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The Apostle Paul Lived and Died as a Dedicated Jew


It’s widely acknowledged that Jesus was a thoroughly practicing Jew throughout his life. Anglican Priest Bruce Chilton expressed that conclusion explicitly and concisely in his book “Rabbi Jesus”: “It became clear to me that everything Jesus did was as a Jew, for Jews, and about Jews.”

But what about Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles? It’s generally accepted that Paul was the true founder of a new religion called Christianity. Biblical scholar Gerd Ludemann, author of several books about Jesus and Paul including “Paul: Founder of Christianity,” affirms that “Without Paul there would be no church and no Christianity.” Ludemann adds, “He’s the most decisive person that shaped Christianity as it developed. Without Paul we would have had reformed Judaism … but no Christianity.”

Paul converted Jews and then Gentiles to Jewish Christianity, basing these conversions on his belief in the teachings, resurrection and divinity of Jesus. But powerful evidence within “Acts of the Apostles,” the book of the New Testament that chronicles Paul’s mission, reveals that Paul, like Jesus, remained a dedicated Jew until his execution. In fact, if Paul had simply stated that he was no longer a Jew but the leader of a new religion, he would not have been imprisoned or executed.

During Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem, his appearance and teachings in the Temple in Jerusalem set off a disturbance in which some Jews rioted against him (Acts 21:26-28). He was then charged with blasphemy by the Sanhedrin and would have to stand trial before the Jewish authorities — and face a possible death sentence. The Sanhedrin was able to indict Paul and put him on trial by the special privilege that the Romans gave the Jews. Judaism was a protected religion under the Roman Empire in the time of Jesus and Paul. Jews had their own King (Herod the Great, Herod Antipas and Herod Agrippa). But more important, the Jewish leadership was invested with the right to rule over Jewish affairs. They could bring charges against Jews who violated Jewish laws or who were deemed blasphemous or heretical. That power is why the Sanhedrin was able to indict Jesus. It also explains why the Sanhedrin was able to authorize Paul’s persecutory frenzy to chain and drag back to Jerusalem Jewish followers of Jesus in synagogues as distant as Damascus (Acts 8:3; Acts 9: 1, 2). Although the Sanhedrin could bring charges against Jews and even set the punishment, only the Romans could execute (although that’s not entirely clear since some violators of Jewish law were stoned to death by Jews).

The special status of Jews was first stated in an edict by the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus in 1 B.C.E. and reaffirmed by Emperor Claudius Augustus in 41 C.E.:

Edict of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus on Jewish Rights, 1 BCE

Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power, proclaims: Since the nation of the Jews and Hyrcanus, their high priest, have been found grateful to the people of the Romans, not only in the present but also in the past, and particularly in the time of my father, Caesar, imperator, it seems good to me and to my advisory council, according to the oaths, by the will of the people of the Romans, that the Jews shall use their own customs in accordance with their ancestral law, just as they used to use them in the time of Hyrcanus, the high priest of their highest god; and that their sacred offerings shall be inviolable and shall be sent to Jerusalem and shall be paid to the financial officials of Jerusalem; and that they shall not give sureties for appearance in court on the Sabbath or on the day of preparation before it after the ninth hour. But if anyone is detected stealing their sacred books or their sacred monies, either from a synagogue or from a mens’ apartment, he shall be considered sacrilegious and his property shall be brought into the public treasury of the Romans.

Later, during the ministry of Paul, the Emperor Claudius reconfirmed the special status of Jews:

Edict of Roman Emperor Claudius Augustus on Jewish Rights, 41 CE

Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, pontifex maximus, holding the tribunician power, proclaims: …Therefore it is right that also the Jews, who are in all the world under us, shall maintain their ancestral customs without hindrance and to them I now also command to use this my kindness rather reasonably and not to despise the religious rites of the other nations, but to observe their own laws.

The Romans were tolerant of all religions under their rule as long as adherents obeyed Roman law and paid taxes. While Jews could rule over Jewish matters, they had no jurisdiction over people of other religions. In principle, Roman paganism was an affront to Judaism. But they could do nothing about that other than negotiate with the Romans to mitigate pagan practices in the Temple area and in some public Roman ceremonies.

After his arrest, Paul faced charges of blasphemy: “And after five days Ananias, the high priest, descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the Governor against Paul” (Acts 24:1).

Paul could only be charged if he were a Jew. After being detained for two years he was brought before the new Roman governor Porcius Festus. The Sanhedrin repeated the charge of blasphemy: “Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him [Festus] against Paul, and besought him” (Acts 25:2). Fearing a trial before the Sanhedrin, Paul invoked his right as a Roman citizen to be tried in Rome. Festus granted Paul his choice: “Hast thou appealed unto Cæsar? Unto Cæsar shalt thou go” (Acts 25:12).

At no time during Paul’s lengthy ordeal did he repudiate Judaism or declare that he represented a new religion. Had he done so, he would have been immediately released — especially since he was a privileged Roman citizen. The Sanhedrin wouldn’t have had any authority over Paul.

After a long treacherous trip that included a shipwreck that almost killed him, Paul arrived in Rome and was put under house arrest. He promptly invited the Jewish leadership of Rome to his residence to explain why he was imprisoned:

“Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Cæsar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” (Acts 28: 17-20)

Still, Paul said nothing about a new religion. On the contrary, he presented himself to the Roman Jewish community as a loyal Jew who was being persecuted for his revisionist views. Since the Romans had no quarrel with him, as a Roman citizen, and with the Sanhedrin a continent away, there would be no viable case against Paul — if he had denounced his affiliation to Judaism and declared a new religion. At this point in his life, facing trial and execution for blasphemy against Judaism, didn’t Paul have every reason to sever his tie to Judaism? The Sanhedrin, representing traditional Judaism, sent a clear message by their action against Paul: “We will not accept your beliefs and teachings about Jesus.” Despite this definitive rejection, Paul didn’t choose the obvious way out of the clutches of the Sanhedrin: declaration of a new religion. This strategy never even showed up for discussion. Paul chose to go to his death as a Jew. Why?

Paul’s vision was to make his brand of Judaism — with the recognition of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah — a world religion easily accessible to everyone. He never surrendered that passion. But after his death the accelerating conversion of Gentiles to a movement that began as Jewish Christianity became increasingly distanced from Judaism — and a new religion was launched.

Nevertheless, an understanding of the deep connection to Judaism held by the founders of Christianity should highlight the common ground of Judaism and Christianity and pave the way to reconciliation between the two faiths.

via OpEdNews – Article: The Apostle Paul Lived and Died as a Dedicated Jew.

What is Faith?


faith

There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the school boy who said, Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.–Mark Twain, Following the Equator, “Pudd’nhead Wilson‘s Calendar”

No faith dies because it is unreasonable, but only because the instincts which it has satisfied find more complete and permanent gratification in other directions. –Amy E. Tanner, Studies in Spiritism(1910)

Faith is a non-rational belief in some proposition. A non-rational belief is one that is contrary to the sum of the evidence for that belief. A belief is contrary to the sum of the evidence if there is overwhelming evidence against the belief, e.g., that the earth is flat, hollow, or is the center of the universe. A belief is also contrary to the sum of the evidence if the evidence seems equal both for and against the belief, yet one commits to one of the two or more equally supported propositions.

