Cherry-Picking Jesus

The Bible is full of contradictions, and anyone can build a God or Jesus in their own image by cheery-picking the parts they like.

The character of Jesus as relayed in the Bible is a mixed bag. It is NOT a consistent message of peace, love, and understanding, despite what so many seem to want to believe.

Matthew 10:36: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.”

Luke 14:26: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

Matthew 15:22-26: “A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.’ Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said. He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.'” [Although, he did eventually help her, he basically calls non-Jewish people “dogs.”]

He curses a fig tree to death for not bearing fruit out of season [Matthew 21:19], and he seems to disregard the poor when he is advised that the costly ointment being used on him could be sold to help them (“The poor you will always have with you” -Mark 14:7).

In Matthew 12:30 and Luke 11:23, Jesus acts like a Sith Lord when he says, “He who is not with me is against me.” Jesus introduces the idea of thought crimes in his Sermon on the Mount. And Jesus is the one who introduces the idea of eternal hell and damnation for nonbelievers (Believe or Burn!).

Also consider that most Christians believe in the idea of the Trinity, that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are one God, that they are “co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial, and each is God, whole and entire.”

However confusing this might seem to be, it means that Jesus is also responsible for all the mean, nasty, insane, and genocidal stuff the character God was supposed to have done in the Old Testament as well.

So despite how much liberal Christians might LOVE to find ways to call conservative Christians hypocrites and conservative Christians might LOVE to reinterpret the nicer bits, they both overlook the fact that there are enough contradictions in the Bible (and enough different ways of interpreting it) to make Jesus/God into whoever you would like them to be by cherry-picking whichever parts you like best.

Sacrifice? Not Much.

Today is the day Christians celebrate the idea that a God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself.

So giving this story EVERY possible benefit of the doubt, one might ask, “How much of a sacrifice was it really???”

Plenty of other people have suffered worse, and you would probably have people lined up for MILES to be sacrificed like that if they knew in 2-3 days they would be resurrected as the Supreme Being of the Universe forever afterwards.

Jesus: “Well, it was fun while it lasted. I think I’ll go back to being the Supreme Being of the Universe now.”

Easter

According to Wikipedia, “Easter is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. It is believed by the Christians to be the resurrection of Jesus, which Christians believe occurred on the third day after his crucifixion around AD 33.”

In fact, it might be said that Christianity stands or falls based on whether or not the resurrection of Jesus actually occurred.

The “evidence” is sketchy.

Jesus isn’t credited with writing anything himself and there are no contemporary accounts of his life or death. The earliest texts mentioning him come from “Paul the Apostle.” Paul never met Jesus, and Paul’s first writings are dated roughly 15-20 years after Jesus’ supposed death (and Paul doesn’t reveal any knowledge of Jesus’ birth, or much of his life or his ministry, so he isn’t a good source for an historical Jesus).

Paul relays stories of people who he says Jesus appeared to after his death and ends this list with himself (1 Corinthians 15). It is certainly unclear if he is describing some kind of “spiritual vision” or an actual bodily resurrection since he includes his experience on equal footing with the other appearances (and his experience seems to have been of the former type).

The four so-called “Gospels”–which are supposed to be the primary accounts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection–were written even later, decades after the fact (and none of those were written by actual eye-witnesses). [We can include the “Acts of the Apostles” here as well.]

We do not have the original copies of any of these texts. The earliest sufficiently complete copies we have come hundreds of years after the supposed events. They are fragmentary and are copies of earlier copies, which are themselves copies of earlier copies, and so on, to an unknown degree removed from the originals. Comparisons of the various copies that we do have indicate variations between them and indicate that copying errors occurred.

The sudden appearance of new sections of text in later copies (text that doesn’t appear in any earlier copies) suggest that some things were added later and were most likely not contained in the original versions. This opens up the possibility that additions were made before the earliest copies available to us as well.

Even the originals, from which the flawed copies are derived, were written years and/or decades after the supposed events took place. None of them were written by actual eye-witnesses, so they are second-hand accounts at best. They are actually even further removed from the supposed events than that, either based on prior writings that are lost to us and/or oral traditions that were passed down over time. [The reliability of stories passed down orally should be is suspect to anyone who has ever played the game “Telephone.”] Additionally, the original authorship of the various texts is entirely unknown (except for some of the ones said to be written by Paul).

The various texts that we are left with are in conflict with one another in many details regarding the events that supposedly took place. They are also in conflict with what we know about the history, culture, and traditions of that time, place, and people.

They include accounts that are suspiciously similar to other earlier stories that were told about other god-men that we now consider mythological, and these accounts claim various extraordinary and supernatural events taking place that most of us would consider wild, outrageous, and unbelievable were they to be told about something happening in today’s world with no more evidence than what we have here.

Even if we assume that Jesus existed and that the whole story wasn’t an invention, distortion, or in any way embellished, that the written translations were more or less uncorrupted and somewhat accurate translations from the original texts, and that the original texts were based on accurate reports of more or less uncorrupted and somewhat accurate oral accounts given in good faith by actual eye-witnesses (which is quite a lot to assume), there is still the possibility that the witnesses were mistaken or deceived.

So we have flawed translations of conflicting reports by biased and/or anonymous authors who were relaying hand-me-down hearsay-accounts of wild, extraordinary, and supernatural events given by unsophisticated witnesses, who were possibly duped, mistaken, or lying (if the authors themselves weren’t fabricating or embellishing, which appears likely), and that are suspiciously similar to earlier stories circulating at the time which we now consider unbelievable mythology.

This kind of “evidence” would be laughed out of any court of law today.

It is certainly not much to base your life on.

Occum’s Razor and common sense suggest that there are any number of other more rational/natural explanations for these accounts of supposed events than the one Christians believe.

I think it unlikely that most Christians would even believe it, if they were presented with this evidence for the first time as adults and not brought up to believe it as children when they were most impressionable.

Regardless, as Carl Sagan said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

In this case, we have some very extraordinary claims which lack even the minimal requirements for evidence of even ordinary claims.

PS: Resurrection Myth Development

While I’ll not get into the conflicting resurrection story details found in the various Gospels, I’d just like to review how the resurrection myth developed over time in the Gospels themselves….

In Mark (the oldest gospel), you have an empty tomb and a young man in a white robe to tell what has happened, saying Jesus would be seen in Galilee. In Matthew there is an earthquake and the young man has turned into an angel blazing like lightning, flying down from above to zap a couple of guards and roll away the stone to the tomb with one hand, then saying Jesus would be seen in Galilee (but instead, he shows on up right away and repeats what the angel said). In Luke, the one boy is now two men in dazzling raiment, but rather than Galilee, the place to see the visions has become Jerusalem. Then some more time goes by and we get to the story of John (the last gospel) where the boy in Mark has become two angels!! and Jerusalem is again the place to see visions.

Also, as the myth grows, we see Jesus go to more and more trouble to prove that he has a physical body. In Mark, he isn’t there. In Matthew, they grab at his feet. In Luke, he asks his disciples to touch him and eats some fish. In John, he shows his wounds, breathes on people, and lets Thomas put his fingers into the wounds themselves.

