Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

A Bible Book Of Blunders


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

In terms of shattering the credibility of Christianity, the Book of Acts does a pretty good job. Some of the cringe-worthy stuff jumps right out at us, other flaws become more obvious when readers study the texts carefully and try to align its stories with information in the letters of Paul, who is the main hero of Acts.

Was Acts written 30, 40 or 50 years after Paul’s death? We don’t know, but whenever we read something in Paul’s letters that contradicts Act, we can be sure that it was the author of Acts who got it wrong. “…when Acts can be compared with information derived from the undisputed Pauline letters, there is partial or full disagreement upon most major points.” …

debunking book-of-blunders

Papyrus 46 folio


The Jesus Nobody Wants


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

Am I allowed to indulge my fantasy that there are normal Christians? By which I mean folks who love their families, go to work every day, plan their careers, save for retirement, look forward to vacations, mom and dad enjoy consenting-adult time alone together, and they show up at church. All of these pursuits—except for showing up for church—take a hit in the New Testament.

Love their families: 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.”

Go to work every day and plan their careers: Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.”

Save for retirement: Matthew 6:19: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…”

Look forward to vacations: I Corinthians 7:29-30: …“from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice…”

Mom and dad enjoy consenting-adult time: ditto, I Corinthians 7:29: “…from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none…”

Maybe the normal Christians are those who don’t pay all that much attention to Bible details. At least they shrug off these texts that sound okay when recited piously from the pulpit (well, except for Luke 14:26…when did you ever hear that from the pulpit?). But they should be cautioned about giving them close inspection: Funny how that can backfire. As David Fitzgerald has said, “It’s no coincidence that the Christians who study the Bible the hardest are also the most likely to become ex-Christians.” …

debunking jesus-nobody-wants

David Fitzgerald: Jesus: Mything in Action, Vol. I

Is Koine Greek a Pidgin?


(Vridar) – Tim Widowfield:

First, I would never call Koinepidgin. It is a lingua franca. Koine Greek is simplified Attic Greek, where a great deal of case collapse, pronunciation collapse, smoothing, etc., has occurred, which makes it easier for foreign speakers to learn. (The process is often referred to as “dialect leveling.”)

The key point here is that Koine actually was a primary and a complete language, often used as a trade language.

The reason for the roughness of Mark’s gospel and for the dumpster fire of John’s Revelation is not an intrinsic problem with Koine Greek, but with the abilities of those writers for whom Greek may have been a second (or even a third) language. …

vridar koine pidgin

Papyrus 46 folio

Most Damning Bible Contradictions


(Cross Examined) – Bob Seidensticker:

My focus here is just on contradictions in the Bible. These are mostly clashes between two sets of verses in the Bible, but some are the Bible clashing with reality. (I’ve written about the Bible clashing with science here.) …

crossexamined bible-contradictions

I Read the Bible (

The Zero-Curiosity Factor


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

Most Christians don’t seem to be all that curious about the Bible. It’s supposed to be the Word of God, after all, so why not spend as much time studying the Bible as watching sports and movies? You know: really get in tune with God. But plowing through scripture isn’t all that rewarding; there is too much tedium, there are too many bog-down points. As John Loftus has wondered: Couldn’t God have done a better job of communicating? …

There are at least three categories of dangerous knowledge that terrify priests and preachers:

  • What’s Happening in Jesus Studies? …
  • Church History…at The Beginning …
  • Where Does Religion Come From? …

The die-hard Christians, who read piles of books that shamelessly exploit confirmation bias, will never, ever venture into dangerous categories of knowledge. But there is so much to learn when folks yield to curiosity, when they become suspicious of all those “testimonies.”

Their guiding spirit could well be the apostle Paul: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (I Corinthians 2:2); we might as well shorten it to… “I resolved to know nothing…” But that’s no longer a good example to follow. Author Michael A. Sherlock recently called it correctly on Twitter: “In this age of information if you’re not an atheist, I sincerely hope you’re either illiterate or seven years old.”…

debunking get-away

by David Madison recommended books

Read your Bible, Ken Ham


(FTB Pharyngula) – PZ Myers:

Here’s a beautiful fossil from the Green River beds, a whole school of fish fossilized in formation.