A common misconception regarding faith—or perhaps it is an intentional attempt at disinformation and obscurantism—is made by Christian apologists, such as Dr. Richard Spencer, who wrote the following:

A statement like “There is no god, and there can’t be a god; everything evolved from purely natural processes” cannot be supported by the scientific method and is a statement of faith, not science (Richard Spencer, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis and faculty adviser to the Christian Student Union. Quoted in The Davis Enterprise, Jan. 22, 1999).

The error or deception here is to imply that anything that is not a scientific statement, i.e., one supported by evidence marshaled forth the way scientists do in support of their scientific claims, is a matter of faith. To use ‘faith’ in such a broad way is to strip it of any theological significance the term might otherwise have.

Such a conception of faith treats belief in all non-empirical statements as acts of faith. Thus, belief in the external world, belief in the law of causality, or belief in the fundamental principles of logic, such as the principle of contradiction or the law of the excluded middle, would be acts of faith on this view. There seems to be something profoundly deceptive and misleading about lumping together as acts of faith such things as belief in the Virgin birth and belief in the existence of an external world or in the principle of contradiction. Such a view trivializes religious faith by putting all non-empirical claims in the same category as religious faith. In fact, it would be more appropriate to put religious faith in the same category as belief in superstitions, fairy tales, and delusions.

Physicist Bob Park explains this difference in a way even the most devious casuist should understand. The Oxford Concise English Dictionary, he notes, gives two distinct meanings for faith:

 “1) complete trust or confidence, and 2) strong belief in a religion based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.” A scientist’s “faith” is built on experimental proof. The two meanings of the word “faith,” therefore, are not only different, they are exact opposites.*

There are reasons for trusting science and there are reasons for religious convictions, but the reasons for our trust in science are called evidence and the reasons for our religious convictions all reduce to hope. William James, a scientist and a man of faith, understood this distinction well. In his essay “The Will to Believe,” James opines that the evidence for a god and an afterlife equals the evidence for non-belief and that his hope is for survival of the soul. In science when the evidence is equal for two opposing propositions, James argued, we should suspend judgment until the scales are tipped to one side or the other. We don’t make a leap of faith in such cases, hoping our favored hypothesis is true. When we do give our assent to one scientific hypothesis over another it is because the evidence compels it, not because we hope it is true.

an erroneous view of faith

If we examine Dr. Spencer’s claims, the error of his conflation of two senses of ‘faith’ should become obvious. He claims that the statement ‘there is no god and there can’t be a god; everything evolved from purely natural processes’ is a statement of faith. There are three distinct statements here. One, ‘there is no god’. Two, ‘there can’t be a god’. And three, ‘everything evolved from purely natural processes’. Dr. Spencer implies that each of these claims is on par with such statements as ‘there is a god’, ‘Jesus is our lord and savior’, ‘Jesus’s mother was a virgin’, ‘a piece of bread may have the substance of Jesus’s physical body and blood’, ‘The God of Abraham is one being but three persons’, and the like.

The statement ‘there cannot be a god’ is not an empirical statement. Anyone who would make such a claim would make it by arguing that a particular concept of god contains contradictions and is, therefore, meaningless. For example, to believe that ‘some squares are circular’ is a logical contradiction. Circles and squares are defined so as to imply that circles can’t be square and squares can’t be circular. James Rachels, for one, has argued that god is impossible, but at best his argument shows that the concepts of an all-powerful god and one who demands worship from his creations are contradictory. The concept of worship, Rachels argues, is inconsistent with the God of Abraham (AG) concept.

Rachels makes an argument. Some find it convincing; others don’t. But it seems that his belief is not an act of faith in the same sense that it is an act of faith to belief in the Incarnation, the trinity,transubstantiation, or the virgin birth. The first three articles of faith are on par with believing in round squares. They require belief in logical contradictions. Virgin births, we now know, are possible, but the technology for the implantation of fertilized eggs did not exist two thousand years ago. The belief in the Virgin birth entails the belief that AG miraculously impregnated Mary with himself. Such a belief defies experience but not logic. The Virgin birth is conceivable (to make a bad pun), unlike the Trinity.

All arguments regarding these articles of faith are quite distinct from Rachel’s argument. To defend these articles of faith, the best one can hope for is to show that they cannot be shown to be false. However, the consequence of arguing that logical contradictions may nevertheless be true, seems undesirable. Such a defense requires the abandonment of the very logical principles required to make any argument and is therefore self-annihilating. The fact that arguments such as Rachel’s and those defending articles of religious faith are not empirical or resolvable by scientific methods hardly makes them equally matters of faith.

The statement ‘there is no god’ is quite different from the claim that there can’t be a god. The latter makes a claim regarding possibility; the former is an actuality or existential claim. I doubt that there are many theologians or Christian apologists who would claim that all their faith amounts to is a belief in the possibility of this or that. One can believe there is no god because there can’t be a god, but one might also disbelieve–i.e., reject as untruethe existense of any god while admitting the possibility of AG or any other god. Disbelief in gods is analogous to disbelief in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny. Yet, those who believe in Bigfoot and Nessie, for example, aren’t known for claiming they believe out of faith. To say you have faith in Bigfoot or faith in Nessie sounds ludicrous. Believers in Bigfoot think there is good evidence for their belief. Disbelievers argue that the evidence is not strong at all and does not deserve assent to the proposition that Bigfoot exists. Disbelievers in Bigfoot do not disbelieve as an act of faith; they disbelieve because the evidence is not persuasive. Belief in a god, on the other hand, could be either an act of faith or a belief based on conclusions from evidence and argument. If the theistic belief is an act of faith then the one holding the belief either thinks the evidence against belief outweighs or equals the evidence for belief, or the belief is held without regard for evidence at all. Otherwise, the belief is not an act of faith but of belief that the evidence is stronger forbelief than against.

naturalism

Another scientist, physicist Paul Davies, represents another kind of deceptive misconception of faith: that science and religion are equally grounded in ‘faith’. Here is how he puts it:

…science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed. When physicists probe to a deeper level of subatomic structure, or astronomers extend the reach of their instruments, they expect to encounter additional elegant mathematical order. And so far this faith has been justified. (“Taking Science on Faith,”New York Times, Nov. 24, 2007)

The claim that the assumptions of science are of the same kind as the belief in the trinity, the virgin birth, or the existence of God is as wrong as Dr. Spencer’s belief that the claim that ‘everything evolved from natural processes’ is an act of faith. Davies uses ‘faith’ to refer to beliefs that are uncertain or can’t be proved to be necessarily true, but that is not the essential characteristic of religious faith. We can’t prove that it is necessarily true that the laws of nature won’t change drastically tomorrow, but that doesn’t make the countless instances of experienced order and pattern by countless individuals of no evidential importance. Assuming that invisible green angels move objects to appear as if gravity were real is not on par with assuming there are laws of nature. Neither can be proved to be necessarily true but the latter is backed by evidence in support of it. To lump evidence-based belief with beliefs not based on any evidence as both being faith-based is absurd.

