Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The creation story revisited

In 2009 I wrote a blog post about some of the discrepancies found in the biblical narrative of the creation of all things. It was a short post and upon reading it again I was not very satisfied with how it turned out; and so I have decided to write a new one with greater detail and more relevant information. I will not link to the former post because I feel that by reading it you wont miss anything that will not be covered here in a more precise and articulate manner.

An artists depiction of the Garden of Eden

The first thing to note is that in Genesis there are actually two creation narratives! Contrary to popular belief they are written in different styles which to myself and some renowned biblical scholars indicates the possibility that they were also written by two different authors. 
The first narrative of the creation story begins in Genesis 1 and ends in chapter 2 verse 3. The second narrative begins in chapter 2:4 and ends in verse 25. the first difference between the narratives is in their style. The first narrative attempts to give a day to day chronology of creation in the order that they were created. The second one does not mention days but rather focuses more on the order of created things. I will be making side by side comparisons of both these accounts to make it easier for my readers to note the differences and every once in awhile when necessary I will point out other ludicrous anomalies within the texts themselves. 
1"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Gen. 1:1 
4"This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." Gen. 2:4

Note that in the first account God apparently commences by creating the earth and the heavens while in the second narrative the heavens and the earth have already been created. Also be aware that this tale of creation had to have been either invented myth or actually, and most unlikely "revealed" by God himself to the author. Whether the earth was created 7-10,000 years ago or 4.5 billion years ago there is no way any man was a witness to the "creation" (formation) of the early earth.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." Gen. 1:3-5

According to the previous verse the first thing God did after creating the heavens and the earth was to separate light from darkness. He called the darkness night and the light day. I don't know about you but you don't need a college degree to see the absurdity of these verses. First how can you separate light from darkness when darkness itself by definition is the absence of light? Secondly how is the effect of night and day produced? Well science says that it is caused by the Earth as it spins on its axis. While one half of the planet faces the sun (day) the other half is in darkness (night).

As we have seen the author of Genesis chapter one had no knowledge of astronomy whatsoever. He did not know how the process of night and day came about. He also did not know that the sun was a very vital component of that process as we shall see shortly.

Genesis two on the other hand claims that there were no shrubs, trees, or rain in the beginning but that also there was no one to work the land either. It's also interesting to note that the author of the second narrative does not even attempt to describe astronomy in any way shape or form. His first creation is man.

7"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Genesis 2:7 Based on the context of this verse  and subsequent verses; God creates man to work in the garden and take care of it.

In Genesis 1 on the second day, God creates a vault to separate the water from the water. He calls the water  above sky. 8"God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day." Gen. 1:8 So according to this he created the sky on the second day. Is it me or is this starting to sound like a children's story? All this despite the fact that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." I personally see the heavens as the sky and based on this account he created it twice! The heaven described in Gen. 1:1 cannot be space because the sun, moon, and stars had not yet been created.


The narrative in Genesis 1 gets it all backwards! Could you imagine earth/land and sky without space, sun, moon, or stars? Daytime without the sun and night time without the moon? This story gets sillier by the minute. So far I have yet to see one iota of divine inspiration in this tale. In fact, it sounds more like what you would expect to hear from someone narrating a traditional myth.
In the second narrative we are told that God after having created man, then goes on to create the garden. Here man is given the task of tilling the ground and taking care of the garden as a whole. He also had a river that flowed from the garden and split off into four separate rivers Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, the Euphrates. 

Based on the biblical description this places the garden of Eden in or near the Persian Gulf
8"Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. 15The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Gen. 2:8-9;15
According to the first creation narrative God brought forth dry land, seas, plants, trees, fruits, and vegetables on the third day. Note that plants and trees require sunlight to grow but the sun has yet to be created at this time. Once again God gets it backwards!  12"The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good." Gen. 1:12
19"Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." Gen. 2:19 After creating man, then the garden, then placing man in the garden, God creates land and avian life. 
According to the first narrative day four is the most amazing and apparently busiest day for God. 14"And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so." Gen. 1:14-15 Finally! God creates the sun for the day, the moon for the night and the next verse ends with: "He also made the stars." You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that the sun is actually a star! Due to the size of our universe I am pretty sure that there are plenty of stars out there that predate the existence of our sun. Again we see God separating the day from the night as he had done on the first day. could he have done this twice? 
In the second narrative after Adam finishes naming all the animals that the Lord had created he still could not find an help meet. So the good Lord in all his wisdom creates Eve.  21"So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man." The second narrative ends with God creating Eve as described above. Now we can focus on the remainder of the first narrative. 
In the first narrative on the fifth day God creates all sea life and once again he creates avian life as well. 21"So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Gen. 1:21
The final day of creation is the sixth day where God creates all land creatures and livestock and finally man.  25"God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 27So God created mankind in his own image,in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them." Gen. 1:25,27

Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden

Now it's time to sum it all up day by day according to how it appears in the first narrative.
Day one: Heavens and the earth, light, separates light from darkness called them day and night.
Day two: Separates water from water, makes vault, calls the vault sky.
Day three: Brought forth the land and the seas, created all plants, trees, fruits and vegetables.
Day four: Creates the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Day five:  Creates sea creatures and avian creatures.
Day six: Creates all manner of land creatures and finally man and woman simultaneously.

The second narrative does not separate creation by day but by order in a narrative form.
1.The heavens and the earth were already created and were apparently barren.
2.Creates man out of the dust of the ground.
3.Plants the garden of Eden and fills it with all manner of fruit bearing trees.
4.Puts man in garden to take care of it. Where was man before this is anyone's guess. 
5.Creates all manner of birds and land animals ( there is no mention of sea creatures).
6.Creates Eve and brings her to Adam.

Finally according to the first narrative in chapter one after all of this hard work of creating the omnipotent (all powerful) and great and powerful Oz; I meant God, rested.

2By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Gen. 2:2-3

Note: All biblical citations are from the New International Version Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc

Monday, April 29, 2013

The church and the emperor.

Desperate Christians trying to find reasons to verify the truth of their faith have resorted to some of the most inane rationalizations I have ever heard. One of their most popular arguments is based on the fact that the church is still around and is still a powerful force today; is evidence of their faith being the truth! This right out of the gate is a fallacious argument and has no evidence to back such a ridiculous claim. I have a much more logical and simpler reason why the Christian church grew exponentially and continues to thrive today. I can assure you that it was not due to any divine providence there is a much more mundane explanation to it all.

The real reason why the Christian church was able to thrive actually has a name; Gauis Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus also known as the  Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine is believed to have lived from 272ce -337ce he was the son of Flavius Constantius and Helena. Without getting into too much detail I'm going to get right into what he did for the early Christian church.

Constantine: The true savior of the Christian church!

On July 25 in the year 306ce Constantine was proclaimed an augustus (emperor). As emperor of Rome Constantine is most noted for two pivotal decisions that helped establish the Christian church to eventually become recognized as the church of Rome. The first of these steps was by writing and establishing the Edict of Milan and the second and most influential was the establishment of the first Council of Nicaea
The Edict of Milan was essentially a proclamation establishing religious toleration for Christianity in the Roman Empire. It was established in 313ce and it gave Roman citizens the right to worship whatever deity they wanted to, gave to Christians legal rights such as the right to establish churches, and ordered the return of all properties that were previously confiscated.
 Edict of Milan 313ce

 In 325ce the emperor Constantine called together the very first ecumenical council of Nicaea. The main goal of this meeting was to help deal with the heresy of Arianism which was brewing in the eastern church. Arianism basically taught that Christ was not divine but that he was a created being. This heresy was proposed by Arius of Alexandria.

Fist council of Nicaea 325ce
According to some historical sources there were about 300 bishops in attendance and once they had come to an agreement about what was to be done about Arianism they then established the Nicene creed. According to the New World Encyclopedia: "The purpose of a creed is to act as a yardstick of correct belief. A creed is an epitome, not a full definition, of what is required for orthodoxy." 
It was said that Constantine was taught Christianity as a youth by his mother Helena but it is uncertain if he accepted Christianity at a young age or if he accepted it later in life. It is known that he was around aged 40 or over when he publicly declared himself a Christian. 
Legend has it that on his way to the Battle of the Milvian Bridge 312ce that Constantine looked up to the sky and saw a cross of light above the sun with the Greek words "in this (sign) conquer. It is then stated by Eusebius that Constantine then had a dream where Christ himself came and told him what the significance of his vision had been. The sign is believed to have been a labarum.

Labarum with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega
The New World Encyclopedia confirms two of my theories regarding the union of the church with the Roman empire under Constantine. One of my theories is that once the church had obtained the backing and full force of the Roman empire that they then began to eliminate any competing sects or religious groups. They even went after other Christians sects that they deemed heretics because their beliefs did not conform to those stated in the Nicene creed. 

