(2201) More advanced archaeology fails to confirm Genesis
The following article from Haazetz, the longest running Israeli newspaper still in print, discusses how 18 years after it first published an article decrying the paucity of evidence supporting the literal truth of events discussed in the Book of Genesis, despite many additional explorations and the use of recently-developed advanced techniques, there still isn’t any confirming evidence. This admission is important because it comes from a source that would normally be biased toward the support of biblical authenticity. The following was taken from:
Beauty and biblical evidence both lie in the eye of the beholder, it seems. No evidence of the events described in the Book of Genesis has ever been found. No city walls have been found at Jericho, from the appropriate era that could have been toppled by Joshua or otherwise. The stone palace uncovered at the foot of Temple Mount in Jerusalem could attest that King David had been there; or it might belong to another era entirely, depending who you ask.
Archaeologists always hope that advances in technology will shed fresh light on at least part of this ancient mystery: Did the Bible really happen? So far, what discoveries there are, tend to indicate that at the least, the timelines are off.
Eighteen years ago, on October 29, 1999, Haaretz published an article by Tel Aviv University’s Ze’ev Herzog, whose message was spelled out in the very headline: “The Bible: No evidence on the ground.”
Of what? No evidence that the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt, passed through a miraculously parted Red Sea, wandered the Sinai Desert for 40 years or indeed any years, and no evidence that they conquered the land of Israel and divided it up among 12 tribes of Israel. The renowned archaeologist also shared his suspicion that David and Solomon’s “United Kingdom,” described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a minor tribal domain.
The unbridgeable gap Herzog described between the Biblical tales and the archaeological findings was nothing new, to researchers. Israeli archaeologists have long thought as much, based on biblical criticism theories originating in Germany during the early 19th century. The general public, however, was shocked.
Today, 18 years on, armed with cutting-edge dating and molecular technologies, archaeologists increasingly agree with Herzog that generally, the Bible does not reflect historical truths. But the jury’s out on several key issues, and at least some stories have been bolstered by actual discoveries, for instance, in the copper mines of Timna, the mysterious powerful fort of Qeiyafa, and in Jerusalem itself.
The roughly 3000-year old skeletons found in the Philistine graveyard in Ashkelon have clear hallmarks of Aegean customs, not Canaanite. Philippe Bohstrom
Meanwhile, everybody wants to know whether the Bible is literally true, from the layman to the clergy, to the political echelon, pertaining as it does to questions of identity and “our right to the land.”
Among archaeologists, the camps have split according to academic institution: In Jerusalem the biblical (maximalist) camp dominates, for instance arguing that the impressive palace found in the City of David practically had to have belonged to David. In Tel Aviv, the critical (minimalist) camp prevails in Tel Aviv, arguing that there is no evidence to buttress the bible, and that the palace in Jerusalem evidently doesn’t date to the Davidic era.
The founding fathers of Israeli archaeology explicitly set out with the Bible in one hand and a pick in the other, seeking findings from the biblical eras, as part of the Zionist project. But as excavations progressed in the 1970s and 1980s, rather than substantiation, what began to pile up was contradictions.
In Jericho no wall was found from the era that Joshua was supposed to have lived, around the mid-13th century B.C.E., that he could have caused to tumble down. No evidence has been found that a large new group of people entered into Canaan during the post-Exodus settlement period.
There is, in fact, no evidence to substantiate Exodus.
In Jerusalem, no concrete remains have been found from the purported glorious United Kingdom, and nowhere is there ex-biblical evidence of the kings David or Solomon either, with the possible exception of the “Beitdavid” inscription (more on that below). Nor do major archaeological tells conform to biblical descriptions, until after the period of the purported United Kingdom.
The last 18 years of digging have changed basically nothing about the very earliest Biblical periods, for all the advances in archaeological technique.
Archaeology has not been able to find the Patriarch Abraham, or signs of his heirs. There is no evidence that the Children of Israel ever went to Egypt, or fled it in the Exodus.
Israeli archaeology was late to adopt carbon-14 dating techniques, and until recently dated sites relying largely on pottery. Today not only is C-14 being used to date organic materials: advanced techniques enable inorganic materials and structures to be dated as well. And the new discoveries occasionally rock the boat, in both camps.
If anything, archaeologists find inconsistencies between the biblical accounts and the facts. For example, the Book of Genesis mentions camels, but the earliest domestic camel bones found in Israel date to around 930 B.C.E., about a millennia after their appearance according to the Bible.
Ditto the Philistines, who seem to have actually sailed to the Holy Land only centuries after the Bible says they did.
Genesis 21:34 for instance says, “And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.” That seems anachronistic. Genesis 26:1 adds: “And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.” Famine was likely but the Philistines weren’t supposed to live there in Abraham’s time.
No evidence has been found of ancient Hebrews in Egypt, or of their subsequent passage through the Sinai. Few (outside the observant community) dispute that the scripture is not a reliable description, though some argue that even if masses of people trooped through the desert, even for 40 years, they wouldn’t necessarily leave any traces behind. They would have sheltered in tents, not erected stone buildings, and their footsteps are long vanished from the sand.
Another snag is that Egypt itself ruled the Land of Israel at that time of the purported Exodus. Even if the Children of Israel fled from Egypt, they would just have reached another territory under Egyptian control. It is hard to find a mainstream archaeologist prepared to defend the biblical description of events. There, in 18 years, nothing has changed.
This amounts to the waving of a white flag by the very people who most desperately wish that science had confirmed the basis of their heritage. It must be difficult to admit, for example, that the most holy celebration of Passover is based not on truth, but a myth. For the Christian, all of this is sobering, because if the Book of Genesis is nothing more than mythical fiction, it represents a sandy if not nonexistent foundation upon which their own faith is based.
(2202) How hell became eternal
The concept of an eternal hell was not known to early Christians. In fact, this repugnant idea didn’t gel until several centuries after the origin of Christianity. The following was taken from:
The big point we are building up to here is that the early church fathers DID NOT believe in eternal torment. We aren’t talking about the first guy or two post-Paul. We are talking about the first 5 centuries after Christ.
Let me repeat that, just so we are clear.
Eternal torment was not a pillar of church doctrine for the first 5 centuries after Christ.
Dr. Ken Vincent, retired psychology professor from Houston Community College, and author of over one hundred books in the fields of psychology and religion, notes:
The first person to write about “eternal hell” was the Latin (West) North African Tertullian (160–220 A.D.), who is considered the Father of the Latin Church. As most people reason, hell is a place for people you don’t like! Tertullian fantasized that not only the wicked would be in hell but also every philosopher and theologian who ever argued with him! He envisioned a time when he would look down from heaven at those people in hell and laugh with glee! [ii]
Out of the six theological schools in Tertullian’s day and beyond (170–430 A.D.), the only school that taught the doctrine of eternal torment or hell to its students was the Latin (Roman) school in Carthage, Africa. Four of the other five taught that, through the death and resurrection of Christ, all people would be saved through restorative judgment and reconciliation in a plan of Ages.[iii] This teaching was called, “Universal Salvation” or “Universal Reconciliation.” Dr. Vincent says,
By far, the main person responsible for making hell eternal in the Western Church was St. Augustine (354–430 CE). Augustine…was made Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. He did not know Greek, had tried to study it, but stated that he hated it. Sadly, it is his misunderstanding of Greek that cemented the concept of eternal hell in the Western Church. Augustine not only said that hell was eternal for the wicked, but also for anyone who wasn’t a Christian. So complete was his concept of God’s exclusion of non-Christians that he considered un-baptized babies as damned. When these babies died, Augustine softened slightly to declare that they would be sent to the “upper level” of hell. Augustine is also the inventor of the concept of “hell Lite,” also known as Purgatory, which he developed to accommodate some of the universalist verses in the Bible. Augustine acknowledged the Universalists, whom he called “tender-hearted,” and included them among the “orthodox.”[iv]
Not only was Augustine somewhat the champion of the hell doctrine in the Western Church, he also had a major influence on the onset of religious bigotry and hate campaigns in the following centuries.
In the 1907 book, Lives of the Fathers: Sketches of Church History in Biography, written by Frederick D. Farrar, who was Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen of England, we read about Augustine:
The advocacy of hell came primarily on the scene with Augustine: In no other respect did Augustine differ more widely from Origen and the Alexandrians [Eastern Church] than in his intolerant spirit. Even Tertullian conceded to all the right of opinion.
[Augustine] was the first in the long line of Christian persecutors, and illustrates the character of the theology that swayed him in the wicked spirit that impelled him to advocate the right to persecute Christians who differ from those in power. The dark pages that bear the record of subsequent centuries are a damning witness to the cruel spirit that actuated Christians, and the cruel theology that impelled it. Augustine was the first and ablest asserter of the principle which led to Albigensian crusades, Spanish armadas, Netherland’s butcheries, St. Bartholomew massacres, the accursed infamies of the Inquisition, the vile espionage, the hideous bale fires of Seville and Smithfield, the racks, the gibbets, the thumbscrews, and the subterranean torture-chambers used by churchly torturers.[v]
Samuel Dawson, author of, The Teaching of Jesus: From Mount Sinai to Gehenna a Faithful Rabbi Urgently Warns Rebellious Israel, says:
Most of what we believe about hell comes from Catholicism and ignorance of the Old Testament, not from the Bible. I now believe that hell is the invention of Roman Catholicism; and surprisingly, most, if not all, of our popular concepts of hell can be found in the writings of Roman Catholic writers like the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), author of Dante’s Inferno. The English poet John Milton (1608–1674), author of Paradise Lost, set forth the same concepts in a fashion highly acceptable to the Roman Catholic faith. Yet none of our concepts of hell can be found in the teaching of Jesus Christ![vi]
Following on the heels of Augustine, the greatest influence on today’s hell theology via most modern Bible translations came from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. Jerome translated this tainted version of the Scriptures from a very inferior Latin text in the late 4th century:
For over a thousand years (c. AD 400–1530), the Vulgate was the definitive edition of the most influential text in Western European society. Indeed, for most Western Christians, it was the only version of the Bible ever encountered. The Vulgate’s influence throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance into the Early Modern Period is even greater than that of the King James Version in English; for Christians during these times the phraseology and wording of the Vulgate permeated all areas of the culture.[vii]
What was the problem with Jerome’s Bible? It was heavily influenced by Latin hell-inventing theologians like Tertullian and Augustine.
When you realize that the hell doctrine was so late in being adopted by the Church (and hence, Scriptures), the poorly constructed walls of orthodoxy begin to crumble. It was several hundred years after Jesus and the apostles that men began formulating many of these new Church doctrines and creeds, many still a part of Evangelical Christian orthodoxy to this day.
The lesson that can be learned from this is that the modern concept of eternal hell is an evolved construction of human minds, not the pronouncement of a Jewish holy man twenty centuries ago, nor any of his apostles nor any biblical authors. As such, it can be dismissed without further consideration.
(2203) God is NOT love
‘God is love’ is a common Christian mantra, but there exists a massive contradiction comparing the definition of love listed in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and the manner in which God is depicted throughout the Bible. This disconnect is stark and should give pause to Christian believers. The following was taken from:
We all could say various things indicating the meaning of love, but I’d like to draw your attention to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in the Bible:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Which all seems like a pretty accurate description of love. I think most people can agree on those whether you’re religious or not.
There is one single moment in the Bible that says “God is love”. It’s in John, the latest of the Gospels, when Jesus’s story changed from the earliest ones where he was a prophet who was sent by God, to being God himself in John’s Gospel with several decades of story evolution. But diverging from that brief tangent…
If we look at the definition of love as presented there in the Bible, God isn’t love. In fact, he’s about the exact opposite of love.
Let’s look at each of those traits of love, sentence by sentence of the original passage.
Love is patient, love is kind.
Admittedly, I don’t think there are passages that specifically have God being impatient for any particular thing. But there are countless moments where God does not follow the “kind” trait.
Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)
(Bold mine for emphasis.)
This outright states that God will only be merciful if you obey him, and do what is pleasing to him. In this case, what’s pleasing to God is killing everyone and burning a town that worships other gods.
Suppose there are prophets among you, or those who have dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles take place. If the prophets then say, ‘Come, let us worship the gods of foreign nations,’ do not listen to them. The LORD your God is testing you to see if you love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. The false prophets or dreamers who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of slavery in the land of Egypt. Since they try to keep you from following the LORD your God, you must execute them to remove the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NLT)
This passage says that you must fear God and obey him. Nowadays if there are people who believe differently than us, we (mostly) shrug and move on. We don’t kill them because most agree that would be sick and immoral. Unless God commands it, apparently.
The LORD then gave these further instructions to Moses: ‘Tell the people of Israel to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you forever. It helps you to remember that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.’ (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)
Here God says to kill people who do any work on the Sabbath. I understand having a day of rest, but banishing or killing someone has nothing “loving” or “kind” about it.
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. “Go up baldhead,” they shouted, “go up baldhead!” The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)
True, words can hurt, but God brutally mauling children for taunting someone is downright cruel and evil. Whatever happened to just, you know, giving them a scolding, or ignoring them?
The glory of Israel will fly away like a bird, for your children will die at birth or perish in the womb or never even be conceived. Even if your children do survive to grow up, I will take them from you. It will be a terrible day when I turn away and leave you alone. I have watched Israel become as beautiful and pleasant as Tyre. But now Israel will bring out her children to be slaughtered.” O LORD, what should I request for your people? I will ask for wombs that don’t give birth and breasts that give no milk. The LORD says, “All their wickedness began at Gilgal; there I began to hate them. I will drive them from my land because of their evil actions. I will love them no more because all their leaders are rebels. The people of Israel are stricken. Their roots are dried up; they will bear no more fruit. And if they give birth, I will slaughter their beloved children.” (Hosea 9:11-16 NLT)
Clearly God isn’t exactly “pro-life” like people say if he takes this viewpoint. Not to mention the whole “bring out your children to be slaughtered” thing.
As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you.
Murder, assault, and slavery are pretty much the three most unkind things you could do. In this passage alone, God endorses all three.
And for those who say “Oh, what about the New Testament”? Well…
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ (Matthew 15:1-5)
Jesus outright rebukes the Pharisees for not following God’s command in the Old Testament to kill disobedient children. Indicating that he still endorses it rather than supposedly “abolishing the law so we don’t have to follow it” like many proclaim (ignoring the fact that Jesus didn’t say he came to abolish the law). Also Jesus and his disciples didn’t wash their hands before they eat? Minor tangent, but you’d think that if Jesus was God (though that line of thinking is only supported in John, the latest Gospel) he’d know about basic hygene.