It is as if the authors have more and more they want to try to prove about the resurrection, so they keep adding more details and taking it further and further.

Now it has been taken so far that it has become The Greatest Lie Ever Told.

PPS: Matthew’s Resurrection Zombies

Some of my favorite humorous parts of the Bible are the fabrications “Matthew” spreads regarding the aftermath of the resurrection…

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. The graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” – Matthew 27:51-53

Matthew is the only one to report any of this. None of the other Gospel writers mention it, and there is no extra-Biblical support for it (as you would imagine there should be for such an extraordinary event).

One of the funniest commentaries about this I’ve ever read is from Thomas Paine in his “Age of Reason.” He sounds almost like Mark Twain here….

“It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterward, and who it was that saw them — for he is not hardy enough to say he saw them himself; whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, he-saints and she-saints; or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their dresses; whether they went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought actions of criminal conduct against the rival interlopers; whether they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves.”

Things To Ponder…

#1

What kind of proof could there ever possibly be for atheists for an omni-max Supreme Being as imagined by believers?

Arthur C. Clarke once proposed that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Suppose a more advanced civilization wanted to fool us into thinking “the” omni-max Supreme Being God was making itself known to us? How would be able to tell the difference? In order for us to really “know,” if it was some all-knowing being or not, wouldn’t we have to be all-knowing ourselves? Even if it was able to prove it had supernatural abilities (or was supernatural itself) somehow, it would always be possible that there were a whole host of other supernatural beings that were superior.

#2

How could any being ever really ever know if it knew everything? How could any being ever really know for certain it was all-knowing? How could it ever know that there was nothing beyond its own knowledge? How does one know what one might not be aware of? So, even if some being thought it could be the all-knowing omni-max Supreme Being, how could it ever know it was for sure? It might be that as far as it could tell it was, but it could never really know for certain. And if that’s the case (and EVEN IF IT’S NOT), how could any human (who is clearly not all-knowing) think that they know something else is? In other words, wouldn’t you have to be all-knowing yourself in order to know if something else was?

#3

Let’s assume there is some Supreme Being God for argument’s sake. Why should be necessarily worship it? Maybe it’s “evil” as far as we can tell, or maybe it doesn’t have our best interests at heart. Just because it might have made us, does it necessarily follow that we should worship or love it? Shouldn’t it still have to gain our trust or give us good reason to have some affection for it? If it seems to be against us and our future advancement, shouldn’t we contest it? It seems to me that as far as we’re concerned, we are what matters, and if there is some being who has other interests that we must be sacrificed for, it needs to sell us on the importance of that sacrifice, or that being’s interests should be disregarded, and an effort should be made for our own interests instead.

In the Beginning….

This was published by The Humanist for the Humanist Network News on May 13, 2010.

In the Beginning….

…there was void, or chaos, or nothing, or everything and nothing, or water, or darkness, or wind, or mist, or a mist of lights, or air and water, or a tree, or a shell, or a blue lotus, or an egg, or many eggs, or many regions, or different planes, or a sky world, or heaven, or heaven and earth together, or heaven and water together, or six heavens and six hells, or ice and fire, or a supreme formless Entity, or several Entities, or Tao, or some combination thereof with various modifications.

In this primordial Initial State, either Kamui, Udan, Hadau, Pangu, Mbombo, Mangala, Damballah, Olurun, Unkulunkulu, Hiranyagarbha, Purusha, Brahma, Vahiguru, Ptah, Dayuni’si, Allah, Jehovah, Tu-chai-pai, Maasaw, Jamahara, Marduk (or Assur), Atum, JoMulJu, Gitche Manitou, Ahura Mazda, Con Tiqui Viracocha, Esaugetuh Emissee, Inktomi, Coatlique, Chaos, a Spirit, the “King Above the Sky,” the “Grandfather of All Things,” the “Holy Supreme Wind,” the Dreamtime gods, a supreme formless Entity and the Archetypal Man, Izanagi and Izanami, Ranginui and Papatuanuku, Langit and Linaw, Tepeu and Gucamatz, Jehovah and Elohim, Olodumare and Obatala, Niflheim and Muspelheim and Ginnungagap, Nu/Naunet and Amun/Amunet and Kuk/Kauket and Huh/Hauhet, Earth-Initiate and Turtle and Father-of-the-Secret-Society, men and women living in the Sky World, the ground of being, the trickster in the form of Raven, the Goddess, a small bearded man inside a white and yellow disc, a water beetle, a bird, two loons, or some other divine, or supernatural, or superhuman, or extra-human being (or beings) or elemental essence or concept that I might have overlooked…

…either dreamed, spoke, vomited, stole, shed, caused, separated, gathered, blew, churned, collected, stabbed, split, made, impregnated, laid eggs, planted seeds, gave birth, brought forth, arranged, formed, melted, sacrificed itself, was sacrificed by others, masturbated, or some other such action or series of events that eventually resulted in the creation of the universe as we know it.

Whew!

Later, in some cases, either Alcmene, Athena, Chimalman, Coatlicue, Cybele, Devaki, Hera, Hertha, Isis, Juno, Mary, Maya, Nana, Neith, Nutria, Ostara, Rohini, Semele, Shin-Moo, Sochiquetzal, or some other virgin mother whose name is lost to us (or who I may have overlooked), may, or may not have, given birth to other gods or god-men like….

Kukulcan, Huitzilopochtli, Krishna, Horus, Osiris, Serapis, Mars/Ares, Buddha, Lao-kiun, Attis, Dionysus/Bacchus, Quetzalcoatl, Jesus, Adad, Adonis, Apollo, Heracles (“Hercules”), Alcides, Baal, Bali, Beddru, Crite, Deva Tat, Hesus, Indra, Jao, Krishna, Mikado, Mithra, Odin, Prometheus, Quetzalcoatl, Salivahana, Tammuz, Thor, Wittoba, Xamolxis, Zeus’s children, Zarathustra/Zoroaster, Zoar, or a dozen or more others I missed, many of whom were either crucified or executed in sacrifice for mankind.

From there it gets more complicated. In fact, were I to continue, it may become entirely incomprehensible.

What I attempted to do is combine stories from many of the various beliefs of the past and present. The point is to show how many there are (and these aren’t all of them by a long shot).

They can’t all be true, so how do I determine which one to believe in? I’ve been told my “eternal soul” might be at stake and I don’t want to bet on the wrong horse after all.

Should I pick whichever one is the oldest? I don’t know which one that might be since many were passed down orally for many years before they were written down. The oldest ones might have been lost by now anyway.

Should I pick whichever one has the largest number of adherents? I’m not sure that would be right. There have been times in the past that more people believed something different than they do today. Christianity has the largest number of adherents now, but that wasn’t always the case. Did the truth change at the moment belief in Christianity exceeded whatever beliefs were more popular before it? If Islam overtakes Christianity in number of adherents in the future (considering it is growing faster), would that make a difference in whether or not it’s true?

Also, since the majority of the world’s population doesn’t believe in Christianity would that outweigh the fact that it had the largest number of adherents? What if people stopped believing in it entirely?