Regarding Constantines conversion: "There has been much speculation as to whether his conversion was genuine or strategic. He certainly hoped the church would be a politically integrating force. And as Christians grew more numerous, it made sense to gain their support."
Regarding the Council of Nicaea: "The council also promulgated a number of enforceable canons to regulate church governance thus creating a disciplined institution. From this time on the relationship between church and state became very complicated with the church co-opting the state to enforce its beliefs and persecute those it deemed heretics."
This was the beginnings of the worlds pain. The persecuted became the persecutor and began paying their former oppressors in spades. The rest is history as I like to say. As you can see through this article and the various sources I have given that the church gained its power and was established through military might and not divine providence. It was the union of the Roman Empire with the church (theocracy) that established it as the one and only religion. It's only serious threat came later when they faced off against Islam during the Crusades. To date Christianity and Islam are the two largest religions on the planet boasting the most adherents. 
Note: For those of you interested in reading the original creed of Nicaea and its subsequent revision in 381ce please feel free to click here

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The bibles absurd cosmology!

It's funny but I have said it before on my blog that the author of the creation story as narrated in Genesis seemed to believe in a literal and historical event. Most scholars agree that there are in fact two stories of creation in Genesis. The first one is found in Genesis 1-2:3 and the second one commences in Genesis 2:4-25. Also, most scholars agree that these two narratives were probably written by two distinct authors.

I have written a blog post comparing the inconsistencies and contradictions found in these two very different narratives of creation, but for the purpose of this post I am going to focus specifically on the first narrative. The purpose of this post is to show that a literal interpretation of this narrative would demonstrate that the story as presented would be impossible to accept as an historical event.

The garden of Eden

When I was a theist and even now as an atheist, I have heard and continue to hear all sorts of rationalizations for the literal and historical interpretation of the story of creation as it is presented in light of many discoveries made by science. As time goes by science continues to push faith and superstitious religious beliefs into a corner. Most liberal churches and even the Catholic church has accepted the theory of evolution and some even accept the big bang theory as well; with God being the cause of that event. But fundamentalists neither accept nor believe in either theory because it contradicts their literal interpretation of Genesis and the creation story.

Most fundamental literalist agree that the earth was created approximately around 7,000 years ago. Science on the other hand has been able to prove that the earth is at least 4.54 billion years old, for more details on how scientists have come to this conclusion read this article here. Theists also assume that everything was "created" at once; the universe and the earth etc. But once again science has shown that the universe itself is at least 13.77 billion years old! To see how scientists have come to this conclusion read this article here.

A beautiful 13.7 billion year old!

It is because of scientific discoveries to date that fundamentalists and liberals have been forced to reinterpret the scriptures to accommodate the latest scientific discoveries into their theology. For a very long time and even today there are still some nuts out there that insist that the earth is the center of the universe! I actually found a page from a Catholic website that defends geocentrism based entirely on the scriptures! If you want a good laugh and an example of why theists just don't get the difference between facts and myths feel free to read this article. It's actually a defense of geocentrism complete with scripture references and church father quotes.

To date from my days as a theist to today I have seen two different ways in which the age of the earth and the universe have been reconciled by theists with their faith. When I was a theist we were taught to insert an unspecified amount of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (insert unspecified amount of time here) 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

This unspecified amount of time could be millions or billions of years thus eliminating the contradiction between the word of God and science. They based this on two particular verses regarding God's perception of time in Psalm 90:4 "A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." and in 2 Peter 3:8 "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

The former in my view was very simplistic and stupid but this next one was even sillier. Theists desperately grasping at whatever branch would keep them from drowning then decided to attempt to show that the 6 days of creation were not a literal six days! At least not as we think of a day as represented in a 24 hour cycle.

Before I explain this let's define what we call a day. A day to most sane and modern folk is one 24 hour cycle. But how did we come to this determination? Most believe that the earth takes 24 hours to make one complete rotation on its axis. This is almost correct but in actuality it takes 23 hours and 56 minutes. But scientist look at two factors in determining this. They have a solar day (24 hours) and a sidereal day (23 hours,56 minutes, and 4.09 seconds). You can read about that here.

The book of Genesis clearly betrays this belief that a day was longer back then than it is today with one phrase often repeated:  5"God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." Genesis 1:5 The author of Genesis separated the days utilizing this phrase. 

 The previous example without need for much explanation illustrates clearly how ridiculous the idea of the days of Genesis not being literal 24 hour days is. For this to happen two incredibly impossible and even improbable miracles would have had to occur. The earth had to slow down its rotation on its own axis to a literal crawl and that in effect would also slow down its orbit around the sun! Maybe God had it on pause every once in a while while he worked on other things. I mean he has done this before according to the scriptures. 

