1-8 Jesus thinks it’s okay to break his father’s laws, by breaking the Sabbath day. He states that he is basically exempt for such fiascoes and that he is Master of the Sabbath.
31) John 3:17 Jesus contradicts himself when he says, “God didn’t send his son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” Jesus seems to forget his own stories.
32) James 4:3 If your prayers are not answered, it’s your own damned fault. This is in direct contradiction to where Jesus says “seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be known to you”.
33) “If Jesus bears witness of himself his witness is true” John 8:14, “If I bear witness of myself it is not true.” John 5:31
34) “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20), versus “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always”(Matthew 26:11 , Mark 14:7, John 12:8) and “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am thither ye cannot come” (John 7:34). Is this the kind of friend one can rely on?
35) “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her” (Mark 10:11 & Luke 6:18), versus “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery” (Matthew 19:9). In the book of Matthew, Jesus said a man could put away his wife if one factor– fornication–is involved. In Mark and Luke he allowed no exceptions.
36) Jesus is quoted: “Judge not, and ye shall be not judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 & Matthew 7:1), versus “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus stated men are not to judge but, then, allowed it under certain conditions. As in the case of divorce, he can’t seem to formulate a consistent policy.
37) “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46, (also note the time before crucification where Jesus prays for the “cup to passeth over me”) versus “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, for this purpose I have come to this hour” (John 12:27 RSV). Jesus can’t seem to decide whether or not he wants to die. One moment he is willing; the next he isn’t.
38) In Luke 23:30 (“Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, fall on us, and to the hills, cover us”) Jesus quoted Hosea 10:8 (“…and they shall say to the mountains, cover us; and to the hills, fall on us”). And, like Paul, he often quoted inaccurately. In this instance, he confused mountains with hills.
39) “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they know him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:11-13). John the Baptist was beheaded, but Jesus was not. And what did John the Baptist restore? Nothing!
40) We are told salvation is obtained by faith alone (John 3:18 & 36) yet Jesus told a man to follow the Commandments-Matthew 19:16-18 (saving by works)-if he wanted eternal life.
41) In Luke 12:4 Jesus told his followers to “Be not afraid of them that kill the body.” But Matthew 12:14-16, John 7:1, 8:59, 10:39, 11:53-54, & Mark 1:45 show that Jesus consistently feared death. Jesus went out of his way to hide, run, and attempt escape from the Roman and Jewish authorities.
42) Matthew 5:28 says to sin in “your heart” is considered a sin in itself. The messiah is supposed to be God incarnate, not able to sin, yet in Matthew 4:5 & Luke 4:5-9, Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, which is sinning in his heart. Jesus also took upon all the sins of the world during his crucifixion, so how can it be said that “Jesus was the perfect man without sin”? This would lead one to believe he was not the Messiah.
43) Jesus told us to “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you,” but ignored his own advice by repeatedly denouncing his opposition. Matthew 23:17 (“Ye fools and blind”), Matthew 12:34 (“0 generation of vipers”), and Matthew 23:27 (“. . . hypocrites . . . ye are like unto whited sepulchres. . .”) are excellent examples of hypocrisy.
44) Did the people of Jesus’ generation see any signs? (Matthew 12:38-40) Jesus announced that no signs would be given to that generation except the Resurrection itself. (Mark 8:12-13) Jesus announced that no signs would be given to that generation. (Mark 16:20) They went out preaching, and the Lord confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (John 20:30) Jesus provided many wonders and signs. (Acts 2:22) Jesus provided many wonders and signs. (Acts 5:12 & 8:13) many signs and wonders were done through the apostles.
45) Jesus commands the disciples to go into Galilee immediately after the resurrection. Matthew 28:10 Jesus commands the disciples to “tarry in Jerusalem” immediately after the resurrection.
46) Matthew 28:18 & John 3:35 both tell that Jesus said he could do anything. Yet Mark 6:5 says Jesus was not all powerful.
47) Jesus says in Luke 2:13-14 that he came to bring peace on earth. Matthew 10:34 Jesus back peddles and says he did not come to bring peace on earth.
48) Did Christ receive testimony from man? “Ye sent unto John and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man.” John 5:33-34 “And ye shall also bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” John 15:27
49) Christ laid down his life for his friends. John 15:13 & 10:11 Christ laid down his life for his enemies. Romans 5:10
50) Deuteronomy 23:2 says that bastards can not attend church unto the tenth generation. If Jesus was spawned by Mary and Jehovah as the Bible claims then he is technically a bastard and should not be the leader of the church.
Christians should ask themselves this question: If Jesus was the messiah prophesized in the Jewish scriptures, why are there so many counter-exampled pieces of evidence refuting this claim? Should it not be that all of scripture paints a consistent and compelling case for this vital assertion? It does not, and anybody who evaluates the Bible in an objective manner will see Christianity for the fraud that it is.
(2162) Creating urgency
The first gospel, Mark, was likely written in approximately 70 CE, or about 40 years following the alleged crucifixion of Jesus. In Chapter 13, the author has Jesus listing the events that will happen just before the end of times would occur. At the end of this passage, Jesus is said to have uttered the following:
“Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
The author of Matthew took Mark’s text and even made the message even clearer:
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
It is well established in every circle except groups of Christians who are in denial that this prophecy has failed. It didn’t happen the way Jesus is alleged to have predicted. This raises an interesting question: why did the author of Mark write this into his gospel- wasn’t it a big risk considering that its validity would have only a very short remaining lifetime? After all, people didn’t live very long in those days, 70 years tops, so if we generously assume that some 10-20 year old persons were listening to Jesus make this proclamation, they would likely all be dead within about 10-20 more years after the gospel was written (given that they would then have been 50-60), after which Jesus is made to seem a false prophet.
There are two possible explanations. Perhaps Jesus was a real person and he actually said this, and his words were accurately passed on 40 years into the future. But much more likely, the author of Mark made this up to create a sense of immediacy- that the end was indeed very near and that it was important for people to quickly prepare for it and also to convert as many people as possible. Given this likely scenario, it is safe to say that what worked in the short term has failed in the long term. These verses are now important clues that Christianity is not a true faith.
(2163) Resurrection contradiction
There is a contradiction between Jesus’ resurrection as described by Paul in his letters and that described in the gospels. Paul believed in the rebirth and rising of the soul, while the gospels describe what appears to be a flesh and blood Jesus departing the earth. So the question is posed as follows: Did Jesus and presumably will others in the future rise with material bodies or only their spiritual souls? The following was taken from:
It’s a good bet that Christians today want an honest-to-goodness physical body that walked out of the tomb: a body that came to life—breathing resumed, blood started pumping again—and this revived Jesus invited Thomas to poke his finger in the sword-wound in his side, John 20). Laypeople may find Paul’s poetry lovely, i.e., in I Corinthians,
“… we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
And indeed everyone who hopes to go to heaven assumes that their twinkling souls, not their bodies, are heaven-bound. But the Risen Jesus himself had better not have been a soul, ghost, phantom, apparition—or, god forbid, a product of Paul’s temporal lobe epilepsy. The body missing from the tomb assures precisely that. But it is so commonly overlooked that this also cancels the reality of a physical resurrection: What do you do with the body once it’s up and walking around again? The Book of Acts has a simple answer: after forty days Jesus ascended to heaven; he vanished into the clouds. Which means that the New Testament is guilty of a cover-up.
We can be one hundred percent certain that the body of Jesus never left planet earth; those who protest “Oh yes, it did happen,” have to be okay with Jesus remaining in orbit to this day. “It’s a symbol or metaphor” doesn’t work either, unless resurrection itself is a symbol or metaphor. Christianity is caught in a terrible bind here: if Jesus did indeed come back to life, then he must have died again, and was buried again. So what exactly did resurrection accomplish? Paul’s Risen Jesus didn’t stay Risen all that long. But Jesus was alive in Paul’s visions, hence he had no use for the story of the Empty Tomb, which probably hadn’t been invented yet at the time he wrote his letters. He would have deemed it a worthless tale.
If Jesus’ resurrection was supposed to symbolize the raising of Christians at the Second Coming, then it would seem that only his spirit ascended into heaven. But this leaves his body still on earth, meaning he must have died a second death. This would mean that his physical resurrection was meaningless- he could have ascended to heaven without a material resurrection. Well, some will say that he needed to physically come back to life to prove the point, but that still leads to the mystery of his physical body- what happened to it? Those who believe that his material body defied gravity and flew up to heaven must ask what happened to it then?- is Jesus still in his physical body- or did he shed it like a molting snake?
(2164) Old Testament laws remain in effect
Christians have struggled desperately to separate their theology and doctrine away from the strange, barbaric, ridiculous, inane, sexist, racist laws that their God supposedly imparted on the Jews. They commonly make the claim that Jesus created a new legal structure for the faith and so they can discard what is written in the Old Testament. The following essay destroys this argument:
Many Christians claim that the Old Testament laws do not apply to us because Jesus was the “lamb” to clear away its rules and regulations. This is just another scapegoat that Christians use to ignore the atrocities and bizarre laws commanded by their god. Their preachers spoon feed them that the Old Testament is no longer binding so that they can excuse the majority of evil that the bible promotes. I am so tired of Christians manipulating the scriptures so that they can assign a kinder nature to their God, that I have assembled a list of verses which clearly show that the Old Testament is not to be ignored. Its laws should indeed be adhered to, for the New Testament demands it!
1) “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV) Clearly the Old Testament is to be obeyed until the end of human existence itself. None other than Jesus said so.
2) All of the vicious Old Testament laws will be binding forever. “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)
3) Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)
3b) “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)
3c) “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” (2 Peter 20-21 NAB)
4) Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children according to Old Testament law. Mark.7:9-13 “Whoever curses father or mother shall die”(Mark 7:10 NAB)
5) Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating. He defends himself by attacking them for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment: “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” (Matthew 15:4-7)
6) Jesus has a punishment even worse than his father concerning adultery: God said the act of adultery was punishable by death. Jesus says looking with lust is the same thing and you should gouge your eye out, better a part, than the whole. The punishment under Jesus is an eternity in Hell. (Matthew 5:27)
7) Peter says that all slaves should “be subject to [their] masters with all fear,” to the bad and cruel as well as the “good and gentle.” This is merely an echo of the same slavery commands in the Old Testament. 1 Peter 2:18
8) “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law”(John7:19) and “For the law was given by Moses,…” (John 1:17).
9) “…the scripture cannot be broken.” –Jesus Christ, John 10:35
So what can be said? Their own New Testament scriptures assert that the laws remain in effect. Some Christians might accede to this fact, but state that they apply only to the Jews, forgetting for the moment that their savior and all of his disciples were Jews and that, for the most part, God hardly could be seen to divide his followers into two groups, each with a separate set of expectations. In other words, it is difficult to believe that Jesus came to our planet to start a new religion separate from Judaism, the very faith that he followed. It is much more likely that he intended to extend and refresh Judaism while still maintaining the Torah law structure.