OK, I just sent my Southern Baptist brother an email. I asked him hypothetically if in 5,000 years (more or less) no one believed in Christianity anymore, would that mean it was wrong.

He said no.

Although this in no way constitutes a scientific survey by any stretch of the imagination, I suspect this would be the opinion of most believers. Obviously there have been many things in the past that most people believed that turned out to be wrong, so I can’t decide this based on the number of adherents.

I guess that rules out my next question; that is: “Could I dismiss all the ones no one believes in anymore simply because no one believes them?”

It would also rule out my question: “Should I decide by whichever one was oldest that still had adherents?”

Should I believe in whichever one is the most recent? Since new religions keep popping up, I would have to expect to have to change my beliefs every so often. That doesn’t seem to be very smart.

What if I picked based on what my parents’ believed? Would that make sense? I guess that’s no way to tell which one is true for sure. It appears that believing what your parents’ believed has resulted in people coming to many different conclusions.

I think Newton was a pretty smart guy… should I choose based on what he believed? I know there have been other very intelligent people that had other beliefs, so I can’t go by that.

What if I picked based on what most people around me believed so that I won’t be shunned or ridiculed? I don’t think that would be very courageous or any more likely to result in me choosing correctly.

Should I pick based on which one I like best? Would that be the best way to decide which one is true? I know from experience that the truth about something is not always the most appealing thing I might want to believe. What if I pick one I really like and it turns out to be wrong? I might spend eternity in hell-fire or something.

Maybe I should believe the one that makes the most terrible threats for not believing it? If I do that at least I’ll know I won’t suffer the worst fate among all the options….

The problem with that is that there are several of them that seem equally bad. Also, what if a new one comes along that threatens something worse?

What if I just come up with my own? Evidently some people have done it; why not me?

I suppose coming up with my own wouldn’t necessarily make it true (no matter how fun it might be).

What if I put a list of all the gods I know down on paper, close my eyes, and ask for guidance before I put my finger down somewhere on the page without looking?

Hold on….

It looks like the old Korean god JoMulJu wins! Believers have always told me to ask for guidance and put my faith in something and I would get an answer. If that is true, JoMulJu is the one true God!

Hmmm… The problem with that is it seems when other people do it they get other responses. Maybe that isn’t the best way to do it either.

Are there any of them that seem to have anything special about them, something to recommend them above the others? Hmmm….

Let’s see… several claim that their prophecies have been fulfilled, so I can’t go by that. There are many that claim a Son of God figure, death and resurrection, healings, revelations, miracles and such things, so I can’t go by that. We have already ruled out judging by whichever one is the oldest, has most adherents, is oldest that still has adherents, is most recent, is most threatening, is most appealing….

What else?

Can I judge based on the effects various religions have on adherents? Maybe that is the something special I could look for?

Buddhism might be the least violent, but then there are the Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses…. Christians might have the most material wealth overall, but that seems like it might be contrary to their own scriptures…. Jews seem to have survived as a people for a long time despite facing some really harsh attacks over the years…. Islam seems to be more dynamic lately….

It seems there are some unique things about each one, but how do I pick which unique thing is more important (or relevant), or if being unique in some way is any more likely to make something true?

Can I eliminate some based on how silly or absurd they seem? Some of them seem pretty strange: a god vomiting the sun, a god being impregnated by an obsidian knife, a god placing land on the back of a golden frog, a god making a woman out of a bear, a god making a man out of clay, a god making a woman out of a man’s rib…. If you get into them you find everything from winged horses and virgin births to “stopping” the sun and parting the seas. Most of them are filled with hard to believe, miraculous, or supernatural claims.

I guess if I had to pick one that had the least absurd aspects, Buddhism might come out on top (or maybe some of the ones I didn’t cover like Jainism or the Baha’i Faith).

But some may make the argument of fideism, that is, credo quia absurdum or “I believe it because it is absurd.” So I might not be able to rule out something just because it seems absurd.

Can I judge by their “holy” books?

I’ve read most all of the holy books of the major religions. They all seem to have internal problems that their adherents have to do tortured and convoluted back-flips to explain. Another problem is if I pick any one of them, I will find their adherents interpreting the same holy book differently, which leads to different sects within each of the various beliefs….

That compounds my dilemma. Even if I pick one out of these, I’ll then need to pick among the different sects. There might be just enough difference between the Baptists’ and the Catholics’ requirements for salvation, for example, that it would significantly affect my fate. And then there are all the different Baptists, and the different individual interpretations even within the same congregation…but I’ll not worry about that right now.

Some people claim to have had personal revelations from their God, but you can find people claiming personal revelations in every religion that has adherents. I’ve had my own epiphany moments, but I’ve never had some supernatural being providing revelations to me even when I was open to receive them. The only person I found I was talking to when I prayed as a kid was myself. Even if I did have some God come down and talk to me, how could I distinguish it from some mental delusion (or some powerful demon posing just to lead me astray)?

There are people in every active religion that think they hear their God speaking to them or claim some personal revelation, so I can’t go by that.

So how do I pick? If I want to bet that one of these is correct, if I want to bet that there is some absurd or supernatural explanation (rather than a natural one that we don’t yet understand), how do I decide?

See, it isn’t a 50/50 chance here. It isn’t like I can just bet there is a God rather than bet there isn’t to cover my ass (Pascal’s Wager), I’ve got to decide which supernatural explanation of the ones that have been proposed is the correct one (and I’ve got to consider the possibility that there is a supernatural explanation that no one has conceived of yet — or that there could be some supernatural explanations that might never be conceived — that could be the correct one).

I know there will be some believers that read this and think they have some convincing reason for their belief that I didn’t cover. I’ve been studying this most of my life and I haven’t seen or heard a convincing one yet. There is nothing they can say that I haven’t heard something similar about regarding another religion. If there is something they think is unique, then believers of other religions have some other unique thing they can say about their religion as well.

“True” believers of any of these religions should try to talk to “true” believers of some of the other religions. If they spend some time listening to the other believer’s argument, I’m sure they will find things that will seem absurd to them, things that don’t make sense, and things that appear outrageous. That is how they all sound to me. If they can understand why they don’t buy what a “true” believer of another religion is saying (or why they reject most all the other beliefs I’ve touched on here), they will begin to understand why I’m not buying what they are saying.

I’m sitting here in a default position of not actively believing in any of these, just like a newborn baby. I’ve been told I should take a “leap of faith” in one direction or another into belief, but how do I decide which way to leap? It seems to me that leaping in the wrong direction might be worse than not leaping at all.

I don’t actively have to do anything not to believe something, I don’t have to believe one thing to not to have a belief in something else, and I don’t even have to know with absolute metaphysical certainty if something is true (or not true) not to believe it.

What would cause me to take such a leap into belief?

I would have to be provided some compelling reason and, as Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Until and unless someone or something provides me with that evidence, I see no reason to move from my default position.

I don’t have to prove that all these beliefs (and the gods that go with them) aren’t true. If people ask me why I don’t believe in God, I have a right to ask them which one they are talking about. Since some people have a different idea about what they mean by God (e.g.: Nature, a “force” as opposed to a being, etc.) than anything I’ve covered here, I think I have a right to ask them to define what they mean by “God,” so I will know what they are asking me. If they don’t want to define what they mean, then how can I know what they are talking about? I’m not aware that I possess any mind-reading abilities.