If the only alternatives are that everything evolved from either supernatural or natural forces, and one is unconvinced by the arguments and evidence presented by those who believe in supernatural forces, then logically the only reasonable belief is that everything evolved from natural forces. Only if the evidence supporting a supernatural being were superior or equal to the evidence and arguments against such a belief, would belief that everything evolved from natural forces be a matter of faith.

Those of us who are atheists and believe that everything evolved from natural forces nearly universally maintain that theists and supernaturalists have a very weak case for their belief, weaker even than the case for Bigfoot, Nessie, the Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus. But, more important, we are convinced by the overwhelming nature of the evidence that natural forces have brought about the universe as we know it. Thus, our disbelief in a supernatural creator is not an act of faith, and therefore, not non-rational as are those of theists and Christian apologists. However, if Christian apologists insist on claiming that science is faith-based or that their version of Christianity and the rejections of their views are equally acts of faith, I will insist that the apologists have a non-rational faith, while their opponents have a rational faith. Though I think it would be less dishonest and less misleading to admit that atheists and naturalists do not base their beliefs on faith in any sense close to that ofreligious faith.

The Faulty Logic Behind the Defense of Divinely Inspired Biblical Massacres


The Faulty Logic Behind the Defense of Divinely Inspired Biblical Massacres

Dave E. Matson

Bible-believers obstinately argue that the divinely sanctioned massacres in the Bible were morally justified–even an example of God‘s goodness and mercy! The logic behind their reasoning is as follows:

The biblicist is working under two assumptions: 1) God is good and all-powerful; 2) God, in fact, ordered massacres as described in the Bible. Therefore, there must have been some reason for God’s actions, no matter how bad they seem, a reason on which we can only speculate. The skeptic is asked to rule out every conceivable loophole, but how can he do that if he lacks the mind of God?

What has been overlooked is that the biblicist has already assumed everything, leaving nothing for rational debate! If we begin with the biblicist’s two assumptions then, of course, the massacres were morally justified! But it’s an empty claim, a bald-faced claim by fiat, not a compelling conclusion reached by reason and evidence. Skeptics, of course, don’t begin with both of these assumptions. That would beg the question.

If we assume that God is good (and all-powerful) then the question is whether God, in fact, ordered those massacres. If this is to be a reasoned inquiry, we must begin with the idea that God may or may not have been responsible. We must begin with both possibilities on the table! The data must guide us–not preconceived doctrine. Which view best fits the data? Are these massacres of men, women and children more likely the work of a god who is morally perfect or a god who is morally defective? If Chemosh or Baal were depicted as slaughtering children in some pagan manuscript, what would you conclude? I doubt you would cite it as evidence of superior morality!

The question is not whether we can shoehorn these deeds into a god of goodness. That approach reflects an a priori assumption, without benefit of evidence, that God performed those deeds. Rather, we are weighing the two possibilities on a balance. Are those deeds what we would expect from a god of goodness or are they not? Certainty is not possible and, thus, not a requirement! We need only observe whether the balance leans predominantly in one direction or the other. From that perspective the answer is obvious. Only a defective brain could suppose that such massacres are best interpreted as acts of moral perfection.

What Bible-believer would not gladly ditch these passages, this albatross about the neck, if only an inerrant Bible could be retained! It’s not by accident that conservative theologians do backflips through flaming hoops to explain why God must act so badly! The moral stench is pretty obvious, that being the cause of mighty efforts to make it go away.

The best conclusion, by far, is that if God is good then he did not order those massacres. He did not order the taking of young women in a battle to serve sexually. That is, if God is good then biblical inerrancy goes out the window.

If we begin with the assumption that God did, in fact, order those biblical massacres, then let us ask if God is truly good. If this is to be a reasoned inquiry, then we must begin with the possibility that God may or may not be morally perfect. There is no point in asking that question if our mind is already made up! All possibilities must be on the table at the start of an objective inquiry; the evidence must decide, not preconceived doctrine. Are these massacres more likely the work of a morally perfect god or are they more likely the work of a morally defective god?

Once again certainty is not possible and, therefore, not a requirement. Once again, the question is not whether we can shoehorn such deeds into a god of goodness but, rather, which way the balance leans. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of morality knows that, all things being equal, the slaughter of women and children is immoral. It’s a no-brainer. The balance tips heavily in favor of a god lacking in moral perfection. Such deeds (without the influence of preconceived doctrine) would never be attributed to a god of moral perfection! If the slaughter of children (and the rape of young women) were seen as evidence of high moral behavior, we would not find apologetic tomes dedicated to explaining why a God of goodness must act so!

The best conclusion, by far, is that if God ordered and supported these massacres then he lacks moral perfection. That is, if the Bible is the inerrant word of God then God’s goodness goes out the window.

Once we understand the logic behind the argument over the massacres in the Bible, we may dispense with certain confusions. The skeptic need not have the mind of God or close every loophole in order to draw a sound and robust conclusion. He or she need only follow the evidence and draw the best, the most natural conclusion. If the Bible-believer were to do that, he would find himself in a serious quandary. Either he must give up God’s goodness or give up an inerrant Bible. Liberal Christians have decided that God’s goodness is the sounder theological position. Conservative Christians have never worked out the logic or, else, are in deep denial.

The Bible-believer may, of course, assume both points. No logical contradiction is entailed, though it does propel one into a kind of Alice-In-Wonderland world. Nevertheless, one should be up front about it and not pretend to be reaching a conclusion based on evidence and reason. It’s a case of burying your head in the sand and declaring that all contrary views–and evidence–are irrelevant! Obviously, there is no point in having a debate with such a person. Without appeal to evidence and reason, an honest believer can only say “Believe me, I’m right!” to a potential recruit. Fanatical believers in a flat earth, Zeus, or Cinderella are all on the same, logical plane with such a person. Once we admit that evidence and reason do not apply, then the knot that holds us to reality is slipped, and it’s off to fantasyland! For most of us, that is unacceptable.

In case you have gotten lost in all this logic, here is a synopsis. If the Bible-believer must reach deep into “creative” explanations, into the merely possible rather than the natural, to justify the divinely inspired massacres of the Bible, then it is clear that he or she is effectively operating under the assumption that a moral God, in fact, is responsible. An objective mind, bringing no such a priori baggage, would hardly go to such extremes to defend one position over the other. Once we understand that the Bible-believer actually begins with the assumption of God’s goodness and with the assumption that God wrote an inerrant Bible, we rightly wonder why there is a debate at all–the key points have already been assumed by the believer! A mountain of data will not persuade those believers as long as there is a single loophole to hide in, and there will always be loopholes to hide in.

The skeptic is saying that if the Bible-believer wants to seriously debate this point, then the debate must begin with objective neutrality. All possible outcomes must be on the table at the start! The opposing conclusions must be weighed for truth and the best one selected. In reaching for the best conclusion, the most natural conclusion, certainty is not a factor. Loopholes are not a consideration. We are not required to plumb the depths of God’s mind. When objective neutrality is enforced, the conclusion is a no-brainier and the Bible-believer has the unsavory choice of choosing between God’s goodness and an inerrant Bible. The liberal Christian has chosen to take his or her stand with God’s goodness. The conservative Christian seems to have gone into deep denial. The atheist, of course, rejects both assumptions. A nonexistent God does not contradict what we know best about our universe. Nor do we have the problem of pretending that an error-riddled Bible is somehow his word to us.

