Archive for the ‘Scepticism’ Category

Jesus Was Wrong About the End


(Cross Examined) – Bob Seidensticker:

Prophecies are a big deal in the Bible. For example, Matthew claims that Jesus’s virgin birth fulfilled a prophecy made in the book of Isaiah. (It didn’t, because there was no such prophecy in Isaiah.)

Showing that the Bible has an error is a pretty good argument against Christianity, but we have bigger fish to worry about. Jesus, the omniscient second person of the Trinity, predicted the end of the world in the lifetime of his audience. Two thousand years later, we can safely say that that prophecy failed. Jesus being wrong is a silver-bullet argument against Christianity. …

crossexamined about-the-end

Robert B. Seidensticker: Cross Examined


It’s Not Just a Phase, Mom!


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

Anyone with the nerve to “come out” as an atheist to religious friends and family knows how much it grates to be told:

“We all go through periods of doubt. It’s just a phase. You’ll come back around.” 

When you look up the word “patronize” in the dictionary, this comment should be one of the first examples they give.

But then again, Christianity has never been very good at respecting personal boundaries. …

I think it would help to consider the possibility that the person giving you the most grief about your departure from the faith does so because he or she is teetering on the edge of their own faith as well, whether they realize it or not. You’ve simply become the focal point for their struggle.

Would that make you more patient with them? If so, consider viewing them through that lens for a while. See if it helps. It certainly helps me. …

godlessindixie not-just-a-phase

I Read the Bible

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

The Technical Cambrian Explosion


(Cross Examined) – Bob Seidensticker:

I attended an atheist conference in Seattle about seven years ago and met a woman who was falling away from religion. In the early years of her marriage, she and her husband had both been conservative Christians. Decades later, he still was. She wasn’t.

Openly reading The God Delusion to explore the other side of the issue wasn’t an option—at least not as a conventional book. But using a Kindle, no one could see if she were reading Richard Dawkins or Billy Graham. This was the first time the advantage that technology gave to the spread atheism became clear to me. …

crossexamined technology-benefit

Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

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 (

God’s “Perfect” Plan


(YouTube: Skepticon) – Skepticon/JT Eberhard:

This is the story about God’s plan for the Universe. It begins as all good stories usually do with the phrase: Once upon a time” …

youtube Grpl_UpXoOg

Skepticon 7: JT Eberhard: God's “Perfect” Plan

Ancient History, a “Funny Kind of History”


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

Unfortunately a good many authors who think of themselves as historians, some may even be professional academics in university history departments, are not mindful of the limitations of their methods. One of their more sober colleagues, Mario Liverani wrote on p. 28 of Myth and Politics in Ancient Near Eastern Historiography:

Laziness is common among historians. When they find a continuous account of events for a certain period in an ‘ancient’ source, one that is not necessarily contemporaneous with the events , they readily adopt it. They limit their work to paraphrasing the source, or, if needed, to rationalisation.

Some ancient historians get carried away with love of their narratives and lose their critical acumen. Moses Finley discussed in Ancient History: Evidence and Models how writing history is a form of ideology, and a good number of historians write as advocates of pet ideologies — including Christian origins.

There are some histories we simply cannot write. We can paraphrase what some of the historians in those ancient times said, but we should know that most of what they wrote could well have been inventions, either their own or their sources’.

But is not biblical history different? What about the historical Jesus? Don’t theologians have different rules for doing history? Don’t they have “criteria of authenticity” and things like that? Indeed they do. And here is Finley’s comment on them:

… The myth-making process has a kind of logic of its own, but it is not the logic of Aristotle or of Bertrand Russell. Therefore it does not follow that it always avoids inconsistency: it is capable of retaining, and even inventing, sayings and events which, in what we call strict logic, undermine its most cherished beliefs. The difficulties are of course most acute at the beginning, with the life of Jesus. One influential modern school, which goes under the name of ‘form-criticism’, has even abandoned history at this stage completely. ‘In my opinion,’ wrote Rudolph Bultmann, ‘we can sum up what can be known of the life and personality of Jesus as simply nothing.’ (Aspects, p. 178)

vridar funny-kind-of-history

Finley + Liverani

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

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