If they can describe what they mean, then I might be able to answer them. If they can’t, then the best answer I can give is that I’ve not seen any compelling reason or evidence that would motivate me to take that “leap of faith” into belief in any one of these many supernatural options.

On the most basic level; theism is “a belief in a God or gods,” a-theism is “without a belief in a God or gods.”

I guess that makes me an atheist.

The Gods Themselves

This was published by The Humanist for the Humanist Network News on June 9, 2010.

There are thousands and thousands of supernatural beings that people have believed in over time.

Here are some of the ones that start with the letter “A” (feel free to skim):

A, A’as, A’ra, A-a, Aa Maakhuer, Aabit, Aaghu Gugu, Aah, Aahmes Nefertari, Aakuluujjusi, Aasith, Aataentsic, Aatxe, Ab Kin Xoc, Aba khatun Baikal, Abaangui, Abaasy, Abaddon, Abandinus, Abarta, Abassi, Abat[t]ur, Abeguwo, Abello (Abellio), Abeona, Abere, Abgal (Apkallu), Abgal, Abhijit, Abhijnaraja, Abhiyoga, Abira, Abnona, Abora, Abowie, Abraxas (Abraxis, Abrsax), Abu, Abuk, Abunciada (Abondia, Habondia), Abundantia (Abundita), Abziu, Acala, Acat, Acatl (Omacatl) , Acaum (Ah Can Cum), Acaviser, Acca, Acca Larentia, Accasbel, Acchupta, Acco, Achelois, Achiyalatopa, Achlae (Achelous, Acleloos, Aclelous), Achtland, Aclla, Acna (Akna), Acolmiztli, Acolnahuacatl, Acoran Gran Canary, Adad, Adamanthea, Adamisil Wedo, Adam[m]as, Adaro, Addanc, Adekagagwaa, Adeona, Adeos, Adhimukticarya, Adibuddha, Adidharma, Adimurti, Aditi, Adityas, Adonis, Adonis, Adrammelech, Adrastea, Adrasteia, Adro, Adroa, Adsullata, Aea, Aeacoc, Aebhel (Aeval), Aebhel Afekan, Aed, Aedos, Aegeria, Aegir, Aelus (Aiolos) , Aengus, Aeolos, Aequitas, Aericura, Aerten (Aerfen, Aeron), Aesculapius (Ascelpius), Aesir, Aesma Daeva, Aestas, Aesun, Aether, Aetna, Aeval, Afekan, Afi, Afreet, Ag’o, Agaman Nibo, Agamede, Agas, Agasaya, Agathos Daimon, Age Fon, Agischanak, Aglaia, Aglibol, Agni, Agni Hindu, Agnikumara, Agnostos Theos, Agrona, Agrotera, Agu’gux, Aguara, Agwe, Agwe, Agwe, Agweta, Ah Bolom Tzacab, Ah Bolon Dz’acab, Ah Chun Caan, Ah Ciliz, Ah Cun Can, Ah Hulneb, Ah Kin, Ah Kin Xoc, Ah Kinchil, Ah Kumix Unicob, Ah Mun, Ah Muzecab, Ah Patnar Uinicob, Ah Peku, Ah Puch, Ah Tabai, Ah Uaynih, Ah Unicir Dz’acab, Ah Uuc Ticab, Ah Wink ir Masa, Aha, Ahat, Ahau Chamahez, Ahau Kin, Ahemait, Aheramenmthoou, Ahladini-Sadini (Parvati), Ahmakiq, Ahnt Alis Pok’, Ahnt kai, Ahone, Ahriman, Ahsonnutli, Ahti, Ahuic, Ahulane, Ahura Mazda, Ahurani, Ai Ada, Ai Apec Mochica, Ai Tojon, Ai Tupua’i, Aiakos, Aialila’axa, Aiaru, Aibell, Aibheaeg, Aida Wedo, Aidin, Aido Wedo, Aife (Aoife), Aige, Aijo, Ailsie, Aimend, Ain, Aine of Knockaine, Aino, Airmid, Airsekui, Airyaman, Aisha, Aisha Qandisha, Aittsamka Bella, Aitu, Aitvaras, Aius Locutius, Aizen-Myoo, Aizen-Myoo, Aja, Aja, Ajalamo Yoruba, Ajatar, Ajaya, Ajbit, Aje, Aji Suki Taka Hi Kone, Ajok, Ajtzak, Ajysyt Yakut, Aka, Akasagarbha, Akelos, Aken, Aker, Akerbeltz, Akert khentet auset[s], Akeru, Akewa, Akhushtal, Akkadia (Isara), Akkadia (Sulman[u] Mesopotamia), Akonadi, Akongo, Akras Karelian (Egres) , Aksayajnana-Karmanda, Aksobhya, Aktunowihio, Akuj Akuj, Akusaa, Akycha, Akycha, Al Kahdir N. (Kahdir), Al Lat, Al Shua, Al Uzza, Ala, Ala Ibo, Ala Muki, Alaaye (Olodumare) , Alaghom Naom Tzentel, Alaisiagae, Alako, Alalahe, Alalu Ossetian, Alalus, Alastor, Alatangana Kono, Alaunus, Alauwaimis, Albasta, Albina, Alcis, Alecto, Alecto of Eumenides, Alectrona, Alemona, Alephus, Alfhild, Alfs, Alignak, Alii Menehune, Alisanos, Alk’unta’m Bella, Alkonost, Allah, Allatu[m], Almaqah, Almha, Almoshi, Aloadae (Aloidae), Alom, Alopurbi, Alpanu, Alpheus, Alphito, Altan Telgey, Altria, Aluelp, Aluluei, Am-Heh, Ama, Ama No Uzume, Ama Terasu, Ama-arhus (Amat-Ama-arhus, Arad-Ama-arhus), Ama-Tsu-Mara, Amaethon, Amagandar, Amakandu (Sakka[n]) , Amalthea, Amasagnul, Amaterasu O-Mi-Kami (Amaterasu), Amatsu Mikaboshi, Amaunet, Amayicoyondi, Amba Dravidian, Amberella, Ambikas (Mataras) , Ambisagrus, Ame No Uzume, Ame-No-Kagase-Wo, Ame-No-Mi-Kumari-No-Kami, Ame-No-Minaka-Nushi-No-Kami, Ame-No-Tanabata-Hime-No-Mikoto, Ame-No-Toko-Tachi-No-Kami, Ame-Waka-Hiko, Amelenwa, Amelia, Amen, Ament, Amesha, Ami, Amida, Amimitl, Amitabha, Amitolane, Amm, Amma, Amma, Amma, Ammavaru, Ammit, Ammon (Amen), Amn, Amogahasiddhi, Amoghapasa, Amon (Amun), Amor, Amphion, Amphitrite, Amponyinamoa, Amset (Imset), Amsu, Amun, Amunet, Amurru, Amymone, An, An Zu, Anael, Anahita, Anahita, Anaitis, Anala, Ananke, Ananse, Ananta, Anantamukhi, Anantesa, Anapel, Anasuya, Anat (Anath), Anath, Anatis, Anatu, Anaulikutsai’x Bella, Anbay S., Ancasta, Anceta, Andarta, Andjety, Andrasta Icene, Andriaahoabu, Andriam Vabi Rano, Androgyne, Andromeda, Andvari, Anextiomarus, Angels, Angerona, Angina, Angitia, Angitia, Angpetu Wi, Angru Mainya, Angus, Angus Mac Og, Angus Og, Anguta, Anhouri, Anhur, Ani, Anieros, Anila, Aningan, Anjea, Ankalamman, Anna Kuari, Anna Perenna, Annalia, Annallja Tu Bari, Annapatni, Annapurna, Annis, Anpao, Anqet, Ansa, Ansar, Anshur (Ashur, Asshur), Antaboga, Antai, Anteros, Antevorta, Antheia, Anti, Antu, Anuanaitu, Anubis, Anuket, Anukis, Anulap, Anumati, Anunit, Anunitu, Anunnaki, Anuradha, Anus (Anann, Anu), Anwho, Anyigba, Anzety, Aondo Tiv, Apa, Apacita, Apam Napat, Apap Teso, Apate, Apaturia, Apedmak, Apep, Apesh, Apet, Aphaea, Aphrodisias, Aphrodite, Aphrodite Pandemos, Apis, Apiu, Apo, Apollo, Apolonia, Aponibolinayen, Apophis, Apozanoltl, Appias, Apsaras, Apsu, Apuat, Aquilo, Aquit, Arachne, Aralo (Aparajita, Aray), Aramazd, Aranyani, Aranzahas, Arapacana, Ararat, Araua, Arawa Suk, Arawn (Arawen, Arawyn, Arrawn), Arazu, Archons, Ard Greimme, Ardhanarit savara, Ardra, Arduinna, Ardvi Sura Anahita, Ardwinna, Arebati, Areimanios, Ares, Arete, Argante, Arge, Ari Au Tchesf, Ariadne, Arianrhod, Arianrod, Aricia, Arimanius (Areimaios), Arinna, Aristaeus, Aristatos, Arito, Arjuna, Arma, Armaz, Arna’kuagsak (Nuli’rahak), Arnakua’gak, Arnamentia, Arnemetia, Arom Kafir, Arsan Duolai Yakut, Arsay, Arsu, Artaius, Artemis, Arthapratisamvit, Artio of Muti, Aruna, Arundhati, Aruru, Arvenus, Arya-Tara, Aryaman, Aryong Jong, As, As ava, As-im-babbar (Nanna), Asa Poorna, Asalluha, Asar, Asase Afua, Asase Ya, Asbit, Ascelpius, Asertu, Asgaya Gigagei, Ashera, Asherah, Asherali, Ashi, Ashiakle, Ashima, Ashimbabbar, Ashirat, Ashis, Ashkit, Ashnan (Asnan), Ashtaroth, Ashur, Ashvins, Asi, Asiaq, Asima Si, Asintmah Athabasca, Asira, Asis Suk, Askelpios, Aslea[s], Aso, Asokottamasri, Asopos, Aspalis W., Asrael, Asratum, Assur, Astabis, Astamastara, Astapaios, Astar, Astaroth, Astarte, Astarte, Astarte, Astarte, Asterodeia, Asthertet, Astlik Georgia, Astoreth, Astraea, Astraeos, Astrik, Asuha-No-Kami, Asuras, Asurkumara, Asvayujau, Asvins, At Em, Ataa Naa Nyongmo Gan, Atabei (Attabeira), Ataecina, Atahensic, Atai, Atalacamani, Atanea, Atanea, Atar, Atargatis, Atasamain, Ate, Atea, Aten, Atete, Athena (Athene), Athirat, Athor, Athtart, Atida, Atira, Atius (Tirawa), Atl, Atlacoya, Atlahua, Atlaonin, Atlas, Atma, Atoja, Atropos, Attabeira Atahensic, Attar, Attis, Atua Fafine Tikopia, Atua I Kafika Tikopia, Atua I Raropuka Tikpoa, Atugan, Atum, Atunis, Au, Au Co, Auchimalgen, Audjal, Aufaniae, Augeus, Augralids, Auilix, Aura, Aurita, Aurora, Ausaitis, Auseklis, Auset, Austeja, Auster (Notus), Austrine, Autyeb, Auxesia, Avalokitesvara, Avatar, Avatea, Averruncus, Aversa, Aveta, Avfruvva, Avrikiti Fon, Awitelin Tsita, Awonawilona, Axiocersa, Axo Mama, Aya, Ayaba, Ayas, Ayauhteot, Ayauhteotl, Ayi’ Uru’n Toyoy’n Yakut (Uru’n Ajy Toyo’n), Ayida, Ayiyanayaka, Ayizan, Aylekete (Agbe), Ayt’ar, Ayurvasita, Ayyapan, Azacca, Azapane (Bele), Azele Yaba, Azer Ava, Azi, Aziri, and Azizos.