(2165) Ancient miracle claims better attested than gospels
The gospel authors committed the anti-historical practice of simply copying from each other tales of miraculous feats in a manner that was inferior to comparable works of antiquity. This reduces their perceived authenticity to a level below that of other contemporary biographies. The following was taken from:
An additional final point, which is not so much a criterion of distinction, but rather a reason why even the lack of these differences would still not save the Gospels, is that not even the real historical works that we have from antiquity should be taken at face value. Their authors still have their biases, they still speculate over past events, they sometimes make errors about dates and places, they had limited evidence afforded to them, and they still report a number of unbelievable claims.
I certainly do not trust miracle claims, simply because a historical text records them. Many ancient historians report miracles that are far better attested and independently corroborated than those in the Gospels. The historians Tacitus (Ann. 6.20), Suetonius (Gal. 4), and Cassius Dio (64.1) all independently corroborate that the emperor Tiberius used his knowledge of astrology to predict the future emperor Galba’s reign. These same historians likewise independently corroborate that Vespasian could miraculously cure the blind and crippled (Tacitus, Ann. 4.81; Suetonius, Vesp. 7.2; Dio 65.8). As I explained above, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dio are not simply copying each other, whereas the Gospels are heavily dependent upon each other for information. This does not entail that the Pagan miracles are true, but it does show that they were not invented by these historians and most likely derive from an earlier common source (I think that most of these stories go back to roughly contemporary claims about miracles when Galba and Vespasian became emperors, which I elaborate on further in my paper “The Propaganda of Accession of the Roman Emperor Galba”). In contrast, since the Gospels copy from each other, many of their miracles can very easily have no earlier source, and when one earlier gospel author invented a miracle, a later gospel could merely pass it along in a game of telephone.
This introduces the possibility that the author of the first gospel, Mark, made up miracle stories about Jesus that were then mindlessly copied by subsequent gospel authors, creating the false perception that these miracles were attested by independent sources. This adds an additional layer of incredulity to the otherwise inherently implausible reports of the supernatural.
(2166) Whose fault is it?
Most Christians believe that people who fail to accept Jesus as their savior will be sent to hell. It is safe to say that anyone who is convinced that Jesus is real and that accepting him will save them from hell and deliver them to heaven would accept this offer without reservation. But what if the case is not convincing- at least to people with good critical thinking skills? Whose fault is it if these people fail to accept Jesus? The following is taken from:
Then, of course, there’s the ultimate contradiction of a god who loves humans yet creates a torture facility for them called hell. Ya can’t have both, so I’m guessing ya got neither. And besides, If I don’t believe, isn’t that the fault of those who failed to make a believable case, rather than my fault? If a philosopher fails to convince me of his weird philosophy, is that my fault or his? I could go on, but I’ll have mercy on you…
Here is where Christian philosophy meets a dead end. Jesus knows what it would take to convince a person of his existence, deliberately fails to produce the necessary evidence, and then convicts the person for failing to accept him. Whose fault is it? It’s Jesus’ fault, pure and simple.
(2167) Eight-step slam dunk
Sometimes it takes a multiple-pronged attack to achieve a kill…of a virus, a bacteria, or a religious belief. In the following, an eight-step approach is taken to prove that Christianity is false. None of the eight points individually are sufficient to achieve this goal, but by taking all eight in hand at once the objective is decisively met:
- There is clear evidence that prayer does not work despite the Bible promising prayers will be answered.
- There is clear evidence that humans invent gods and there is no reason to believe the Jewish god is an exception.
- There is clear evidence that religions and gods are propagated through culture by infecting children, and no evidence that they are propagated by gods.
- There is clear evidence that religions evolve as human understanding of the world changes whilst a real, God-given religion, should never need to change.
- There is clear evidence that humans on this planet have unequal access to Christianity so, if Christianity is true, billions would be condemned to hell for no fault of their own. This contradicts the Christian notion that God is omni-benevolent.
- There is clear evidence that the Bible, supposedly inspired by God, is riddled with the type of errors that we would expect from Iron Age men but not from the creator of the universe.
- Christian theology is incoherent to the point of absurdity. God killing his son so he can forgive our future sin is like me breaking my son’s legs so I can forgive my neighbor in case she ever parks her car on my drive. It is quite ridiculous.
- There is clear evidence that the arguments presented for the existence of God are founded on logical fallacies – all of them. All that is left for Christians is faith and their feelings. We know that faith and feelings can be used to believe in any god at all – including non-existent gods. So faith and feelings are epistemologically worthless. And that is all Christians have.
(2168) Yahweh might have been created by a greater god
Even if we assume that Yahweh, the god of Christianity, is fully omnipotent and can see and manipulate the entire universe in real time (which is physically impossible given our current understanding of space-time physics), it is likely that he doesn’t know how he came into existence. He might sense that he has always existed, but still, it is possible that he was created by a greater god and given our universe as his assignment.
This greater god might have created multiple universes and placed a god in charge of each one. The greater god might also intend to judge his lesser gods in accordance with their performance. As such, Yahweh could not be certain that he has performed well enough to satisfy the greater god, especially considering that he might not even know that this greater god exists. The greater god might have created a hell for poor performing gods, meaning that Yahweh, considering among other things his liberal use of genocide on the Earth, might be sent to a god hell once the greater god decides to end our universe.
(2169) The case against belief
The Apostle Paul was the person who promoted the idea that merely believing in and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is sufficient to obtain salvation, and that it doesn’t depend on your actions. This ridiculous idea has contaminated the bulk of the Christian doctrinal landscape ever since. In the following, a convincing case is made that such a flawed system of judging people probably did not originate with a supernatural deity:
Belief in god, Jesus, etc. as a prerequisite for salvation is not a sensible system. I am referring to the idea that in order to be saved and go into Heaven you must accept that you have sinned, that God exists and came to earth as Jesus and died on the cross as payment for your sins.
I will now give a few reasons why this system of requiring belief to be saved is terribly unfair and unreasonable.
1.) Belief is not something you are in control of. People cannot be made to believe things because they want to. If you doubt this, go try your hardest to believe that Zeus reigns over the earth from the peak of Mt. Olympus. You will likely fail to convince yourself, regardless of how hard you try.
2.) Belief is not a black or white thing. It’s a spectrum. Mainstream Christianity has never even really dealt with this. If someone is 99% certain of god and Jesus, etc. then are they saved? What if it’s 70%? If they are only 49% certain are they unsaved?
3.) What people believe/don’t believe is so heavily dependent on things out of their control. My children will have a much more difficult path to believing in the God of the Bible because they have been raised completely removed from religion and in an atheistic way. Someone raised in a very religious household who was exposed to Christianity at a young age has a much easier path. Likewise, someone born to a devout Hindu family has an extremely tough path to Christian faith.
4.) Belief is dependent on a person’s brain functions. For this, let’s pretend that it is true that God exists as described by mainstream Christianity. Perhaps I see all the arguments made for God and yet don’t believe because I’m simply not intelligent. My brain functions at a low level, maybe because of poor nutrition as a child, or poor education, or simply unfortunate genetics. The idea that someone being incorrect due to a lack of intelligence would damn them to eternal torment seems repugnant.
5.) Beliefs change over time and it is not clear how your ultimate fate (Heaven/Hell) is determined in mainstream Christianity. Let’s say i am a firm believer who was saved at age 14 and has followed the teachings of Jesus to the best of my ability my whole life since then. At age 85 I hear an argument against God, heavy doubt enters my mind, and I die later that day. Do I go to Hell?
and that brings up the final point:
6.) The time of your death determines your fate for many people. I am an atheist and have been since age 19. Before that I was a Christian believer and follower of Christ. If I had died before 19 I’d have gone to Heaven, according to mainstream Christianity. If I die now I’ll go to Hell according to them. My fate largely is just dependent on when I happened to die.
Now, none of these issues are meant to prove God doesn’t exist or faith in him isn’t a prerequisite for salvation. I don’t take any of those things as even serious intellectual considerations. However, I think I have made a good case for why this system (if it did exist) would be horribly unfair and ultimately just unintelligent.
I think that realization can function as solid reasoning against the Christian god.
The most overlooked and perhaps convincing argument presented above is #2, that belief is not a black and white issue, it exists on a continuum. As such, any cutoff point would be arbitrary. It is difficult to imagine how God could keep track of the percentage of a person’s belief, determine exactly what that percentage was at the time of death, and then compare that percentage to some specified limit. Undeniably, to judge a person based on their deeds would be a much more palatable and fair system. It is too bad that Christianity deviated from this obviously superior solution.
(2070) Undeniable existence is needed for Christian god
Anyone other than true believers would admit that if an all-powerful god exists, it is keeping itself well hidden, such that a large number of intelligent people have serious doubts if not an outright rejection of its existence. No one will deny that if such a good exists, it could make its existence known in a manner that would completely remove all doubt.
A hidden god would make sense if it is simply an observer of its creation and of the various lifeforms that might evolve on certain planets. But this is not the god claimed by Christianity. No, the god of Christianity is said to desire a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with humans. For this to make any sense at all, such a god would necessarily be expected to provide, AS A MINIMUM, evidence supporting its undeniable existence that would penetrate the critical thinking filter of every human being. That this is obviously not being provided, it establishes evidence that the Christian god does not exist.
All of the apologetic counter-arguments fail to address the simple truth that you cannot expect anyone to have a personal relationship with someone if you do not provide convincing evidence that you even exist. That would seem to be the most basic starting point.
(2171) Mark written to explain the Jewish War outcome
There is a theory that the person who wrote the Gospel of Mark was motivated to invent a literary fictional story that explained why God allowed the Temple to be destroyed and for the Romans to overrun and decimate the Jewish population in Judea. He then used the current belief of the contemporary Christians who were then worshiping a celestial son of Yahweh and made him into a flesh and blood preacher who roamed the countryside and worked miracles. The story then inadvertently became believed by later Christians as being literal. The following was taken from:
In his Chapter 1, “Deciphering the Gospel Called Mark,” pay close attention to Price’s chart on pp. 3-5, the texts Mark used from the Hebrew scriptures to build his story. His intention was not history at all:
• “That the Gospel of Mark was written during or shortly after the First Jewish-Roman War that spanned from 67 to 73CE is now widely accepted by modern scholars…” p. 2
Strange, isn’t it, that the Jesus story wasn’t written down right away as soon as he was gone? Or maybe, since the Christian cult expected Jesus to end history soon, why bother? But what if Jesus hadn’t been real at all?