Bible Vulgarities and Obscenities


Note: What is and what is not vulgar or obscene is, of course, an individual matter. By current Christian standards, however, the verses that follow would likely be considered inappropriate, if not vulgar or obscene, were they in any setting other than the Bible.

GE 4:17 Cain’s wife would likely have been his sister. (Note, assuming that Cain was, say, 100 years older than his wife, his wife could possibly have been a niece rather than a sister.)

(KJVGE 17:10-1423-2721:434:15, 17, 22, 24EX 4:2612:44, 48LE 12:3DT 10:1630:6JS 5:2-57-8JE 4:49:25LK 1:59LK 2:21JN 7:22-23AC 7:810:4511:215:152416:3RO 2:25-293:1304:9-1215:8CO 7:18-19GA 2:37-9125:2-36, 116:12-13, 15EP 2:11PH 3:33:5CN 2:113:114:11TS 1:10 Various references to circumcision, some quite vulgar.

(KJV) GE 17:11, 14, 23-25EX 4:25LE 12:3DE 10:16JS 5:3SA 18:25, 27SA 3:14JE 4:4HA 2:16 Various references to foreskins, some rather vulgar.

GE 9:22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness.

GE 19:4-8 A group of sexually depraved men demands that Lot turn over to them his two male visitors. Lot offers his two virgin daughters instead.

GE 19:30-38 Lot’s daughters have sexual intercourse with him while he is drunk and both become pregnant by their father.

GE 24:2-947:29 “… put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord ….” (Note: This means “put your hand under my testicles,” which is the manner in which oaths were taken at the time; “testament,” “testify,” and “testicle” have the same root.)

GE 29:16-30 Jacob marries both Leah and her sister Rachel. He has children by both Leah and Rachel’s maid Bilhah, but Rachel remains barren. Due apparently to Rachel’s generosity to her husband, the Lord eventually allows Rachel to conceive.

GE 34:1-2 Shechem defiles Dinah.

GE 34:13-29 Hamor, his son, and the men of their village agree to be circumcised so as to be allowed to marry the daughters of the Israelites. On the third day, “when they were sore,” the Israelites kill Hamor, his son, and all the men of the village, and plunder their wealth, taking their wives and children, thus getting revenge for the defiling of Dinah.

GE 35:22 (KJV) “Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his fathers concubine.”

GE 38:9 Onan “spills his seed” on the ground rather than fulfill his obligation to his widowed sister-in-law to father a child by her.

GE 38:13-19 Tamar plays the role of a harlot in order to have sexual intercourse with her father-in-law. She conceives and twins are born.

GE 39:7-23 The wife of Joseph’s master tries to get Joseph to go to bed with her. He refuses, and flees leaving his “garment in her hand.” She claims that Joseph tried to rape her, and Joseph ends up imprisoned.

EX 20:26 “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.”

LE 15:16-19 (KJV) “And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even. And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even. The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even. And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean ….”

LE 21:2022:24 (References to testicles, or “stones” in the KJV.)

NU 31:17-18 “… all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” (Note: How did they determine which girls were virgins, and what did they do with them after they kept them alive for themselves? This is not a pretty picture.)

NU 31:31-40 32,000 virgins are taken by the Israelites as booty of which thirty-two are set aside as a tribute for the Lord.

DT 21:10-14 With the Lord’s approval, the Israelites are allowed to kidnap “beautiful women” from the enemy camp to be their trial wives. If, after having sexual relations, a man has “no delight” in his wife, he can simply let her go.

DT 23:1 (KJV) “He that is wounded in the stones [testicles], or hath his privy member [penis] cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”

DT 28:1530 If you do not obey the voice of the Lord, the Lord will cause another man to “lie with” your wife-to-be.

JS 5:3 “… the Hill of Foreskins.”

JG 8:30-31 Gideon had many wives as well as a concubine.

JG 19:22-29 A group of sexual depraved men beat on the door of an old man’s house demanding that he turn over to them a male house guest. Instead, the old man offers his virgin daughter and his guest’s concubine (or wife): “Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing.” The man’s concubine is ravished and dies. The man then cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

JG 21:11-12 “This is what you shall do; every male and every woman that has lain with man you shall utterly destroy. And they found … four hundred young virgins who had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp ….” (Again, how did they determine which girls were virgins? This is not a pretty picture.)

JG 21:14-23 The 400 virgins captured above prove to be insufficient, so the Benjaminites hide in the vineyards and kidnap “the daughters of Shiloh” as they come out to dance and celebrate.

1SA 5:6-9 The Lord afflicts Philistines with tumors in their “secret parts.”

1SA 18:27 So that David might be allowed to marry the king’s daughter, the king asks David to bring him 100 Philistine foreskins. David does the job right and brings the king not 100, but 200, foreskins of murdered Philistines.

1SA 25:22125:341KI 14:1016:10-1121:212KI 9:8 (KJV) “… him that pisseth ….”

1SA 19:24 “And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night.”

2SA 3:7 (KJV) “Wherefore hast thou gone in unto [a euphemism for sexual intercourse] my fathers concubine?”

2SA 5:1320:3 David had many concubines.

2SA 6:1416, 20-23 David dances and exposes himself to his maids. (His wife, Michal rebukes him for having done so, and as a consequence she is made barren.)

2SA 12:11-12 The Lord is going to punish David for his sin by taking his wives and causing his neighbor to have sexual relations with them in public.

2SA 13:1-17 King David’s son, Amnon, rapes his half-sister, Tamar. Subsequently, Amnon is seized with loathing for Tamar, orders her to leave, and when she refuses he has her forcibly locked out.

2SA 16:22 Absalom “went into his father’s concubines” in the sight of all Israel.

1KI 1:1-4 David was old, and although covered with clothes, could not get warm. A beautiful, young virgin is brought in to be his concubine and nurse. But alas, he was so old and infirm that he “knew her not.”

1KI 11:3 Solomon (allegedly the wisest man ever) had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

2KI 6:29 “So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”

2KI 18:27IS 36:12 (KJV) “… eat their own dung and drink their own piss.” (Note: Although correctly translated according to the oldest Hebrew manuscripts, piss and pisseth have been re-translated to something more “godly” in all versions since the KJV.)

1CH 11:21 Rehoboam had eighteen wives and sixty concubines.

ES 2:2-17 King Ahasuerus holds a sexual contest with “fair young virgins” to pick a new Queen (after having been spurned by Queen Vashti).

PR 5:19 (KJV) “… Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.”

SO 1:13 “My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh, that lies between my breasts.”

SO 2:3 “I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”

SO 2:68:3 “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.”

SO 2:166:3 “My lover is mine and I am his. He browses among the lilies.”

SO 4:57:3 “Your two breasts are like two fawns ….”

SO 5:4 (KJV) “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.”

SO 7:1-2 “… the joints of your thighs are like jewels ….”

SO 7:7-9 “You are stately as a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine ….”

SO 8:10 “… and my breasts were like towers.”

IS 3:17 “The Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will uncover their secret parts.”