It is an alphabet soup of supernatural beings up there (aren’t you glad I didn’t go through the whole alphabet?). You could just about stir up some random combination of letters and come up with a god. There are even some different ones with the same name.

Some of these are creator gods; some are chief gods; some are gods of the sun or moon, some are gods of fire, water, rain, and war; some are demons or gods of the underworld; some are gods of storms and other natural catastrophes; some are gods of various human passions or sex; some are gods of the fetus, some are gods of women and children; some of the names are of whole hosts of supernatural beings; some are gods for construction workers, sailors, or other trades; some are local gods; some are gods for potato crops, wine, salmon, etc.; some gods are for toothaches or other pains and illnesses, there are even a couple of gods for bees in this list — and this is an incomplete list of just the ones that begin with “A.”

I didn’t notice a god of incontinence, but I’m pretty sure I could find one if I looked hard enough.

It is funny how you can find gods of water; gods of oceans or seas; gods of rivers, springs, and mists; gods of rain; gods of running or fresh water, etc., all from the same group of people. There seems to have been a lot of gods who were specialists in their fields…. Or should I say field? In many cases, while there might have been a god of the crops (who must have been like an overseer), you could still dig up a god of the potato crop (for example), who was just in charge of that specifically. Of course, he might have to have dealings with the god of the soil or earth, the god of the sun, and the god of the water or the rain (while appeasing the god of the storm or the god of droughts).

In other words, people seemed to have some very specific information about these beings. It wasn’t like some vague notion that there is this god that has been hanging around… or there is this god that has something to do with liquid or growing things. It is like they knew their names and specifically what their areas of responsibility were. They even seemed to know stories about them, their history, their personality types, events in their lives, other supernatural beings with which they interacted, what would make them pleased or angry, and so on. They seemed to know their gods fairly intimately, almost as if they lived around the corner and popped by on occasion to gossip over tea and crumpets.

I don’t guess most of the people reading through this list truly believe that most of these supernatural beings really exist, so where did all this information come from?

I mean, there are a lot of gods here and this is just the tip of the iceberg. That is a lot of detailed information about a lot of supernatural beings that had to come from somewhere. Where did it come from?