Forty years later the story was created for a reason:
• “My view, however,” Price continues, “is that the motivating factor that drove the author to write the story that we now call the Gospel of Mark was the destruction of the temple and the war itself. Jesus is just a literary device used in an allegorical framework to tell a story about how the Jews brought destruction upon themselves. That’s what the story is really about. The motivation behind the writing the story was to comment on the war; Jesus is a device used for the telling of that tale.” p. 2 (emphasis added)
• “The writer of the story called the Gospel of Mark created a very clever multilayered narrative that he intended for his audience to be able to decipher and understand. The writer made extensive use of literary allusions as a vital part of the narrative, in such a way that the intention of the work was for people to recognize the literary illusions and look them up in order to understand the story. Apparently, however, this isn’t what happened. What happened was that many people believed the story to be literally true and only recognized a relatively small portion of the literary allusions.” p. 5
Is this origin of Mark too speculative for you? Well, check out Price’s chart of scriptural allusions to see what Mark was up to, and recall his unrestrained use of fantasy, magical thinking, superstition, and miracle folklore.
And so it has come to pass that, the more the gospels have been studied by secular historians with no emotional investment in Jesus, the more the documents can be understood as literary, theological creations. We have been led to this conclusion by even devout Bible scholars themselves, who have hit so many brick walls in their quest for the historical Jesus. Maybe they’re the ones who should wear the t-shirt, “You’all need Jesus.” The sad news for them is that, Yes, they need him, but they can’t even find him.
This would be similar to modern people mistakenly believing that Dickens Great Expectations was a true story. The author of Mark was making a theological statement and he left many telltale markers in his text to let readers understand this intent, but history flowed in the opposite direction and today we have gullible people believing every word in it is the literal truth.
(2172) Grading Christians using Jesus’ ‘test’
In Mark 16:17-18, just before Jesus departed planet Earth, he explained the signs that would accompany those who would follow him:
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Driving out demons
This one is hard to grade because we now know that demons don’t exist. But there are some groups who do practice exorcisms including the staid Catholic Church. So although this activity is ‘just for fun’ as far as any sane person can see, we will give them partial credit and award ½ point.
Speak in new tongues
There are several congregations that practice speaking in tongues, such as the Assembly of God. Their utterings can sound as if they are speaking existing languages foreign to their native language, but in reality it is just random babbling. But since they are trying, we will award ½ point.
They will pick up snakes in their hands
There are only a few Christian sects that attempt to handle snakes. The implication of Jesus’s statement is that the snakes are dangerous and that the snake handlers will not be harmed by picking them up. On multiple occasions, the snakes have bit the handlers who have subsequently died. This must be rated as a failure, so no points are awarded.
When they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all
All we need to do is to point to the Jonestown cyanide-fueled mass suicide in 1978 to see that there is no immunity to drinking deadly poison no matter how much you love Jesus. No points.
They will place hands on sick people, and they will get well
This is attempted by most Christian sects, but the results are uniformly dismal. Any study that looks at this activity objectively has shown that no result exceeds statistical norms or even a plausible placebo effect. The implication of Jesus’ statement is that the laying on of hands would produce a reliable therapeutic effect. If this was the case, we would expect hospitals to be filled with Christians laying hands on the sick. In the absence of this, no points are awarded.
The final scorecard is 1 point out of a possible 5, a complete, unadulterated, and total failure. Why do Christians not see that they are not exhibiting the signs that Jesus forecast? Well, in their defense, they can point out the scholarly consensus that this scripture was not original to Mark’s gospel, but was added by a later forger. As if that fixes the problem!
(2173) Religion creates two problems that God ignored
Religion creates two major problems neither of which God is doing anything about. First, there is the situation where many religions exist and conflict with each other, leading to hatred and violence being spewed across theological battle lines. If everyone followed the same religion in same way, things would be a lot better, but not completely.
This leads into the second major problem with religion. It tends to be tethered to the mores, ethics, and knowledge existing at the time of its creation. That combined with an inherent resistance to change leads to the penetration of archaic themes into modern times with its more evolved zeitgeist. For example, Christianity was consistent with the morality existing in its early years, with its defense of slavery, repudiation of homosexuality, subjugation of women, teaching of creationism, disregard of animal rights or the health of the biosphere, but these ideas have now lost their respectability. Thus even if only one world religion existed, there would still be problems dealing with the persistence of old, outdated beliefs rooted in the past.
So this is what God has observed…and done nothing to fix. First, he could have produced tangible evidence and engineered history to ensure that only one religious faith existed, free from factions and conflicting denominations. Second, he could have equipped such a faith with doctrine that would stand the test of time and still be relevant as the centuries rolled on. Such a god would have known that the future of humanity was on a trajectory of racial and sexual equality, would have understood science such as to make his scriptures thereby consistent, and would have abolished slavery on day one, as just a few examples. The fact that this god, the god of Christianity, did none of this suggests strongly that he doesn’t exist.
(2174) Jesus used prayer to heal
There exists evidence in the gospels that Jesus used intercessory prayer as a means to heal people. This is no different than contemporary Christians praying to God to heal themselves or someone else. This only becomes a problem because Christians later came to see Jesus as God himself, or co-equal to the father in the case of Trinitarians, meaning that Jesus should not have required intercession to support any of his efforts to bring about a healing. The following was taken from:
Three key texts attest to the presence of intercessory prayer in some of Jesus’ healing/exorcistic work.
1) On three occasions the Matthean Jesus closes an episode of healing or exorcism with the phrase “let it be done to you [as you wish/in accordance with your faith]” (γενηθήτω σοι) (Matthew 8:13, 9:29, 15:28). The third-person singular imperative γενηθήτω functions in these cases as a petition directed to God. Jesus’ prayer “let your will be done (γενηθήτω) on earth as it is in heaven,” for instance, is effectively a request submitted to God: “May you, O God, establish your will on earth.” God is clearly the implied agent of the imperative passive verb here and elsewhere (cf. Acts 1:20, Romans 9:11).
2) On another occasion Jesus’ disciples ask their master why they were unable to exorcise a particular demon. Jesus responds “This kind can come out only through prayer [and fasting]” (Mark 9:29). Like most exorcists of the time then, Jesus believed prayer to be a necessary component of exorcism from time to time. Although Jesus never addresses God during an exorcistic ritual in the Gospels, this saying evidences that Jesus did use such prayers when the treatment required it.
3) In the process of healing Lazarus Jesus somewhat unconventionally prays a meta-prayer of thanksgiving: “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42). In this saying Jesus admits to the efficacy of his prayers in the context of therapeutic ritual. He is always heard by God when he desires to heal someone. The communion between the Johannine Jesus and God is so intimate that prayer has become redundant, however, purely for show.
For christological reasons then, Jesus’ expertise as a prayer healer was largely covered up by the early Christians. The Jesus who healed via prayer became the Jesus who healed as God’s pre-authorized agent. In the later centuries, this Jesus then became the Jesus who healed as God himself. Given this christological trajectory, it therefore seems quite likely that Jesus sometimes incorporated intercessory prayer into his healing work—just as Jewish healers did before him and just as his own disciples did after him (Acts 9:40, 28:8, James 5:14-15).
These three passages are what is termed ‘pristine scripture,’ or scripture likely written by the original author that was not later massaged by editors. It reveals that early Christians likely saw Jesus as a mortal human who was asking God to heal people, just like they did themselves, rather than being God himself. It is probable that other original gospel passages showing Jesus using intercessory prayer were edited to omit this ‘unnecessary’ step. But these three remain and perhaps offer a glimpse of the real Jesus.
(2175) God of Judaism irreconcilable with Christian god
Christianity has a huge problem. The god they inherited from the Jews, Yahweh, does not exhibit the characteristics that their faith demands. In effect, they created a new and different god while deceitfully saying it’s the same as the old god of the Jews. The mismatch is startling, even more so because most Christians assert that God never changes. The following was taken from:
Plain and simple, having a chosen people and only interacting with and revealing yourself to them for thousands of years does not mesh with the concept of a universalist religion.
A few of the unfair things that go against the concept that god loves all people equally and wants to save all people.
Israel gets prophets sent to correct their bad behavior. Other nations get destroyed by god through the Israelites for their bad behavior. The two exceptions are when god uses the bad behavior of foreigners to punish the Israelites, which is immoral in that he rewards sin and encourages evil from people he didn’t choose just to help those he did choose do good, and sometimes if a foreign nation ruled Israel, the head of state would also get to hear from prophets, but even then Israel was favored and average lowly citizens were harmed. For instance, Egyptian citizens were not given the opportunity to avoid their firstborn dying while the Israelites were. Similarly, when a king didn’t treat the Israelites right, a famine was brought down that caused the death of thousands of his citizens, implying that they’re just basically his property as their deaths served only to punish the king.
The majority of the human race did not get any interaction whatsoever with god for almost the entirety of human existence, and yet Israelites got to experience miracles from him fairly frequently and got to have people who could directly speak to god. For a god who apparently loves everyone equally, it’s a shame the native Americans never got to hear from him and never got prophets of their own for all of human history. The same goes for Asia, most of Europe, most of Africa, and all of Australia. This goes against the idea of a universalist god who desires a relationship with everyone.
Only people who happened to live in and around Israel got to ever meet god in human form as Jesus. Again, all of the previously listed continents and areas never got to meet Jesus personally and hear him teach. Going further, only a select few got to experience miracles from Jesus anyways, and it’s not like they did anything special before Jesus came to warrant them deserving it more than other people. An omni god that allegedly loves all people equally does not mesh with a god that only helps a few random people through miracles. It’s like a doctor who has unlimited medical supplies but only treats a dozen or so patients at random and turns away everyone else.
People who are not well versed in Ancient Greek, ancient Hebrew and the histories of those areas are not capable of fully understanding the holy texts. It doesn’t matter if the core message is intact. A misunderstanding can and will lead to people deconverting or choosing not to convert in the first place, even if that misunderstanding is not centered around how salvation is achieved. This gives an unfair advantage to people who physically got to meet Jesus, people who were part of the early church with Paul, and people today with access to higher education and with the high mental capacity required to learn multiple ancient languages and become a historical expert, as well as experts in literature analysis.
The universalist god described by Christians would not be giving advantages to select groups in terms of the likelihood of being saved and certainly would not randomly pick one ethnic group in one corner of the globe and ignore every other group in the rest of the world for most of human history. I believe the god of Judaism is irreconcilable with the god of Christianity.
This is like playing tennis without the net- it is a fatal defect in Christian theology and one that has never been fully reconciled, and never can be, absent a major shift in dogma that repudiates the reality of Yahweh himself, or at least the way he was portrayed in Jewish scriptures.
(2176) Visions accepted as reality
Over the past 20 centuries, our interpretation of visions has changed. Today, they are seen as random and mostly meaningless fluctuations of brain activity, whereas then they were often taken as facsimiles of reality. This may explain why early Christians were inclined to believe in Jesus’ physical resurrection. The following was taken from:
- Paul says Jesus “appeared” to him – 1 Cor 15:8.
- The appearance to Paul was a personal “vision” or “revelation” from heaven – Gal. 1:16, Acts 26:19.
- Paul uses his vision/revelation from heaven as a “resurrection appearance” – 1 Cor 15:5-8.
