Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Absolving God from Hell


(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

People who believe in Hell try to absolve their construct of God from that monstrosity by talking as if he had nothing to do with it. They talk as if the existence of such a “place” were somehow beyond his ability to control. “God doesn’t send people to Hell,” they assure themselves, “people choose to go there; they send themselves.” Uh huh. I have two main responses to that. The first is to point out that their desire to absolve God from this atrocity doesn’t come from the Bible, in case they thought it did. The second thing has to do with the impossibility of that task. …

godlessindixie god-from-hellHell

What Jesus’ Disciples Tell Us


(The Journey of Doubt) – Despite not being able to know for sure which things Jesus actually said and which things were added to intensify the message – an interesting exercise is to look at how the scriptures and the early church portray Jesus’ disciples. Through this, it seems we have useful means to discern what the man Jesus probably taught and what he probably did not teach. …

thejourneyofdoubt jesus-disciplesgroup

Baby Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark


(Patheos::Daylight Atheism) – James A. Haught:

In violation of the separation of church and state, American tax dollars are funneled to fundamentalist private schools teaching crackpot absurdities – such as a claim that Noah probably took two baby dinosaurs onto his ark. …

daylightatheism baby-dinosaursNoah's Ark Nonsense Cartoon

Having a “Toxic Relationship” With God


(Patheos::Excommunications) – Michel Apioli:

Imagine the stereotypical speech of an abusive “significant other”. It would sound something like this:

Look at what you made me do to you. I’m only doing this for your own good, because I love you; this way, maybe you’ll learn to appreciate me and realize what you have. Don’t you realize how lucky you are that I’m with you? You’re just a piece of garbage, I could be with anyone I wanted, and yet I’m still with you. After all I do for you, all that I sacrificed for you, and this is how you pay me! And still, you know what? I’m willing to let it pass if you start to behave properly, just look how patient I am.” …

Both a toxic partner and a toxic church operate initially in the same way: at first, everything is perfect, all your dreams may come true at his side and the world is rose-colored. This is the stage where it’s made clear that this/person/church/religion isn’t like the others. In this moment of first love, or “love bombing”, it is difficult to distinguish the toxic person/church from a legitimately loving and healthy one, and thus the victim lowers their guard. …

The best vaccine is to leave behind the illusion of intellectual invulnerability, and to assume that we are all susceptible to fall for manipulative tricks. That’s why it is important to know them and how to identify them, as well as to know our own vulnerabilities and blind spots that can be taken advantage of. Above all, it’s important to be critical and not be afraid of asking questions. Healthy levels of self-esteem, self-love, and critical thinking are the best shields against manipulation.

excommunications toxic-relationshipJesus wants in

The U.S. Constitutional Experiment


(Cross Examined) – Bob Seidensticker, Lex Lata:

The historical record dispels the notion that the U.S. legal and political infrastructure rose atop a predominantly biblical foundation. Even the modern English vocabulary of law and government has its intellectual and etymological beginnings among the heathens. …

Richard S. Russell:

The likelihood that America is a Christian nation
is directly proportional to the number of occurrences
of the words “Jesus,” “Christ,” “God,” “Bible,” and “Christianity”
in the US Constitution.

crossexamined polytheistic-pedigreeU.S. Constitution

Anglo-American Legal Heritage


(Cross Examined) – Bob Seidensticker, Lex Lata:

Legal scholars and historians of the early Middle Ages discern the nativity of English law in the kingdoms founded by pagan Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians (Anglo-Saxons, for short) who invaded or migrated to Great Britain from what is now Denmark and northern Germany and the Netherlands in the fifth to seventh centuries CE.

The substance of the English legal tradition was formed in the main from a stock of Teutonic customs, with some additions of matter, and considerable additions or modification of form received from the Roman system; and both the Germanic and Romanic elements have been constituted and reinforced at different times and from different sources. …

crossexamined system-of-lawLady Justice on dome of Old Bailey

Jesus’ Sacrifice


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

Many Christians will maintain that the sacrifice of Jesus was one of the greatest sacrifices of all. I maintain, on the other hand, that the sacrifice is incredibly marginal at best.

You see, God in human form, sacrificed himself to die, but then to sit on his own right hand for an eternity in heaven as the omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient creator of all. This sacrifice then needs to be compared against some human who committed some finite sin and ends up being punished for an eternity in hell, or similar. That’s not 10,000 years, 1 million years or even 1 billion years. Is not even 1 trillion years. It’s not even 1 billion trillion years. This is an eternity.

Any finite number becomes an infinitesimal fraction in comparison to infinity. …

tippling infinitesimally-smallTill Sunday

God Can’t Quite Manage to Show Up


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

It’s pretty easy to spot how religion works: it usually stresses the importance of faith, urging people to skip the crucial step of asking for evidence. …

In his new anthology, The Case Against Miracles, John Loftus stresses David Hume’s argument that the evidence for a miracle would have to be overwhelming, of an order of magnitude of the claimed miracle itself (see Loftus’ essay, “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence”). The nature of scripture—stories with no cited sources, based on hearsay, deriving from an ancient superstitious mindset—rules out taking the ancient miracle stories seriously. …

Darren Slade sums up the collapse of the anecdotal approach to defending faith: “Of course, establishing that miracles are still reported today proves very little other than the fact that miracles are still reported; but so are ghost sightings, hauntings, and witch doctor healings just like they were in the ancient world.” …

debunking-christianity miraclesJohn W. Loftus: The Case Against Miracles

To Believe the Nativity Accounts


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

In order for the Christian to harmoniously believe the Nativity accounts, they have to jump through some seriously demanding hoops. In my humble opinion, there is no satisfactory way that they can coherently harmonise these contradictory accounts found in only two of the Gospels.

The situation is this. I maintain that, to hold to the notion that the accounts are historical, one has to mentally gerrymander to the extreme. However, the Christian might say that one or two claims in the accounts may be false, but that does not mean that the other claims are false. But in this approach lie many issues. For example:

  1. If we accept that some claims in the accounts are false, does the Christian special plead that the other claims are true?
  2. The claims are so interconnected that to falsify one or two of them means that the house of cards comes tumbling down.
  3. If we establish that at least some of the claims are false, how does this affect other claims within the same Gospel? How can we know that claims of Jesus’ miracles are true given that the reliability of the writer is accepted as questionable?

And so on. In my book, The Nativity: A Critical Examination, I think I give ample evidence that allows one to conclude that the historicity of the nativity accounts is sorely and surely challenged. All of the aspects and claims, that is. …

tippling mental-contortionsJonathan MS Pearce: The Nativity: A Critical Examination

Biblical Anti-Intellectualism


(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” —Ecclesiastes

Is the Christian faith pro-intellect? Or does it maintain a fundamentally antagonistic posture toward learning, toward education, toward research and development, and toward academic and scientific endeavors in general? Does it value free inquiry, or does it compulsively control the inquiry process to ensure that only pre-approved conclusions are drawn, which is not real learning at all?

It is my contention that the Bible is a fundamentally anti-intellectual book, and I want to show you several clear examples of that tendency woven throughout the story of the biblical God’s dealings with humanity. It’s not just in one place, it’s everywhere. …

godlessindixie life-of-the-mindBertrand Russell: Gospels vs. intelligence