Where did they all come from?

If they aren’t real, if the stories aren’t true, then they must have been made-up.

Who made up all these stories?

It seems fairly evident to me (although I expect there will be some who differ), that it was human beings that made this stuff up.

Why did they make it up?

Well, there might be a number of reasons for that, but I would venture to guess the main reason was to explain what they didn’t understand.

Where did all these gods go? Why don’t most people believe in most of them now?

Could it be that as people begin to understand more and more about how nature really worked more rational explanations replaced them?

I can hear some believers making the claim (on one level or another): “But my god is different! He is much more sophisticated than these other gods.”

Yeah? In what way? Wasn’t he originally made of the same stuff as these others were, out of the imagination of the human mind? Old Jehovah, for example, started out as a tribal war god that lived on a mountaintop before he “evolved” into the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, supreme creator God Being that we are presented with today. This conception is more sophisticated only in that he has made himself less available for examination and detection than he supposedly was when people were much more ignorant about the world than they are today. Although he is supposedly more powerful than he was formerly, he uses his power with such subtlety that even the best scientists can’t tell the difference between his actions and events unfolding as they would have if he wasn’t even there at all.

If all these other “lesser” gods have been exposed for the shams they really were when the light of knowledge was pointed in their direction, how are gods people still believe in today any different than these others except that they have managed to retreat into the last refuges of darkness where the light has yet to shine? They have removed themselves not only beyond human detection but beyond all human reason as well. They have become increasingly irrelevant and nonsensical. Yet despite all this, believers claim to know some fairly intimate details about their histories, their natures, their personalities, their desires, what makes them pleased or angry, their plans, how they want us to act, what they have in store for us, etc., etc., but they don’t want to define their god, no sir. It is “beyond human understanding and reason,” they will say.

I see no good reason to take these claims any more seriously than the claims made before about all the other gods.

We haven’t found proof of one supernatural being yet, out of all the ones that now seem to have been demoted to the mythological realm. If we had run across at least one or two of the lesser ones when we were learning about our universe, it might make sense to think we might run across some more powerful ones later. We’ve never captured a demon to study, or an angel that has fallen from the sky. We haven’t ever turned up even an elf or a fairy or any other supernatural thing ever. It looks like in all this time we might have found one scrap of irrefutable evidence of something or anything that was supernatural: a magic wand, a genie in a bottle, a magic hat with an unlimited supply of rabbits….

Finding something like that wouldn’t necessarily prove or disprove a god, but it might demonstrate that supernatural things were at least possible.

Not only is it the case that there is no empirical evidence for whatever god you might believe in, there is no evidence for any god, or gods, or supernatural beings, or supernatural things, or any evidence whatsoever that the word “supernatural” might mean anything more than the word “imaginary.”

If we can’t tell the difference between something that is supernatural and something that is imaginary, then why should we give any more respect for people’s claims of knowledge about a supernatural god than we give for other people’s claims about an imaginary friend?

Questions About the Bible

A  Jehovah’s Witness asked me if I had any questions about the Bible.

Let’s see…

If God is all-knowing, didn’t he know Satan would rebel before he created him? Didn’t he know that Eve would eat the fruit? Didn’t he know in advance that he would banish Adam and Eve from the Garden? Either he knows everything or he doesn’t.

If God is perfect in every respect, not needing anything from any outside source to complete himself, why did he create humans, the universe, etc.?

If God created everything, wouldn’t he be ultimately responsible for what he created (esp. if he knew the end result, being all-knowing and all)? If I put a baby in a crib with a knife, I know that that baby is likely to cut itself. If I am all-knowing, then I would be considered to be even more at fault (responsible) if I put a baby into a crib with a knife and KNEW in advance that it would cut itself. According to the Bible, God places Adam and Eve into a Garden and tells them the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is forbidden. It’s worse than putting a baby in a crib with a knife.

Why would this God punish Adam and Eve for not obeying him if they didn’t know any better before they ate the fruit? Why would he punish their descendants since they weren’t even there? If my father commits a crime, is it justice that my grandchildren have to suffer for it?

If your God created everything and knows everything, isn’t he creating people who he knows will be eternally tormented in hell before he creates them? That seems like a pretty sick and twisted God to me.

Why would a God ALLOW anyone to be eternally tormented for temporal crimes (or so-called “sins”)?

The Bible says that the punishment for eating of the fruit is death (“for in THE DAY that you eat of it, you shall die”). That doesn’t seem to be the actual result. Instead, no one dies right away. Perhaps you could argue that “morality” is what is meant, but that doesn’t seem to be the case either, because God seems worried that they might also eat of the tree of life (“and live forever”). This implies unless they ate of the tree of life, they were already mortal. So, why did God make an empty threat about what would happen if they ate of the fruit of good and evil?

While we’re on that subject, who is God talking to when he says things like, “Behold, the man has become like US, knowing the difference between good and evil” or “Let US make man in our image,” or “Come let US go down, and there confuse their language,” etc.?

That last quote was when God seemed worried that humans might get together to accomplish things that might be some kind of challenge to God himself (“this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible to them”).

He seems kind of afraid that humans might eat of the tree of life and become immortal like he is, so that is the reason they are kicked out of the Garden. Later, he seems to be afraid that they might build a tower that reaches into the heavens and that “nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible to them” if they do, so he confounds their language to stop it (even though, we’ve now build larger buildings than they could have ever built in the past and have sent objects into space much further and still not breached any domain he seems to have been worrying about).

Later, God “regrets” he has made “man,” and he causes a flood to wipe most of us out. How can a being like God is supposed to be “regret” anything? Didn’t he know what was going to happen before he started all this “in the beginning”?

He also claims to be “jealous,” which most human beings consider to be a petty emotion. It’s as if he is “needy” of our worship and approval (not commonly associated with a ‘perfect’ being). And didn’t he know in advance what to expect? Every time he is angry about something it appears he didn’t expect it or know what was going to happen in advance.

This God of yours seems to be more like a petty tyrant in need of absolute obedience and worship, and he doesn’t appear to be all-knowing, all-powerful, or all anything except a petty asshole with superpowers (fearing what humans might accomplish that might challenge him, if he doesn’t keep a close eye on us and knock us down if we get too uppity in his eyes).

We haven’t even gotten out of Genesis yet, and I’m only scratching the surface of the questions I could ask.

Obviously, whoever wrote Genesis wasn’t even there to give an accurate account of what happened. You have to believe whoever wrote it down was “inspired” by the God you believe in in some way. Not only do you not have any idea of who wrote it, you really have no idea if they were really “inspired” or not. You are buying all this on FAITH without any empirical evidence (and it contradicts the empirical evidence that we do have about the origins of the earth). Your FAITH is just another word for credulity. Why should we believe your mythology more than the mythology of thousands of other myths (and religions)?

 

10 Commandments

There are three different versions of the 10 Commandments in the Old Testament and none of them are numbered. The version that is most frequently used is an edited version from Exodus 20 relaying what was on the tablets that Moses smashed. In Exodus 34, the Bible relays the text of the second set of commandments that Moses brought down from the mountain. This is the only version that is explicitly referred to as the “10 Commandments.” Although the Bible says that the text of these tablets contain the same words that were on the first set, they are noticeably different and contain commandments such as “Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread” and “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.” The third version can be found in Deuteronomy 5. It is similar to Exodus 20, but has subtle differences.