Therefore, visions/revelations from heaven counted as “resurrection appearances.”
If Paul can use a personal/subjective “revelation” (Gal. 1:16) as a “resurrection appearance” in 1 Cor 15:8 then it necessarily follows that early Christians accepted personal/subjective claims of “revelations” from heaven (experiences that don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality) as evidence of the Resurrected Christ “appearing” to them. Think about that for a moment.
We can then proceed with the following argument:
- Early Christians accepted personal/subjective claims of “visions/revelations” as “resurrection appearances.”
- Personal/subjective claims of visions/revelations don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality.
- Therefore, early Christians accepted personal/subjective claims that didn’t necessarily have anything to with reality as “resurrection appearances.”
Obviously, you can see the problem now which calls into question the whole basis of the Christian faith.
Support for premise 2: Personal claims of visions and revelations don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality. This is a presupposition which we all share, Christians and non-Christians alike. For example, do any non-Mormons actually take Joseph Smith’s First Vision as veridical (having anything to do with reality)? Do any non-Hindus believe in Arjuna’s Cosmic Vision of Krishna? Well, if you’re not Hindu then you don’t believe Krishna exists so this must be a made up story, right? So we don’t have any good reason to doubt premise 2, but we do have good reasons to affirm it. Even if one particular religion’s personal spiritual experiences are veridical, it still follows that the overwhelming majority of the claims throughout history are necessarily false or mistaken.
With this out of the way, can anyone demonstrate the veracity of Paul’s experience without begging the question (assuming Christianity is true a priori) or special pleading? I insist that this cannot be done.
Oh, and before anyone mentions “but according to Acts, Paul and the companions saw a bright light and heard a voice” I must point out that the Damascus Road encounter, as portrayed in Acts, was written by a different author. Paul’s firsthand claim – “God revealed His Son in me” (Gal. 1:16) sounds totally subjective. Paul doesn’t actually tell us about a light, a voice, or any companions. Those details come from a different author and an argument can be made that he was just modeling the whole episode after Ezekiel’s vision in Ez. 1 and Daniel 10:7 where the others “don’t see the vision” cf. Acts 9:7. The reason I included a mention of it in the argument is because it’s explicitly called a “vision from heaven” (Acts 26:19) which others present don’t see or hear properly. Therefore, the author’s obvious intention was to have Jesus “appear” to Paul alone from heaven in a vision. It was not a physical face to face encounter with a revived corpse that was walking around the earth. Sometimes apologists like to weasel out by claiming the appearance to Paul wasn’t a vision so this nips that in the bud.
This implies that there is a communication gap between what modern people understand versus what was written long ago. The very definition of reality has changed. It is important to take this into consideration when deciding what to believe regarding ancient religious traditions.
(2177) Jesus should have thrown the first stone
In John Chapter 8 (1-11) there is a famous story about a woman who was caught in adultery. As the people of the town were prepared to stone her to death in accordance with the Law of Moses. Jesus intervened and issued a challenge that the first person to throw a stone should be without sin himself. Everyone left and the woman was freed. Now, it is true that this story was not original to this gospel but was added in the 5th Century. Nevertheless, it is in the Bible and therefore fair game for critique.
The problem with this story involves two core doctrines of the Christian faith- that Jesus was God and that Jesus was sinless. Taking these points into consideration, we are left with Jesus countermanding a rule that he himself decreed- that adulteresses should be stoned. That is, he was reneging on his own rule. Then, by applying a condition to the first stone-thrower, he was inadvertently placing himself in that role- because he was sinless himself. Therefore, to enforce his own rule and being the only person there without sin, Jesus should have tossed the first stone.
This story, which likely never happened, makes sense only if it is assumed that Jesus was not God and thus had no role in issuing the law of stoning adulteresses, and further that he was not sinless. For those skeptics who nevertheless believe that Jesus was a real person, these two assumptions are well received. It is ironic that the forger who added this story to the Gospel of John was providing evidence countermanding the growing beliefs about Jesus’ divinity and sinlessness.
(2178) The one percent god
It is enlightening to observe the scope of operation performed by the Christian god with respect to the percentage of time he has demonstrably interacted with humans, over what percent of the earth’s land surface area, and in view of what percent of the earth’s population at that time.
By ‘operation,’ it is meant during those times that he was making headlines, burning cities, parting seas, killing people, raising dead people, raining down plagues, multiplying loaves and fish, etc. By all accounts this period was approximately 900 BCE to 100 CE, or about 1,000 years. Modern humans have existed for about 100,000 years, so God has operated in a manifest way for only about one percent of human history.
The area where God performed his impressive deeds includes Judea, the southern portions of Galilee, the eastern portions of Egypt, in the city of Babylon, and by extension the cities skirting the Mediterranean Sea, where Paul was visiting local churches. This roughly encompasses about 600,000 square miles. The earth has about 57,000,000 square miles of land area, so God’s theater of operation accounts for about one percent of earth’s land area.
The number of people more or less directly affected by God’s period of tangible actions is roughly one million, counting those that lived in an area where they might have witnessed some of these miracles. During this same time, the earth’s population rose from about 100,000,000 to about 150,000,000, so God delivered his spectacular show to roughly one percent of the earth’s population.
So this god, touted by Christians as being the creator the entire universe and engineer of the physical laws of nature, all-seeing, all-powerful, who can observe every human in real time, listen to their prayers, read their thoughts, who can speak every human language and dialect, who desires to have a personal relationship with each and every one, has directly interacted for only one percent of human history, over only one percent of earth’s land mass, and in front of only one percent of the human population existing at that time. This begs the question: how can such a powerful god seem so impotent?
(2179) The case against Pauline scripture
Few Christians stop to consider why the letters that Paul wrote constitute such a large percentage of the New Testament canon. It is based on the assumption that Paul was not delusional, that God actually accosted him on the road to Damascus, and that his writings were always in accord with the will of God. This is certainly possible, but the more likely truth is that he was nothing more than a successful preacher who had no more connection to the divine than contemporary preachers. Yet, nothing written today is viewed as being worthy of scripture- but, why not? The following was taken from:
Almost half of the books of the New Testament are attributed to Paul. But Paul never met Jesus and thus at best had second-hand knowledge of the latter’s teachings.
Paul encountered a vision of Jesus, which makes him one among tens of thousands of Christians in history who have claimed that. Paul was a (very successful) preacher, one of millions who have preached Christianity over 2000 years.
But ultimately, a preacher is all he was. Unlike e.g. Peter, he cannot even claim a special position in the Church by virtue of Jesus promising him one. The only thing that sets Paul apart from his early Christian contemporaries is the enormous success he had spreading the Gospel.
Now, understandably people might argue: Sure, Paul was merely a preacher, but what’s the harm in his writings being included in the Bible given how much valuable historical information they contain about the Apostolic Age?
But there is a big problem with that idea: Paul’s teachings have become core tenets of Christianity. The Trinity, the rejection of Jewish traditions (notably circumcision), the inferior role of women in many Christian denominations (1 Timothy 2:12), are concepts originating largely or exclusively from Paul. Homosexuality, long a contentious issue for Christians, is mentioned in the NT only in Paul’s epistles (1 Timothy 1:9, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Romans 1:26), with the possible exception of Jude 1:7, though that one doesn’t unambiguously refer to homosexuality. I can attest from years of attending Church services across many denominations that many pastors today quote Paul’s writings far more than the Gospels themselves.
Modern Christianity would more accurately be called “Pauline Christianity”. Pauline Christianity is virtually the only brand of Christianity that is still practiced. But Paul had no tangible relation to Jesus that thousands of others didn’t also have. What if he was a charlatan? The list of people in history who have claimed to speak in Jesus’ name isn’t exactly short.
Viewed objectively, Paul’s proper place in Christianity would seem to be with other great theologians like Athanasius and Martin Luther. Those two certainly remain influential today, but Christians don’t take their words as holy writ, something that a lot of Christians appear to do with Paul. Paul’s ideas are interesting, but many of them have no basis in what Jesus actually taught. They should be evaluated, debated, and where appropriate, discarded, just like those of any other Church authority other than Christ himself.
If Paul’s letters were removed from the Bible, Christianity would look very different today. It would instead emphasize a person’s actions over his beliefs, not condemn homosexuality to the extent it does, and would not relegate women to domestic and ecclesiastical second-tier status, among other things. Allowing Paul to contaminate Christianity was a mistake and one that resulted in a proliferation of misery throughout the past twenty centuries.
(2180) Jesus condemned people for their ancestor’s sins
It probably comes as a surprise to most Christians that Jesus endorsed the repugnant doctrine espoused in the Old Testament whereby the descendants of sinful people were punished strictly because of their hereditary ties. In the following scripture, Jesus condemns to hell the children of the Pharisee ancestors who had murdered the prophets, while at the same time inciting them to continue the mayhem:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
It makes no sense that a man, purportedly the creator of the universe, would descend to such a low register of compassion and decency. This scripture, which is never read in church, is a signal to the wise that there is something seriously wrong with the Jesus-god theory.
(2181) The power failure problem
One of Christianity’s most obvious problems is the fact that connecting to their alleged god seems to offer them no advantages over atheists or believers of a different faith. This observation is unexpected if Christianity is true. The following refers to excerpts from Tim Sledges’ new book: Four Disturbing Questions with One Simple Answer: Breaking the Spell of Christian Belief:
“Why does faith in the resurrected, empowering Jesus generate such inconsistent results?” (p. 17)
You’d think that being ‘born again’ would produce exemplary human beings. It seems people experience emotional highs about this status in Christ, but…
“Take a group of these born-again, new creations in Christ—to whom God is giving directions and guidance for day-to-day life—put them in a church and wait. Eventually, some of them will get into a disagreement about something. Sometimes they work it out, but often, no matter how much prayer takes place, one group gets angry and leaves, often to start a new congregation. Wait a little longer, and the process will repeat—over and over—and that’s one reason we have not only thousands of churches, but thousands of Christian denominations.” (p. 16)
Sledge observed zealous Christians up close, as an insider, for a long time, and that alone was a corrosive factor. When he was a youth pastor for a church in Memphis, he saw how little impact the ‘power of Jesus’ actually had:
“…I watched the deacons in the inner-city church I served respond to a threatened protest by the NAACP. The church had refused to admit an African American girl to its weekday preschool. In the deacons meeting, there was no discussion of the preschool’s admissions policy. There was no conversation about Jesus’s teaching on loving and accepting all people. No one pulled out a Bible for guidance that day. The response of the deacons—the most respected lay leaders in our church—was driven by long-standing racial prejudice ingrained in Southern culture.” (p. 12)
Jesus didn’t stand a chance.