"So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day." Joshua 10:13

That last sentence should end with an exclamation point or two. For this to happen the earth had to stop rotating on its axis and orbiting around the sun. It literally had to stand still in space for about 24 hours! Only a fool would believe that! The very language used illustrates the authors lack of knowledge of how the universe worked. Stating that the sun and the moon stood still reinforces the concept of geocentrism as taught by the church. And this is supposedly written by someone who was inspired by God! Either God didn't know how the universe works either or the author wasn't reading his inspired messages right or they weren't coming through clearly.

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Why are Christians so arrogant?

Have you ever had discussions or debates with theists regarding their beliefs only to find out well into the conversation that you are literally talking to a wall? If you listen to the words they use and the manner in which they speak you will come to realize that theists speak with absolute and undeniable certainty that what the bible says is the word of their god. Because they believe that it is the word of their god they take it as a given that whatever it says is true and undeniable.

In my previous post I accused Christians of being intolerant and I made my case using their own scriptures against them. I intend to do the same here but this time I am accusing them of arrogance. At the same time I would like to help my fellow atheists, agnostics, and skeptics understand why they think the way they do. Before going any further I would like to take a moment to define the word arrogance.

Arrogance: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions 

The two key words in this definition for me are presumptuous and assumptions. Christians out of their own ignorance derived from their arrogance, love to make incorrect assumptions and are presumptuous in that they have no respect for the opinions or beliefs of others. Now we get to the why? What makes a theists so arrogant and annoying all at once? It's faith. 

 1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

One thing that must be brought to the forefront of this discussion is that based on the description of faith as cited above; faith is not derived from reason. Faith is derived from a psycho-emotional commitment to a belief without reason, research, or evidence. You accept what you have been told without thinking it through. Somehow it just "feels" right. Just like it felt right when you met a guy/girl and thought to yourself: she/he is the one. Only to find out later that you were wrong and that the person you gave your heart to was not what they seemed.

Where do Christians get the idea that the bible is inspired by God? Some are stupid enough to say that he actually wrote it! Yes, I have heard it all. But they get their ideas from the source; the bible.

21For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This is known as circular reasoning

Once they accept that the bible is the word of God by faith then they are open to anything it says, no matter how illogical or nonsensical it may seem. The reason for this is that they have abandoned reason.

12What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 1 Corinthians 2:12-13

Notice in this verse that human wisdom is believed to be different from the wisdom of God or of his Spirit. In fact, the bible condemns human wisdom by stating both in the old and new testaments that it is corrupt and that because it is corrupt and limited, it cannot know the things of God. This is the reason that theists claim that we don't understand the word of their god. It is a matter of the spirit and is only understood through the spirit. In other words you can't rationalize God he just is and no amount of thought or human reason is going to lead you to their idea of "truth."

Christians are arrogant because they believe that they have come to learn the truth through faith based on emotions. The way they feel when they read the bible confirms to them that what they are reading is true. It's like that tingly feeling you get while watching a movie that hit a nerve just before you're about to cry for one of the characters or the situation as presented on the screen. 

As pointed out earlier emotions lie. When someones judgement is clouded by emotions they tend to do and believe irrational things. Most Christians are arrogant and they aren't even aware that they are doing it. Here is an example: When theists say things like "I am a child of God" or "you don't understand the bible although you have read it" or "you can't know the ways of God" or " you are a sinner in need of salvation" you are doing several things at once. You are being condescending, arrogant, and presumptuous.

It takes more humility to state as someone who does not know certain things that he does not know. Scientists do this all the time. Ask a scientist how the universe came into existence or how life began on earth and you will get an I don't know or we are not entirely certain. We know part of the how but the actual process is still a mystery. But to arrogantly claim that God did it is the most blatant display of the abandonment of reason. Where faith is the driving force to knowledge; reason and logic must take a back seat.

I have read your bible and have understood it and seen it for what it is. It's not the word of God; it's the product of ancient mythological thinking and beliefs. The bible was written, compiled, edited, and produced entirely by man. Thinking that you have a conduit to insights not available to anyone else is just arrogant.

When I was a theist I too lived by my emotions. If I prayed and got that tingly feeling inside I took that as confirmation that God has heard me. Every time I laid hands on someone and they passed out I took that as confirmation of God's power working through me. Every time someone came to me to tell me what God did for them through my ministry I took that as confirmation that I was on the right side of the Lord and properly doing his work.