There are probably a hundred more passages I could include of similar ones, but seeing as this is only the first section I’ll move on to the rest.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Oh boy, this one. First off…
Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:11-14)
God outright says that not only is he a jealous/envious god, but that his name is Jealous. He equates jealousy as such a core part of himself that he says his name is jealous. Given the above passages mentioning his orders to slaughter those who worship other gods, those could easily fit in this section too.
As for God being boastful and proud:
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
“Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low, look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you. (Job 40, 6.5-14)
Here God basically boasts “I’m much more powerful than you so you have no right to question me on anything.” That seems pretty boastful and proud to me. Really much of the Book of Job could apply here.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
The dishonoring can be covered by the aforementioned passages where God kills people for worshiping a different religion, not working on the Sabbath, etc. As far as self-seeking goes, there are many places where God wants worship in an often bloody way, with the burning of sacrifices being “an aroma pleasing to the Lord”. And also there’s this:
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; (Wisdom 3:5-7 NAB)
Right here in this passage God blesses them (or at least seems to, the “sacrificial offerings” bit seems iffy) not because of anything good they did or being righteous, but because God “found them worthy of himself”.
And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. (1 Samuel 6:19)
One example of God being quick to anger. A couple people just look in the Ark of the Covenant and not only does God kill those people, but he kills a whole bunch of others who were just nearby and did nothing wrong. There are a few other examples I could post, but this is getting long enough as it is.
I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation… (Exodus 20:5)
Along with the jealousy mention again, this passage shows that not only does God keep a record of wrongs, but punishes the children for things their ancestors did, which seems pretty evil and “unloving” to me. Then again, this falls in line with the whole “Adam and Eve” thing so assuming the whole “original sin” thing we already know that.
Also there’s supposedly the Hell thing, which would definitely involve “keeping record of wrongs”.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
“Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all – old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders. “Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!” So they went throughout the city and did as they were told.” (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT)
Most would say that murder itself is evil, let alone murder on such a scale as this. God not only commits this evil but seems to rejoice in it.
Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children.(Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)
Again, we’d call that evil by any human standards.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
There are several instances in the Bible where God lifts his protection from those who follow him. Along with letting Satan hurt Job and kill his family over a bet, there’s this:
…Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain (Psalms 127: 1 NASB).
This indicates that if a city is attacked, then the watchman is needed, because God lifts protection from people.
And there’s this lengthy one from Liviticus, which I’ve put here because it showcases just about every thing wrong with the “God is love” claim. Read this passage, and for a moment imagine anyone but God saying it:
‘But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
“‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.
“‘If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. I will send wild animalsagainst you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.
“‘If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. And I will bring the sword on you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands. When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.
“‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. I myself will lay waste the land,so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste,and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.
“‘As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them. They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies. You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their ancestors’ sins they will waste away. (Leviticus 26:14-39)
If anyone, ANYONE were to say those things in fiction or reality, we’d want that person to be condemned. We’d call them a sick person who deserves the death penalty. We’d root for the heroes of the story to defeat them. We’d want to rid society of such an awful person.
So why does God get a pass if he says that, and why call such a being anything resembling “love”?
You could write a fiction story or two in which the antagonist does and says all these things. We’d call them evil, a villain, a monster. And yet if God says it, it’s suddenly okay? That wreaks of Stockholm Syndrome to me.
There’s a quote I remember from a film I saw once—”Fear and faith can’t exist in the heart at the same time”. And that I feel applies here. God is in fact, not love. He’s almost the opposite of love. He values obedience and fear more than any sort of “free will”, anything outside worshipping him isn’t tolerated.
It’s far more accurate to say “God is fear” than “God is love.”
The question should be asked: If the Christian god is the embodiment of love, then why does his behavior represent the direct opposite of how love was defined by his alleged disciple who ended up writing half of the New Testament? This is a gargantuan contradiction broadcasting that there is something terribly wrong with Christianity.
(2204) Glossolalia and science
One of the alleged evidences for Christianity is the phenomenon of people being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in foreign tongues that otherwise they are not capable of speaking. This is taken to be a miraculous sign of God’s existence. However, when placed under the microscope of scientific analysis, the claims evaporate and the practice of glossolalia is seen to be nothing more than disorganized gibberish. The following was taken from:
In 1972, William J. Samarin, a linguist from the University of Toronto, published a thorough assessment of Pentecostal glossolalia that became a classic work on its linguistic characteristics. His assessment was based on a large sample of glossolalia recorded in public and private Christian meetings in Italy, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Canada, and the United States over the course of five years; his wide range of subjects included the Puerto Ricans of the Bronx, the snake handlers of the Appalachians and the spiritual Christians from Russia in Los Angeles (Pryguny, Dukh-i-zhizniki).
Samarin found that glossolalic speech does resemble human language in some respects. The speaker uses accent, rhythm, intonation and pauses to break up the speech into distinct units. Each unit is itself made up of syllables, the syllables being formed from consonants and vowels taken from a language known to the speaker:
It is verbal behaviour that consists of using a certain number of consonants and vowels…in a limited number of syllables that in turn are organized into larger units that are taken apart and rearranged pseudogrammatically…with variations in pitch, volume, speed and intensity.
[Glossolalia] consists of strings of syllables, made up of sounds taken from all those that the speaker knows, put together more or less haphazardly but emerging nevertheless as word-like and sentence-like units because of realistic, language-like rhythm and melody.
That the sounds are taken from the set of sounds already known to the speaker is confirmed by others. Felicitas Goodman, a psychological anthropologist and linguist, also found that the speech of glossolalists reflected the patterns of speech of the speaker’s native language. These findings were confirmed by Kavan (2004).
Samarin found that the resemblance to human language was merely on the surface and so concluded that glossolalia is “only a facade of language”. He reached this conclusion because the syllable string did not form words, the stream of speech was not internally organized, and – most importantly of all – there was no systematic relationship between units of speech and concepts. Humans use language to communicate but glossolalia does not. Therefore, he concluded that glossolalia is not “a specimen of human language because it is neither internally organized nor systematically related to the world man perceives”. On the basis of his linguistic analysis, Samarin defined Pentecostal glossolalia as “meaningless but phonologically structured human utterance, believed by the speaker to be a real language but bearing no systematic resemblance to any natural language, living or dead”.
The reason that this has significance in our estimate of the truth of Christianity is that scripture implies that speaking in tongues is an actual capability provided by the Holy Spirit, as per:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
If this scripture is relaying factual history then it would be expected that speaking in tongues (assuming the Holy Spirit remains active) should today be reflecting ‘other tongues’ (that is, existing languages). The fact that this is not observed leaves much doubt that the quoted verses in Acts are factual, or that speaking in tongues is anything more than a natural phenomenon.
(2205) Jesus’ crucifixion endorsed a barbaric practice
Christians luxuriate in the romantic idea that Jesus died on the cross as a way to vicariously accept the penalty for their sins, thus providing them access to heaven. What is commonly overlooked is that by accepting this theology one is by default acquiescing to the legitimacy of the ancient practice of killing innocent animals as a means to gain propitiation from the gods. The Cross blatantly continued a theme that no longer makes sense nor meets modern moral or ethical standards.
In other words, to be a Christian and also be consistent, you have to agree that at one time God ordered or accepted the sacrifice of animals as the principal method for forgiving human sin. After all, Jesus was the ultimate ‘animal sacrifice’ that obviated the need to continue the practice going forward. It would seem far more likely that the idea of sacrificing animals to appease the gods originated in human rather than divine minds (and indeed this practice preceded biblical times). Thus, the central dogma of Christianity is mired in this same primitive conceptualization- one that lets us know that it, too, is a product of human minds.
Christianity could have escaped this embarrassing problem- by getting rid of the crucifixion, it wasn’t needed. Instead, separate itself from the idea of sacrificing innocent life. End the gospel as follows:
When Jesus had finished his meal, he looked upon his disciples with compassion and said, ‘My mission is now at an end and I will return to my father. Go now and spread the words that I have spoken. Those who heed my words will receive great reward in the life to come.’ With that, Jesus suddenly became invisible and the disciples were left bewildered, but yet emboldened to spread the word to the rest of the world.
This would have solved two problems- getting rid of the ridiculous idea of killing innocent life to forgive the guilty, and eliminating the dogma that what a person believes is more important than what they do.
(2206) Early Christians prosecuted not persecuted
Many Christians use as a defense of their faith the historical references to early Christians being persecuted for their faith. The reasoning is that a person will not die for a falsehood. Of course there are two main problems with this – a person may truly believe in a falsehood and stories of people being killed for their beliefs could be fictional.
Nevertheless, there exists scant evidence that the Romans ever targeted early Christians for their beliefs. However, there is much evidence that when Christians were prosecuted for various non-faith-related crimes, their attitude of allegiance to god rather than the state is what actually got them killed. The following was taken from:
This is not to deny that some Christians were executed in horrible ways under conditions we’d consider grotesquely unjust. But it’s important, Moss explains, to distinguish between “persecution” and “prosecution.” The Romans had no desire to support a prison population, so capital punishment was common for many seemingly minor offenses; you could be sentenced to be beaten to death for writing a slanderous song. Moss distinguishes between those cases in which Christians were prosecuted simply for being Christians and those in which they were condemned for engaging in what the Romans considered subversive or treasonous activity. Given the “everyday ideals and social structures” the Romans regarded as essential to the empire, such transgressions might include publicly denying the divine status of the emperor, rejecting military service or refusing to accept the authority of a court. In one of her most fascinating chapters, Moss tries to explain how baffling and annoying the Romans (for whom “pacifism didn’t exist as a concept”) found the Christians — when the Romans thought about them at all.
Christians wound up in Roman courts for any number of reasons, but when they got there, they were prone to announcing, as a believer named Liberian once did, “that he cannot be respectful to the emperor, that he can be respectful only to Christ.” Moss compares this to “modern defendants who say that they will not recognize the authority of the court or of the government, but recognize only the authority of God. For modern Americans, as for ancient Romans, this sounds either sinister or vaguely insane.” It didn’t help that early Christians developed a passion for martyrdom. Suffering demonstrated both the piety of the martyr and the authenticity of the religion itself, and besides, it earned you an immediate, first-class seat in heaven. (Ordinary Christians had to wait for Judgment Day.) There were reports of fanatics deliberately seeking out the opportunity to die for their faith, including a mob that turned up at the door of a Roman official in Asia Minor, demanding to be martyred, only to be turned away when he couldn’t be bothered to oblige them.
So, in a sense, the Christians were being killed because of their faith, but it was an indirect reason as their appearance in the Roman courts initially had nothing to do with their faith. Also, as noted above, martyrdom was sought after as a straight ticket to paradise, so many martyrs self-selected their fate. Additionally the theme of celebrating martyrdom most likely led to the creation of many false stories of such that were handed down over the centuries.
(2207) Jesus contradicts himself in the same gospel
It is relatively easy to point out contradictions from one gospel to another, but harder to find them within a single gospel, yet these are even more relevant to judging the authenticity of the overall Christian message. In the following two verses in the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus making contradictory statements:
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Here is the problem: There are three categories -people who are for you, people who are against you, and people who are indifferent (neither for nor against). In Jesus’ first statement above, he is stating that indifferent people are for you, while in the second, he is stating that they are against you. Assuming that these verses are not interpolations, the author of Luke made a mistake and caused Jesus to seem logically impaired.
(2208) Jesus, the parrot
By the 2nd Century, Jesus had become more than just a prophet, like Abraham or Elijah, but more of a co-equal branch of God along with the Father (the Holy Ghost attained this status a little later). But the problem was that the gospels had already been written. Mark, Matthew, and Luke did not portray Jesus as a god, though the final gospel, John, did somewhat hint in that direction. But even in John, we find scripture that contradicts the Jesus-God theory, as in the following:
“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Jesus is admitting that he is merely parroting what the Father told him to say. These are not the words that would come out of the mouth of God, but rather an emissary sent by God. If Jesus was a member of the Holy Trinity, he would have said something more to the effect ‘My Father and I will judge each person according to the words I have spoken. Following my commands will lead to eternal life. My Father approves of all that I say and do.’
(2209) Ivan Karamazov
In Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment, the character Ivan Karamazov introduces a thought experiment that reveals a troubling hole in the dogma describing the Christian god. It would appear that this god undertook a project that would have been rejected my any moral human. The following was taken from:
What kind of world is this one? It’s a world where most people wind up in hell. Why create a world like this when most people in it will be punished for an eternity? Consider what Ivan Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s character, said: “Tell me yourself—I challenge you: let’s assume that you were called upon to build the edifice of destiny so that men would finally be happy and would find peace and tranquility. If you knew that, in order to attain this, you would have to torture just one single creature, let’s say a little girl who beat her chest so desperately in the outhouse, and that on her unavenged tears you could build that edifice, would you agree to do it? Tell me and don’t lie!”
If there was no need to create anything, none, and if you foreknew people would suffer in this world and eventually do so for an eternity, would you create this particular world for your own glory, which is what Biblical theism asserts? Would you do so for YOUR OWN GLORY, especially when you already had all glory and there was no need to do so in the first place? Answer the question and do not lie!
This is one more example of how Christianity suffers under the weight of its doctrine of hell. It exposes that the god they worship is not only undeserving of worship but actually meriting a copious amount of condemnation.
Although it is intuitively obvious, it is interesting that a scientific study has demonstrated that religious people tend to be more credulous than non-religious people. They require less evidence to believe a claim, whether based on religion or science. The following was taken from:
Religious people need less evidence to believe a religious claim than a scientific claim, according to new research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science. But the study also indicates that religious people require less evidence than nonreligious people to believe a scientific claim.
The findings indicate that religious people tend to be less skeptical in general compared to the nonreligious.
“My general research interests focus on examining what people believe about reality and what factors contribute to how people develop, maintain, and revise those beliefs,” said study author Emilio Lobato, a PhD student in Cognitive and Information Sciences at the University of California, Merced.
“I have a particular interest in strange or unusual beliefs, whether they are about science, religion, conspiracies, history, superstitions, or the like. Pick a domain and it’s not hard to find some very weird beliefs that people have about it,” Lobato said.
“One part of why people believe the things they do is that people vary with respect to how committed they are to allowing empirical evidence to affect any given belief they may be asked to think about. This experiment that my colleagues and I conducted was a very neat and tidy way to touch on a lot of the things that interest me as a researcher at once.”
Lobato and his colleagues were interested in research showing that religious and nonreligious individuals tend to use different standard of evidence. In particular, a 2017 study found that religious people required less evidence for a claim that was presented in a nonscientific context as opposed to a scientific context.
In their new study of 703 participants, the researchers sought to replicate the findings and also examine the role of contradictory evidence.