Yes, the power failure: Jesus getting the job done, transforming people—well, the impact isn’t what you’d expect, or as Sledge puts it, “such inconsistent results.” About as much as we would expect from fervent devotion to any other religion or group: “…I saw a bell curve of outstanding, average, and not-so-great people not dramatically different from the pattern of any human organization.” (p. 17)
This would be similar to somebody selling a drug that they claim increases a person’s intelligence but when controlled double blind tests are performed the IQ of the ones taking the drug does not improve compared to the ones taking the placebo. What is concluded about the drug?- it is useless. The same can be said about Christianity, at least to the question whether it is offers any earthly advantage to its ‘users.’
(2182) The better plan problem
It could be assumed that an all-powerful god would also be a master planner, creating a result that merits the work of an almighty deity. This is where Christianity runs in to a big problem. By conservative estimates 2/3 of humanity has lived in conditions that brings severe misery and often early death. Then, once again conservatively interpreting Christian scripture, at least 2/3 of humanity will spend eternity being painfully punished. The question must be asked: Would a the plan of a real god produce this result? The following refers to excerpts from Tim Sledges’ new book: Four/ Disturbing Questions with One Simple Answer: Breaking the Spell of Christian Belief:
“Why would a heavenly father condemn most of his children to eternal torment when he could send them all straight to heaven?” (p. 70)
Christianity as believed today by many is a milk-toast version of New Testament Christianity. The gospel writers created chilling Jesus script about hell, and the apostle Paul was sure that God’s default emotion is wrath. And the New Testament had a plan of escape: Jesus as a human sacrifice to atone for our sins, culminating in his resurrection.
But nothing at all about this makes sense!
Sledge identifies the strategy the church has used for getting around this: “The plan of salvation is easier to digest when you hear it for the first time as a child—a time before critical thinking when you are compliant and always believe what your parents and teachers tell you…by the time you’re old enough to think critically, the ‘plan’ is so ingrained in your thinking that it’s extremely difficult to step back and look at it objectively.” (p. 51)
Believers would do well to examine the resurrection stories up close. Sledge provides 17 bullet points (pp. 60-62) that expose the flaws in the accounts. Of course, Jesus coming back to life went unnoticed beyond his circle the cult followers. “…such an event—recorded in secular history—would have provided us with more convincing historical evidence that Jesus did rise from death. Better still, the resurrected Jesus could have gone on a Worldwide Resurrection Tour with stops in China and every city, town, and village in the world.” (p. 63)
Without that world tour, and with ‘scripture’ that fails to make a convincing case (except to those in the cult), most of humanity—by the New Testament’s own reckoning—will end up in hell. Isn’t that a major defect in creation?
As Sledge states the case, “…a safe estimate is that three out of four of the 108 billion individuals who have lived thus far will end up suffering for eternity in hell.” How could this “…be part of any plan conceived by a loving God? And how could an all-knowing God not realize ahead of time that this result would be inevitable?” (p. 66)
The spell is broken, as Sledge sums up: “God’s plan for salvation as described in the Bible and interpreted by most Christians just doesn’t add up. When you really think about this whole scheme, it sounds like divine nonsense.” (p. 70)
Christian apologists recoil, resist, rebound. Their talent for insane invention to overcome these objections shows no limits. Most of the folks in the pews don’t probe enough to grasp the problems. Some do, of course, and walk away, disgusted by the pretense and pretend.
It is an easy thought experiment to imagine oneself being a god who manages a planet of intelligent beings and having no trouble producing a much better and more compassionate plan than that of the alleged Christian god. This tends to make his existence unlikely or else his praiseworthiness more dubious.
(2183) No afterlife redemption or apostasy
Conventional Christian dogma limits a person’s post-life free will to take actions to change their assignment to an afterlife location. At death, no further opportunity is given. In other words, a person in hell cannot repent and accept Jesus as their savior. This is arbitrary and makes no sense. The following is taken from:
It seems that Christianity allows for humans to have free will, but only up until death, after which your soul is permanently locked in whatever state it died in. It seems quite clear that souls that have been either annihilated or sent to eternal hell are unable to freely choose to accept God, and are now either nothing or totally unable to change their circumstances; they don’t have any free will.
Same with heaven. I’m not sure there’s any basis for the idea that it’s possible to leave or be removed from heaven, which indicates a lack of free will and immediately raises the question of why God ever gave us free will, if he doesn’t want us to have any free will once we’re in heaven; i.e. why not just skip the middleman and create us there?
It seems very odd and contradictory for God to make free will such a critical aspect of our short human existence, only for us to end up in an eternity without free will. Especially when there’s no clearly explained reason why the apparently-arbitrary moment of Earthly death is the cutoff point, rather than having some sort of afterlife-redemption system, reincarnation, etc.
The standard Christian apologetic defense is that once a person has entered the afterlife, it becomes obvious that Christianity is true and therefore it no longer takes faith to believe in it or in Jesus as the savior. Why should doubters presented with solid evidence get the same reward as believers? By this argument, the disciples, who were direct eyewitnesses of Jesus’ ministry and resurrection, should not be allowed into heaven.
(2184) The mommy analogy
The absurdness of Christian theology is best revealed by comparing it to analogous behavior by a mother to her daughter. The following was taken from:
The stories the bible relates are myth (made up). It mentions places and people that exist, but the conversations it relates are invented, as are many of the actions it relates. The entire basis of the crucifixion goes all the way back to the magic fruit tree, which god desperately didn’t want them to eat from, so he 1. created it, 2. planted it right in front of them instead of on a different planet, 3. “goes away” for a while and doesn’t intervene to keep them from eating from it, 4. acts all outraged when they ate the fruit. And the only solution for this complete set-up was to torture his own kid to death and say that this was really love.
What would you think of a human doing the same things? A mommy bakes brownies, fills the house with the smell of chocolate, places the brownies on the table in front of the kids, and then says “You can eat all the squash and rutabagas, but if you eat one of these brownies I’ll kill you”. If she really meant that, would she be a good mommy or an evil one? That isn’t a trick question, and the answer is obvious. But then she decides that she loves you, and instead takes your little brother and beats him to death to pay for your “forgiveness”, and all you have to do is tell her how wonderful and great she is for providing such a way of forgiveness. But if you don’t love her for this, she’ll take you in the backyard and set you on fire. Is she a good mommy or an evil psycho narcissist? Again, not a trick question, the answer is obvious.
Forgiveness is turning the other cheek and letting it go, not demanding blood as payment. Forgiveness doesn’t have a payment. Some believers change that to “ransom” or “bail” or “atonement” as though a law apart from god demands blood. He is his law, and all his demands are a reflection of his own character. He’s evil, self-absorbed, likes bloodshed and killing, blesses Israel and condones mass rapes via tribal violence (“kill all the men, but keep the young virgins for yourselves”), on and on and on.
It takes juvenile brainwashing to cloud one’s critical thinking centers to fail to see that Christian dogma is ridiculous. Hopefully, this analogy brings some light to the inner recesses of those minds that are vandalized by superstition.
(2185) Luke written to convert followers of Caesar Augustus
There is a supportable theory that the person who wrote the Gospel of Luke did so with the specific agenda to convert followers of a cult worshiping the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus. By using the same themes and terminology, he fashioned the Jesus story in a way to attract the attention of these people. The following was taken from:
Luke’s story appears to be slanted toward a Roman audience, and in fact the idea of gods impregnating human women was a common trope that many Jews and Christians have recognized as pagan. Progressive theologian Marcus Borg argued that the point of the story was to pivot fealty from Caesar Augustus to Jesus. According to Roman imperial theology, Augustus had been conceived when the god Apollo impregnated his human mother, Atia. Titles inscribed on coins and temples during his reign included “Son of God,” “Lord,” and “Savior.” They also included the phrase “peace on earth,” which Luke has his angels sing to shepherds.
Christianity struggled in its early years to compete against the entrenched pagan faiths of the time. It succeeded to gain dominance largely by mimicking pagan memes and fashioning Jesus as a suitable replacement for worship. To do that, Jesus had to be described in a way that was understandable and acceptable to the masses.
(2186) Why the Old Testament is so brutal
Many Christians and others have wondered why a religion supposedly founded on the principles of peace and love would contain within its holy scriptures so much violence, war, hatred, genocide, and rape. The answer, or one of the answers, appears to be the fact that the god-beliefs of the Israelites evolved in a manner that moved their war god to the top position, and eventually made him the only god in existence. This militaristic deity, Yahweh, thus became the subject of the Old Testament. The following was taken from:
Yahweh was originally part of a a pantheon of Canaanite gods and was not even the head of the pantheon, but rather subordinate to and the child of the great god El. If one wished to take a gander at Yahweh’s actual duties as god, they would see him as a god of war and metallurgy. Which goes a long way towards understanding the contrast between the god of the new testament and the god of the old testament. Over time, historically, the Israelites (and even the name “El” is hidden in their nation’s name, explaining their pagan roots) began to heap more and more praise upon Yahweh, giving him in turn the powers and responsibilities of the other gods, and progressing from a kind of polytheism, to worship of only one god while not denying the existence of others, to declaring that Yahweh was the only god.
It is probable that if El had maintained his position in the pantheon and had become the sole god in existence that the scriptures of the Old Testament would have been much tamer. If that had happened, the case for Christianity would have been a much easier proposition.
(2187) Male gods take over fertility
The evolution of god –belief shows an interesting trend that relegates women as objects of worship due to their child-birthing capabilities in favor of male gods who usurp this function in their own fashion. Thus, male gods replaced the female gods, Yahweh being one of those.
Clay figurines from 50,000 years ago may be our earliest example of the human understanding of the importance of childbearing. If the clan or tribe didn’t reproduce itself, it would not survive. Most of these clay figurines are of women. The ones with large bellies or breasts might have been made to resemble pregnant or breastfeeding women. How they were used in the life of the tribe will never be fully known, but it is not far-fetched to say they in some way show the awe and mystery about human life.
Fast forward to 10,000 years ago to the development of agriculture. Fertility of the earth becomes as important of the fertility of the tribe. If the crops don’t grow, people die. Similar female figurines continue to be found in the earliest settlements where agriculture was practiced. Eventually, a pantheon of gods becomes the norm and it is usual the female deity that assume the role of fertility. The Greek goddess Demeter is known as the grain goddess for her role in propitiating the harvest. Ceres fulfills the same role in Roman mythology. Juno is the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth equivalent to the Greek goddess Hera. And the list goes on.
However, when monotheism is developed by the Israelites in Canaan, a curious switch begins to occur. Because the Israelite god, Yahweh, is portrayed as a male and the only god to be worshiped, the goddesses disappear. Human mythmaking up to this point had always acknowledged the role of the female as vitally important. It is she who gives birth. But there are several instances in the Torah, or Old Testament as it is known in Christianity, where the male god takes over this role by making barren women give birth. Both Sarah and Abraham were elderly and had no children. In this instance, god “intervened” and caused Sarah to bear a child who was Isaac. Isaac’s wife was also barren. After twenty years of marriage, god again intervened and twins were born to Rebekkah, one of which god loved and the other he hated. The New Testament repeats this theme when Elizabeth bore John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit comes to Mary and lets her know she too will bear a child without the intervention of a human male.