The article mentions that scientists are uncertain how the animals were locked down in sediments quickly enough to preserve their relative position…or even if this is behavior frozen in time, but maybe an alignment generated by whatever process imbedded them in sediments. It’s something scientists do all the time, admitting that they don’t know something.

Ah, but here comes Ken Ham, professional fool with a sense of absolute certainty. He knows the answer! …

pharyngula read-your-bible-ken

Fossilized fish school

The Bible Against Itself


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

It was a big blunder to publish the four gospels side-by-side; careful readers can see the errors and inconsistencies. It’s probably too harsh to say that the authors were good liars; we should be kind and just accept that they wrote pious fiction. We shouldn’t even look for fragments of history in the gospels; there’s no way to be sure which verses preserve authentic memories of Jesus events.

The problems abound when the gospels are studied against the background of the epistles. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote his letters well before the gospels existed, and seems to have known precious little about Jesus—and had no interest in finding out. Paul blustered along, writing reams of theology, little suspecting that he was undermining stories that the later gospel writers would tell.

Consider, for example, an excerpt from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, 13:1-4

debunking peter-got-demotion

Randel McCraw Helms: The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict Itself

Goodreads: Randel Helms: The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict Itself

The Gospels as Ancient Jewish Literature


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

Understanding the Gospels as Ancient Jewish Literature by Jeffrey P Garcia makes for an excellent gift for anyone who is a seriously interested beginner to the field. And the focus is entirely on the Jewish heritage in the gospels.

The chapters discuss the various Jewish literatures within the gospel world (Second Temple writings, rabbinic literature), the geography of the stories covered by the gospels, Jewish life as evidenced in the gospels (home-life, clothing, religious groups, synagogues, women, the temple, and so forth), Jewish styles of teaching, political and ethical life, and finally “the gospels as the first literary witness to Jewish practice” such as naming on the eighth day, ritual fringes, sabbath synagoge attendance, and more. The text appears to be sound (as one would expect from Jeffrey P. Garcia) and caution comes through where scholars are less than certain about specific customs and events. …

vridar gospels-as-ancient-jewish-literature

Jeffrey P. Garcia: Understanding the Gospels as Ancient Jewish Literature

Pilate Released Barabbas. Really??


(Rational Doubt) – Bart Ehrman:

Is Pilate the sort of person who would kindly accede to the requests of his Jewish subjects in light of their religious sensitivities? In fact he was just the opposite kind of person. Not only do we have no record of him releasing prisoners to them once a year, or ever. Knowing what we know about him, it seems completely implausible. I should point out that we don’t have any evidence of any Roman governor, anywhere, in any of the provinces, having any such policy.

And thinking about the alleged facts of the case for a second, how could there be such a policy? Barabbas in this account is not just a murderer, he is an insurrectionist. If he was involved with an insurrection, that means he engaged in an armed attempt to overthrow Roman rule. If he murdered during the insurrection, he almost certainly would have murdered a Roman soldier or someone who collaborated with the Romans. Are we supposed to believe that the ruthless, iron-fisted Pilate would release a dangerous enemy of the state because the Jewish crowd would have liked him to do so? What did Romans do with insurrectionists? Did they set them free so they could engage in more armed guerilla warfare? Would any ruling authority do this? Of course not. Would the Romans? Actually we know what they did with insurrectionists. They crucified them. …

rationaldoubt barabbas

Barabbas release

Hermione Granger or the Apostle Paul?


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

One of the reasons that J. K. Rowling’s creation has been so phenomenally popular is her artistry in depicting human emotions and behaviors. But also because people are drawn to fantasies about things that don’t happen in ‘real life.’ There could be some really cool results if they did.

Or as Hagrid put it: “Everyone’d be wantin’ magic solutions to their problems.”

The success of religion is based precisely on that.

Christianity’s primary currency is magical thinking. That is, it promotes belief in events and outcomes that defy our certain knowledge of how the world works. Everybody sees it right away in the J. K. Rowling world. She tapped into the rich heritage of human folklore to create her stories. Magical thinking is fun.

But in the context of religion, which claims to be in the serious business of helping believers survive and get by in the world, magical thinking flies beneath the radar, unrecognized, blocking critical thought. Faith is the much-touted mechanism for passing off magical thinking as a real thing for coping with the world. …

debunking hermione-granger-or-apostle-paul

Books by John Wathey and Richard Carrier