Watching theists try to rationalize their beliefs is like watching the segment at the circus where the clowns come out and perform all sorts of funny and crazy antics for the entertainment of the crowd. They go out of their way to rationalize God's cruelty to man in the old testament and try to make a monster look like a prince. They are arrogant because they have abandoned reason and as such their idea of reason is not derived through logical thinking but rather through how they process their emotions.

Note: All biblical citations are taken from the New International Version

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The most intolerant religion ever!

Recently while posting comments in an atheist forum I was criticized by a believer for being intolerant for expressing my critiques of the bible. The post was about a cherry picking version of the Bible which I said should be popular with modern day believers. When I challenged him on his religions intolerance by citing scripture he then accused me of cherry picking!

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate through the scriptures that because Christianity is derived from Judaism and is a Jewish sect, it is in fact the most intolerant religion on the face of the earth. If we take the Bible at its word then originally salvation was exclusively for the Hebrews.

3Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. Genesis 17:3-7

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." Matthew 15:24
 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed Romans 15:8

Later on when God rescues the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt he establishes the so called ten commandments with Israel on Mount Sinai. This is where we see the first shades of intolerance towards other gods and religious practices.

3You shall have no other gods before me.
4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God...

Note that verse five is not complete because that part isn't relevant to the point of this post. The last part of verse five refers to the good Lords threats about the consequences of worshiping other gods. So far we have seen God establish a covenant with Abram/Abraham and then later after liberating the Israelites from slavery in Egypt we see him laying down the law.

The thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy is the best example of religious intolerance in the entire bible. It focuses on the penalties for worshiping other gods. Can someone guess what that penalty is? Anyone? Anyone? Death! Here's an excerpt but by all means feel free to read it in its entirety it is short and is only eighteen verses long.

 6If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9You must certainly put them to death. Deuteronomy 13:6-9

Christians might contend that "this was God under the law and that this is only found in the Old Testament. I have anticipated that lame move so here it is.

5Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5

27He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:27-28

An expert in the law asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life and was at Jesus request he recited the law in verse 27. In verse 28 Jesus confirms that he has answered correctly. Jesus also endorsed the Old Testament laws in Matthew 5:17-18

17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished

Paul reminds believers about the truth of the gospel and the consequences of apostasy or teaching and or corrupting the gospel.

6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Galatians 1:6-9

Christianity is one of the most intolerant religions and I feel that I have demonstrated that thoroughly through this post. But I will not stop here. History itself is full of the cruelty and intolerance of Christianity. There is one bible prophecy that I think actually came true and continues to manifest itself even today.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34

The history of the Christian church is full of some of the most heinous crimes man could commit against their fellow man. Once Christians were backed by the Roman empire by a decree from Constantine they set out to cleanse the region of other competing belief systems and even murdered other Christian sects that did not accept their agreed upon creeds. These sects were labeled heretics and were subsequently persecuted and destroyed. The various inquisitions carried out by the church were really all about politics and world dominance. 

After the inquisitions we hear of the war with Islam also known as the Crusades. Which in all reality was nothing more than an extension of the inquisitions. World dominance was the goal and Islam was and still is Christianity's most formidable opponent to date. Later you hear about the Salem witch hunts and even in our United States we still have some ancient laws in our books that reflected Christian beliefs about morals and society. 

We already tried a theocracy and history has shown us that when religion is backed by the power of government and state it never works. I'm sure that if that ever happened today that Christians would outlaw everything that went against their ideas of morals and try to force feed their beliefs on everyone else. They would probably go as far as outlawing all other competing religions and try to unify the church by bringing together and or eliminating other sects that don't agree with the dominant branch of Christianity. Would they go as far as murder again? I can't really tell. But Christianity has demonstrated throughout history that it cant be trusted. 

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902)

Note: All biblical citations are taken from The New International Version.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah

20Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” Genesis 18:20-21

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah if taken literally is yet another biblical tale riddled with myths and absurdities that defy reason. The biblical citation above in my view dispels the myth that the biblical deity is omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere). The fact that he physically had to come down to see if what he had heard about Sodom and Gomorrah was true is evidence of this.

1The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Genesis 18:1
22The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
Genesis 18:22-23

The texts cited above yet again dispel another biblical myth regarding God. 

20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Exodus 33:20

When Moses requested to see God he told him the words cited above. Yet here we have Abraham talking with the Lord as if he were talking to an ordinary man! According to the scriptures no man has seen God and lived. Yet somehow Abraham seems to have amazingly escaped this fate. Not only did he see him he walked and spoke with him as he would any other person!