While the theme of god’s intervention in childbirth is used to foretell a story of great leaders of the Israelites in the Old Testament, it also is used to show that there is no need for a female deity for this purpose, the male god can handle it. But what is the impact of these stories? Not only are female goddesses eliminated, but the male god even usurps the women’s role in bringing forth new life. This is a far cry from the revered role played by women in other myths. Does this impact women? Of course it does. Does it further reinforce the patriarchy which dominates the Judeo-Christian tradition? Of course it does.
Any trend in god-belief is evidence for gods being figments of human imagination. The overarching trend away from female to male gods is a good example of this, and it is firmly manifested in the final product of Christian theology.
(2188) Limbo doctrine changed to compete with Islam
In 2007, the Catholic Church subtracted from its doctrine a theory that babies who die before being baptized go to a place between heaven and hell called Limbo. This 13th Century idea was created to assuage parents who previously were told that unbaptized babies were sent to hell. This was an attempt to maintain baptism as an essential part of salvation while erasing the macabre idea that stillbirth and days-old unbaptized babies would be subjected to an eternity of suffering. The reason for Pope Benedict to make this change may have been in response to the insurgent Islamic faith. The following was taken from:
Several years ago Islam surpassed Catholicism as the religion with most followers. Christianity and its branches are dying in the developed world. The only places where it is seeing some growth is in countries where there is still a lot of human suffering, like Africa. The Catholic Church used to teach that after a person dies their soul would go to one of FOUR places: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory or Limbo. Limbo was a special place for people, especially babies who died before they were baptised. Very suddenly and with no warning the Church changed its teaching and said that Limbo does not exist. It is clear that the church changed one of its core teachings as a tactical move. African mothers have lots of children and unfortunately many of them die soon after birth because of disease or malnutrition. So mothers were converting to Islam as Islam preaches that babies go to heaven. Catholic mothers did not want their babies to go to Limbo for eternity which is described as a dull place far from god. So the Catholic Church, presto abolished Limbo.
This creates all sorts of problems. First, it renders baptism unnecessary for salvation and makes its function simply ceremonial. Second, it raises the question why God would allow its church to promulgate false doctrine for 800 years. Third, it is emblematic that the Christian faith responds in a way that protects its growth over its traditional beliefs. All in all, the story of Limbo is an embarrassment for the Catholic Church.
(2189) The case against God
Atheists and skeptics are often asked to prove that God doesn’t exist, ignoring the fact that the burden of proof lies with the believer. But, in an effort to be ‘sporting,’ the following is an attempt to meet their demand:
1: The simpler explanation would be that the universe is what it appears to be rather than being just the part we can perceive of some much more elaborate type of universe.
2: If there was an all-powerful deity who wanted humans to know about its existence, then there would be no controversy or question about its existence. This deity would be obvious to every reasonable person, and would have been for all of history. There would be no argument about it. No faith would be required. There would be no atheists. It would be as observable, testable, and provable as hurricanes, Australia or oak trees. Since this is not the case, it is reasonable to conclude that no such deity exists, or if it does, it is not concerned with being detected.
2a: (related) Christians believe god sent one emissary at one point in time to one location on the earth to spread god’s message, then expected fallible humans to relay this message (with accuracy) to all humans in all places for all time. Does this make sense? Is it a good strategy? Have you ever heard of the game of telephone? We can’t even always get reliable information about things happening in today’s world. Wouldn’t an all-powerful god have a better method for spreading his message? A message, by the way, which is the most important message of all time.
3: “Who created the Universe?” argument. One of the most common theist arguments I’ve heard is “the universe must have a cause, and this cause must be a sentient, thinking, conscious agent.” Well, firstly, I don’t see why we couldn’t assume the Universe always existed. But even if I concede the first part (something caused the universe), I don’t see how you can conclude the second part (sentient superbeing did it). Humans used to believe the same thing about hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. Who caused the volcano? Obviously the Volcano God. Well, then we learned that the causes of these things are complicated natural processes. It seems obvious to me that the Universe, too, if it was “caused”, those causes would be complicated natural processes.
4: The Muslim and the Hindu and the Christian all believe with equal fervor. Each has a list of personal reasons why they believe, and believe that they couldn’t possibly be wrong. As an outside observer, how can I figure out which of them is right? What tests can I conduct to figure out which religion is true? Are there any such tests?
4a: (related to 4) of all the hundreds of religions that have existed through the centuries in different parts of the world, most people believe it so happens that they were born into the one that is the one true religion. That is to say, the main factor which determines what someone believes is the religion of their parents, and to a great extent geography. Does this at all have any bearing on what is true?
4b: if you were to switch a baby born to Muslim parents with a baby born to Christian parents, the children would each likely grow up believing the other religion. Your entire worldview is shaped by your upbringing, and has no relation to what is actually true.
4c: Showerthought: what if the “true” religion is one you were never even exposed to? Or one that died out centuries ago? There’s a big “oops.” (which gets back to #2; if god wants everyone on earth to believe, why does he rely on fallible human evangelists and missionaries?)
5: In order for a deity to be the cause of something, first we have to demonstrate that a deity exists. The time to believe in a deity is after one follows the evidence to that conclusion, not before. Theists generally start with the assumption that the deity exists, then try to prove it, which is logically fallacious.
6: All the “proofs” of god which are based on argument alone necessarily fall short. You cannot determine facts about the world just by thinking about it. You cannot theorize a deity into existence. The best you can get is a theory or proposition. You still need to prove it with evidence.
Given the points mentioned above it would be astonishing if a god even remotely resembling the one claimed by Christianity actually existed. This is the bottom from which Christian apologists must begin to build their argument, and it is a daunting task to explain how an all-powerful god intent on interacting with humans could remain this difficult to detect.
(2190) Cruel and unusual punishment
Most countries have laws preventing the use of cruel or unusual methods of punishment. This is a reflection of the maturation of the human species. However, the Christian god, with all of his greatness and majesty, seemed not to have acquired this degree of morality when he used an earth-engorging method to suffocate and kill 250 men who had risen up to oppose Moses.
Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”
As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”
If God actually buried people alive as a means of punishing them, then he is a tyrant. But if this is just a tall tale, it still does harm because it teaches that this is a legitimate and ethical means of killing people. Either way, it represents an embarrassment to anyone defending Christianity as a model for moral behavior.
(2191) Principles of regularity
We live in an existence mediated by laws of nature which are never violated. That is the experience of every sane person on the planet. Christianity suggests otherwise, that what we sense is not a true expression of reality. But the problem is that if Christianity is true, then the only explanation is that we are somehow blind to the machinations of supernatural beings in our presence. The following was taken from:
By claiming that supernatural beings intervene in the world, the Bible opposes the scientific principle of natural laws operating uniformly and unvaryingly. As a result, the Bible discourages a scientific approach to problems.
The Bible has stories about a talking snake (Genesis 3:4-5); a tree bearing fruit which, when eaten, gives knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17; 3:5-7); another tree whose fruit bestows immortality (Genesis 3:22); a voice coming from a burning bush (Exodus 3:4); a talking donkey (Numbers 22:28); rods turning into serpents (Exodus 7:10-12); water changing into blood (Exodus 7:19-22); water coming from a rock (Numbers 20:11); a dead man reviving when his corpse touched the bones of a prophet (II Kings 13:21); and other people rising from the dead (e.g., I Kings 17:21-22; II Kings 4:32-35; Acts 9:37-40).
There are also accounts of the sun standing still (Joshua 10:13); the parting of a sea (Exodus 14:21-22); iron floating (II Kings 6:5-6); the sun’s shadow going back ten degrees (II Kings 20:9-11); a witch bringing the ghost of Samuel back from the dead (I Samuel 28:3-15); disembodied fingers writing on a wall (Daniel 5:5); a man living for three days and nights in the belly of a fish (Jonah 1:17); people walking on water (Matthew 14:26-29); a virgin impregnated by God (Matthew 1:20); a pool of water that can cure ailments of those who dip in it (John 5:2-4); and angels and demons influencing earthly affairs (e.g., Acts 5:19; Luke 11:24-26).
These biblical myths support the belief, which has been held by primitive and illiterate people throughout history, that supernatural beings frequently and arbitrarily intervene in this world.
When examined in the light of experience and reason, the Bible’s claims about supernatural occurrences do not warrant belief. Our experience is that the natural world operates according to principles of regularity – which are never violated. We also know from experience that many people are often mistaken or dishonest. Thus, it’s far more likely the Bible writers either erred or lied than the laws of nature were violated.
All of our laws, processes, machinery, infrastructure, and economies are based on the assumption of regularity- that similar conditions will ultimately result in predictable outcomes. This would not be the case if Christianity’s claims were true. Irregularity would instead be the overriding theme of our existence.
(2192) Disproportionate punishment
It would be expected that the delivery of justice by an almighty, omniscient deity would be fairer and more proportionate to the crime committed when compared to any legal system created by humans. In other words, we would expect that the description of punishments described in the Bible would be a good model for how governments should allocate sentencing to its citizens. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The god of Bible wildly over-punished even the most trivial of ‘crimes.’ The following was taken from:
The biblical God is also guilty of inflicting punishments that are grossly disproportionate to the acts committed. In the American legal system, such disproportion violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.
Obviously, to punish people who are completely innocent, as seen in the preceding Bible verses, constitutes punishment that is horribly disproportionate to the moral culpability of the recipients. And there are other instances where the biblical God’s punishments are shockingly harsh compared to the acts committed.
For example, the Old Testament says the Lord prescribed execution for the “crimes” of working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:15); cursing one’s parents (Leviticus 20:9); worshiping other gods (Deuteronomy 17:2-5); enticing a friend or family member to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-10); being a witch, medium, or wizard (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27); engaging in homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13); and not being a virgin on one’s wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
In the New Testament, God became far worse in regard to imposing excessively severe punishments. It would be hard to imagine anything more cruel and disproportionate than punishing people with eternal torture for mere disbelief that Jesus was the son of God.
The inability to believe that proposition harms no one, and it has been disbelieved by some of the greatest benefactors of humanity. Nonetheless, God promises to punish them and all other nonbelievers with the most horrible pain conceivable.
Christian apologists have no leg to stand on in defending the ridiculously overbearing sanctions meted out for even the most trivial indiscretions. The Bible is so far removed from any semblance of compassion, fairness, or proportion that it provides no usable guidance for any country’s, state’s, or municipality’s legal processes. Curiously, the Bible seems to mirror the barbaric sensibilities of the time and place of its origin.
(2193) Misquoting Jesus
An omnipotent god would ensure that the words of his son (himself) would be clearly communicated so that followers would be accurately informed of his dictates. There is an example where Jesus’ words convey a significant difference in meaning across separate gospels. The following was taken from:
Many Christians hold that the Bible is inerrant, and even those that don’t hold to strict inerrancy generally believe that it reproduces Jesus’ sayings accurately, allowing them to be used for guidance and as the basis of belief. But we can see from the differences in a quotation of Jesus in the three synoptic gospels below that this cannot be the case.
