Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

Christians, Your Faith Needs a Make-over


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

A good start: Just say NO to the apostle Paul. Please.

In I Corinthians 11, Paul reports the familiar words of Jesus at the Last Supper about the bread and wine, “ ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”

How did Paul know this? He wasn’t at the last supper; he didn’t even know Jesus, and he boasted that he didn’t get his information from a human source, nor was it taught to him.  “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you…” In other words, what he knew about the Last Supper came from Jesus in a vision. In II Corinthians 12 he claims to have been transported to ‘the third heaven,’ and refers to “the exceptional character of the revelations.”

Before we could take any of this seriously, Christians would have to explain exactly how we can tell what is based on revelation, rather than on imagination or hallucination. What are the reliable, verifiable data to back up the claim that Jesus really did speak to him? “Oh, we just take it on faith,” won’t do, of course. That’s a standard religious dodge when there is no evidence.

debunking-christianity make-over

Charles Larkin: The Heavens


Some Questions Are More Important Than Others


(Vridar) – Tim Widowfield:

The so-called consensus on specific matters within NT and OT studies often rests on unwarranted faith in a tiny number of trusted experts. Nobody has the time to learn everything, which is why we need experts. It’s why we hire professionals — doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and electricians. And that’s also why professions create organizations to maintain standards and to protect their overall reputation.

Biblical scholarship, by contrast, has continually demonstrated its inability to address fundamental errors in scholarship, while tolerating apologetics masquerading as honest, conservative scholarship. It’s disheartening, but what can we do? My advice is to read everything, but verify what you’re reading, and take every claim with a grain of salt. For example, I now make it a habit to look up every footnote to make sure it wasn’t quote-mined. Yes, it takes longer, but we’re in no hurry. There are no ticking time bombs here. …

vridar 2019/01/03 scholarly-consensus

Danger UXB

Who the Hell Hired Matthew to Write a Gospel?


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

Gospels are sacred things.

Historians, however, have played the role of spoiler. Not that this was the intention at the outset. Most of the historians who have made careers of gospel study have been (and are) devout—even ordained. But after a couple of hundred years intense scrutiny of these charter documents of the Christian faith, we can say that worship-grade adoration of the gospels is misplaced.

It takes only a few examples from Matthew’s gospel (among many) to blast any claim that he wrote history—or that he even knew how to. Yes, I’m picking on Matthew here, but Mark, Luke and John are absolutely no better. So here goes. …

debunking matthew

David Madison: Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief

Luke’s Nativity


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

The Gospel of Matthew opens with the story of the Magi following a star to find the baby Jesus,the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the flight into Egypt and Herod ordering the massacre of all infants near Bethlehem to be sure of getting rid of the unidentified newborn king.

The Gospel of Luke could not be any more different, or so it seems. No Magi, no precious gifts, no flight into Egypt, no Herod or mass infanticide. Rather we have shepherds being directed by angels to find Jesus in a manger.

The most common explanation for this narrative gulf between the two is that the author of the Gospel of Luke (let’s take a wild guess and call him Luke) knew nothing of the existence of the Gospel of Matthew and had quite different sources to draw upon to account for Jesus’ birth. It is impossible, the argument goes, to imagine Luke discarding such a dramatic and memorable story as found in Matthew’s Gospel had he known it.

Michael Goulder disagreed and in Luke: A New Paradigm (1989) he published his reasons for believing Luke did know of the Magi and Herod narrative and deliberately changed it. …

vridar luke-changed-matthew

Michael D. Goulder: Luke: A New Paradigm

Richard Carrier: Luke and Josephus

Baby Jesus Stories Were Late Additions


( – Valerie Tarico:

Picture a creche with baby Jesus in a manger and shepherds and angels and three kings and a star over the stable roof. We think of this traditional scene as representing the Christmas story, but it actually mixes elements from two different nativity stories in the Bible, one in Matthew and one in Luke, with a few embellishments that got added in later centuries. What was the historical kernel? Most likely we will never know, because it appears that the Bible’s nativity stories are themselves highly-embellished late add-ons to the Gospels.