God basically told Moses that if he found x amount of righteous people in Sodom that he would spare the city. Abraham was able to bring God down to ten righteous people and then they parted ways. Genesis 19 narrates the tale of Lot and his escape from certain death for finding favor with the Lord.

The deeds of a righteous man of God

 What does it take to be a righteous man? The answer is simple; someone who lives according to the law and obeys God in all his ways. God sends two angels to Sodom and they are met by Lot who compels them to dine at his home and spend the night. When the men in town found out that Lot had two male guests they wanted to rape them. This is where we see the righteousness of Lot shine forth.

5They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”6Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” Genesis 19:5-8

You don't believe it? Read it again. Lot offered his own daughters to a crowd of rapists in order to protect his guests! Lot was told to flee the city as the angels revealed to him what were God's intentions for the city. Lot fled with his wife and two daughters but his sons in law refused to leave thinking that Lot was nuts.

As they fled they were instructed not to look back no matter what they heard yet Lot's wife did look back and paid for her disobedience by being turned into a pillar of salt! As a result of that Lot was left alone with his two daughters. They initially fled to a small town called Zoar but for some reason they did not stay. The bible says they were fearful to stay at Zoar so they fled to the mountains and took up residence in a cave. 

After being with dad for a bit the girls got together and had a discussion.

31One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.” Genesis 19:31-32

As planned they both got their good father drunk and took turns sleeping with him! Can someone say incest?! The ending of the story is the most shocking part of this story so brace yourselves! I will let the good book tell you the rest.

36So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab ; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi ; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

Now you know where the Moabites and the Ammonites came from; the incestuous relationships between Lot and his daughters! So tell me Mr. Christian how is it that this book you call the word of God is supposed to be our guide to morality again? 

To sum it all up we have learned several things. The biblical deity is neither omnipresent nor omniscient. Lot was not as righteous as we were led to think. Incest was okay back then since God did not punish Lot for being drunk nor the girls for tricking him into a sexual relationship that eventually led to pregnancy. 

Note: All biblical citations are from the New International Version 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Highly recomended books on three categories of belief!

Not too long ago I suggested a list of books both for theists and atheists alike. The former would be able to see cogent arguments against the veracity of their beliefs, while the latter could learn to counter religious arguments using logic and reason as your guide to rational conclusions.

You may find these books and others by this author here.

The first three books deal with the most common Christian arguments for belief as presented by philosophers and apologists. The last book is a concept discussed in the previous books but for some reason some people; specifically, the very deluded just don't seem to grasp such a simple idea. Finally, you could visit the authors blog at : debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com

These next books are in my opinion the best books that deal with the historicity of Jesus Christ.

Two great books that make the case the Jesus may not have existed as an historical figure. The first book makes the case against the existence of Christ while the second is an expanded version of the first where the author also replies to criticisms of the first book. You can also visit this authors blog and purchase these books and others directly through this link: http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/

These last books are on the historicity of the origins of the bible and their reliability both from the analysis of the texts themselves and  archeology. 

The first of these books is a classic on textual analysis by eminent biblical scholar Richard Elliot Friedman. He basically deals with the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). For a thorough analysis of the New Testament and its reliability the second book is a great place to start with. New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman analyzes and dissects how the New Testament came about and what changes and possible alterations were made in the texts by biblical scribes and copyist. Finally, the last of these books focuses on the historicity behind ancient Israel and the when and where the bible was written.

All of these books can be found by author or title search on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or any other online book retailer of your choice. Remember that the more you read the more you know and that the more you know the more you grow. 

I've always made it a habit to see both sides of the arguments so if you are so inclined to do so you may consider reading some of the books these authors suggest in the various bibliography's in these books. This is not a definitive list but it is in my opinion the best starting point for anyone looking to learn more about these three specific fields of Jewish/Christian studies as they relate to the bible and what people generally believe.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

On the supernatural

Supernatural : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil 

The definition above is taken from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary. It is quite self explanatory and simple enough, but I felt it would be needed for the specific purpose of this post. One of the advantages that the world of the supernatural has over naturalism is that it is beyond the reach of the natural world and therefore unexplainable by natural means. 

Naturalism : a theory denying that an event or object has a supernatural significance; specifically : the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena 

Naturalism on the other hand would be the opposite position of the supernatural. It implies that all phenomena can be explained by natural scientific laws. Naturalism does not except any claims on faith or unverifiable beliefs such as the existence of gods, demons, angels, or even a supernatural realm of existence beyond our ability to detect them. 