Each participant was randomly assigned to read a short article that either described a group trying to cure an illness with a new medicine or described a group trying to cure an illness with prayers. In both cases, the participants were informed that one person had been cured after the group tested its method.
Then, the participants were either asked how many additional people would need to be cured before they could be certain the medication or prayer was effective, or were asked how many people would need to remain ill before they could be certain the medication or prayer was ineffective.
The researchers found that religious participants tended to need fewer replications than nonreligious participants to confirm a religious claim.
It makes sense that a religious person would require less evidence to believe what they already are predisposed to believe. But this study also showed that they need less evidence to believe non-religious claims, indicating that they harbor a built-in additional degree of credulity. This would tend to render a dispassionate observer less likely to be influenced by their beliefs.
(2211) Why Christians are strangled by their faith
Christianity was cleverly designed to keep the faithful from falling out of their faith by way of its deceptive manipulation of human nature. It captures them into a metaphorical black hole that is very difficult or impossible for some to escape, no matter how much countervailing evidence they encounter over their lifetimes. The following lists 10 reasons why most Christians will never realize the error of their belief:
1) The lack of critical thinking. I cannot tell you how often believers respond to skeptical arguments with informal fallacies in favor of their faith, which includes special pleading, non-sequiturs, all or nothing thinking (i.e., the “either/or” and “black and white” fallacies), begging the question, the “you too” fallacy, and especially appeals to ignorance. They don’t even know that’s how they are responding. And this is what I see coming from some Christian scholars I have dealt with, even those who teach critical thinking in the colleges, which nearly stuns me. Their responses are bad, really bad, and they don’t/can’t see it.
2) There is an explanation for why believers reason so badly: They have been enculturated, or indoctrinated to believe, a phenomenon that can best be described as being brainwashed. Christians can acknowledge this with others who believe differently in religions they consider bizarre. Why can’t they see it in themselves? The reason is the same one for why the others can’t see it in themselves. It’s because they too are brainwashed. Only the brainwashed do not know it.
3) A very large percentage of believers do not seek out disconfirming evidence for their faith, which can be decisive. They are sure of their faith so they only look for confirming evidence. This can only make them more entrenched in whatever they were raised to believe in their particular culture. But it’s an utterly wrongheaded approach to their faith.
4) Ignorance is another reason, sometimes willful ignorance. The more we know the more we should doubt. Any educated person will tell you this. Socrates even said he was wise because he knew one thing others didn’t, that he didn’t know. The more we know the less we claim to know.
5) This ignorance is due to the fact that believers fear to doubt. It’s the very nature of faith in an omniscient mind-reading God that he is displeased when they doubt his promises. So in order not to displease him they do not seriously question their faith. Believers also fear to doubt because they reside in a Christian community of like-minded believers, their friends, who can be counted on when in need, and who would ostracize them if they walked away from the faith. Social pressure among one’s main group of friends keeps them in the fold and blissfully ignorant of the need to test their faith.
6) The biggest reason believers don’t seriously question their faith is because of where it could lead them, to hell. They cannot bring themselves to travel down a road that might eventually lead them to eternal torture (or however they conceive the final judgment). The thought never occurs to Christians that they don’t have the slightest fear of Allah’s hell, or the many sects within their own faith who claim all others are going to hell.
7) Believers conversely have a hope they cannot bring themselves to do without, living eternally in heaven with their deceased loved ones. This hope is so intense they cannot entertain they might be wrong, otherwise they might have to admit they will never see their dead mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters again. That’s simply too painful for them to even consider.
8) The nature of faith itself. Faith is a parasite on the mysterious. Without mystery faith couldn’t exist. Wherever there is mystery there will always be room for faith because as humans we seek an explanation for the mysterious, and for believers their particular God-concept fills in the gaps. This is one of the informal fallacies I mentioned earlier. Believers require nearly all mysteries to be solved before they will consider their faith unreasonable, and that’s an unreasonable epistemic standard since there will probably always be mysteries. Faith is therefore an irrational leap over the probabilities, something no thinking person should ever do with the probabilities given the available evidence. One should only conclude what the probabilities show and never assert more than what the evidence leads us to think is probably the case.
9) Then too, there is the concept of an omniscient God which is used to solve all problems. I call this the Omnscient God Escape Clause. Because theists believe in an omniscient God skeptics must prove their faith is nearly impossible before they will consider it to be improbable, which is an utterly unreasonable standard of proof, making their faith pretty much unfalsifiable.
10) Morality seems to be another issue, that if believers walked away from their faith they would ipso facto have no reason to be a good people who care for the common good of a society. But the overwhelming evidence is against this, best seen in the demographics.
This provides another forceful refutation of the alleged evidence for Christianity based on the retention rate of its followers. It would be similar to stating that smokers don’t really want to quit or else they would, neglecting the psychological power of addition. And addiction is a good metaphor for what keeps Christians believing in the midst of a sea of evidence invalidating their faith.
(2212) Passover myth created during reign of King Josiah
It is curious that Christians do not celebrate Passover because it was the most important holiday for Jesus and his disciples. Perhaps it’s because they realize it was based on a myth. The following presents a theory that the Passover story (as well as the whole Exodus saga) was created centuries after the alleged event itself, based on the apparent fact that Passover wasn’t celebrated during this gap of time.
Here’s just a brief introduction to the JEDP theory. The D stands for the Deuteronomist author/editor. That the Deuteronomist had a very unusual fondness for King Josiah, who ruled over Judah in the South from about 640-609 BCE, is found in many ways.
The Deuteronomist rates Josiah and him alone as the best king who ever reigned: “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to Yahweh with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him” (II Kings 23:25). In fact, in the Deuteronomist’s history Josiah was not just good and important, he was someone to be compared with Moses himself.
In one instance the text “prophetically” names him three hundred years before he was born. His life was prophesied to Jeroboam, the very first king of the northern tribes (probably 922 to 901 BCE): “By the word of Yahweh a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. By the word of Yahweh he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what Yahweh says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you’” (I Kings 13:1-2). And surprise of surprises at the end of the Deuteronomist’s history Josiah does exactly what had been prophesied earlier (II Kings 23:15-20). No other explicit prediction of a person by name 300 years in advance can be found in the Bible. [Isaiah’s prediction of the rise of the Persian king Cyrus (44:28-45:1) was about 150 years earlier, which leads most scholars to say the first author in chapters 1-39 was not the same author of the other 27 chapters]. It is clearly something the Deuteronomist inserted into his edition. And why not? The Deuteronomist was writing his story to please King Josiah. Why is this not hard to understand? Scribes under the power and authority of a despot were instructed to highly praise their king or they would die. Or do you really suppose instead that they would write it as they see it?
There is surely something going on here, and the clue can be found in 2 Kings 22:8–13, which contains a very interesting story. The Deuteronomist tells us Josiah had just come to be king of Judah in the South. He wanted to repair the temple and told the High Priest, Hilkiah, to go through all the stuff and see how much money they had. While Hilkiah was looking around, we’re supposed to believe, he found the “Book of the Law” and gave it to a secretary who read it to Josiah. When Josiah heard it, he tore his clothes because he realized that they had not been obeying God. Given the problems I just mentioned scholars think that instead of “finding” this book, this is when it was actually compiled, edited and/or written. It was a time in the kingdom of Judah when Josiah needed greater control over the people he was ruling over. It was written to support a reform that centralized all religion and political authority within Jerusalem, in order to keep a crumbling kingdom together in light of internal and external pressures. In order to legitimate these novel reforms, Josiah’s regime claimed the book was written by Moses himself. (This kind of forgery was common among regimes in the ancient Near East.) Some suggest that since Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry took place during Josiah’s reign (7th century BCE), he may have been the author of a large part of the Deuteronomistic history.
This may help explain why the Deuteronomist tells us that the Passover Meal was not celebrated for hundreds of years before King Josiah’s time. In 2 Kings 23:21–23 Josiah commanded the people to celebrate the Passover. And there we read, “Not since the days of the judges who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to Yahweh in Jerusalem.” It’s likely, given what we know, that the Passover Meal was first celebrated during his reign. And if this is the case, it helps explain the lack of archaeological evidence for an exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, their wilderness wanderings and the conquest of Canaan. It was all a myth created in King Josiah’s day.
What can be learned from this history is that authors of scripture not only were not rigid historians but also they were working under the duress of authority figures, meaning that they were often forced to invent text and stories to please their superiors. This offers us another reason to doubt the accuracy of scripture. The theory presented above adds more evidence to the nearly unanimous scholarly position that the entire story of the Exodus was a myth, and that its creation was probably motivated by political considerations.
(2213) Judeo-Christian values expression delayed
Christians often state that we must return to our Judeo-Christian values, while ignoring the fact that these so-called values did not exist in the early days of the religion, but were forged through many centuries of political battles. If what is claimed to be Judeo-Christian values were actually tied to the faith, they should have emerged immediately. The following is taken from:
I’m certain most of you here have heard it before. There’s one argument that Christians turn to when they’ve lost the case for Creation, God’s existence, and the truth and utility of their religion, that is, the historical argument: “Judeo-Christian” values. Those who promulgate this, various conservatives and even ‘Christian atheists’, credit Judeo-Christian values for accomplishments such as:
Abolition of slavery
Separation of Church and State
Right to vote
Rule of Law
Freedom of speech
and basically the whole foundation of the West.
Oh thank God that the millennia-long presence of Christianity in Europe bestowed on us these wonderful Judeo-Christian values! And its establishment as Rome’s state religion had nothing to do with the spread of these values, right? Yeah, the religion
that spurred the Crusades, the Inquisition and pogroms;
that maintained a monopoly on political decisions;
that established a divine Right for kings;
that suppressed scientific discoveries;
that executed people for translating the Bible in their local language;
that culled the young to fight for God, King and Country in WWI;
whose members killed each other for what type of Christian they were;
whose holy book explicitly condones and endorses slavery, genocide, censorship and the treatment of women as chattel;
those aren’t based on Judeo-Christian values, but of course the societies that outgrew obscurantism are.
For convenience’s sake, I’ll pick Copernicus and Galileo as a starting point: It took Judeo-Christian values at least 1500 years to even barely begin to conceive Western foundations. Why did it take so long? Weren’t these truths self-evident all along? Why couldn’t we have these values the moment Christianity was first widespread, let alone founded? So it was all worth going through hysterical ignorance and oppression because we’ve finally got Western accomplishments thanks to these values. Utter babble. Our values are secular and their accomplishments get appropriated—no, hijacked—by Christianity.
In fact, the real authentic Judeo-Christian values would be soundly rejected by modern societies and seen as being woefully inferior to the values now enshrined in the laws and mores of contemporary culture. This is a powerful piece of evidence that Christianity is nothing more than the invention of people stuck in their period of human development. If our current values had been expressed 2000 years ago, that would be a different story.
(2214) Jesus was not a pacifist
Assuming Jesus to have been a real person, there is scriptural and historical evidence to suggest that he was not a pacifist as some gospel scriptures suggest, but rather was planning a militant takeover of Jerusalem along with the expected assistance of God’s superpowers. This is why some disciples were armed with swords at the moment of Jesus’ arrest. The expected heavenly assistance failed to arrive and Jesus was crucified on the charge of sedition against the Roman occupation. The following was taken from:
Jesus may have been crucified because his followers were carrying weapons, according to a scholarly analysis of New Testament books.
Dale Martin, a professor of religious studies at Yale University, says that this aspect of stories about Jesus, as told in the gospels, has received too little attention, but could alone explain Jesus’s execution and also show that the man from Nazareth was not the pacifist he’s usually made out to be.
The biblical books of Mark and Luke both state that at least one (and probably two or more) of Jesus’s followers was carrying a sword when Jesus was arrested shortly after the Last Supper, at the time of the Jewish festival of Passover. One disciple, Simon Peter, even used his sword to cut off the ear of one of those arresting Jesus, according to the Gospel of John.
This militant behavior almost certainly wouldn’t have been tolerated by the Romans, led by the prefect Pontius Pilate, Martin tells Newsweek. For example, historical documents show that it was illegal at the time to walk about armed in Rome and in some other Roman cities. Although no legal records survive from Jerusalem, it stands to reason, based on a knowledge of Roman history, that the region’s rulers would have frowned upon the carrying of swords, and especially wouldn’t have tolerated an armed band of Jews roaming the city during Passover, an often turbulent festival, Martin says.
“Just as you could be arrested in Rome for even having a dagger, if Jesus’s followers were armed, that would be reason enough to crucify him,” says Martin, whose analysis was published this month in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament.
Harold Attridge, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School who wasn’t involved with the paper, tells Newsweek that Martin’s analysis is sound and that “likely the Romans would have been severe against someone seen as a political threat,” as almost certainly would have been the case with Jesus.
The paper “reminds us that the early followers of Jesus and perhaps Jesus himself were inevitably thrown into conflict with arbitrary state terrorism by the Roman Empire [in which] Romans practiced both random and intentional violence against populations they had conquered, killing tens of thousands by crucifixion,” says New Testament scholar Hal Taussig, who is with the Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Martin’s paper addresses an even more important question, says Bart Ehrman, a professor at the University of North Carolina: Why were Jesus’s followers armed at all, especially during a religious festival?
Martin makes the case that Jesus and his followers were likely expecting that an apocalyptic showdown was on the horizon, one in which divine forces (in the form of angels) would destroy Rome and Herod’s temple and usher in a holy reign. And this might require some fighting by Jesus’s disciples, he adds.
It sounds pretty far-out, but a similar scenario is described in parts of the Book of Revelation. And this scenario of “heavenly forces joined by human forces…was an expectation in a central document of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” a group of texts that shed light on the thinking of various Jewish peoples around the time of Jesus, Martin adds.
Indeed, many academics who study the historicity of the Bible believe “that Jesus was an apocalyptic Jewish prophet who was expecting an imminent arrival of the kingdom of God on Earth,” Martin says.
The paper also suggests that Jesus may have been in favor of fighting, at least in this apocalyptic instance, Ehrman tells Newsweek.
“It’s making me rethink my view that Jesus was a complete pacifist,” he says. “And it takes a lot for me to change my views about Jesus.”
It may well be that Jesus spouted pacifist views in order to disarm the Roman officials into thinking that he was not an imminent threat so that he could stealthily amass a legion of followers to arrive in Jerusalem for the anticipated apocalyptic fight. This theory is consistent with what is known about the enforcement strategy of the Roman occupiers and also helps to make sense to explain why the gospels present Jesus as espousing, contradictorily, both pacifist and militant views.