IS 13:15 “Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their … wives will be ravished.”

IS 20:2-4 The Lord himself apparently commands his servant to go naked for three years.

IS 57:8 “Behind your doors and doorpost … you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked on their nakedness.”

LA 4:21 “… thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.”

EZ 4:12 (KJV) “And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. And the Lord said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread ….”

EZ 4:15 (KJV) “… I have given thee cows dung for mans dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith.”

EZ 16:7 “… You grew up and … arrived at full maidenhood; your breasts were formed … yet you were naked and bare.”

EZ 16:8 “Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.”

EZ 16:22 “… you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood.”

EZ 16:36 “… your shame was laid bare and your nakedness uncovered in your harlotries with your lovers ….”

EZ 16:37 “Therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you took pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness.”

EZ 16:39 “… they will strip you of your clothes, … and leave you naked and bare.”

EZ 23:3 “They played the harlot in Egypt; they played the harlot in their youth; there were their breasts fondled and their virgin bosoms handled.” Or, as the KJV puts it: “they bruised the teats of their virginity.”

EZ 23:8 (KJV) “… in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.”

EZ 23:10 “They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword.”

EZ 23:17 (KJV) “And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them ….”

EZ 23:18 (KJV) “So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: ….”

EZ 23:20-21 (RSV) “Yet she increased her harlotry … and doted on her paramours there, whose members [i.e., sexual organs] were like those of asses and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.”

EZ 23:29 (KJV) “… and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.”

EZ 23:34 “You shall … pluck out your hair, and tear your breasts.”

HO 1:2 (KJV) “And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom.'”

HO 2:2 (KJV) “… let her … put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts ….”

HO 2:3 “Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as the day she was born.”

HO 13:16 “They shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”

AM 2:16 “‘Even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day,’ declares the Lord.”

MI 1:8 “I will go stripped and naked.”

MI 3:2-3 “… who pluck off their skin …, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.”

NA 3:5 ” I am against you,’ says the Lord … , and will lift up your skirts over your face; I will show the nations your nakedness and kingdoms your shame.'”

HA 2:15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.”

MA 2:3 The Lord says that he will spread dung upon the faces of the priests.

MK 14:51-52 A young man discards his clothing and flees naked.

JN 21:7 (KJV) “Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fishers coat unto him, for he was naked, and did cast himself into the sea.”

AC 19:13-16 Seven Jewish exorcists are overpowered by a man with a demon and flee naked and wounded.

RE 16:15 When Jesus comes again, he will come like a thief in the night so that those who do not have their clothes [on] will go naked and be shamefully exposed.

RE 17:16 “They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.”

This concludes the series on the Bible

via Bible Vulgarities & Obscenities.

via Bible Vulgarities & Obscenities.

Good Friday Fun


Good Friday Cartoons

 

 

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He was not white enough!!!

 

 

Fatal Bible Flaws?


NOTE: These lists are meant to identify possible problems in the Bible, especially problems which are inherent in a literalist or fundamentalist interpretation. Some of the selections may be resolvable on certain interpretations–after all, almost any problem can be eliminated with suitable rationalizations–but it is the reader’s obligation to test this possibility and to decide whether it really makes appropriate sense to do this. To help readers in this task, these lists are aimed at presenting examples where problems may exist given certain allowable (but not always obligatory) assumptions. It should be kept in mind that a perfect and omnipotent God could, should, and likely would see to it that such problems did not exist in a book which s/he had inspired. It should also be kept in mind that what is and is not a Biblical flaw is to some extent a matter of opinion. You are entitled to disagree with the author that these are, in fact, Biblical flaws–let alone fatal flaws.

DT 6:5MT 22:37MK 12:30LK 10:27 Love God.
DT 6:13PS 33:834:9111:10115:13128:1147:11PR 8:1316:619:2322:4IS 8:13LK 12:51PE 2:17 Fear God.
1JN 4:18 There is no fear in love.

PR 30:5 Every word of God proves true.
1KI 22:232CH 18:22JE 4:10EZ 14:9 God deceives some of the prophets.
JE 8:8 The scribes (copyists, editors, teachers) falsify the word.
2TH 2:11-12 God deceives the wicked (to be able to condemn them).
(Note: Not every word of God can prove true if God deceives anyone at all; teaching from the Bible cannot be trusted if the scribes falsify the word. In other words, the first reference is mutually exclusive with the other three. Thus, the Bible cannot be the perfect work of a perfect, all-powerful and loving God since one or more of the above references is obviously untrue. Note also: Some versions use the word “persuade” rather than “deceives.” The context makes clear, however, that deception is involved.)

EZ 20:25 God says that he intentionally gave out bad laws. (This means that God-given laws or commandments are sometimes suspect.)

LK 1:26-38 The angel who appears to Mary to foretell the birth of Jesus says that Jesus will be given the throne of David, that he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and that his kingdom will never end. (None of this took place nor can it now be fulfilled.)

MT 16:28MK 9:1LK 9:27 Jesus says that some of his listeners will not taste death before he comes again in his kingdom. This was said almost 2000 years ago.
(Note: This passage and many others indicate that Jesus was to come again in a relatively short period of time and not just “quickly” as present day Biblicists assert. All of his listeners are now dead, yet Jesus has not come again in his kingdom. All of the alleged words of Jesus put forth in the Bible are therefore suspect.)

MK 16:17-18 A believer can handle snakes or drink poison and not experience any harm.
(Note: Many unfortunate believers have died as a result of handling snakes and drinking poison. This kind of assertion negates the Bible as a useful guidebook for life.)

Part 3 tomorrow Bible Absurdities

via Fatal Bible Flaws?.

via Fatal Bible Flaws?.

Introduction to the Bible and Biblical Problems


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The Bible consists of a collection of sixty-six separate books. These books were chosen, after a bit of haggling, by the Catholic Council of Carthage in 397 A.D.—more than three hundred years after the time of Jesus. This collection is broken into two major sections: The Old Testament, which consists of thirty-nine books, and The New Testament, which consists of twenty-seven books. (Catholic Bibles include additional books known as the Apocrypha.)

The Old Testament is concerned with the Hebrew God, Yahweh, and purports to be a history of the early Israelites. The New Testament is the work of early Christians and reflects their beliefs about Jesus; it purports to be a history of what Jesus taught and did.

The composition of the various books is thought to have begun around 1000 B.C., and to have continued for about 1,100 years. Much oral material was included. This was repeated from father to son, revised over and over again, and then put into written form by various editors. These editors often worked in different locales and in different time periods, and were often unaware of each other. Their work was primarily intended for local use and it is unlikely that any author foresaw that his work would be included in a “Bible.”

No original manuscripts exist. There is probably not one book which survives in anything like its original form. There are hundreds of differences between the oldest manuscripts of any one book. These differences indicate that numerous additions and alterations, some accidental and some purposeful, were made to the originals by various authors, editors, and copyists.

Many biblical authors are unknown. When an author has been named that name has sometimes been selected by pious believers rather than given by the author himself. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are examples of books which did not carry the names of their actual authors; the present names were assigned long after these four books were written. And—in spite of what the Gospel authors say—biblical scholars are now almost unanimously agreed that none of the Gospel authors was either an actual disciple of Jesus or even an eyewitness to his ministry.