The idea or belief in the Christian God or any god for that matter, falls under the realm of the supernatural and is therefore outside the reach of science.To make matters worse it is because of this that God cannot be objectively nor empirically verified.

Empirical : capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment 
Objective : expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations 

It is because of this very reason that I don't put much stock in philosophical arguments about the biblical God, his attributes, or his origins. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all derive their ideas of what god is based on their respective so called holy texts. Judaism is the source and the two latter religions based their writings off of the first. I have always contended that man derives his ideas about gods by positing god in place of those phenomena which in their times were not yet understood naturally. 

The fact that these texts self promote by claiming within the texts themselves that they are either god breathed or in some way inspired makes these claims in my eyes even more suspicious. 

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29
 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16

"Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication-- after that it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it can not be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to ME, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him." Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason.

This is one fact that any logical and reasonable person will be obligated to accept regardless off their personal feelings on the matter. The Torah, Bible, or Koran are all based on revelation and it is because of this very fact that they cannot be verified. To us as Paine has stated it is no longer a revelation but hearsay. As a rational person you are not obligated to believe in someones claims of holy revelations or contact with deities etc. In our case matters are even more complicated by the fact that the various sources (persons/authors) of the myths are long gone and so their integrity about what they claimed to have seen or experienced cannot be put to the test.

Aside from the mention of some actual historical places mentioned in the scriptures and that are in fact verifiable by archeology it is still impossible to verify the miraculous claims of the events that supposedly took place in those locales. Claims like the Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds parting so that the Hebrews can cross it as if on dry land, or the collapse of the so called walls of Jericho which by the way archeology has not found any traces of these walls. They have found Jericho but the evidence does not support the claim that the city was surrounded by an impenetrable wall.

Miraculous claims themselves fall under the realm of the supernatural and therefore cannot be conclusively verified by history. The fact that they are so far back in the past and that they are not a natural, repeatable and quantifiable events makes it impossible to recover them and check them for authenticity. The supernatural realm is the most convenient place for gods to exist for the simple fact that we cannot detect it and are thus left with only one choice; and that is to accept those claims by faith alone.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Christian Invasion

First off let me state my purpose for creating this blog. The main reason I decided to create this blog is because when I was a theist I had nowhere to turn to for advice or no one to speak with regarding my doubts about my beliefs. When I talked to fellow ministers including my pastor I got the same useless response. "That's the devil attacking you, resist the temptations and rebuke any contradictory thoughts as soon as they come into your mind." These exchanges usually ended with them praying for God's spirit to strengthen me both mentally and spiritually that I may resist the temptations of the evil one!

Prayer is useless!

In those days there was no internet or easily accessible sources of information. Even the public library was limited as to books on atheism or even higher criticism. I literally took this journey from theist to atheist on my own. Ironically, it was a book by a Christian author called 'Charismatic Chaos' by John F. MacArthur Jr. that helped me the most. I began to doubt the authenticity of my subjective "spiritual" experiences and this book confirmed a lot of what I had learned on my own about the gifts of the Spirit and what they represented. It was this book that helped me shed the so called miraculous aspects of my beliefs that eventually led me to move forward with my research.

This book changed my life forever!

One of the biggest issues I struggled with as a theist was the supernatural aspects of my religion. I was a hardcore Pentecostal evangelist who fully believed in the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. My biggest challenge was overcoming the very powerful and genuine fear that I felt due to my indoctrination combined with my subjective experiences that at that time I believed confirmed my beliefs.

 In the same manner that theists write books and put up discussion forums and blogs to help one another with their beliefs, I too felt that I needed to do the same for my fellow atheists. This blog serves a dual purpose: it is mainly geared toward people who find themselves in a similar situation as I was once in. It is my hope that my experiences with charismatic fundamentalist Christianity will help others who also have doubts to overcome their fears and escape the menacing grip of their delusions.

There is also a second group that I hope to reach with this blog: atheist who were never nor have ever been suckered in by the lie that is Christianity. These types of atheists have responded to my blog in a positive way and it seems to help them grasp through my descriptions of my experiences how powerful this delusion truly is. It is not as easy to understand how a rational person such as myself could get caught up in this type of delusion but in reality it is not that hard.

I don't mind debating with theists about their beliefs versus mine for instance, as long as it's done with respect for one another, and that in the end we can at least agree to disagree. But when theists come to my blog with the intent of antagonizing me or my readers, then that is where I draw the line. It is reasonable for me to share my experiences freely online just as it is for theists to do the same. I don't believe in a god or any supernatural beings at all, but I don't go trolling theists blogs or discussion forums to express my views. That is why I have my own little slice of the internet where I feel at home and I can freely express my views without fear of offending anyone.