(2215) The god invention theory
We know from history that all major civilizations created a god, or gods, or at least something that would be categorized as cognizant supernatural beings that interact in some significant way with human life. There are no counter examples where a major tribe of people emerged bearing strictly atheistic beliefs.
From a Bayesian probabilistic perspective, this is an important fact to consider when estimating the probability that any one religion is true. Imagine the inverse of this situation- throughout human history, only one society believed in a god while all of the others did not. This would mean that humans are not prone to inventing gods, and that this one isolated example is a significant outlier. It would not prove the existence of this lone god, but it would certainly make it more likely to be real than if every society created one of their own.
As an analogy, say a thousand people spread out all over the world claim to have seen Elvis Presley alive last night versus only one person making the same claim. Which is more likely- that at least one of the thousand sightings is true or that the one lone sighting is true? Most mathematicians would argue that the single sighting is more likely to be true than any one of the thousand sightings. This is because it would reveal that it is less likely that humans have a tendency to make a false claim of seeing Elvis. So if you were hoping that Elvis is still alive you would be more encouraged by the lone sighting than the thousand of such sightings. In like manner, only a single civilization claiming a god would make that god more likely to be real.
(2216) Preselection of the saved
It is uncontroversial that the ‘game’ of Christian salvation is tilted and unfair, given that some people are born into the ‘correct’ religion while other are not. But to make matters even worse, scripture indicates that God preselects those who will be saved and those who will be damned, meaning that salvation is the result of the whim of God and is not at all an accomplishment of the saved. The following was taken from:
Although rarely mentioned by believers, a final reason for unbelief is God preselects who will and will not believe: “You do not believe, because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them; and they shall never perish” (John 10:26-28). To make matters worse, the apostle Paul says God sends to unbelievers “a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (II Thessalonians 2:11, 12). If someone protests this is not fair, elsewhere Paul retorts: “So then he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires” (Romans 9:18). If the questioner persists, Paul scolds: “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God: The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? (Romans 9:20). The bottom line is unbelievers are the unlucky “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” and believers are the lucky “vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9: 22, 23).
Nothing could be more unfair than this shameful discriminatory scheme being perpetrated by the god of Christianity, but it does offer something useful – convincing evidence empowering discerning skeptics to conclude that this god obviously DOES NOT EXIST.
(2217) The real Bible
Christians are afflicted with the knee-jerk obsession that the Holy Bible contains the ultimate wisdom of our existence and that it overshadows any of the written efforts or actions of mankind. Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) had another concept for what constitutes the ‘real Bible,’ the one that reflects not only factual truth, but which appropriately celebrates our achievements and shared humanity.
For thousands of years men have been writing the real Bible, and it is being written from day to day, and it will never be finished while man has life. All the facts that we know, all the truly recorded events, all the discoveries and inventions, all the wonderful machines whose wheels and levers seem to think, all the poems, crystals from the brain, flowers from the heart, all the songs of love and joy, of smiles and tears, the great dramas of Imagination’s world, the wondrous paintings, miracles of form and color, of light and shade, the marvelous marbles that seem to live and breathe, the secrets told by rock and star, by dust and flower, by rain and snow, by frost and flame, by winding stream and desert sand, by mountain range and billowed sea.
All the wisdom that lengthens and ennobles life—all that avoids or cures disease, or conquers pain—all just and perfect laws and rules that guide and shape our lives, all thoughts that feed the flames of love, the music that transfigures, enraptures and enthralls, the victories of heart and brain, the miracles that hands have wrought, the deft and cunning hands of those who worked for wife and child, the histories of noble deeds, of brave and useful men, of faithful loving wives, of quenchless mother-love, of conflicts for the right, of sufferings for the truth, of all the best that all the men and women of the world have said, and thought and done through all the years.
These treasures of the heart and brain—these are the Sacred Scriptures of the human race.
This is a concept that atheists can embrace- an unfiltered view of nature’s wonders, an open-minded search for scientific knowledge, an appreciation for the triumph of humanity’s ever-evolving sense of morality and ethics, and the shared experience of surviving together in a universe that is indifferent to our existence. As Ingersoll wrote, these facts, discoveries, ideas, and concepts constitute our true sacred scriptures, and their collective value dwarfs by miles all that is written in the Holy Bible.
Unbeknownst to Christians, they have been gaslighted, or trained to mistrust their own cognitive faculties when it comes down to whether to believe the faith’s core doctrines. This tactic is spectacularly effective at keeping them incurious and in the fold. The following was taken from:
A critical component of groupthink is creating doubt in one’s rationality, or gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to make people doubt their intelligence, memory, perception and sanity. It seeks to undermine trust in one’s own mind and instead rely on the judgement of someone else, usually an authority figure who seeks to control the individual or group.
The Bible is filled with assaults on reason which is a frequent refuge for preachers and teachers when reason and faith conflict. The most frequently cited gaslight passage is: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). The gaslighting prize, however, goes to Isaiah 55:8, 9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ‘declares the Lord.’ “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” In the New Testament, Jesus is quoted as saying: “Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent, and didst reveal them to babes” (Luke 10:21). The apostle Paul expands on this theme in his first letter to the Corinthians: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom” (I Corinthians 1:18-25). Finally, using the Christian scholar’s last resort, Paul gaslights Roman Christians who would dare question the justice of God: “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Romans 9:20).
The objective of Paul’s gaslighting was to generate sufficient mistrust in his readers’ rationality so they would consider a possibility they otherwise would have considered foolish; namely, that Jesus’ death on the cross [a human sacrifice] is essential for their salvation. Using gaslighting, Paul sought to entice the Corinthians into believing the message of the cross only appears foolish. In actuality, it is wisdom of God masquerading as foolishness. So, at least according to Paul, those able to accept this are not fools at all, but the super-wise who possess the very power and wisdom of God. On the contrary, those shackled by their intelligence, the wisdom of the wise, scholars and philosophers are the real fools since they cannot accept the foolishness of the cross. These fools who cling to their rationality are doomed to perish. However, the former fools able to accept the foolishness of the cross will be granted eternal life. In Paul’s world, foolishness is transformed into a virtue and the call goes out to the Corinthians and all future believers to become “fools for Christ.” This call was famously reprised by Supreme Court Justice Scalia in a speech at a prayer breakfast for the First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi where he exhorted listeners, “We are to be fools for Christ.”
If gaslighting 1.0 has been effective, gaslighting 2.0 is soon to follow. With critical thinking neutered, now a believer is asked to embrace something demonstrably false (e.g. the Bible has no contradictions; the resurrection accounts are consistent; Jesus was correct when he promised he would return “before this generation passes away”; core components of Christianity were not borrowed from earlier religions) or justify something most would find morally repugnant (e.g. the God-sanctioned genocides of Joshua to take the Promised Land from the Canaanites; the murders of the firstborn of the Egyptians; the demand of a human sacrifice to assuage the anger of the Creator at humans for not exercising perfectly their God-given free will; the consequence of eternal punishment for those who do not accept Jesus as their savior; the preselection by God of those who will and will not believe; slavery; the subjugation of women).
Another striking example of gaslighting 2.0 (discussed earlier) is the attempt to convince Christians their subjective experience of the Holy Spirit is so overwhelming it rises to the level of objective truth: “the way we know Christianity to be true is by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit” (Reasonable Faith, p. 31). William Craig explains why Christians are immune to evidence against the truth of Christianity: “Because [Christian] belief is formed in response to the self-disclosure of God himself, who needs no external authentication, it is not merely rational for us, but constitutes knowledge. We can be confident of Christianity’s truth.” (p. 36).
Gaslighting 3.0 is the most disturbing and dangerous stage of all. This occurs when believers are so certain of their convictions, they condone, justify and may even commit acts of violence in service of them. Here is where the words of Voltaire (1694-1778) and Pascal (1623-1662) are chillingly prescient: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” (Voltaire); “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction” (Often attributed to Pascal).
History is littered not only with the carnage of holy wars with both sides certain God was on its side, but also with the detritus of what FDR called “racial arrogancies.” This is the seductive and pervasive human tendency—despite overwhelming scientific evidence we are 99.9% genetically identical–to be certain one’s particular race, nation, religion, family, tribe, caste is superior. The result is group members exalt their own group and diminish, dehumanize, demonize, dominate, even eliminate, birds of another feather.
Gaslighting is Christianity’s most effective tool for restraining its followers from asking too many questions. It turns them into sheep who blindly follow the herder down a path to ignorant bliss and makes them unable to detect the absurdities that they are brainwashed to believe.
(2219) Selective attribution
Christianity and other religions have taken advantage of a common human cognitive misfiring to mask over the fact that they are selling a non-existent product. Selective attribution is a way that people protect as well as reinforce their religious beliefs by selectively attributing successes and failures in a biased fashion. The following was taken from:
- Selective Attribution: Counting the hits and ignoring the misses.
Answered and unanswered prayer is an excellent example of this. When one gets what one prayed for it is “God answered my prayer.” When one doesn’t, one can say “God answered my prayer; and the answer was ‘no’; or “I need to pray harder or more’; or “I didn’t pray according to God’s will.” Similarly, God gets credit for healing the cancer patient, but not for causing the cancer in the first place. And when the cancer patient dies, “It was God’s will and God called him home.” Another common form of selective attribution, related to prayer, is the claim that God spoke a person. This speaking—rarely claimed to be audible–is generally framed as “God led me” or “I felt the clear leading of the Spirit.” Then, when God doesn’t provide the funds for the Spirit-inspired vision, “God leads” in a different direction. Selective attribution is a pervasive biblical theme in the story of the children of Israel: when good things happen, God is praised; when bad things happen, the people are blamed: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14).
Once people are immersed in this mindset, reality no longer has an effect on their beliefs. They are locked into a conviction that is disturbingly stable and monumentally resistant to change. Christianity has persisted in a world where it is not true by taking advantage of as well as encouraging the use of this fallacy of the human mind.
(2220) Tacitus evidence of Jesus is flawed
Christian apologists often use the writings of Tacitus (56-120), a senator and historian of the Roman Empire, to establish an extra-biblical confirmation of the existence of Jesus as a real person of history. There as significant problems with this claim, as discussed below:
Considering now the supposed evidence of Tacitus, we find that this Roman historian is alleged in 120 CE to have written a passage in his Annals (Bk 15, Ch 44, containing the wild tale of Nero’s persecution of Christians) saying “Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus…” G.A. Wells [p. 16] says of this passage:
[Tacitus wrote] at a time when Christians themselves had come to believe that Jesus had suffered under Pilate. There are three reasons for holding that Tacitus is here simply repeating what Christians had told him. First, he gives Pilate a title, procurator [without saying procurator of what! FRZ], which was current only from the second half of the first century. Had he consulted archives which recorded earlier events, he would surely have found Pilate there designated by his correct title, prefect. Second, Tacitus does not name the executed man Jesus, but uses the title Christ (Messiah) as if it were a proper name. But he could hardly have found in archives a statement such as “the Messiah was executed this morning.” Third, hostile to Christianity as he was, he was surely glad to accept from Christians their own view that Christianity was of recent origin, since the Roman authorities were prepared to tolerate only ancient cults. (The Historical Evidence for Jesus; p.16).
There are further problems with the Tacitus story. Tacitus himself never again alludes to the Neronian persecution of Christians in any of his voluminous writings, and no other Pagan authors know anything of the outrage either. Most significant, however, is that ancient Christian apologists made no use of the story in their propaganda – an unthinkable omission by motivated partisans who were well-read in the works of Tacitus. Clement of Alexandria, who made a profession of collecting just such types of quotations, is ignorant of any Neronian persecution, and even Tertullian, who quotes a great deal from Tacitus, knows nothing of the story. According to Robert Taylor, the author of another freethought classic, the Diegesis (1834), the passage was not known before the fifteenth century, when Tacitus was first published at Venice by Johannes de Spire. Taylor believed de Spire himself to have been the forger.
The fact that apologists rely so heavily on Tacitus to establish Jesus’ historicity highlights the inexplicable lack of accounts by First Century historians chronicling Jesus’ life, ministry, and execution. These accounts should be ubiquitous, but they are all but non-existent.
(2221) Failure of divine command theory
Divine command theory (DCT) proposes that an action’s status as being morally good is equivalent to whether it is commanded by God. The theory asserts that what is moral is determined by what God commands, and that for a person to be moral is to follow his commands. There are many biblical examples where this theory is severely tested as, for example, when God commands the killing of women and children. Nevertheless, Christian apologists commonly pull the DCT off the shelf to justify these types of commands, even in the wake of regular Christians being somewhat squeamish about them. The following example exposes the DCT for the abject failure that it is:
If god came down and unambiguously said, “To be a true Christian and follow me and get into heaven, one must kill and consume a human baby.” What’s the poor Christian to do?
1) Say “Pass the ketchup.” Sadly, this is the only possible response for a Christian. Since everything their god commands is correct, then murder and cannibalism must be correct. (Indeed it is, but we won’t talk about the whole bread to body thing.)
2) Say “No way” in which case the Christian has rejected the morality of their god for their own (and society’s). We know that murder and cannibalism are wrong. In this case, the Christian accepts that. Indeed, this is what all Christians actually do. The Bible commands many things that are not done in our modern world (stoning disobedient children, slavery, genocide, etc). People make their decisions and then try to justify it using religion.
3) The only other choice is to say “My God would never say that.” In which case, god has been reduced to the speaker’s morality. There is a higher moral law that even god must follow (generally the speaker’s and/or his culture’s). In which case, why follow god’s morality at all and just accept that society and culture define morality much, much more than religion.
“Humanism is that standard you use to judge which bit of the Bible or Qur’an to follow and what to ignore” -Rosa Rubicondior
Thus, the divine command theory is an illegitimate argument for excusing the atrocities ordered by Yahweh in the Bible. In every practical sense, our common sense morality supersedes what is presented in the scriptures and it, and it alone, is used by humanity to determine what is right and what is wrong. In this light, slavery is wrong even if Yahweh ‘thinks’ otherwise.
(2222) Religion is a guessing game
Religion is a guessing game for humans, most of whom start out in the wrong religion and then face a deadline (their death) for finding the right one, assuming that one exists. The evidence pointing to the hypothetical ‘right’ religion is insufficient (no matter religions is true) to convince most of those ensconced in one of the ‘wrong’ religions. This leads to an existential crisis for humanity. The following is taken from:
Most of the world’s major religions tell us that in the past their gods spoke to humanity (e.g. via prophets, divine messengers or just appearing on earth themselves) and that they’re capable of causing large scale miracles which humans can witness. Logically if any god with the above characteristics existed and wanted to resolve the doubts about their existence in the modern world, they could easily do so. Therefore, if they exist then they must have chosen to create a situation of divine hiddenness.