Although some books of the Bible are traditionally attributed to a single author, many are actually the work of multiple authors. Genesis and John are two examples of books which reflect multiple authorship.

Many biblical books have the earmarks of fiction. For example, private conversations are often related when no reporter was present. Conversations between God and various individuals are recorded. Prehistoric events are given in great detail. When a story is told by more than one author, there are usually significant differences. Many stories—stories which in their original context are considered even by Christians to be fictional—were borrowed by the biblical authors, adapted for their own purposes, given a historical setting, and then declared to be fact.

The Flood story is an example of this kind of adaptation. Its migration from the earliest known occurrence in Sumeria, around 1600 B.C., from place to place and eventually to the Bible, can be traced historically. Each time the story was used again, it was altered to speak of local gods and heroes.

But is the Bible, nevertheless, the work of God? Is it a valid guidebook? How can we know?

If the Bible were really the work of a perfect, all-powerful, and loving God, one would reasonably expect it to be obviously superlative in every respect—accurate, clear, concise, and consistent throughout—as compared to anything that could possibly be conceived by human intellect alone.

Fundamentalists, in fact, hold this to be true. Using a circular argument, they say that because the Bible is without error or inconsistency, it must be the work of God, and because it is the work of God, it must be without error or inconsistency. It seems not to matter which proposition comes first, the other is thought to follow.

Notwithstanding the fundamentalist viewpoint, however, the Bible does contain a number of real problems. And some of these problems are absolutely fatal to its credibility.

Many passages relate God-ordained atrocities; such passages are unworthy of the Christian God. Some biblical precepts are both unreasonable and unlikely since they are in obvious disagreement with common sense as well as the qualities of character which are attributed to God. Some biblical statements are absurd in that they represent very primitive beliefs. The believability of many biblical stories—stories that are crucial to Christianity—are discredited by numerous inconsistencies. The picture is further complicated by the many different and conflicting interpretations that are often given to a specific passage by sincere, well-intentioned believers.

While Biblicists are capable of offering some sort of explanation for nearly any biblical problem that can be uncovered, such explanations should be unnecessary. The point is not whether some explanation can be conceived, but rather that a perfect, all-powerful, and loving God certainly could, should, and would do a much better job of it were he to have anything to do with the writing of a book.

The evidence which follows, taken from the Bible itself, is but a small portion of that which exists. This evidence demonstrates that the Bible cannot be the literal, complete, inerrant and perfect work of a perfect, all-powerful, and loving God. It also demonstrates that the Bible is not especially useful even as a guidebook. In addition, because the Bible reflects every important belief of traditional Christianity—the foundation of Christianity itself rests on shaky ground.

Note to reader: this Introduction is but one of eight chapters which originally made up a single, unified document. For purposes of increased compatibility with the Internet, the document was broken into eight separate files.

Part 2 tomorrow Fatal Bible Flaws

via Introduction to the Bible and Biblical Problems.

via Introduction to the Bible and Biblical Problems.

What is Faith?


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There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the school boy who said, Faith is believing what you know ain’t so. –Mark Twain, Following the Equator, “Pudd’nhead Wilson‘s Calendar”

No faith dies because it is unreasonable, but only because the instincts which it has satisfied find more complete and permanent gratification in other directions. –Amy E. Tanner, Studies in Spiritism (1910)

Faith is a non-rational belief in some proposition. A non-rational belief is one that is contrary to the sum of the evidence for that belief. A belief is contrary to the sum of the evidence if there is overwhelming evidence against the belief, e.g., that the earth is flat, hollow, or is the center of the universe. A belief is also contrary to the sum of the evidence if the evidence seems equal both for and against the belief, yet one commits to one of the two or more equally supported propositions.

A common misconception regarding faith—or perhaps it is an intentional attempt at disinformation and obscurantism—is made by Christian apologists, such as Dr. Richard Spencer, who wrote the following:

A statement like “There is no god, and there can’t be a god; everything evolved from purely natural processes” cannot be supported by the scientific method and is a statement of faith, not science (Richard Spencer, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis and faculty adviser to the Christian Student Union. Quoted in The Davis Enterprise, Jan. 22, 1999).

The error or deception here is to imply that anything that is not a scientific statement, i.e., one supported by evidence marshaled forth the way scientists do in support of their scientific claims, is a matter of faith. To use ‘faith’ in such a broad way is to strip it of any theological significance the term might otherwise have.

Such a conception of faith treats belief in all non-empirical statements as acts of faith. Thus, belief in the external world, belief in the law of causality, or belief in the fundamental principles of logic, such as the principle of contradiction or the law of the excluded middle, would be acts of faith on this view. There seems to be something profoundly deceptive and misleading about lumping together as acts of faith such things as belief in the Virgin birth and belief in the existence of an external world or in the principle of contradiction. Such a view trivializes religious faith by putting all non-empirical claims in the same category as religious faith. In fact, it would be more appropriate to put religious faith in the same category as belief in superstitions, fairy tales, and delusions.

Physicist Bob Park explains this difference in a way even the most devious casuist should understand. The Oxford Concise English Dictionary, he notes, gives two distinct meanings for faith:

“1) complete trust or confidence, and 2) strong belief in a religion based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.” A scientist’s “faith” is built on experimental proof. The two meanings of the word “faith,” therefore, are not only different, they are exact opposites.*

There are reasons for trusting science and there are reasons for religious convictions, but the reasons for our trust in science are called evidence and the reasons for our religious convictions all reduce to hope. William James, a scientist and a man of faith, understood this distinction well. In his essay “The Will to Believe,” James opines that the evidence for a god and an afterlife equals the evidence for non-belief and that his hope is for survival of the soul. In science when the evidence is equal for two opposing propositions, James argued, we should suspend judgment until the scales are tipped to one side or the other. We don’t make a leap of faith in such cases, hoping our favored hypothesis is true. When we do give our assent to one scientific hypothesis over another it is because the evidence compels it, not because we hope it is true.

an erroneous view of faith

If we examine Dr. Spencer’s claims, the error of his conflation of two senses of ‘faith’ should become obvious. He claims that the statement ‘there is no god and there can’t be a god; everything evolved from purely natural processes’ is a statement of faith. There are three distinct statements here. One, ‘there is no god’. Two, ‘there can’t be a god’. And three, ‘everything evolved from purely natural processes’. Dr. Spencer implies that each of these claims is on par with such statements as ‘there is a god’, ‘Jesus is our lord and savior’, ‘Jesus’s mother was a virgin’, ‘a piece of bread may have the substance of Jesus’s physical body and blood’, ‘The God of Abraham is one being but three persons’, and the like.

The statement ‘there cannot be a god’ is not an empirical statement. Anyone who would make such a claim would make it by arguing that a particular concept of god contains contradictions and is, therefore, meaningless. For example, to believe that ‘some squares are circular’ is a logical contradiction. Circles and squares are defined so as to imply that circles can’t be square and squares can’t be circular. James Rachels, for one, has argued that god is impossible, but at best his argument shows that the concepts of an all-powerful god and one who demands worship from his creations are contradictory. The concept of worship, Rachels argues, is inconsistent with the God of Abraham (AG) concept.

