Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

The Flat Tire and the Gospels


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

Dan Barker, former fundamentalist child preacher and now co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has a simple challenge for Bible believers: “Tell me what happened on the original Easter Sunday. Just a simple chronology. Who went where and did what and said what and saw what? And in what order? Be sure to include everything mentioned in any of the gospels.”

Nobody can meet this challenge, because the gospels are horribly contradictory. (Don’t take my word for it, read them yourself: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21. Also Acts 1:3-12 and Paul’s tiny version of the story in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.)

What should we conclude from this? That 1 apostle got it right and the rest differed in a few of the minor details? No. This is the most important story in all of Christianity, and if the gospels were divinely inspired — as true believers invariably assert they were — then their ultimate author was God, who’s supposed to be omniscient, so the 4 stories should be entirely consistent.

If that were the truth. …

tippling the-flat-tire-and-the-gospels

Sermon on the Mount


Myth Education: Gilgamesh


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

In honour of the fantastic book on mythology by David Fletcher, we are running a few excerpt articles featuring some of the gods contained within the anthology.

Here is something on Gilgamesh, the famous Mesopotamian god. …

tippling gilgamesh

David Fletcher: Myth Education: A Guide to Gods, Goddesses, and Other Supernatural Beings

If Christianity Were True …


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

Defenders of the Christian faith spend a considerable amount of time trying to prove that something happened thousands of years ago. But that really shouldn’t be necessary because, if the claims of Christianity were true, the present day evidence for it should be all over the place. …

godlessindixie 2018/04/27 what-if

Sermon on the Mount

Why Invent the Jesus?


(YouTube) – HA²M:

Did Christianity really begin without a Jesus? HA²M welcomed historian and philosopher Dr. Richard Carrier to Winnipeg on his Canadian speaking tour, August 19, 2017. …

youtube LTllC7TbM8M

Richard Carrier: On the Historicity of Jesus - Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt

The Resurrection Debunked: Naturalistic Explanations


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

There are three aspects to the debunking of the Resurrection:

  1. The Gospels are not reliable sources of information; they are poor quality evidence
  2. The claims of the Resurrection are incredible claims which require very good quality evidence
  3. If the Christian claims of the Resurrection are not true, then what, if anything, actually took place, and what hypothesis can better explain the data?

Having looked at points 1) and 2) in some details, it is time to see if there is a more plausible explanation for the data from a naturalistic perspective than the Christian claims. …

tippling 2018/04/02 naturalistic-explanations

Raphael: Resurrection of Christ

The Resurrection Debunked: Extraordinary Claims


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

A dying and rising god and resurrection being supposedly witnessed by many is mind-boggling as a claim. And the evidence needs to be exceptionally good to overcome this. Christians are happy to dismiss other similar religious claims from rival religions. And yet, it seems, the evidence threshold is lowered greatly to allow a supposedly rational acceptance and belief in these Resurrection claims.

Not only do we not have video evidence, but we have no independent attestation. One would expect this given that supposedly 500 people witnessed a risen god. Yet there is silence. Where one would expect to have evidence and voice, and we do not have it, then this absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. Sometimes Christians claim that this does not follow, but as you can see here, this is not the case. …

tippling 2018/03/31 resurrection

Empty tomb

Bible Teaching and Religious Practice


(Patheos::ATP) – Bert Bigelow:

Mark Twain:

Religion had its share in the changes of civilization and national character, of course. What share? The lion’s. In the history of the human race this has always been the case, will always be the case, to the end of time, no doubt; or at least until man by the slow processes of evolution shall develop into something really fine and high — some billions of years hence, say. …

It is not well worthy of note that of all the multitude of texts through which man has driven his annihilating pen he has never once made the mistake of obliterating a good and useful one? It does certainly seem to suggest that if man continues in the direction of enlightenment, his religious practice may, in the end, attain some semblance of human decency. …

tippling 2018/03/27 religious-practice

Leviticus 25:44

Wikipedia: The Bible and slavery

The Exodus Debunked: Archaeological Issues


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

We must first remember that ancient Egypt was a very literate context with a huge amount of recording of events and, well, an awful lot of things. As with any sort of Bayesian approach to history, we can do away with claims such as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence because when we would expect evidence and it is not there, then we genuinely do have a problem when assessing the overall probability of a given interpretation of data being true.

In this case, we would definitely expect to see some evidence of the Exodus as described in the Bible because it was such a massive supposedly historical event. The rebuttal so often heard is that, since history is written by the victors, the Egyptians were interested in rubbing out this embarrassing set of events from their recorded history. However, the ramifications of the Exodus would have been so huge that there simply would be no way that this event wouldn’t be referenced in some manner.

In fact, the only appearance of Israel as an entity in all the texts and inscriptions and is artefacts of Egypt’s is in a very brief reference dated to the end of the 13th century BCE. This is, of course, the famous Merneptah Stele, a victory stele of the Nineteenth Dynasty. It is on one-line postscript to some detail all is of some victories in Libya. As Bradley states, it is a sort of “meanwhile, back in Canaan” (p.267):

“Ashkelon has been overcome; Gezer has been captured; Yano’am is made non-existent. Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.”

And that’s it. That is the totality of reference to Israel in Egyptian history at the time. …

tippling 2018/03/16 archaeological-issues

Finkelstein, Silberman: The Bible Unearthed

Wikipedia: The Bible Unearthed

The Real Lessons from the Story of Joshua


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The lack of historicity of the Bible is rampant. To take just one example, there is no evidence for the triumphalist story of Joshua leading the Israeli soldiers, just returned from their (also fictitious) captivity in Egypt, in one victory to another over the various towns in Canaan. The most famous battle is the one for Jericho. But archeological excavations reveal that far from being a big fortressed city whose walls fell under a military onslaught that was favored by their god, Jericho was an insignificant little town that was unwalled.

Such stories, even if fictional, are not harmless. Because they are told to children as something glorious (and praised in song about even today), they serve to indoctrinate young children with the tribal mindset that atrocities are acceptable as long as they are done by ‘our’ side (by definition good) against ‘their’ side (evil).

The real lesson from the story of Joshua is that people are most dangerous, and can be most cruel, when they think they know the mind of god and believe that he is on their side. …

singham 2011/05/19 joshua

Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld: Battle of Jericho

The Exodus Debunked: Chronology


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

“… In the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which [is] the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 6:1 KJV)

There has been much written about the chronology of ancient Egypt and it is still very much a work in progress. Young Earth Creationists and Biblical Maximalists (those who try to maximise the veracity of the Bible in and through archaeology by using it circularly as a foundation to benchmarking dates, as opposed to Biblical Minimalists) try very hard to massage and co-opt in order to harmonise. Trying to tie in the enslavement of the Hebrew people and the position of vizier that Joseph took on with the utter lack of evidence for such things outside of the Bible is a difficult pastime. …

tippling 2018/03/07 chronology

John Loftus: Christianity in the Light of Science