Archive for the ‘Scepticism’ Category

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

The Birth of Freethought


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

The war between science and religion began in Ancient Greece. More than two millennia ago, the Greek peninsula was the first known place where a few intelligent thinkers sought natural explanations for phenomena instead of swallowing supernatural ones. …

daylightatheism birth-of-freethoughtEpicurus

The Case For the Historicity of Jesus


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

Part One of Questioning the Historicity of Jesus addresses the case for the historical existence of Jesus. The first difficulty here is finding the best and strongest scholarly arguments for Jesus’ historicity:

I have long searched for good cases for the Historical Jesus. I sought fairly recent, peer-reviewed academic books or articles, solely/primarily focussed on arguing for Jesus’ historicity, written by secular scholars in relevant fields. Not one source met these criteria. I would have loved the opportunity to critique books focused on this topic written by a James Crossley or an Aaron W. Hughes, and published with Oxford University Press, but such books – perhaps like Jesus – do not exist; so I have settled for two popular books written by Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey. (Lataster, p. 29)

Those books are Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? (2012) and Maurice Casey’s Jesus: Evidence and Argument Or Mythicist Myths? (2014). …

vridar part-3 lataster

Books by Bart Ehrman, Maurice Casey, and Raphael Lataster on the Historicity of Jesus

It’s All About Honesty


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

Although churches claim that religion makes believers loving and brotherly, the historic record includes opposite results.

Nobody actually knows where beliefs come from. Psychologists can’t explain what makes some people religious skeptics and others believers — or why some become conformists and others become rebels — or political conservatives and liberals — or war “hawks” and peace “doves” — or puritans and playboys — or death penalty advocates and opponents — etc., etc.

Therefore, I don’t know what caused me to be a doubter while my classmates were believers, some even becoming preachers. …

To me, the bottom line is honesty. A person with integrity doesn’t claim to know supernatural things that he or she cannot know. An honest person wants solid evidence to support assertions, and is leery of baseless claims. Therefore, skeptics are most honest of all. …

daylightatheism honesty

Faith vs. Reason

Biblical Scholarship


(Bible Interpretation) – R.G. Price:

As the work of Tom Dkystra, David Oliver Smith and myself shows, the Gospels are based directly on the Pauline letters. The Pauline letters and the Jewish scriptures are the sources used for the derivation of the Gospel narratives. And this is ultimately why claims about hypothetical lost documents are nonsense and disproven.

These hypothetical lost documents don’t exist because we other known sources better explain the content of the Gospels than the proposed hypothetical sources. What is so infuriating about mainstream scholarship, and scholars like McGrath and even Ehrman, is the refusal to engage in addressing these facts.

It is infuriating that we still have major names in biblical scholarship talking about “oral traditions” and “Q” when in fact those sources have been completely and entirely disproved. The evidence and facts are there and have been laid out plain as day, but Christian scholars refuse to look at it. …

The big farce here is the idea that theologians are qualified in any way to assess the sources and historical validity of the Bible. In realty theologians and people like Bart Ehrman are no more qualified to assess the historical validity of biblical stories or to understand the provenance of biblical sources than the average person off the street. In fact they may even be less qualified because they have been specifically instructed in biased methodologies that are designed to lead to invalid answers.

What we need in the field of “biblical studies” is a revolution in the fields of scholarship that are directed at the issue and a revolution in recognizing who is qualified to actually study biblical texts from a historical perspective, and this also requires recognition by non-theological scholars that theologians aren’t qualified and shouldn’t be treated as authorities on this subject.

These issues can only be addressed by real scholars, not theologians. These are questions to be address by historians, anthropologists, and data analysts, not priests and pastors. …

bibleinterp comment-565

R. G. Price: Deciphering the Gospels - Proves Jesus Never Existed

Christian Scholars Are Biased


(Bible Interpretation) – R.G. Price:

Let’s face facts, “theology” is not a legitimate field of study on par with other secular fields of study like biology or physics or anthology, etc. Theology is inherently biased, with a predisposed foregone conclusion at its core.

Unlike real sciences and fields of academic study that start with open ended questions seeking unknown answers, theology starts with an assumed answer and then works to fit evidence to the assumption. This is a central fact that has to be acknowledged because when you look at the field of biblical studies, which is dominated by Christian theologians, you can see the impact of this approach quite clearly.

Time and again, over and over and over and over and over (I could keep going), Christian theologians discard or even fail to consider solutions to problems that result in answers that don’t support their starting assumption. …

bibleinterp comment-560

R. G. Price: Deciphering the Gospels - Proves Jesus Never Existed

Evidence for the ‘Historical Jesus’


(The Conversation) – Raphael Lataster:

The first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources. The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional Christ of Faith.

These early sources, compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them. The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism with their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify.

Filled with mythical and non-historical information, and heavily edited over time, the Gospels certainly should not convince critics to trust even the more mundane claims made therein.

The methods traditionally used to tease out rare nuggets of truth from the Gospels are dubious. …

theconversation weighing-up-the-evidence

Papyrus 46 folio

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