Someone might wonder why Moses needed to go back up the mountain to get a new set if they were already recorded, or why the writer seems to have forgotten what was just written just a few chapters earlier, but these kinds of confusions are common in the Bible. I guess God lacked a good proof-reader.

Someone might also question why we don’t use the set of commandments in Exodus 34, and why Christians feel they have any right to edit the first set to make them more palatable and PC. They are presuming to edit the “word of God” after all.

Note that the edited versions that are most often posted omit the seeming endorsement of slavery and visiting the sins of the fathers through the third and fourth generations.

Because the commandments aren’t numbered, Jews, Catholics, and Protestants all edit and number them differently. The Catholics gloss over the Protestant version of the second commandment. Their version goes from “Thou shalt not have strange gods before me” to “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” They make up the difference by splitting the Protestant version of the 10th commandment into two parts (coveting goods and coveting wives).

These are things you never hear about when this issue is covered in the news. I believe that if more people knew that there were three different sets of commandments in the Bible, that the most common version used is edited, and that different faiths or sects numbered them differently, then more people might understand the problematic aspect to posting them when we must resolve which 10 commandments are to be posted (e.g.: whose version are we going to favor over others?).

Of course, most believers are unaware of this and the news media is more interested in whatever ratings they might receive in covering the controversy than they are in educating the public in ways that might dampen it.

Here is a good link about all this:

www.positiveatheism.org/crt/whichcom.htm

“Extraordinary Claims….”

Crack open the Bible and start reading from the beginning. It won’t take long before you start spotting things that don’t seem to make much sense or contradict what we know today.

God creates light before he creates the light producing objects, he builds a “firmament” to separate the higher waters from the lower waters (the firmament is evidently a solid protective structure to support the stars and higher waters above the Earth – when it rains, God has to open “windows” to release the higher waters), from the Bible’s point of view, the stars seem to be merely small lights in the firmament to provide light, God the all-powerful decides to “rest” after six days work (he must have been “bushed,” but we will get to the bush story later), and then there seems to be another creation story that got mixed up with this one where the order of events don’t quite match.

Shortly afterwards, there is the story of the creation of Adam out of dust and a woman Eve from Adam’s rib, both of which contradict what is known about evolution. Then there is the story of the talking snake and the Tree of Knowledge (that God puts nearby but warns them not to eat of its fruit, least they learn about good and evil). Eve (without understanding the difference of good and evil) is tricked into eating the fruit by the snake, when she eats the fruit she gains knowledge (which is strange by itself). Eve gets Adam (who is also unaware of the difference between good and evil) to eat the fruit as well, and God punishes them both along with all their descendants (which seems even less fair than his punishment of Adam and Eve, acting in innocence as well as ignorance that it would be “wrong” to disobey God by eating fruit he placed in front of them… when he should have known what was going to happen before he put it there, if he is really all-knowing). God makes Eve’s punishment worse, making her (and all women to come) suffer in childbirth and be subservient to their husbands. God also punishes the snake and all the snake’s offspring.

The monolithic God makes the announcement; “Behold, the man has become as one of us” (but maybe this is like the royal “we”) and appears worried that Adam and Eve might eat of another tree there (the Tree of Life) that will cause them to live forever, so he has to kick them out of “paradise” before that happens. (Earlier God had said that eating of the Tree of Knowledge would bring them death which, if they didn’t die right away, must have meant they would become mortal. This implies they were immortal before, so what was the point of the Tree of Life?)

Adam and Eve have children; two boys Cain and Abel. God seems to play favorites between the two for no special reason, which pisses Cain off causing him to kill Abel. God gets mad and punishes Cain. Cain is worried that because of this curse, “Every one who finds me shall slay me,” and God puts a mark on him to prevent that. It is unexplained where all these other people came from that Cain is worried about unless Adam and Eve have really been busy behind the scenes. God says that Cain will be “a fugitive and a vagabond,” yet he moves into another area, marries someone (???), settles down, has a son, and builds a city.

After a few more problematic passages, we get into several generations of people that lived to be very very old. Adam lived to be 930 (despite the death threat from God), Seth 912, Enos 905, Cainan 910, Mahalaleel died young at 895, Jarad 962, and Methuselah 969 (the world record). In the meantime, in contraction to a later passage, Enoch doesn’t die but ascends into heaven.

The population grew to the point it seems that there were a lot of good-looking women around. All these good-looking women evidently attracted the “sons of God,” who came down and mated with them, whose offspring “became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” These sons of God aren’t explained very well and it seems to be a bit of a sticky point considering Jesus was supposed to be the “only son of God.” But these were fabulous times; like the Bible says, “There were giants in the earth in those days.”

But, despite the production of all these “men of renown,” God decides that he regrets having made man because of man’s wickedness and decides to wipe them off the face of the earth along with all the beasts, creeping things, fowls, and “all flesh wherein there is breath of life” by causing a world-wide flood The Bible twice says that God “repents” that he made man. This is hardly something you would expect from an all-knowing, supposedly perfect being. These passages imply that God didn’t know what was going to happen when he created mankind in the first place. It also implies that this perfect being’s project was a bust. So now he plans to wipe it all out, killing everything in sight, because “the earth was filled with violence” (the acorn didn’t fall too far from the tree, I guess). So all the innocent animals and all the innocent babies are going to be drowned by the hand of God. We will see many more examples of this omnibenevolent being’s murderous tendencies throughout the Bible.

But God decides to let Noah live because he was “a just man and perfect…” He has him build a 450 foot long ark to hold two of every “kind” of animal and the ark is to have one small 18 inch square hole for ventilation. Despite being over 500 years old at the time, Noah is able to accomplish all this.

Before we get to the actual flood, it seems fairly ridiculous that an all-powerful being would make this whole process so convoluted. He wants to wipe everything out except for Noah, Noah’s family, and two of each “kind” of animal (7 of some kinds). If he was all-powerful, it seems like he could have just snapped his divine fingers and made whatever changes were needed, bringing instant death to those he is about to destroy instead of having to go through the terror of drowning. I guess all these people are destined to eternal hell anyway, so a little terror before they die isn’t that much of a difference.

So it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and flooded the earth such that it covered everything with 15 cubits to spare (of course, God had to open the “windows” of heaven for this).

Here are just some of the problems with the story:

(1) The whole story seems to be a copy of an earlier story from the Epic of Gilgamesh that predates it by 1,000 years.

(2) Building a boat of that size with the materials Noah had at hand is considered extremely unlikely if not outright impossible.

(3) There are many problematic aspects of getting two or seven of each kind of animal into the ark, even if God sent them to Noah to line up on the dock instead of him having to hunt them down from all over the earth, considering there were hundreds of millions of animal species to consider and the ark would have had to be much larger. There are various estimates I’ve seen regarding how fast Noah would have had to get each pair loaded in time, but we are talking about fractions of seconds apiece. That is some heavy hustling for a man almost 600 years old.