There are various religious options to choose from in the modern world (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism etc) plus you arguably can’t just rule out the historical religions just because others don’t believe them anymore. These various options all contradict each other on key issues but there’s no hard evidence we can use to decide which is true (if any) so there’s limited clues to go by. There are philosophical arguments for the existence of a deity which some find convincing but they don’t point to a specific religion. Multiple religions have rituals which don’t have observable supernatural effects, ancient texts, unverified claims about past miracles and an afterlife, some amount of wisdom in their teachings, other teachings which critics see as flaws etc. The result is a guessing game where at most there is one true religion and many red herrings.
Each of us has a lifetime to guess which religion is true (however long or short that might be) but this is complicated by our start in life. People are far more likely to choose the religion they were born and raised in and/or the one that’s most prevalent in their country and yet if a god exists, they’ve allowed a situation to develop where 31% of the world is Christian, 24% is Muslim, 16% is non-religious, 15% is Hindu, 7% is Buddhist and the remaining 7% is other religions. No matter which religion is true (if any), the majority of humanity is born and raised in the wrong religion and likely to end up following that religion and teaching it to their own kids.
It would be highly irrational for a god or gods that want to be worshiped by humanity to allow a situation to develop where religion is a guessing game and where most people start life by being taught the wrong religion. The fact that such a situation exists strikes me as evidence that either any god out there doesn’t care about humanity worshiping them or there is no god.
This is a situation that would almost certainly not exist if there actually was a supernatural being that was interested in judging humans for a post-life reward or punishment. In other words, it is strong evidence against the existence of the god claimed by Christianity.
(2223) The atonement is both absurd and horrible
The bedrock core of Christianity is the torture and execution of a man that is done to appease the bloodlust of a menacing god who otherwise sees ALL humans as being bad and deserving of everlasting punishment. The horror and spectacular absurdity of this doctrine escapes those who are caught up in the fold, but not to those who have escaped it. The following was taken from:
On “Good Friday,” I thought about how little was good about it. The atonement is a Christian doctrine that is both absurd and horrible. The cross is a symbol of execution and represents Christianity.
Iconic images of our country’s major religion are violent and unjust: A powerful male outsider forcibly impregnates a young woman who is engaged to another, and she is compelled to have the baby despite any social consequences.
The ruler of the universe has his only son killed in a brutal and unjust manner, and this torture and death of an innocent is considered an act of love. The guilty ones, all the people for whom the son was a scapegoat, go free and never have to be responsible for any of their own wrong-doing. No attention is paid to anyone’s real behavior so that punishments would fit crimes, as they do in modern law. Instead everyone is considered deserving of death and eternal damnation; this includes all since no one is perfect. No one has any opportunity to stand trial, account for their own life, or make their own amends.
The ruler-god demands a blood payment. This is nonnegotiable despite being ruthless; forgiveness is not an option, despite the preaching by his son about forgiveness. State violence is used as an acceptable mechanism to administer torture and death, even though the legal process is flawed and unjust; it is the will of the ruler-god and there are no other measures of morality. Might is right. A demand for blood payment must be met. When it is done, the people must accept and be grateful. If not, they must be eternally punished. Justice is far more important than mercy, righteousness more important than love. The ruler-god decides what is just and what can be called love.
The son is nothing in comparison with the father-ruler-god. His teachings of love and compassion and forgiveness drop away in the face of the crushing, obliterating horror that is the Doctrine of the Atonement. The image of a bloody, tortured son appealing to his powerful father who will not intervene to protect him is considered a beautiful sight in our culture. It is seen as a symbol of the ruler-god’s love for us instead of a supreme act of cruelty easily prevented. No other religion worships such torture, calling it love, and people in other lands wonder why our god would allow it to happen to his own son.
This is the mental imagery in the bedrock of our nation’s Christian culture. It may explain why so many Bible-believing American Christians seem so, uh, unchristian. If one’s moral compass is based on the Atonement, then it has been compromised. It is a morality devoid of rationality, modern legal precepts, and Jesus’ own teachings. It says “judge” rather than “judge not,” teaches punishment rather than forgiving “seven times seven,” and retribution, not loving one’s enemies. It’s really no wonder that the U.S. leads the world in incarceration rates, and perpetuates wars that claim a kind of justice that is recognizable to no one else. The country is addicted to power. Many are more attached to their guns than the safety of their children. It seems no amount of global or domestic suffering makes much difference. Could it possibly be related to the fact that the most primary icon in our cultural consciousness is a man obscenely tortured with God’s full approval, who then absurdly absolves us of our sins?
God was crucified for all sin, including his own because it holds God responsible for creating evil in the first place. Just consider what difference it might make to reject the primitive demands of an imagined tribal god. What if we took responsibility for ourselves and made our own decisions about justice and mercy? We would have to grow up, have some self-respect, and learn to listen to our own wise instincts. It would be a paradigm shift that just might save the world.
Most ex-Christians find themselves becoming incredulous that they ever could have considered the atonement doctrine as making any sense or that it could even possibly have been the ‘plan’ of the infinite, omnipotent creator of the universe. The word ‘absurd’ is woefully inadequate to describe just how disgusting and grotesque it is.
(2224) Jesus gives bad advice
In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus says not to worry about the physical challenges of earthly life because God will protect and provide as necessary to ensure that everything will be alright. This is one of the ‘feel good’ sermons by Jesus that is often recited in church settings. And it would be great advice if Christianity was true. But clearly it is not. Many people, Christians, even the most devoted suffer continual bouts of disease, bankruptcy, homelessness, and starvation. If God was real and prayers were effective, the following would be the most inspirational words ever spoken:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
There is not a single Christian who takes these words to heart, because if and when they try, they soon will be in serious trouble. A necessary component of life is to plan ahead and to take steps necessary to ensure that you survive and thrive. To simply sit back and expect God to provide everything is a precursor to total ruin. However, per the scriptural words of Jesus, this would not be the situation in a world where Christianity was true.
(2225) The right hand of God
The Bible contains 58 verses that refer to the right hand as being a symbol of power, righteousness, dignity, and respect. These verses exist in such books as Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, Colossians, Romans, 1 Peter, Ephesians, and Revelation. Most notably, Jesus is described as sitting at the right hand of God in heaven.
The use of the term ‘right hand’ in this manner is a clue that the Bible was written by (and only by) humans. In a quirk of evolution, humans developed an asymmetric use of their bilateral upper appendages (arms) that resulted in about 90% of people being right-handed. There are various theories about how this happened, but that is not germane to this point. What is important is that this situation led to discrimination against left-handers, who were often seen as being sinister and perhaps possessed by evil spirits. The right-handers were seen as being upright, virtuous, and pure while the left-handers were viewed as being flawed if not in league with the devil.
The following was taken from:
Beyond being inherently disadvantaged by a right-handed bias in the design of tools, left-handed people have been subjected to deliberate discrimination and discouragement. In certain societies, they may be considered unlucky or even malicious by the right-handed majority. Many languages still contain references to left-handedness to convey awkwardness, dishonesty, stupidity, or other undesirable qualities. Even in relatively advanced societies, left-handed people were historically (and in some cases still are) forced as children to use their right hands for tasks which they would naturally perform with the left, such as eating or writing.
So if we consider this social meme in concert with the people who wrote scriptures that ended up in the Bible, it is not unexpected that use of the right hand to denote truth, honesty, and as a position of honor (for Jesus) would pervade the book. But what about God? He certainly would not be expected to have a left-right bias. Therefore, the fact that a pervasive human bias, based on an unsophisticated and unscientific belief, penetrated the Bible is evidence of its human origin.
(2226) The immorality of declaring something scriptural
The act of classifying a piece of writing as being sacred scripture is an immoral act that renders that text beyond critical analysis or fact-checking, essentially saying that it must be taken literally and without question for eternity. This is the situation with each of the 66 books in the Bible- Christians are essentially forced to believe that each of these books is the literal truth as dictated by God. The following is taken from:
The problem with scripture is that it gets a lot of the moral facts wrong, but people are not allowed to question its teachings.
Notice that I said scripture here, not Religion. I am talking about the writings that lie at the heart of many religions – the doctrine as written in their holy books.
One fact to note about scripture is that all of it was written by regular human beings. There is not a word – not even a punctuation mark – in any work of scripture that was divinely inspired. If we want to truly understand what any piece of scripture says the best framework for interpreting it is to ask, “Why would somebody write this?”
This question tells us that the authors of scripture, almost by definition, cannot be the most morally virtuous people. They are people who wanted their personal opinions carved in stone, and to silence all critics. If they had any love of truth, or of honesty, or if they had any modesty, they would have written, “Here are my ideas, what do you think?” Instead, they tell us, “Here are God’s ideas as told to me and written down by my hand.”
When I write a posting, anybody is free to disagree with its contents. Even those who basically accept desirism can say of any recent claim, “I don’t know about that, Alonzo. I don’t think you got that one right.” I hope that nobody is going to my postings and quoting chapter and verse as if the fact that I have written something is reason enough to accept it as gospel.
“…accept it as gospel.” The very phrase speaks to the vice that is found at the root of scripture – the fact that certain things are to be accepted as true and beyond question. Among the things that are to be accepted beyond question are the moral prejudices of the author – an author who is so arrogant that he claims to speak for God.
To be fair, I suspect many of the authors of scripture never claimed the authority to speak for God. They may have been simply recording a tribal story that they had heard or recording their interpretation of a historical event. Somebody else, then, comes along and says, “Those were God’s words and he was just taking dictation.”
The instant somebody – whether it is the author or some promoter – points to a piece of text and says, “That is the word of God and is not to be questioned,” he is guilty of committing a moral crime. He has performed an action worthy of our contempt and condemnation. He has taken a personal opinion created by a mere mortal – a substantially ignorant moral writing at a time when our understanding of the facts of the world we live in were in a state that can best be described as “primitive”, and put it in the realm of “that which shall not be questioned.”
And not just any opinion, but opinions on who shall live and who shall die, who shall go free and who shall be enslaved or imprisoned, who shall be comforted and who shall be made to suffer. Of all of the human opinions to put into the category of “that which shall not be questioned”, these types of opinions deserve to be at the very bottom of the list. These are the types of opinions any morally responsible person would insist be at the bottom of the list – opinions that are in the most need of our careful study and scrutiny.
Yet, these are the types of opinions that the scripture-thumping evangelical puts at the very top of the list of those that must be taken as “not to be questioned.”
These facts lead to the conclusion that any scripture-thumping evangelical in any religion is an immoral person. The evangelical-thumping person puts at the top of the list of propositions that are not to be questioned those types of claims that a morally responsible person would put at the bottom of the list. Thus, the scripture-thumping evangelical is not a good person. The scripture-thumping evangelical deserves our condemnation and our contempt. He is shirking his moral responsibilities, and he is inviting his followers to do the same.
Now, one of the claims I have often made is that there is no moral crime that a person can commit in the name of God that one cannot rationalize without reference to God. We find the moral equivalent of scripture-thumping evangelizing among factions who hold that no God exists as well. The followers of Karl Marx and Ayn Rand have waved their prophets’ tomes around as the secular equivalent of bibles, quoting chapter and verse those propositions that they assert shall not be questioned. Not because it is a crime against God but because (they falsely assert) it is a crime against reason or a violation of the laws of nature to do so.
We can get into a debate over which scripture-thumping evangelicals have done the most harm. People can assert, “Well, our scripture-thumping evangelicals have not killed as many people as your scripture-thumping evangelicals.” However, I consider that to be the moral equivalent of trying to defend Ted Bundy by saying he did not kill as many people as Hitler. Regardless of who killed the most people, both are evil, and both deserve to be treated as such.
The same is true of all scripture-thumping evangelicals – secular and sectarian alike.
Not only were the books of the Bible written by humans without divine guidance, but the selection of which books belong in the Bible was decided by humans, often after significant disagreements and revisions. Nowhere in this process was there any evidence that God was orchestrating a divinely inspired finished product. The problem then becomes when billions of people believe without question that this human-generated, human-compiled compendium of writings is the work of God and that it cannot be questioned for all eternity.
(2227) Belief in Christianity is irrational
When compared to historical mysteries that are recent and don’t involve supernatural events, Christianity represents a much more difficult story upon which to base one’s belief. Generally, the more recent an event the more likely that evidence exists to justify believing it, and, as long as what is reported is mundane, such that it does not involve a violation of the physical laws of nature, this also makes it a more palatable thing to believe. But Christianity is ancient and is infested with hundreds of physical law violations, making a belief in it irrational. The following was taken from:
Let’s try this again folks. The evidence for Christianity is historical evidence from the ancient superstitious pre-scientific past. That’s it. Private subjective experiences do not count, since all believers claim to have them. Miracle claims in today’s world do not count either, since the evidence for them doesn’t even convince believers in the same faith tradition, much less other faith traditions. Just think Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, and Oral Roberts, or the many claims coming from Asia and the Southern Hemisphere which only convinces Pentecostals and Charismatics. The evidence does not convince many or even most evangelicals, much less moderates, even less so liberals. The evidence for them certainty doesn’t convince people outside one’s own faith tradition. Protestants don’t accept the Catholic miracle claims at Lourdes, France, at the hands of the Virgin Mary, while Christians don’t accept the Hindu claims of being healed in the Ganges River. Philosophical apologetics isn’t evidence at all. This is merely argumentation that should be based on solid objective evidence or discarded as special pleading, as I have argued in some detail right here. For a Christian to say, “Okay, but these kinds of things are still evidence for me,” is quite plainly irrational. There is no such thing as privately convincing evidence. Evidence, if it’s to be considered as such, is objective evidence, public evidence, evidence that can convince other rational people.
Through the process of elimination then, the evidence for Christianity is historical evidence from the ancient superstitious pre-scientific past, and that’s it. Period. I don’t see how any sane informed person can disagree. Really. This evidence is supposed to be good enough to convince rational outsiders that God sent his incarnate son to this planet, via a virgin, to atone for our sins, who subsequently was raised from the dead and will eventually reward believers and condemn nonbelievers. I have looked at this supposed evidence and it doesn’t produce a scintilla of a reason to accept it. So let me take a different, surprising tact, to help believers see why this is the case.
I’ve written a whole chapter in my book, Why I Became an Atheist,titled, “The Poor Evidence of Historical Evidence,” which I consider essential reading if any believer really wants to know the truth. It’s chapter 7.
The nature of the historian’s honorable task is extremely difficult, and fraught with so many problems that the farther back in time they go, then more often than not, the less likely they can claim with any degree of probability their conclusions are correct ABOUT ORDINARY MUNDANE MATTERS. How much more so when it comes to non-repeatable extraordinary events that are contrary to the laws of nature, that by their very nature are near impossibilities!