Here are six hints that the story so familiar to us might have been unfamiliar to early Jesus worshipers. … 2018/12/19 baby-jesus

Yoda in the manger

What You Will Look Like in Heaven


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

It turns out that St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) thought deeply about these things and pretty much laid out how things would work. He had to do this because of the prophecy that the second coming of Christ would lead to the ‘resurrection of the dead’ and that was considered to be an imminent event. My colleague Timothy Beal, professor or religious studies at CWRU, explains in his new book The Book of Revelation: A Biography (p. 66-68) that came out a few months ago what Augustine came up with. …

singham 2018/12/20 everything

Timothy Beal: The Book of Revelation: A Biography

A Nativity with Free and Full Female Consent


( – Valerie Tarico:

In the gospel stories, Mary the mother of Jesus is a humble, devout young woman of her time–which means she has little choice in the matter.

But our modern concept of consent would have been alien and bizarre to the gospel writers. If we could ask one of them to resolve the debate, he might say, “How could a pure young woman not want to be the mother of God incarnate?! What is this consent thing of which you speak?” …

valerietarico 2018/12/16 female-consent

Leonardo da Vinci: Annunciation

Why Christianity Keeps Producing Hypocrites


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

It’s become a running joke that every preacher who rails the loudest against homosexuality is only a few months away from being caught in a hotel room with a male escort. And this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, either.

I used to think the Christian faith made me more self-aware than those outside of it, but in retrospect I believe I was way off. Projection is like a way of life among the highly religious, and I’m beginning to think this a feature, not a bug.

But why? Why does it seem like Christians are worse than others at saying one thing but doing another? I came up with ten reasons why this would be a bigger problem for them than for others:

  1. They inherited expectations that were unrealistic in the first place. …
  2. Their estimation of humanity is so low that they’ve developed a learned helplessness about themselves. …
  3. Faith teaches you to verbalize things that aren’t actually true in an attempt to make them true in real life. …
  4. They seem to think that saying things out loud is as good as doing them. …
  5. Their faith normalizes logical inconsistency, and over time that destroys their irony meter. …
  6. They keep defining morality in the shallowest of terms, making everything about keeping up appearances. …
  7. In order to protect its “witness,” the Church is taught to bury its problems and its flaws, pretending they aren’t there. …
  8. Self-awareness requires openness to outside input, but the Church has been taught not to listen to the world at all. …
  9. You don’t try as hard to do right if you believe every mistake is just going to be forgiven and washed away. …
  10. Evangelical Christians in particular place the church and the world in such different compartments that they develop two completely different standards for each. …

Reality is no match for the determined believer. And that’s why a robust self-awareness will continually elude those who subscribe to the series of ideas listed above. Projection is a way of life for such people, and that explains so much of their behavior it’s astounding. …

godlessindixie making-hypocrites

Jim Morin: Hypocrites

God’s Defence Against the Rape Charge


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

I can’t resist a little bit of fun with Christian responses to psychologist Eric Sprankle’s ribbing of the Virgin Mary story:

“The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays.”

He added:

“The biblical god regularly punished disobedience. The power difference (deity vs mortal) and the potential for violence for saying ‘no’ negates her ‘yes.’ To put someone in this position is an unethical abuse of power at best and grossly predatory at worst.”

vridar 018/12/13 gods-defence

Leonardo da Vinci: Annunciation

The Pharaoh and Hardening of Hearts


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

The Exodus is a story that is hugely important to Christians (and Jews), as can be seen by some comments by Christians on the previous articles in this series. I want to continue my claims that the Exodus never happened because of both historical issues and theological/philosophical ones by getting onto some philosophy before returning to history in future pieces.

Previously, I have shown you the problems with claims concerning camels in the Exodus account and beyond and how the whole story is ridiculous. This article builds on some of the claims I made in the last piece. …

It seems like the whole basis of the Exodus account – the notion that the Hebrews ran from a sort of dictatorial leader that was only so because God made him like that, and the notion that God punished so many people (children, families) and animals on account of his own actions – is fraught with issue. If I were a believing Christian, I would have a whole heap of problems – ethical problems, theological problems, philosophical problems – with this story. But, then again, if you drop this story, it all comes tumbling down like a house of cards. So I get why they tenuously hold to it. …

tippling a-reminder

Moses parts the Sea