(4) Keeping all the animals fed with the correct diet, dealing with their various other needs, dealing with their waste in this poor ventilation, and keeping them from attacking one another are just a few of the problematic aspects of this situation (not to mention the breathing problem with ventilation being what it was).

(5) There is no archeological evidence to support a world-wide flood during this or any other time in history.

(6) There is no historical record to support this from other civilizations that existed during this time; there are no records to support this from Babylon, China, Egypt, or Mesopotamia whose records cover this period of time.

(7) There isn’t enough water in earth, on earth, and in the earth’s atmosphere combined to create a flood of the magnitude depicted in the Bible.

(8) The speed the rain would have to fall in 40 days and 40 nights to cover the earth to the depth the Bible suggests would be six inches a minute. This speed of impact would cause the water to boil and keep it from rising.

(9) The results of this much water out of nowhere flooding the earth in that amount of time would boil off the earth’s atmosphere.

(10) There are many other problems with the story which can be found by visiting; www.biblicalnonsense.com/chapter6.html and reading “101 Reasons Why Noah’s Story Doesn’t Float”

I’ll pass over several more problematic aspects of some of these animals being deposited in a climate that they may not have had an easy time dealing with, the problems with saltwater vs. freshwater fish, the fable of how the rainbow came to be, and some other things to go right into the Tower of Babel story.

It seems some people decided to build a tower to the heavens and God “came down to see” it (as if he couldn’t see it from where he usually was, which is a weird thing for a being that is supposed to be omnipresent). After he sees it he says, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

Again I wonder who the “us” is or who he is talking to, it seems God is worried for the second time that mankind might attain some level of power equal to his own and he has to “confound their language” to prevent them from building this tower. Now, despite the fact the Bible has referred to people of different tongues previously, which seems to be in conflict with God’s statement that “they all have one language,” we can only wonder why he might have been concerned that they would succeed unless this fits in with the idea that the Heavens were in the “firmament” that was close enough to the earth that a tower could be built up to it. Considering we have since sent rockets into space and not run into heaven or this “firmament,” it is clear that these people would not have succeeded, so God seems to be worrying needlessly and irrationally. I wonder why God hasn’t tried to stop the building of skyscrapers since then? I’m sure they are much taller than anything that could have been constructed at that time.

We haven’t gotten a quarter of the way through the first book of the Bible, yet we have found one thing after another that appears either fabulous, nonsensical, or unjust. Not only is much of it in conflict with what we know today from various sciences and the extra-biblical record, it fails to even make internal sense most of the time. It is like the people that wrote it never bothered to proofread.

So-called “Prophecies” in the Bible

Usually there is one or more ways so-called “prophecies” in the Bible can be explained…

(1) The prophecy is vague enough that you can read whatever you want into it (e.g.: “a three-headed lion will appear in the east”). One person may claim it means one thing, and someone else may claim it means another.

(2) It’s a “prophecy” about things that happen all the time, so there’s nothing special about it. For example, “There will be wars and rumors of wars in those days,” floods and earthquakes, etc.

(3) It isn’t a prophecy in the first place, or it isn’t a prophecy about what it’s claimed to be about. A closer reading of the passage in context will usually expose these types of “prophecies.”

(4) If the prophecy is known, then someone who knows it might be motivated to fulfill it. For example, if I know that the hero is supposed to ride a white horse–and I want to appear to be the hero—then I could start looking for a white horse to ride.

(5) The prophecy is manufactured after-the-fact to fit what happened. If I say, “so-and-so happened to fulfill such-and-such a prophecy,” I might be making up the prophecy.

(6) The story is manufactured after-the-fact to fit the prophecy. If I’m writing a story about someone’s life and know about some prophecy that should apply to that person, I can just make up a story that it happened, even if it didn’t.

Let me take the so-called “prophecy” about Jesus from Zechariah 9:9 as it was relayed by Matthew to use as a general example (where more than one of the above may apply)….

Here is the text, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” First, it’s fairly vague. It doesn’t specify who the “king” is or when he will come exactly. And how many people probably rode into Jerusalem on a donkey every day? Obviously, not everyone riding in on a donkey would be the king, so there’s nothing here to link Jesus specifically with this passage (and he wasn’t a “king” in the way intended anyway). So, it’s vague, it cites something that happened all the time (humble people riding donkeys into the city), and it may not be a prophecy about what it’s claimed to be about (since a different type of “king” was probably intended than the one Christians claim Jesus was). That covers 1-3 above.

If Jesus was aware of this “prophecy,” then he could have easily acquired a donkey to ride in on (if he was trying to “sell” himself as the “king” Zechariah mentions), so there would be nothing amazing about that. Finally, Matthew clearly misreads the “prophecy” and has Jesus riding into Jerusalem on TWO donkeys! [The passage is saying the donkey is a colt, not that there were two different donkeys.] So Matthew is pretty clearly manufacturing a story after-the-fact to fit the prophecy as he misunderstood it. His mistake revels he was making stuff up. So, that now also covers 4 & 6 above. Note: of all the Gospels, Matthew seems to go to greater lengths to manufacture stories to fit “prophecies” than the other three.

I think all of the so-called “prophecies” in the Bible can be explained by one or more of the ways I listed above. It’s just a matter of looking into any of them more closely with these possibilities in mind.

A Side Note

Some Christian apologetics make the argument that “any prophecy made about the Messiah that was not fulfilled in Jesus simply refers to his second coming.” This is how some respond when confronted with what was actually prophesied a “Messiah” was going to accomplish that Jesus didn’t accomplish.

There’s a book I read in 1998 called “The Mythmaker – Paul and the Invention of Christianity” by a Talmudic scholar Hyam Maccoby which addresses some of this from the Jewish point-of-view. Maccoby argues that Jesus regarded himself as the Messiah in the normal Jewish sense of the term, i.e. “A human leader who would restore the Jewish monarchy, drive out the Roman invaders, set up an independent Jewish state, and inaugurate an era of peace, justice and prosperity,” and that “Jesus believed himself to be the figure prophesied in the Hebrew Bible who would do all these things.” And prophecies like these are exactly what Jesus didn’t accomplish, which is why Jews don’t recognize Jesus as a Messiah.

He says Jesus believed that God would perform a great miracle that would take place on the Mount of Olives, as prophesied in the book of Zechariah. He says that “When this miracle did not occur, his mission had failed. He had no intention of being crucified in order to save mankind from eternal damnation by his sacrifice. He never regarded himself as a divine being, and would have regarded such an idea as pagan and idolatrous, an infringement of the first of the Ten Commandments.”

He says that the phrases “Son of Man” and “Son of God” were things that any Jew might say about himself because they all considered God their “Father,” and Jesus wasn’t making any special claim for himself by referring to himself that way. It was something any Jew might do.

As you may know, ‘Christ’ was the Greek alternative for the word ‘Messiah’ and Maccoby argues that the terms didn’t imply someone divine aspect (he says, “every Jewish king of the Davidic dynasty had this title”), but it was Paul who was the person who made it into something more than what the term originally meant, or what Jesus might have considered it to mean. Maccoby claims Jesus would have been shocked by what Paul did.