Let’s just mention a few mundane ordinary events that historians debate, off the top of my head. Who killed JFK, and why? Did President Roosevelt know in advance the Japanese were coming to bomb Pearl Harbor? Did John Brown’s failed raid at Harpers Ferry start the American Civil War? What happened at Custer’s Last Stand? Was there even a last stand? Who wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare? What was the cause of the Black Death Plague in the 14th century? Was Emperor Constantine truly a believer? Did Brutus act alone when he stabbed Caesar?
Some of these issues have a higher consensus among historians than others, of course. But the debates about ordinary mundane historical events are LEGION! No one can say the historians who debate these particular issues, and the numerous others, are adversely affected by anti-supernatural biases. They just disagree.
If this is the case when it comes to ordinary history, then how much more is it the case with non-repeatable extraordinary events that are contrary to the laws of nature, that by their very nature are impossibilities!
Now, isn’t it obvious at this point, that believing in Christianity is irrational?
When you consider that private ‘confirming’ spiritual feelings exist across the entire spectrum of the world’s religions, that Christianity is scantily documented by ancient contradictory texts that were written long after the events, that the events themselves are in the distant past, that there are hundreds of claims in the holy text that violate known scientific laws of nature, and that ‘miracles’ such as these are no longer observed (especially in a world with billions of portable cameras in every conceivable crease of the planet), BELIEF IN CHRISTIANITY IS IRRATIONAL.
(2228) The magic word
The Bible would have us believe that there is magic in a certain word, ‘Jesus,’ that affords power to one who utters it. It allows a mortal person the ability to do what normally can’t be done. One of the best examples of this superstitious claim is Acts 3:1-10:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The following was taken from:
After the healing, Peter addressed the crowd that gathered. He identifies Jesus as the one whom the God of Israel has glorified, and concludes, verse 16, with this point:
“And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know. And the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.”
Got it? “…his name itself has made this man strong…” This is a marker of magical thinking. Right here in the New Testament is a magic spell: By uttering a word, a sacred name, a man is healed. In this case, a congenital birth defect no less, is repaired. That’s not how the world works; that’s how fantasy literature works. Or showbiz TV faith healers.
It’s not difficult to understand why any reasonable person would conclude that this story is fictional. First, it was written at least 60 years after the alleged event. Second, even if by some miracle the man’s nerves were repaired, it is quite another thing for his leg muscles to regenerate magically along with his sense of balance (needed especially for him to be leaping around after years of lying down). Third, there seem to be no excuse for why contemporary Christians of faith are not likewise healing paralyzed people. (Did the word ‘Jesus lose its power?) The only place where this appears to happen is on stage by faith healers in front of incredulous audiences. If the name of Jesus was as powerful as alleged, then faith healers would be spending most of their time in hospitals where their healing talents could be confirmed by science.
(2229) Jesus the epileptic
Assuming that Jesus was a real person, there is evidence in the Gospel of Mark that he had epilepsy. Note below the disconnect between Verses 20 and 21. There is a scholarly consensus that a verse (20a) was removed by later editors that referred to Jesus having a seizure. That would explain why his family came to his assistance because they would have been aware of his condition which might have first manifested during childhood. Otherwise, it makes no sense why his family would say that he was out of his mind (just for entering a house and drawing a crowd) or why the teachers would accuse him of being in league with the demons.
20. Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22. And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
Epilepsy is known to cause in some cases hyper-religiosity and feelings of grandeur, which could explain why Jesus felt he was the chosen one of God. The following was taken from:
It can never be known exactly what health problems Jesus had, if any, but the bible does leave us some clues. In Mark 3, there is an episode where Jesus seems to have a seizure. What exactly happened to Jesus has been lost to time, but it was enough for Rabbis to believe that Jesus had been possessed by a demon and for his own family to rush for him. It was commonly believed that seizures were caused by demon possessions in ancient times and Jesus’ own family seems to not question the accusations that Jesus was “out of his mind”, which suggests that this was not a surprise for his family. The disturbed reactions of the Rabbis and the implied prior knowledge that his family seemed to have is consistent with chronic epilepsy, which most likely would have started well before he started his ministry and possibly during childhood. One kind of epilepsy, temporal lobe epilepsy, has been linked to hyper-religiosity and prophetic delusions. This casts major doubt on any revelations or beliefs of Jesus.
It is also known that epileptics were often seen as being special visionaries to the outer-world, so they could attract followers who viewed the seizures as moments when their leader was being enlightened by the gods. Thus epilepsy could be the reason for Jesus believing himself to be special and also could have provided a magnet for attracting followers.
(2230) Comparing miracle claims
Christians for the most part accept without reservation the miracles recorded in the Bible while dismissing miracles associated with other faith groups. This is termed special pleading. But it actually gets worse because when you compare the miracle claims of Christianity with those of Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) for example, it becomes clear that the pleading becomes embarrassingly illogical. The following was taken from:
One way that I express my dismissal of the New Testament’s claims to strict historicity is by comparing them to the miracles of ‘heretical’ religions that are generally dismissed by theists. The early miracles of the Mormon church (for example, the visitation of the angel recorded by the Three Witnesses) seem to make for a good comparison, as in each aspect, they seem to be much better evidenced than those of the New Testament.
Time Elapsed Between Event and Record
New Testament: At least 20 years (conservatively). [actually probably at least 40 years]
Mormonism: Less than a day in many cases. Less than a year in most cases.
Certainty of Authorship
New Testament: Essentially no extra-biblical evidence of particular authorship. No contemporary extra-biblical details on the claimed authors.
Mormonism: Photographs, letters, and diaries of the actual people whose testimonies were recorded.
New Testament: No first-person accounts of the life of Jesus. No personal claims to eyewitness testimony (except arguably Luke 1: 1-4).
Mormonism: Multiple independent, first-person, personal claims to direct eyewitness testimony.
“Wouldn’t Die For a Lie”
New Testament: Almost no confirmed cases of the early disciples being martyred (I’ll grant Stephen as an example, arguably Peter, but all other claims to apostolic martyrdom come from over a century after the fact).
Mormonism: Leader of the movement died a clear martyr’s death. Multiple other deaths confirmed as a direct result of religious persecution. The Three Witnesses re-affirmed their testimonies of the angelic visitations to the day of their death, even after denouncing Joseph Smith, and having no motivation to continue lying.
Other aspects often cited by apologists (The Criterion of Embarrassment, the presence of eyewitness details, etc) seem to follow a similar pattern.
Wouldn’t all this mean that anyone who accepts the New Testament as historically accurate must also accept the early Mormon miracles as historical fact?
It’s trivial to come up with clear evidence that Joseph Smith was a fraud, and in fact many members of the church later denounced him and the church leadership in general. But even granting this, by the same criteria used by Christian apologists, it seems that they must accept at least the claimed miracles as historical fact, right?
There is little wiggle room here for non-LDS Christians other than to appeal to their faith or their feelings. The logic they use to defend Biblical miracles while dismissing those with better credentials reveals a hypocritical bias that fails any test of critical thinking.
(2231) Women and livestock
Christians have been coached to say that the slavery mentioned in the Bible was actually voluntary indentured servitude and also that scripture considers women as being equal to men. The following passages in the Book of Numbers forcefully refutes both of these assertions.
“Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”
Numbers 31: 32-35
The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.
Here we can see that 32,000 women were captured and involuntarily subjected to slavery, likely of a forced-sexual nature, and that their numbers are totaled in the same phrase as the livestock count, as if they are nothing more than men’s possessions along with the sheep, cattle, and donkeys.
(2232) Reasonable non-belief
The existence of people who disbelieve in Christianity based on an unbiased, reasoned, and open-minded approach to analyzing the evidence pro and con proves that the god of Christianity does not exist. The Christian god is necessarily a benign and compassionate god who wills that everyone is saved. Given that characterization, which all Christians would agree, it makes no sense that there would be even a single person who earnestly searched high and low but came to a conclusion that this god does not exist. Not providing this person with sufficient evidence would reveal this god to be evil.
This concept is well presented in the following video:
Divine hiddenness is a difficult fact for Christians to explain. Often they will defend this dilemma by saying that nature itself exposes the existence of their god, but there are two problems with this. First, even if one agrees that nature manifests the existence of a god, it doesn’t specifically point to the Christian god. Second, the advances of science have greatly reduced the need to posit a god to explain practically anything.
Thus, the evidence for the Christian god is limited to the Bible and personal experience. The Bible has been shown to contain largely fiction and hearsay and cannot be taken as literal fact by a conscientious observer, and the realm of personal experience among Christians is no more convincing than any other faith group.
Thus a large number of people fall in the category of reasonable non-believers. The god of Christianity, if it existed, would ensure that these people would be provided sufficient evidence to believe in its existence. There wouldn’t a single person earnestly searching for the truth who would be left dangling in a state of erroneous non-belief. By observing these people, we can conclude that the god of Christianity does not exist.
(2233) Morality from God or elsewhere?
Christians often state that morality is a God-given attribute that does not originate within the framework of human experience. There is a simple thought experiment that can separate people who hold this view from those who don’t, as follows:
One of the most common arguments from the religious is that without God there would be no morality. Non-believers reject this, and there’s an easy though experiment way to see which side you fall on. So, to those who do subscribe to a mainstream religion such as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, consider this:
Imagine that one day God comes to earth and announces a new rule that says it’s a moral responsibility of all believers to kill anyone who doesn’t have a copy of your religion’s Holy book in his/her house.1.
The question is: would you instantly accept this as morally acceptable because it came from God, or would you reject it because it’s wrong to kill someone for such a thing?
And here are the results. If you would immediately start killing people because God told you to (and therefore the command was “moral” by definition), then your morality comes from God. But if you would question and/or reject this command because it feels “wrong” to you, then your morality comes from somewhere else.
Which are you?
It can be assumed that the vast majority of Christians would not follow this command from God, and thus murder their secular neighbor, even if they were fully convinced that it came from God. Accordingly, morality is an innate characteristic of human nature, and we can confidently eliminate another alleged evidence for God’s existence.
(2234) God’s regret
If God is as Christianity alleges, he must have realized that there would come a day when people would take the Bible literally. Therefore, you would expect that he would have taken measures to ensure that the way he is characterized in this book is accurate. Clearly, this did not happen in the following passage from Genesis where God is characterized as having regret that he made humans, admitting to making a mistake, and forsaking his reputation for omniscience and omnipotence:
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.
Christians who believe in biblical inerrancy must skim over these verses because they directly contradict the doctrine that God is perfect in all respects. Here God admits to a mistake and a failure to see into the future. Liberal Christians can overcome their dissonance by understanding that this is fictional literature, but still they must concede that it is troubling that such a contradictory story made it in to the Bible in the first place.
(2235) Missing Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize is awarded to individuals and groups who discover or develop ideas or methodologies that have a particularly significant benefit to humankind. Often it is awarded to those who discover truths that contradict previous kernels of conventional wisdom, as, for example, a restructuring of the evolutionary tree of life based on new evidence. But one prize that has never been awarded is for the discovery of a force or forces that can countermand the physical laws of nature- for example an interruption of the law of gravity, a violation of entropy, or the non-conservation of mass/energy.
If Christianity is true, by now such a Nobel Prize should have been awarded. It is impossible to believe that if interactive, supernatural entities (demons, angels, Satan, God, and intercessory saints) are afoot in the background of our reality that none of these a-natural physical phenomena would have been observed by scientists, reported, and replicated by other scientists. There would be a field of science dedicated to the study of the paranormal. The fact that no one has achieved a Nobel-worthy discovery in this ‘field’ is evidence that Christianity is not true.
(2236) The demand for perfection
Standard Christian dogma holds that the only way a person can achieve heaven without embracing Jesus is by living a ‘perfect’ life completely devoid of sin. This is backed up by a few scriptures, such as:
‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
Because God knows that humans are inherently imperfect, his demand for perfection is unreasonable. But Christians will say that, yes, it’s an impossible demand, but God has given us a way out of our inevitable demise- accepting Jesus’ ‘sacrifice.’ Notwithstanding, the following ‘outside the bubble’ reflection is germane:
A gracious god would be willing to forgive you for being imperfect. A gracious god would be equally willing to forgive you for having the ‘wrong’ religious beliefs. The God of Christianity is not a gracious god.
Any god worthy of worship would accept that humans are not perfect and that they make mistakes, and so would not impose a requirement for perfection, with or without a ‘free’ get-out-of-jail card. A gracious god would judge humans against their underlying nature, honor a life well lived, and would excuse the situation when someone, though no fault of their own, ends up in the wrong religion. The fact that the god of Christianity is not gracious lets us know that it is most likely the fictional creation of imperfect humans.
(2237) Occupations that lead to atheism
Sometimes remaining a Christian involves an avoidance of certain occupations that tend to lead to an objective re-evaluation of previously indoctrinated beliefs. The following lists some of these:
1) Become a Pastor. Then you’ll learn how church people really behave. It could sour you from thinking there is an inward presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians. Think Dan Barker, Charles Templeton, Joe Holman, yours truly, and many others. I had to start out this way. 😉
2) Become a Psychiatrist/Psychologist. Most practitioners in these fields do not believe. It’s probably because they know what makes people tick so they just can’t believe in a wrathful god who will judge us for our behavior or thinking patterns. Think Valerie Tarico.
3) Become a Biblical Scholar. I dare you. Do not stay within the confines of conservative scholarship, which is not much better than special pleading. Study at real schools. Think Hector Avalos (OT), Bart Ehrman and Bob Price (NT).
4) Become a Biblical Archaeologist. Just think William Dever and his books What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?, and Did God Have a Wife?
5) Become an Anthropologist. Not only are most anthropologists non-believers they are also relativists. Think David Eller (my favorite).
6) Become a Biologist. Try to maintain intelligent design as a biologist. And after getting your degree try publishing a peer-reviewed paper defending it. Only one has ever slipped through the cracks.
7) Become a Neurologist. Once you see how the brain works it accounts for why we think and behave as we do without the god-hypothesis.
8) Become a Physicist. Enough said. Think Victor Stenger.
9) Become a Zoologist. Study animals and see how much they are like us, and how we are like them. You’ll be forced to consider their fate when they die compared to where humans go when we die. You’ll be forced to consider why they suffer so much if there is a good god.
10) Become a Cosmologist. The existing universe and the many other possible existing ones put out the fires of religious passion. You’ll be forced to consider the vastness of existence and the wastefulness of a creator god whose greatest creation is on this pale blue dot.