Rachels makes an argument. Some find it convincing; others don’t. But it seems that his belief is not an act of faith in the same sense that it is an act of faith to belief in the Incarnation, the trinity, transubstantiation, or the virgin birth. The first three articles of faith are on par with believing in round squares. They require belief in logical contradictions. Virgin births, we now know, are possible, but the technology for the implantation of fertilized eggs did not exist two thousand years ago. The belief in the Virgin birth entails the belief that AG miraculously impregnated Mary with himself. Such a belief defies experience but not logic. The Virgin birth is conceivable (to make a bad pun), unlike the Trinity.

All arguments regarding these articles of faith are quite distinct from Rachel’s argument. To defend these articles of faith, the best one can hope for is to show that they cannot be shown to be false. However, the consequence of arguing that logical contradictions may nevertheless be true, seems undesirable. Such a defense requires the abandonment of the very logical principles required to make any argument and is therefore self-annihilating. The fact that arguments such as Rachel’s and those defending articles of religious faith are not empirical or resolvable by scientific methods hardly makes them equally matters of faith.

The statement ‘there is no god’ is quite different from the claim that there can’t be a god. The latter makes a claim regarding possibility; the former is an actuality or existential claim. I doubt that there are many theologians or Christian apologists who would claim that all their faith amounts to is a belief in the possibility of this or that. One can believe there is no god because there can’t be a god, but one might also disbelieve–i.e., reject as untrue–the existense of any god while admitting the possibility of AG or any other god. Disbelief in gods is analogous to disbelief in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny. Yet, those who believe in Bigfoot and Nessie, for example, aren’t known for claiming they believe out of faith. To say you have faith in Bigfoot or faith in Nessie sounds ludicrous. Believers in Bigfoot think there is good evidence for their belief. Disbelievers argue that the evidence is not strong at all and does not deserve assent to the proposition that Bigfoot exists. Disbelievers in Bigfoot do not disbelieve as an act of faith; they disbelieve because the evidence is not persuasive. Belief in a god, on the other hand, could be either an act of faith or a belief based on conclusions from evidence and argument. If the theistic belief is an act of faith then the one holding the belief either thinks the evidence against belief outweighs or equals the evidence for belief, or the belief is held without regard for evidence at all. Otherwise, the belief is not an act of faith but of belief that the evidence is stronger for belief than against.

naturalism

Another scientist, physicist Paul Davies, represents another kind of deceptive misconception of faith: that science and religion are equally grounded in ‘faith’. Here is how he puts it:

…science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed. When physicists probe to a deeper level of subatomic structure, or astronomers extend the reach of their instruments, they expect to encounter additional elegant mathematical order. And so far this faith has been justified. (“Taking Science on Faith,” New York Times, Nov. 24, 2007)

The claim that the assumptions of science are of the same kind as the belief in the trinity, the virgin birth, or the existence of God is as wrong as Dr. Spencer’s belief that the claim that ‘everything evolved from natural processes’ is an act of faith. Davies uses ‘faith’ to refer to beliefs that are uncertain or can’t be proved to be necessarily true, but that is not the essential characteristic of religious faith. We can’t prove that it is necessarily true that the laws of nature won’t change drastically tomorrow, but that doesn’t make the countless instances of experienced order and pattern by countless individuals of no evidential importance. Assuming that invisible green angels move objects to appear as if gravity were real is not on par with assuming there are laws of nature. Neither can be proved to be necessarily true but the latter is backed by evidence in support of it. To lump evidence-based belief with beliefs not based on any evidence as both being faith-based is absurd.

If the only alternatives are that everything evolved from either supernatural or natural forces, and one is unconvinced by the arguments and evidence presented by those who believe in supernatural forces, then logically the only reasonable belief is that everything evolved from natural forces. Only if the evidence supporting a supernatural being were superior or equal to the evidence and arguments against such a belief, would belief that everything evolved from natural forces be a matter of faith.

Those of us who are atheists and believe that everything evolved from natural forces nearly universally maintain that theists and supernaturalists have a very weak case for their belief, weaker even than the case for Bigfoot, Nessie, the Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus. But, more important, we are convinced by the overwhelming nature of the evidence that natural forces have brought about the universe as we know it. Thus, our disbelief in a supernatural creator is not an act of faith, and therefore, not non-rational as are those of theists and Christian apologists. However, if Christian apologists insist on claiming that science is faith-based or that their version of Christianity and the rejections of their views are equally acts of faith, I will insist that the apologists have a non-rational faith, while their opponents have a rational faith. Though I think it would be less dishonest and less misleading to admit that atheists and naturalists do not base their beliefs on faith in any sense close to that of religious faith.

via faith – The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com.

via faith – The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com.

On Morals: Why Atheism Trumps Christianity


Any religion that requires the acceptance of its ideas on faith alone is admitting that its doctrines cannot stand on their own merits nor withstand any critical examination. They require that their adherents accept as truth their authority, and Christianity is a perfect illustration of this point.  The belief in a god is irrational, as are those who accepts the belief in a god. Once this leap of faith is made, it only takes short steps to abandon the standards of rationality and lose the ability to distinguish truth from falsehoods. When one examines the doctrines of Christianity, it is revealed not to be the bastion of wonderful moral standards.  To the opposite, Christian morals are contrary to our well being and to our society.

The belief that there was a divine man who died for the sins of the world is a grievous and immoral notion. It amounts to human sacrifice.  If this were even suggested in real life, such as someone offering to become victim of capital punishment for another’s crime, there would be cries from from every corner of society denouncing this action. Given that, then by what possible stretch of the imagination does an immoral idea such as this suddenly become moral when it is the murder of the fictitious Jesus is a substitution for the “crime” of another person or persons?  Obviously, the answer is to instill guilty feelings. There can be no other logical purpose. When you look at the base doctrines of evangelism, it is very apparent that fear and guilt are the basic emotions that are used by Christianity to convert its targets. Those who eventually walk away from their faith were probably converted through fear alone, as a fearful person may eventually rebel.  However, those who become life long adherents were more than likely converted through both fear and guilt, because a person with deep feelings of guilt is not likely to rebel. The alleged “sacrifice” of Christ has served the church very well over the millennia.

The basic problem with Christian morality comes down to it being little more than a primitive system of reward and punishment. Be good, don’t ask questions and stay in line and you will be rewarded.  Be skeptical, ask questions and use your mind in a reasonable and rational manner and you are consigned to eternal punishment in the most horrible place, forever.  Although some churches have modified this and a few have even eliminated, this system has remained fundamental to Christianity throughout the history of the church. The whole idea of heaven and hell is a perfect illustration of just how the the core of Christianity is against reason, rationality and even life, itself.  The faith elevates ignorance and non-productivity and suppresses creative and innovative thought. One competent scientist is worth more than a thousand evangelists.

Christianity teaches its followers to meek and mild, to accept their lot in life.  This might seem like humility at its best, but consider the fate of a country that adopts this attitude and how easy it would be for any despot to seize and keep power. Does this not assure the perpetration of evil and is this doctrine not carte blanche for every injustice imaginable? It is no accident that the bible lacks any story, tale or parable about the oppressed rising up against their oppressors.  Hitler and many other dictators over the centuries all looked to the bible for justification of their actions.  And they have found it there.