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.” – Mark 10:11
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery” – Luke 16:18
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” – Matthew 19:9
The question, of course, is “What did Jesus actually say”? And regardless of how you answer that question, at least one of these authors got it wrong and introduced an error into the Bible. And given that, how are Christians to know what is actually permitted here? Is remarriage after divorce adultery in absolutely all cases — as Mark and Luke seem to imply — or are there good exceptions?
Furthermore, based on the scholarly work done on the Bible over the last 150 years, there’s good reason to believe that this was an intentional corruption by an early Christian. Scholars believe that the reason the synoptic gospels are synoptic is that there was a single original source — typically considered to be Mark, written around 70 AD — which was then used as source material by the other two gospel authors — writing 10-15 years later.
Given that the author of Luke included an accurate copy of the quotation from Mark, we should expect to see the same from the author of Matthew, since by all appearances he had access to the same source material. But instead we see an exception added to Jesus’ otherwise extremely strict equation of remarriage after divorce with adultery.
And, of course, we can make a reasonably good guess why someone might want to tamper with this quotation from Jesus; it’s because important people in Matthew’s community were divorced and remarried (but divorced with the “good reason” that their original spouses were “sexually immoral”), and they didn’t want to be labeled adulterers when they finally saw a copy of Mark.
The common-sense conclusion is that someone intentionally corrupted this quotation of Jesus, either the author of Matthew, or someone recopying the version of Mark he inherited in the 10-15 years between Mark and Matthew. The only (far-fetched) alternative is that someone modified both Mark and Luke after Matthew was written, but that’s equally problematic.
Either way, this presents a significant problem for inerrantist Christians: while we can detect this particular corruption of Jesus’ words, we have no way to know whether or not any of the quotations of Jesus in Mark — or any quotations that only appear in a single source like Q, Luke, Matthew, or John — have been corrupted, or if they have, what the original words of Jesus were. In fact, we don’t even know if the quotation from Jesus in Mark 10:11 was corrupted or invented.
And note that this problem persists even if you work from the unlikely scenario that the synoptic gospels did not rely on common source material; it means either that some eyewitnesses misheard Jesus, or that the exception was inserted into the quotation from Jesus when stories were passed word-of-mouth for decades before being written down.
This single set of quotations invalidates both the view that the Bible is inerrant and suggests that any quotation in the Bible could have been corrupted by those who passed it along verbally or those who wrote it down or recopied it.
Some apologists suggest that Jesus made both of these statements- the unconditional definition of adultery and the one conditioned on the wife’s sexual behavior. This is certainly possible, but it presents an additional problem- which is correct, that ANY remarriage represents adultery, or is it just any marriage where the first wife was sexually faithful? What makes this quandary even more ridiculous is that almost all Christians ignore what Jesus said here, no matter which interpretation is taken as factual.
(2194) Quotes attacking religion
It is enlightening to read the thoughts of learned people describing their take on religion. The following is a good sample of ideas that expose religion for the trouble it causes humanity:
There is no point beating around the bush. Supernatural concepts have no philosophical warrant. Furthermore, it is not that such concepts are displaced only if we accept, from the start, a naturalistic or scientific vision of things. There simply are no good arguments—theological, philosophical, humanistic, or scientific—for beliefs in divine beings, miracles, or heavenly afterlives. ~Owen Flanagan
There is no greater social evil than religion. It is the cancer in the body of humanity. Human credulity and superstition, and the need for comforting fables, will never be extirpated, so religion will always exist, at least among the uneducated. The only way to manage the dangers it presents is to confine it entirely to the private sphere, and for the public domain to be blind to it in all but one respect: that by law no one’s private beliefs should be allowed to cause a nuisance or an injury to anyone else. ~A. C. Grayling
The fact that so little of the findings of modern science is prefigured in Scripture to my mind casts further doubt on its divine inspiration. ~Carl Sagan
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Emotional excitement reaches men through tea, tobacco, opium, whisky, and religion. ~George Bernard Shaw
The time appears to me to have come when it is the duty of all to make their dissent from religion known. ~John Stuart Mill
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. ~Blaise Pascal
Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion. ~Thomas Hobbes
The aim of a religious movement is to inflict a malady on society, then offer the religion as a cure. ~Eric Hoffer
If you want to make a little money, write a book. If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion. ~L. Ron Hubbard
Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous. ~David Hume
Religion … the universal … neurosis of humanity. ~Sigmund Freud
Religion is all bunk. ~Thomas Edison
The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion. ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton
I count religion but a childish toy and hold there is no sin but ignorance.
Religion is the opiate of the masses. ~Karl Marx
Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile. ~Kurt Vonnegut
These [religious ideas] are given out as teachings, are not precipitates of experience or end-results of thinking: they are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind. ~Sigmund Freud
I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out. Religion is based . . . mainly on fear . . . 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 have gone hand in hand. . . . My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. ~Bertrand Russell
The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. ~Sigmund Freud
Religion stalks across the face of human history, knee-deep in the blood of innocents, clasping its red hands in hymns of praise to an approving God. ~Philip Appleman
Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration—courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth. ~H.L. Mencken
Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? ~Arthur C. Clarke
No man who ever lived knows any more about the hereafter … than you and I; and all religion … is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination and poetry.
~Edgar Allan Poe
I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will—and a hell of a lot of money in the bargain. Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain. We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes. ~Gene Roddenberry
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there as no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. ~Mark Twain
Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror. Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world. If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities. Superstition, born of paganism and adopted by Judaism, invested the Christian Church from earliest times. All the fathers of the Church, without exception, believed in the power of magic. The Church always condemned magic, but she always believed in it: she did not excommunicate sorcerers as madmen who were mistaken, but as men who were really in communication with the devil. Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense. ~Voltaire
Man is a marvelous curiosity . . . he thinks he is the Creator’s pet . . . he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a quaint idea ~Robert G. Ingersoll
To abdicate from the rule of reason and substitute for it an authentication of belief by the intentness and degree of conviction with which we hold it can be perilous and destructive. Religious beliefs give a spurious spiritual dimension to tribal enmities … It goes with the passionate intensity and deep conviction of the truth of a religious belief, and of course of the importance of the superstitious observances that go with it, that we should want others to share it – and the only certain way to cause a religious belief to be held by everyone is to liquidate nonbelievers. The price in blood and tears that mankind generally has had to pay for the comfort and spiritual refreshment that religion has brought to a few has been too great to justify our entrusting moral accountancy to religious belief. ~Sir Peter Brian Medawar
Since the early days, [the church] has thrown itself violently against every effort to liberate the body and mind of man. It has been, at all times and everywhere, the habitual and incorrigible defender of bad governments, bad laws, bad social theories, bad institutions. It was, for centuries, an apologist for slavery, as it was an apologist for the divine right of kings. ~H.L. Mencken
History does not record anywhere or at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it. ~Robert A. Heinlein
Nietzsche taught me to distrust every optimistic theory. I knew that [the human] heart has constant need of consolation, a need to which that super-shrewd sophist the mind is constantly ready to minister. I began to feel that every religion which promises to fulfill human desires is simply a refuge for the timid, and unworthy of a true man. … We ought, therefore, to choose the most hopeless of world views, and if by chance we are deceiving ourselves and hope does exist, so much the better. At all events, in this way man’s soul will not be humiliated, and neither God nor the devil will ever be able to ridicule it by saying that it became intoxicated like a hashish-smoker and fashioned an imaginary paradise out of naiveté and cowardice—in order to cover the abyss. The faith most devoid of hope seemed to me not the truest, perhaps, but surely the most valorous. I considered the metaphysical hope alluring bait which true men do not condescend to nibble. I wanted whatever was most difficult, in other words most worthy of man, of the man who does not whine, entreat, or go about begging. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
It is certain that none of these quotes would be stated in a world where a supernatural religion was real. If that reality existed, there might be some dissent, but by and large, the one true religion would be known, understood, and taken as a fact that all of us must deal with, whether we like it or not. Only in a natural world, where religions are false, would we encounter the range of quotes listed above.
(2195) Cannibalism in the Bible
In one of the passages never mentioned amidst Christian circles, there is a macabre vignette where two mothers make a deal to eat their sons on successive days in the wake of a famine.
2 Kings 6:26-32
As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!”
The king replied, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”
She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”
When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and they saw that, under his robes, he had sackcloth on his body. He said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!”
Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. The king sent a messenger ahead, but before he arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Don’t you see how this murderer is sending someone to cut off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold it shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?”
What is interesting about this story is that there is no suggestion that the mothers were taken to task for eating their sons. The King is seen to endorse the verbal contract and seeks out the second son for execution. Some apologists suggest that the sons had already died before the deal was struck, but that is obviously not true, because the second child to be eaten, Elisha son of Shaphat, was quoted speaking, and therefore very much alive. Since the agreement was struck as a quid pro quo, it can be assumed that the first son who was eaten was also alive before being killed, cooked, and eaten. This story is most likely fictional but it is a strike against the Bible’s moral authority and a wonderment how an omnipotent god would allow such gruesomeness to be placed within his holy book.
(2196) The locality problem
If Christianity is true, then God decided a few thousand years ago to become the god of the Israelites, exclusively serving them, to the exclusion (and misfortune) of neighboring peoples. Then, after several centuries, he decided to change things and become the god of the entire planet. This decision came part and parcel with the plan to send his son (or himself) to the earth in the form of a human.
Now, trying to put yourself in God’s shoes for a minute, what would you do with Jesus if your plan was to upgrade yourself from being a local Jewish god into being the singular god of the entire planet? Would you send Jesus to the land of the Jews and restrict his movements within that small area? Or would you send him also to Europe, Asia, and perhaps the Americas to announce this critical modification for how you were planning to interact with humans going forward?
From a dispassionate perspective, it would appear that restraining Jesus’ ministry in this manner was an indication that God had no intention of becoming anything more than the local god of the Jews. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine an all-powerful god unnecessarily restricting himself and effectively defeating his own plan in this manner, resulting in a 1500-year delay in getting it up and established.
(2197) Mark written to advance Paul’s theology
There is evidence that the motivation for the author of the Gospel of Mark to write his story was related to his admiration of Paul and his letters. After Paul’s death, there was a vacuum that needed to be filled to continue Paul’s ministry, so he created a story of Jesus that elevated Paul’s theology while at the same time discrediting the disciples who clashed with Paul. Thus, the Gospel of Mark was a vehicle to say that Paul was right about Jesus while the eyewitness (and somewhat dumb) disciples were wrong. The following was taken from:
New Testament scholars have usually been preoccupied with another puzzle, i.e., that the sayings and deeds of Jesus are not mentioned in Paul’s letters, the earliest Christian documents we have. Never mind that Paul avoided contact with the original disciples, if there was so much oral tradition in circulation about Jesus, how had Paul failed to pick up on it? And, of course, the gospels hadn’t been written yet. Paul was convinced that his hallucinations of Jesus were enough.