It should be expected that establishing a career that specializes in the in-depth analysis of religious or scientific matters would lead a person to a closer relationship with reality. In the cases listed above, entry into any of these ten fields will cause a person to move in the direction of, if not landing in, atheism. Reality has a non-religious bias.
(2238) God’s misplaced involvement
Scanning several scriptures would have someone believe that an all-seeing, all-powerful force is focusing lovingly and yet judgmentally on every minute detail of our existence. When this proposition is measured against the way our lives actually unfold, trouble begins. The following was taken from:
Given what we read in the New Testament, we are entitled to a few expectations about how the world should work—and about God’s involvement in it.
• “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-30)
• “…on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all. (Romans 2:16)
• “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:28-29)
This is intensive, intrusive theism. Nothing in the natural world escapes God’s notice—even birds falling to the ground—and he knows the hair-count of every person. Maybe these are just metaphors? Perhaps, but the intent is to show how closely he watches, how carefully he pays attention. Even to our thoughts: God is inside our heads; he “will judge the secret thoughts of all.” He even monitors everything we say, so that he can catch people blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
We are being spied on. Which would be fine, I suppose, if God took the responsibility—based upon his love and supposed power—that goes along with this supreme nosiness. But given the way the world works—as opposed to what these verses might lead us to hope—God has much to answer for. Jesus had a lot of nerve saying, “Do not be afraid”:
“Think about it. A man approaches a school with a loaded assault rifle, intent on mass slaughter. A loving person speaks to him, attempts to help him resolve his problems or to persuade him to stop, and failing that, punches him right in the kisser, and takes away his gun.
“And a loving person with godlike powers could simply turn his bullets into popcorn as they left the gun, or heal with a touch whatever insanity or madness (or by teaching him, cure whatever ignorance) led the man to contemplate the crime. But God does nothing.” (Richard Carrier, Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith, p. 21)
Indeed, Jesus’s admonition to not be afraid is laughably ridiculous given his lack of involvement in situations that threaten human safety. This is a test of Christianity’s authenticity and it fails spectacularly. The scriptures describe a world that does not exist.
(2239) God and Charles Manson
It probably would surprise Christians than any comparison could be made between their Lord and Charles Manson, the convicted cult leader who directed the killings in the Tate-LaBianca massacres in 1969. But both of these ‘men’ ordered the killing of a baby (or babies in the case of God). The following was taken from:
Christians gather to worship and praise as loving YHVH, a god whom their scriptures present as a baby-killer (2 Samuel 12:13-18) who sometimes orders his followers to kill babies (1 Samuel 15). It is as disconcerting to me to find people venerating YHVH as a loving god in such a circumstance (and as your scriptures say – 1 John 4:8, 4:16) as we will doubtlessly agree it would be to find community in venerators of Charles Manson as a musician – because Charles Manson, although a musician, was also an egotistical cult leader who ordered his followers to kill people, including a pregnant woman and her baby. For this reason, right-thinking people do not think of Charles Manson the Great Musician (which he claimed to be) but of Charles Manson the Killer, on the ground that some deeds (such as leading a cult and arranging for cult-members to kill people) are so noteworthy as to eclipse all other attributes in immediate association with Charles Manson.
For what reason, based upon the preceding model, should right-thinking people not avoid thinking of YHVH the loving god (as he is claimed to be) but instead think of YHVH the Baby-Killing God who sometimes orders his followers to kill babies, on the ground that some deeds (such as killing babies and ordering one’s followers to kill babies) are so noteworthy as to eclipse all other attributes in immediate association with YHVH?
To deny that YHVH is a Baby-Killing God who sometimes orders his followers to kill babies is to deny the truth of your scriptures – and once one does that once, when does it end? With me, it ended with abandoning Christianity.
Killing babies or ordering others to do so should be sufficient for anyone to either refuse to worship the perpetrator or, more accurately, in this case, to conclude that such a divine being most likely does not exist. Christians are being hypocritical by worshiping God while condemning Manson.
(2240) Just world hypothesis
Research has indicated that people who believe that we inhabit a just world, where good people are rewarded and bad people punished, tend to be more religious and are less likely to have compassion for the less fortunate. This meme is often played out in politics, particularly in the United States, where the most religious leaders are the ones opposing universal health care and, in general, virtually every policy geared to helping the poor. The following was taken from:
The need to see victims as the recipients of their just deserts can be explained by what psychologists call the Just World Hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, people have a strong desire or need to believe that the world is an orderly, predictable, and just place, where people get what they deserve. Such a belief plays an important function in our lives since in order to plan our lives or achieve our goals we need to assume that our actions will have predictable consequences. Moreover, when we encounter evidence suggesting that the world is not just, we quickly act to restore justice by helping the victim or we persuade ourselves that no injustice has occurred. We either lend assistance or we decide that the rape victim must have asked for it, the homeless person is simply lazy, the fallen star must be an adulterer. These attitudes are continually reinforced in the ubiquitous fairy tales, fables, comic books, cop shows and other morality tales of our culture, in which good is always rewarded and evil punished.
Melvin Lerner, a social psychologist, has conducted a series of experiments to test this hypothesis. In an impressive body of research, he documents people’s eagerness to convince themselves that beneficiaries deserve their benefits and victims their suffering. In a 1965 study, Lerner reported that subjects who were told that a fellow student had won a cash prize in a lottery tended to believe that the student worked harder than another student who lost the lottery. In another study a year later, Lerner and a colleague videotaped a simulated “learning” experiment in which it appeared that the “participants” were subjected to electric shocks. Lerner found that subjects who observed the videotapes tended to form much lower opinions of these “victimized” participants when there was no possibility of the victim finding relief from the ordeal, or when the victim took on the role of “martyr” by voluntarily remaining in the experiment despite the apparent unpleasantness of the experience. Lerner concluded that “the sight of an innocent person suffering without possibility of reward or compensation motivated people to devalue the attractiveness of the victim in order to bring about a more appropriate fit between her fate and her character.”
If the belief in a just world simply resulted in humans feeling more comfortable with the universe and its capriciousness, it would not be a matter of great concern for ethicists or social scientists. But Lerner’s Just World Hypothesis, if correct, has significant social implications. The belief in a just world may undermine a commitment to justice.
Zick Rubin of Harvard University and Letitia Anne Peplau of UCLA have conducted surveys to examine the characteristics of people with strong beliefs in a just world. They found that people who have a strong tendency to believe in a just world also tend to be more religious, more authoritarian, more conservative, more likely to admire political leaders and existing social institutions, and more likely to have negative attitudes toward underprivileged groups. To a lesser but still significant degree, the believers in a just world tend to “feel less of a need to engage in activities to change society or to alleviate plight of social victims.”
It is likely that belief in a just world was a major factor in the development of religions that promise to deliver both pleasant and excruciating afterlives. It was a way to correct, in an ultimate sense, occasions where wicked people were seen to prosper while good people suffered. This offered believers the satisfaction that, ‘oh well, he’ll get in the end.’ Assuming that the world is inherently indifferent to the application of justice, as it appears to any objective observer, the (therefore) erroneous belief in a just world is evidence that Christianity is a concept based in part on a false hypothesis.
(2241) Christian forgiveness is nonsensical
Making sense of Christian forgiveness is a tall task. The mental gymnastics are beyond the capability of clear thinking people, and the job becomes doable only for those who are sufficiently brainwashed to allow them to bypass the logical fallacies. The following was taken from:
Christianity teaches us that because we are all sinners, humankind owes God a kind of ‘debt.’ We cannot possibly pay back this ‘debt,’ and therefore we deserve to be punished in the afterlife. What does God do about this? Paradoxically, He ‘forgives’ our debt while coming up with a very gruesome and bizarre plan to pay Himself back what He is owed. For some incomprehensible reason, our ‘debt’ to God can only be paid through the bloody human sacrifice of God Incarnate. ‘Blood of a Perfect Man’ is the only currency God is willing to accept, apparently. To add another layer of silliness, each individual must believe and accept that God paid our debt to God with the ‘Blood of a Perfect Man,’ and must further believe that the Perfect Man came back from the dead. Otherwise, God does not forgive that individual’s debt!
In their attempts to explicate this absurdity, Christians often come up with false analogies. They might say:
“You owe the Boss a lot of money, and you can’t pay Him back. Luckily, the Boss’ Son pays your debt to the Boss. Thus, the Boss forgives your debt!”
The first issue with this analogy is that the Boss has not forgiven your debt, as the debt has been paid. Either the debt has been forgiven, or the debt has been paid, but we do not say the debt is ‘forgiven’ when it has been paid:
When I pay off my mortgage, the bank doesn’t in addition forgive my debt. There’s no longer a debt to forgive! (Bob Seidensticker)
The second, more-important issue is that this is a misleading analogy; it leaves out too many of the nonsensical aspects of God’s so-called ‘forgiveness’ plan. Here is a more accurate one:
“The Boss has decided that you owe Him an unimaginably large sum of money, because you are not perfect. In order to ‘forgive’ you, the Boss has determined that He must mutilate Himself. Should you choose to ‘accept’ and be thankful for His self-mutilation, you no longer owe the Boss any money. But you must regularly celebrate the Boss’ decision to self-mutilate, and you ought to be extremely grateful He was willing to injure Himself for you. Crucially, you must also believe that the Boss miraculously did not bleed from any of his deep, self-inflicted wounds, even though you were not there to witness His self-mutilation and did not observe this miracle.”
This is essentially the story of how God ‘forgives’ our sins, according to Christianity. It’s a nonsensical narrative, not to mention rather gross and disturbing.
Christianity’s plan of salvation, based on this illogical method of forgiveness, is a ‘Rosetta Stone’ of sorts letting us know that it was the product of human, not divine, minds. It no longer even meets the standards of what human minds would devise today if they were to create a new religion. Once a person ejects themselves from the closeted mindset of blind faith, the idiocy of it all is crystal clear.
(2242) Hating Jesus
You know there is something fundamentally wrong with Christianity when the 21st Century Jesus has morphed into someone with little resemblance to the 1st Century Jesus, assuming that the gospels deliver an accurate depiction of a real person. This new Jesus is someone to hate. The following was taken from:
I don’t hate the flesh and blood Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Palestine, nor do I hate the Jesus found in the pages of the Bible. These Jesuses are relics of the past. I’ll leave it to historians to argue and debate whether these Jesuses were real or fiction. Over the centuries, Christians have created many Jesuses in their own image. This is the essence of Christianity, an ever-evolving religion bearing little resemblance to what it was even a century ago.
The Jesus I hate is the modern, Western Jesus, the American Jesus, the Jesus who has been a part of my life for almost fifty-eight years. The Jesuses of bygone eras have no power to harm me, but the modern Jesus – the Jesus of the three hundred thousand Christian churches that populate every community in America – he has the power to affect my life, hurt my family, and destroy my country. And I, with a vengeance, hate him.
Over the years, I have had a number of people write me about how the modern Jesus was ruining their marriage. In many instances, the married couple started out in life as believers, and somewhere along the road of life one of them stopped believing. The still-believing spouse can’t or won’t understand why the other spouse no longer believes. They make it clear that Jesus is still very important to them and if forced to choose between their spouse and family, they would choose Jesus. Simply put, they love Jesus more than they love their families.
Sadly, these types of marriages usually fail. A husband or a wife simply cannot compete with Jesus. He is the perfect lover and perfect friend, one who is always there for the believing spouse. This Jesus hears the prayers of the believing spouse and answers them. This Jesus is the BFF of the believing spouse. This Jesus says to the believer, you must choose, me or your spouse. It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus cares nothing for the poor, the hungry, or the sick. This Jesus has no interest in poor immigrants or unwed mothers. This Jesus cares for Tim Tebow more than he does a starving girl in Ethiopia. He cares more about who wins a Grammy or ACM Award than he does poverty-stricken Africa having food and clean water. It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus is on the side of the culture warriors. This Jesus hates homosexuals and demands they be treated as second class citizens. This Jesus, no matter the circumstance, demands that a woman carry her fetus to term. Child of a rapist, afflicted with a serious birth defect, the product of incest or a one night stand? It matters not. This Jesus is pro-life. Yet, this same Jesus supports the incarceration of poor young men of color, often for no other crime than trying to survive. This Jesus is so pro-life he encourages American presidents and politicians to slaughter innocent men, women, and children. This Jesus demands certain criminals be put to death by the state, even though the state has legally murdered innocent people. It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus drives fancy cars, has palaces and cathedrals, and followers who spare no expense to make his house the best mansion in town. This Jesus loves Rolexes, Lear jets, and expensive suits. This Jesus sees the multitude and turns his back on them, only concerned with those who say and believe “the right things.” It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus owns condominiums constructed just for those who believe in him. When they die, he gives them the keys. But, for the rest of humanity, billions of people, this Jesus says no keys for you. I have a special Hitler-like plan for you. To the ovens you go, only unlike the Jews, I plan to give you a special body that allows me to torture you with fire and brimstone forever. It is this Jesus I hate.
It is this Jesus who looks at Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Universalists, Secularists, Humanists, and Skeptics, and says to them before you were born I made sure you could never be in the group that gets the condominiums when they die. This Jesus says, and it is your fault, sinner man. It is this Jesus who made sure billions of people were born into cultures that worshiped other Gods. It is this Jesus who then says it is their fault they were born at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Too bad, this Jesus says, burn forever in the Lake of Fire. It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus divides families, friends, communities, and nations. This Jesus is the means to an end. This Jesus is all about money, power and control. This Jesus subjugates women, tells widows it’s their fault, and ignores the cry of orphans. Everywhere one looks, this Jesus hurts, afflicts, and kills those we love. It is this Jesus I hate. What I can’t understand is why anyone loves this Jesus? Like a clown on a parade route, he throws a few candies towards those who worship him, promising them that a huge pile of candy awaits them when they die. He lets his followers hunger, thirst, and die, yet he tells them it is for their good, that he loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. This Jesus is all talk, promising the moon and delivering a piece of gravel. Why can’t his followers see this?
Fear me, he tells his followers. I have the keys to life and death. I have the power to make you happy and I have the power to destroy your life. I have the power to take your children, health, and livelihood. I can do these things because I am the biggest, baddest Jesus ever. Fear me and oppress women, immigrants, orphans, homosexuals, and atheists. Refuse my demand and I will rain my judgment down upon your head. But, know that I love you and only want is best for you and yours. It is this Jesus I hate.
Perhaps there is a Jesus somewhere that I could respect, a Jesus who might merit my devotion. For now, all I see is a Jesus who is worthy of derision, mockery, and hate. Yes, hate. It is this Jesus I hate. When the Jesus who genuinely loves humanity and cares for the least of these shows up, let me know. In the meantime, I hate Jesus.