If I do by chance happen to offend the delicate natures of theists the world over then they have a very simple solution. They can leave and never come back to my blog again. It's sort of like watching television; if you don't like whats on then change the channel! It seems theists are not happy just walking down the street handing out biblical tracts, preaching in public parks and sidewalks, or as some of them prefer going door to door. They want to limit the internet as a place of free expression as well!

It's not enough that they want to influence our politics to coincide with the ridiculousness of their beliefs, nor that they want to undermine the hard work of real scientists with their absurd ideas of creationism being taught in our public schools alongside evolutionary theory. Today's Christians are no different than the Christians that lived during the time of the inquisitions. The only exception is that back then they were the law, and they used their power to the fullest by murdering anyone who dared oppose or speak out against them.They even murdered other Christian sects that did not agree with their established creeds and called them heretics or apostates. Due to the many advancements of our American laws and the limited protection of our Constitutional amendment for the separation of church and state they have not been able to carry out what they would like to.

I will make my point clear right here and right now. Theists, you are all welcome here to comment and share your views with myself or my readers, but you must do so with respect. As you demand respect of your beliefs I too demand respect of mine. Remember where you are, this is an atheist blog and you are outsiders here but at the same time I consider you as my guests. Just as guests are expected to be on their best behavior when they are visiting a friends house I expect the same from you when you are visiting me here.

I don't make a habit of visiting Christian web blogs or forums because I honestly don't believe that there is anything that anyone can tell me about God, Jesus, the Bible, etc. that I don't already know. I have no interest in arguing on what I would consider to be hostile territory, I tend to like the home court advantage. But even in the home court I try my best to treat my guests with respect and cordiality. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Euthyphro Dilemma/Not such a dilemma at all.

Plato's famous dilemma concerning the nature of goodness is still being raised today as a serious challenge to Christianity. Is an act right because God says it's so, or does God say it's so because it's right? The question first surfaces in Plato's dialog Euthyphro

I have heard this argument several times before. It's funny that it's even called a dilemma because the bible is full of examples that are in my opinion self-refuting. This is only a dilemma to a Christian apologist and not to someone who reads the bible with the eyes of reason and not faith or fear. 

Christians love to cite the ten commandments which appear in the scriptures twice, once in Exodus 20:3-17 and in Deuteronomy 5:7-21. The sixth commandment is that "You shall not murder." This is how it is stated in the New International Version but other versions have it as thou or you shall not kill.

Murder: The unlawful killing of another human being without justification or excuse. 

I actually had a theist try and defend the murderous actions of God as they are described in the scriptures. They justify murders perpetrated by God personally or by his followers under his command by stating that those that died deserved it because they were sinners! Therefore it was not murder it was God meting out justice.

That same theist even tried to make an argument based on distinguishing the meaning of the words to kill and murder! This line of reasoning prompted me to write an entire post in response in order to tear that argument to shreds.

 It should read: You shall not murder/kill unless I say so

1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”3So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites so that they may carry out the Lord’s vengeance on them. 7They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every man 17Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. Numbers 31:1-3,7,17-18

Now as you can see by simply reading this text as is that in this case it was God who commanded the slaughter of the Midianites and it was up to Moses and his people to carry out the good Lords "vengeance" on them. What was their sin? 16“They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people." Numbers 31:16 because they led the Israelites to worship other gods, yet another perfect example of religious intolerance! 

One more important thing to point out here is that God was unjust in carrying out vengeance on the Midianites because he did not make the people take responsibility for their own sins. If anything he should have punished the guilty and not the Midianites for sharing their religion with the Israelites. The Midianites did not force the Israelites to worship their gods they willingly did so. Yet believers still insist that their god is just and continue to try to make a case for his many crimes against humanity.

God made it clear in the ten commandments that he was a jealous God and that worshiping other gods would be a sin that would be punishable by death. Although the penalty is not stated directly in the commandments it is carried out throughout the biblical narrative on numerous occasions. 

So let's take one more look at the question again:  Is an act right because God says it's so, or does God say it's so because it's right? 

I think with just this one example I've clearly demonstrated that that question answers itself. An act is right because God says it is. But there are occasions in the scriptures where he overrides his own commandments and commits acts or uses the Israelites to carry out acts that are considered and have been declared by God as sinful. But on those particular occasions it wasn't sinful because they were being again commanded by God to do so.   

Note: All citations of scripture are derived from the New International Version  (©2011)