But what if the author of Mark’s gospel was using Paul as his model? That he was in sympathy with Paul’s mission to the Gentiles, and was guided by his ideas in the epistles? This idea is presented in detail in Tom Dykstra’s 2012 book, Mark, Canonizer of Paul.
The implications are momentous—and, unavoidably, it seems to me, a threat to fundamental Christian claims.
It’s not hard to figure out from Paul’s letters that he didn’t get along with the original Jesus followers (forget propaganda to the contrary in the Book of Acts); in fact, he seems to have had a lot of opponents. He was the ultimate outsider, after all. And it would seem that the gospel of Mark emerged in that context. It wasn’t written to answer historical questions, to fill in details about ‘what Jesus was really like.’ The theological agenda might have been to bolster the Pauline understanding of the faith.
Dykstra notes that this idea represents a paradigm shift in the thinking of New Testament scholars. The assumption all along has been that Mark wanted to ‘tell the story of the Christ,’ and would have done his best to stick to the facts. But that idea is blasted, among other things, by the high quotient of fantasy and folklore in the gospel, and it is hard to imagine how Mark would have collected the facts so late in the game.
“What,” Dykstra asks, “could have prompted someone to undertake the composition of Mark at the specific time it was written so long after the history it recounts? One hypothesis that makes sense of the known facts is that the same groups involved in creating the epistles simply added a new tactic—that of narrative—to their literary repertoire. The change in tactics may have been occasioned by the death of Paul and the realization that the effectiveness of his personal authority in the ongoing battle was diminishing.
“The primary intended audience would then be the same as for the epistles: established Christian communities in which the battle between the competing gospels [in the sense of the message] continued to rage. The primary purpose of the gospel narrative would then be to assert that Paul’s gospel was correct, that Paul’s interpretation of the significance of the person of Christ and his crucifixion and resurrection was the correct one, and that Paul’s opponents were wrong even though they could boast of close personal connections to Jesus while Paul could not.” (pp. 37-38)
A major chunk of the book, Part II – Paul Themes in Mark, consists of five chapters, in which he sets out his case.
It’s a minor miracle itself that the church has gotten away with making the disciples seem better than they appear in Mark. Dykstra states the problem: “One of the particularly ironic aspects of the Markan story is that those closest to Jesus, both his relatives and his handpicked associates, misunderstand and even oppose him. Not just once, but repeatedly, constantly, throughout the story from beginning to end. His family thinks he’s gone mad.” (p. 105)
“Many scholars have recognized that Mark’s attempt to discredit all these people makes sense in the context of Paul’s ongoing conflict with those who were ‘apostles before him’ (Gal 1:17), especially the Jerusalem leadership of the ‘so-called pillars,’ Peter, James the brother of Jesus, and John.” (p.105)
“Paul’s conflict was with ‘apostles before me’ as well as with the brother of Jesus, and so Mark’s representation of the twelve as missing the point of the gospel and even opposing Jesus could only strengthen Paul’s position.” (p. 109) “Mark uses many means both subtle and not so subtle to call into question the disciples’ credentials as leaders. The disciples stubbornly misunderstand and lack faith in Jesus, even after he carefully explains things to them.” (p. 110)
“Mark was written after a conflict had developed between Paul and the Jerusalem Christian leadership under the leadership of the ‘pillars’ Peter, James, and John. For the Gospel’s original readers, the picture of obtuse, glory-seeking, slothful disciples couldn’t help but bolster the authority of the one Apostle who was not so characterized.” (p. 116)
This theory answers questions about why the disciples of Jesus are shown in such a poor light in Mark’s gospel and why it shadows Paul’s theological doctrines so well. Given that the original disciples disagreed with Paul on many important matters, it is likely that if they had read Mark’s gospel (they were dead by then), they would have exposed it as fictional trash.
(2198) Feeding the multitudes problem
In the Gospel of Mark and subsequent synoptic gospels, there are two stories recounting how Jesus, showing compassion and concern, was able to supernaturally multiply a small supply of loaves and fishes to feed thousands of people who otherwise were expected to go hungry as they made their way back home after listening to his sermon. Although this warms the cockles of the heart of Christians and is a lovely story told to children, nevertheless, it creates a serious theological problem.
If these stories are true, then it proves that God is able to feed hungry and starving people with nothing more than a snap of his fingers, so to speak. No other miracle told in the gospels really matters to our current lives- we can live without water being turned into wine, or someone walking on water, but hunger and starvation matter a lot, especially considering that 25,000 people worldwide die of hunger every day. This appears to reveal that Jesus’ compassion extended only to those people he could see from his earthbound vantage point.
Apologists will counter that after Jesus left the planet, miracles such as these should no longer be expected to occur. But that flies in the fact of the following scripture:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
To date, no one has been able to magically multiply food for the starving masses, Christian believer or not. This leaves two possibilities- the stories in the gospels are mythical, rendering all of the other stories questionable, or they are real, and God/Jesus is immorally unconcerned about malnourished and dying children, and unable to empower his followers who wish to embrace the promise of John 14:12.
(2199) Allegory of water walking
In the gospels (but curiously not in Luke), there is a story of Jesus walking on the water. In the following it is argued that this allegorical element was added to the narratives to embellish the credentials of Jesus and to add a symbolic meaning, something that was very common during those times in authorial references to other heroic figures:
The story in Mark 6:45-52, Matthew 14:22-33, and John 6:16-21, shows the disciples in a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee while Jesus remains behind to pray. While the disciples are at sea, an “adverse wind” takes over and the disciples struggle to keep the boat stable. Suddenly, the disciples see Jesus walking on the water towards them. In Matthew’s account, Peter gets out of the boat, starts to walk towards him, but becomes fearful and falls into the water. Otherwise, Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid, and they became reassured and the storm was calmed.
So how can we explain this story? Is there a natural explanation? For example, Albert Schweitzer and others have argued that the storm inhibited the vision of the disciples and they were actually closer to the shore. But then, how did the storm suddenly calm once Jesus boarded the boat? Perhaps Jesus was actually walking on large rocks, just below the water. Or, perhaps, there is a supernatural element to the history of Jesus, and this is just a retelling of a strange, but amazing story of the miraculous ministry of Jesus.
Actually, it is neither a natural, or supernatural, story. It is, as German theologian David Friedrich Strauss wrote in his two-volume book The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet), myth. Not “myth” as in complete fiction, but, similar to the story of Jesus’ resurrection, parable with the intent of conveying a deeper meaning, or lesson. It is a history-like story trying to convey some truth. It is, in other words, allegorical.
In ancient cultures and religions, and very much so in Christianity, it was common to liken tough times to stormy seas that were life-threatening This can be seen in instances of the Dioscuri, who delivered shipmen from stormy seas, as seen in the Homeric Hymns. Or even with Archilochus or Alcaeus comparing the troubles of tyranny to stormy seas. The purpose was to show that one, and only one, could rise above the trials and tribulations of life. That person was Jesus of Nazareth, and if others would follow him, they, too, would rise above all the issues that faced the people of that time.…
It is easy to explain away that ability of Jesus to perform the miracles attributed to him, because he is the Messiah; God’s son, the Son of Man, the Christ. However, what a fascinating story the gospel accounts become looking at them from the perspective of the writers and from understanding early literary forms and how they were used in the texts of the New Testament. By understanding how such devices were used, we can peel away all those layers of theology and myth, to discover more about the historical Jesus.
Instead of a person who performed supernatural deeds, we see a person who broke down societal norms and attempted to end the honor-shame balance. However, we also become aware of the prevalence of supposed supernatural powers during antiquity and how common it was to have people in stories, such as Jesus, perform miracles. With that idea in mind, Jesus becomes just another figure that became a hero through story-telling; the real person having been obscured by all the mythology and legend that grew in prominence as his story was told and re-told. Jesus performed miracles in similar (although often better) manner to the miracles from older stories in Hebrew scripture, such as those performed by Elijah and Elisha. What is important, is to understand that it was not, at that time, unusual for the performance of miracles to be included in such stories.
A Messiah, a miracle worker, Jesus was not. But he was, most certainly, a powerful figure who brought great hope to many and inspired some incredible stories, through the telling and re-telling of which, mythology and legend was created that ensured the survival of his legacy for two-thousand years (so far).
In the end, faith is the deciding factor whether somebody believes that Jesus actually walked on the water. To the skeptic, it comes down to weighing the probability that a human body could overcome the force of gravity versus the likelihood that a story of such could come about by storytelling. Given the plethora of claims ascribed to countless heroic figures of that time, the odds are greatly in favor of the non-supernatural explanation.
(2200) Axioms of atheism
It is enlightening to review the way that atheists think and to realize that theists often think in the direct opposite way. The following axioms represent a method of cognition that in most cases successfully weeds out the development of fallacious beliefs. Realizing that most theists do not process reality in this manner leads to a general conclusion that atheists are less likely to be deluded. The following was taken from:
1. We require sufficient objective empirical evidence before we will accept any claims of divine revelation.
2. We accept the general principle that any specific miraculous claim must overcome the strong presumption that it didn’t occur based on the overwhelming cumulative evidence that miracles have not occurred.
3. We accept the view that believers must shoulder the burden of proof as outsiders to show their faith is objectively true, given that learning a religion as an uncritical child from one’s parents in a religious culture is a notoriously unreliable way to know which religion is true, if there is one.
4. We accept the results of scientific clinical studies that have shown petitionary prayers work no better than chance, and reject personal anecdotal unconfirmed stories told by believers.
5. We accept that the laws of nature in the ancient pre-scientific world were the same as they are now, so we have a very strong presumption against accepting miraculous claims in the ancient superstitious world prior to the rise of modern science and the modern world.
6. We accept that which is objectively probable, and reject that which is merely possible.
7. We reject any and all double standards and special pleadings from religionists when they argue for their faith over the faiths of others.
8. We accept the overwhelming consensus of scientists as the surest guarantee of what is true, over any and all claims by religious leaders, scholars and their holy books.
9. We proportion what we conclude based on the strength of the objective evidence.
10. We accept the approach of methodological naturalism in assessing miraculous claims, whereby we seek out natural explanations for any and all events in question, given that doing so is the best and only way to know the truth in the midst of so many religious frauds, fakes, liars and hucksters.
There is nothing in the list of axioms that precludes an atheist from changing his mind and accepting the existence of a supernatural being. It’s just that the evidence to date has not tripped the thresholds noted above. On the other hand, the theist mind is generally not open to the same degree and is less likely to be moved by evidence contradicting their beliefs. From a dispassionate third-party view, this means that atheist ‘beliefs’ should be considered more trustworthy.
Please follow this link to #2201