There are many other problems with the alleged “divine ethics” of the Christian faith.  Slavery, which was widespread in biblical times and continues to be in many countries, is not only not admonished in the bible, but instructions on how to treat slaves is part of holy scripture.  As a general rule, women are treated as second class citizens because Christianity is a male-dominated social hierarchy. The Apostle Paul even tells women to never speak in church, along with a plethora of other misogynist requirements.

Christianity not only brings on feelings of guilt, but its promotion of death over life is morbid.  The fact that a cross, a symbol of suffering, torture and death is the icon of the faith illustrates that Christianity is a philosophy of death and has turned real human values into non-values.  Suffering has become noble and death has become eternal life.  Pictures and illustrations of blood gushing wounds on the fictitious Jesus abound almost everywhere and blood rituals such as communion are core practices in almost every church in the world.  The bloody image of a man on a cross desensitizes the faithful and causes them to believe that suffering and misery are expected and death is the only escape.  Christianity teaches that all people are evil and destined to a life of pain and suffering and hope only lies in the salvation of Christ and his assurance of a heavenly reward after we die and those who do not believe will be eternally punished. I find it hard to contemplate a more evil system.

The faith purports itself to be non-judgmental, as the notion of “judge not lest ye be judged” is often cited by Christians.  Literally, this means that only the Christian god can judge anyone’s actions to be immoral. This is one of the most damaging doctrines of the faith because it assures that the weak will be perpetually doomed to suffering under the strong. However, much like the ecological issue, the Bible makes up for this by assuring the weak that they will eventually inherit this new earth.  It is the pinnacle of ignorance not to judge people like Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler, but to just turn the other cheek, believing that in the next life everything will be sorted out.

Of course, Christianity, by design, demands ignorance.  Both naiveté and willful ignorance is at the core of a faith that is contrary to the development of knowledge through reason and rationality.  It clearly teaches people people not to trust in reason, and to only accept – without question – the dogmas of the church. Faith is elevated above reason in every church to one degree or another and there have been countless lives wasted in the world’s convents and monasteries. These lives are spent in poverty, reading the bible and praying for whatever. However, this subservience to Christ only amounts to an staggeringly immense loss of much human potential.  The fact that billions of people are convinced that all the answers they need lie in the bible and thus they have no incentive at all to look beyond it. The religious withdraw from the world while the reasoned seek to improve it. This withdrawal from the world, coupled by the teaching that the earth was created solely for the benefit of the believer has contributed to widespread ecological disaster. This belief makes it easy to justify the destruction and wanton depletion of our natural resources because, after all, Jesus is coming soon and will give us a new earth.

If the history of religion has shown us anything, it is the fact that it is inherently evil in its insistence that rational thought is to avoided at all costs. It keeps its believers in line through fear, and is the chief source of a vast majority of crime, either directly, indirectly or psychologically.  The fact that atheists and agnostics are a small minority of the prison population shows that Christianity is not only nonessential to morality, but in many cases, the antithesis. Evil has a completely different meaning to an atheist than it does to a Christian.  From a Christian point of view, evil is not following orders, thinking independently and questioning doctrines, dogmas and myth.

For those of us who are unbelievers, evil can best be described as the abandonment of our minds to the minds of others.  To us, it is a travesty to blindly accept any doctrine on faith.  We believe that the ability and willingness to stand alone, when necessary, and tell the majority that they are wrong is the pinnacle of virtue, and thus, atheism is the only honest, rational, and moral position to hold.

– Al Stefanelli, Georgia State Director – American Atheists, Inc.

via On Morals: Why Atheism Trumps Christianity | American Atheists.

via On Morals: Why Atheism Trumps Christianity | American Atheists.

A Religious experience– Heaven


the-morality-of-atheism

There is no humor in heaven.
– Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven
Mark Twain

Heaven for climate, and hell for society.
– Mark Twain’s Speechs, 1910 edition, p. 117.

We may not doubt that society in heaven consists mainly of undesirable persons.
– Mark Twain’s Notebook

Pictorial Religious themes 12- Hope


9OT55

I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched, and dishonored, from pirate raids in Kiaochow, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Philipines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and towel, but hide the looking glass.
– “A Salutation from the 19th to the 20th Century,” December 31, 1900…Mark Twain

Scientists Prove That All Religious Books Are Man-Made Nonsense  


Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing.” – Hypatia of Alexandria (370 – 415 AD)

WASHINGTON DC – USA – Scientists at the Institute of Historical Research have finally released their findings after five years of dedicated research.

The scientists, headed by Doctor Julius Sanreso, welcomed the research findings and said that it would be in the interests of those who believe in such nonsense as organised religion or creationism to accept the fact that religious books were written by men as a control system.

“Just think for one second, if ‘God‘ or a ‘messenger of God’ had written that particular religious book/bible, how come the writings only occur within a very limited period in human history? Also, consider the fact, that a human writing on a piece of paper, or a few pieces of paper, is not the word of ‘God’. If they were really written by a universal God or entity, the books would not be limited to some pre-medievel costume drama but would encompass all universality, history, the future and science. Language is something created by man, not an all-seeing, all encompassing entity. God would presumably be universal and timeless as well as all-knowing, as is the universe, therefore these man-written books and scriptures, are just that, man-written linguistically created nonsense used to control men and women thousands of years ago. Why would ‘God’ write anything anyway? One must consider the fact that, even now, there are religious zealots and ordinary people still entrenched in a control belief system that is so far removed from reality that it borders on madness. There is no rational or scientific way that organised religions can have a modicum of truth or factual reality because of the very reason that these books are entombed in the time that they were written. These books should therefore simply be viewed as limited parables and historical fiction, as well as a lesson in how millions of people can be so easily controlled.”

The research paper also came to the conclusion that reward/punishment religions, as control systems, were losing their grip on most of the population of the world and only a few die-hard fanatics and delusional maniacs were carrying on with the flame of idiocy.

“The game is up for all religions, how long can this sham carry on, with their ridiculous outdated ceremonies? The priests are deceivers, and they need to come up with some pretty radical solutions to their thousand year old magic trick. People aren’t as dumb or easily swayed as they used to be thousands of years ago, they actually have reasoning powers and can see through the utter nonsense of organised control systems like religion.”

The problem for the world’s political leaders, is that slowly, humans who were controlled for so many years by fictitious writings, may suddenly lose their controlled ‘faith’. This could be quite dangerous, because it would mean that these people would suddenly wake up and realise that they have been fooled for so long by being communally hypnotised.

“We must ensure that the people who have been fooled for so long by fictitious belief systems utilised to control humans do not get too angry when they realise that what they believe in is nonsense written by humans utilising human created language. This could be dangerous for society, so we must either let them carry on believing their fiction or try to somehow support them when they realise the truth,” Dr Sanreso said.

The research paper will be published in its entirety in 2015.

via Scientists Prove That All Religious Books Are Man-Made Nonsense �.

via Scientists Prove That All Religious Books Are Man-Made Nonsense  .

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