It’s not difficult to see that Christians over the centuries have changed the character and nature of Jesus to suit the needs of their time. What we have today is a Jesus that the real Jesus, assuming he was a real person, would have hated and condemned. This is not the expectation of a true supernatural religion, where the deity has control over his flock, and can influence hearts and minds in a way to preserve the integrity of the original message. For various reasons, the Bible itself failed to do this job.
(2243) Fifteen days with Peter
The following scripture written by Paul indicates that he met with the Apostle Peter (aka Cephas) for 15 days approximately three years after his (road to Damascus) vision of Jesus. This would place their meeting approximately five years after the crucifixion.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
The reason why this is problematic for Christianity is that if the gospels are true histories of Jesus’s life and ministry, it would be assumed that Peter would have informed Paul over this two week period of what he recalled of Jesus’ deeds and words. It would have necessarily been the major topic of conversation and Paul should have been ‘all ears’ to learn more about Jesus from a first-hand eyewitness.
However, in all of Paul’s subsequent writings, he mentions nothing that he should have learned from this meeting. He says nothing about the virgin birth, the baptism by John, the transfiguration, the feeding of the masses, the Sermon on the Mount, the changing of water into wine, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the walking on water, etc. So, what to make of this? The most probable explanation is that Peter himself did not witness these events because they didn’t happen. These stories developed over time in the typical fashion of mythmaking and then later appeared in the gospel accounts.
Indeed, the only event of Jesus’ life that Paul mentions is the last supper. But theologians have determined that Paul likely borrowed this meme from the existing pagan mystery faiths, and that it was Paul himself who generated the myth of this meal that was later embellished in the gospels.
Therefore, this passage from Galatians presents evidence that the major miraculous events in Jesus’ ministry did not happen, but rather were allegorical fables that developed and grew over the approximately 40-year period from Jesus’ death until the first gospel (Mark) was written.
(2244) God kills children of sinners
The Bible was written at a time before modern standards of fairness, compassion, and decency were developed, and it shows…especially in the Old Testament, where there are untold numbers of atrocities that would certainly not be included in a ‘bible’ that would be created today (assuming a new religion was being born). One of the best examples is the following passage where God promises to kill the children of sinners:
“If even after all of this you still do not obey me, I will increase your punishment seven times. I will break your stubborn pride; there will be no rain, and your land will be dry and as hard as iron. All your hard work will do you no good, because your land will not produce crops and the trees will not bear fruit.
“If you still continue to resist me and refuse to obey me, I will again increase your punishment seven times. I will send dangerous animals among you, and they will kill your children, destroy your livestock, and leave so few of you that your roads will be deserted.
The concept of killing innocent children who happen to have sinful parents is today an atrocious concept, but it wasn’t so 2500 years ago when this verse was written. So, what to make of that? It gives us convincing evidence that the Bible was the work of man, not a god, and that it can be dismissed as being irrelevant and a regrettable reflection of humanity’s past.
(2245) Christianity fails a test of simple observation
Debates about the truth of Christianity often overlook the most elementary test of authenticity- simple observation. What is the probability that an all-powerful god exists, that it is interested in humans (all of them), that it manipulates human activity in macroscopic physical ways, answers prayers, speaks to the faithful, employs an army of angels that perform various tasks, permits the presence of fallen angels (demons) that are allowed to wreak havoc wherever they can, and yet a billion people can earnestly believe that we inhabit a strictly natural world? Is it not likely that a Christian world would not permit a naturalistic view to exist (at all) in the wake of unavoidable supernatural phenomena?
This is often termed the enigma of divine hiddenness, but it actually goes beyond that. Angels and demons are major players in the gospels, so even if God hides himself, each one of us should have routinely experienced interactions with these helpful or malevolent shadowy figures… if they exist. But if they don’t, can Christianity still be true? Unlikely. The bottom line is this: Christianity makes too many sensational claims for it to be true in a world that appears to run by rote. The world is too routine for Christianity to be real.
(2246) Symbolic ‘young man’
In the Gospel of Mark there is a couplet reference to a ‘young man.’ First we see him fleeing the site of Jesus’ arrest:
A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
Next, we see him in the tomb after the resurrection telling the women that Jesus had risen from the dead:
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
The following was taken from:
One example of the material that falls into this category is the mysterious story of the fleeing young man in Mark 14:51-52: “A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.” It is not difficult to imagine why Luke and Matthew would chose to omit this story from their gospels – it is clearly rather bizarre, its intended meaning is not at all clear and it can easily be removed without apparently disrupting the surrounding narrative. In contrast, it is difficult to see why Mark would want to specifically add such an odd story, particularly when he would have omitted so much more congenial material available in Matthew and Luke. The passage therefore supports the idea of Markan priority.
Given the confusion the passage seems to have caused the very earliest readers of Mark’s gospel, it is hardly surprising that contemporary scholars are still divided on the meaning the story. One particularly interesting explanation offered in a 2010 article written by Pieter G.R. de Villiers proposes a link with Mark 16:5:
|A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
|As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
Pieter G.R. de Villiers suggests that the young man in both passages ought to be identified as the same figure. He views the young man as a symbolic character  used by Mark to illustrate the significance of Jesus’ resurrection in terms of the effect it has on those who believe:
His story illustrates the radical transformation which is brought about by the death and resurrection of Jesus. It shows how radically he was changed from a disciple who abandoned Jesus, falling into a state of betrayal and shame to someone who gives witness to the resurrection. Through this contrast between a fallen and restored status, Mark frames the cross and resurrection to make the important point that the cross and resurrection had a complex transformative effect on believers. 
In support of his hypothesis, Pieter G.R. de Villiers points to a number of similarities between the two passages that suggest that they ought to be interpreted together. First, they both employ the same term νεανίσκος (a young man) to refer to the figure they describe. Arguably, this is unlikely to be a coincidence because these are the only places in the gospel where Mark uses this particular term. Second, the common anonymity of the young man in both passages leaves the figure open to a single identity. Third, both passages have a strong focus on the clothing of the young man.
This appears to be a literary device that is purely symbolic and not intended to convey factual events. It helps to explain why the author would include the enigmatic (and seemingly superfluous) story of the naked fleeing young man… because it set up his plan to demonstrate the power of the resurrection, turning a cowering frightened boy into the confident and triumphant messenger heralding the risen Jesus. The use of this symbolic device by the author of Mark indicates that he was not attempting to write non-fiction. Even the other gospel authors, who otherwise plagiarized Mark, could not stomach this obvious invention, completely leaving it out on both ends.
(2247) Three Abrahamic religions
A convincing case can be made that the existence of three major religions tied to the god of Abraham (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) constitutes substantial evidence that all three are false. This is based on the assumption that such a god would not have allowed this to happen. The following was taken from:
Let’s have a look at some of the attributes of the Abrahamic god. This god is omnibenevolent, meaning he is infinitely good, this god is omnipotent, meaning he has unlimited power, and this god is omniscient, meaning he knows everything. Whether or not these attributes contradict themselves is not the point of this post, so please don’t comment on that.
The Abrahamic god have the desire, the power, and the knowledge, to correctly convey his message to humans. This god knew exactly what was needed to be done so there would only be one religion under his name, which is the religion that conveys his true message for humans. There would be no need for there to have multiple religions claiming different things from the same god, as this god doesn’t have the attributes of a being who would send different/incompatible messages to humans. The fact that there are 3 major religions, that are incompatible with each other, and all claim to come from the same god, is a very strong indication that all of these religions are false and the Abrahamic god doesn’t exist. Or, at the very least, that the Abrahamic god failed to make his message clear for humanity. Even if you have faith in the Abrahamic god, you still have to acknowledge this. It doesn’t make sense that a god that possess those attributes would have so many religions claiming to be coming from him.
If god was not omnibenevolent, this would make sense, since god could have ulterior motives, like purposefully wanting to confuse humans over what is his message.
If god was not omnipotent, this would make sense, since god could not have the power necessary to correctly convey his message.
If god was not omniscient, this would make sense, since god could not have the knowledge necessary to correctly convey his message.
If god is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient, it makes absolutely no sense as of why there are so many incompatible religions claiming to be his word.
This problem is analogous to the splintering of Christianity into thousands of denominations, but it goes even further than that. At least, most of the Christian denominations ascribe to a core belief in Jesus as the messiah and savior of humankind. But with Judaism and Islam refuting that claim, it puts this issue into a different category, suggesting the unlikely situation where the true god lackadaisically allows for major subdivisions to form in way that deceives his otherwise earnest followers. This is so improbable that by far the most likely truth is that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all false.
(2248) The Bible’s biggest plot hole
The Bible states that God, for some reason, chose the Israelites as his ‘chosen people,’ but it’s not as if he swooped in after a bunch of civilizations had developed and landed in Judea to do his thing. No, he started out as the god of the entire earth, starting all of humanity at the Garden of Eden.
This brings out a problem. When did God stop being the god of the entire earth and partition himself into a corner of the planet with less than one percent of the total population? After he became uneasy with his human experiment, he wiped out everybody in the flood except for eight humans, so once again he was (for sure) the god of all humanity.
The Bible does not make it clear how it happened that as Noah’s family spread out over the Earth God pigeon-holed himself into a very small slice of the earth’s population, neglecting everybody else. It would be like a sheepherder with 100 sheep, suddenly follows after and oversees from that time forward a single sheep, neglecting the other 99. This is completely inexplicable, and the Bible drops the ball in explaining how this happened, or, more importantly, why it happened.
Now, obviously, these stories in the Old Testament are fictional. But, if Christianity is true, the Bible stands as God’s written message to humankind. With a plot hole of this size, it makes it very unlikely that that premise is true.
(2249) Hebrew bible is not a Christian monolith
Christians are taught that the Hebrew Bible (roughly the Old Testament) is the ‘rock’ upon which their faith was constructed. But the connection between it and the New Testament is not as strong as most Christians believe. The following was taken from:
The Hebrew bible is not a Christian monolith. It’s a Jewish text written for ancient Jews. The Christian bible doesn’t follow the order of the Tanakh.
The first problem you may have encouraged, or you may not have, is that the god of the Hebrews is not a single god – it’s (primarily) El and Yahweh. While we know El is a Canaanite god, we do not know where Yahweh came from his origins are unknown. What’s more the meaning of his name is lost.
Many Hebrew scholars believe that the Jewish prohibition against saying God’s name originated from the Levites who were in charge of the Jewish law as a way to integrate the El-worshipers with the Yahweh-worshipers. If you can’t say “God’s name” then you no longer notice that you were worshiping different deities. This is also makes sense because the decalogue commands “you shall have no other gods before me”. Such an instruction only makes sense if the people it is given to believe there are other gods.
So that’s the first problem, and it’s unresolved, where did Yahweh come from and what does his name mean?
How and when the Hebrew bible was written is then your next problem. There are competing ideas, but it’s written much later than most Jews or Christians realize. The Pentateuch, in the form we have it, was written somewhere around the 6th-4th centuries BCE. It’s highly composite, it begins with two different creation accounts.
The followers at the time the Pentateuch was written, were not monotheists – not in the way we use the term. They believed in only worshiping one god, their god, but they also believed he was their god – literally the god of the Hebrews, whereas other “races” had their own gods. What one must realize about Judaism is that it was very much a mono-ethnic religion, and even today it remains an ethnic religion. People are Jewish because of their ethnicity – their ancestry. They can be non-practicing, even unbelieving, but they’re still Jewish.
So this leads into another theological problem. That is – why do Christians believe, so strongly, that their god is the one and only creator god? It’s pretty weak evidence if you have to rely on Genesis 1-2, as we know that the world wasn’t created, life wasn’t created, and it certainly wasn’t created perfect. The idea that death entered the world through sin is untenable today – it entered the world through evolution. The world already had death well before humans first emerged.
There’s also the problem that “prophets”, and sages, and others employed the use of ventriloquism to create the illusion that they were speaking to spirits, angels, and gods. And there’s absolutely no reason to think it wasn’t used by certain characters in the bible. Ventriloquism was not used for entertainment until the 18th century CE.
The key takeaway from this is that Judaism is an ethnic religion, meaning that it cannot rightly be used as a ‘monolith’ to support another faith. It belongs only to the Jewish people. It was created strictly for them as a cultural construct. Most Jews understand it to be a mostly fictional tradition that binds them together. Christianity and Islam borrowed and perverted it to buttress their newly evolved theologies, but did so illegitimately.
(2250) Tomb guard is fiction
In the Gospel of Matthew, there is a story about a Roman guard being assigned to protect the tomb of Jesus (27:62-66 and 28:11-15). There is evidence that this story was invented by the author to quell a rumor that Jesus’s body was stolen, creating the illusion of a resurrection. The following was taken from:
The guard story in Matthew’s gospel is regarded by the vast majority of scholars as unhistorical. Here are a few reasons:
- It’s only mentioned in 1 gospel.This in itself is not conclusive evidence that the guard story is legend. But it seems odd for all the other gospels (including our earliest source) to leave that information out. Coupled with the other reasons, it makes sense why we only find it in Matthew’s gospel.
- Matthew has clearly written this story in response to the claim that the disciples stole the body.Once again, this in itself does not show that the story is false. But it at least provides a motive for why Matthew would invent such a narrative.
- The story includes events that no one was around to witness.In the story, the guards see an angel come down from heaven and roll away the stone, causing the guards to faint. But the women didn’t witness this event — they arrived at the tomb later. The only ones who saw this were the guards themselves, the same guards who swore not to tell anyone what happened.
- How did the Jewish authorities know that Jesus planned to physically rise from the dead?Jesus’ own disciples had no idea what he meant when he said he would ‘rise after 3 days’. They likely took it to be another one of his strange parables. And yet we are to believe that somehow the Jewish authorities understood exactly what he meant, enough to set guards at the tomb.
- The guards in the story were likely Roman, and Roman guards would have been executed for sleeping on the job.It doesn’t make sense that the Jewish authorities would tell the guards to say they fell asleep on duty, when that would’ve easily gotten them killed.
Why does this matter?
If the story is true, then it would be highly improbable that someone took the body, and that evidence could potentially count in favor of the resurrection hypothesis.
But what happens when we take the guards out of the picture? You now have the story of a well-known miracle-worker whose tomb was left unguarded for over 36 hours. This opens up a range of possibilities of what could’ve happened to the body, making a resurrection seem less plausible in comparison.
The authenticity of Christianity largely rests on the dependability of the gospels. When an important story is deemed to be implausible, it reduces confidence in the whole. In fact, the inclusion of any fictional element fatally damages the doctrine of divine inspiration.
Follow this link to #2251