Defending Genocide

Of all the evil verses in the Bible, some of the worst must be the ones in which God orders his chosen people to slaughter and utterly exterminate the Canaanites who were living in the promised land, commanding them to kill men, women and children and to show no mercy to anyone under any circumstances. Passages like these are why Thomas Paine said of the Old Testament, "...it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God".Any person of conscience, I … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses: Predestination

One of the most common Christian beliefs, and the one most often appealed to in order to explain why evil exists, is that human beings have free will to make choices that are not in God's control. God doesn't want robots, the argument goes, nor mindless puppets programmed to sing his praises. He desires genuine fellowship with real, independent beings, and giving us free will is the only way to achieve that, though some people may misuse the gift and cause evil and sin that harm others.But if … [Read more...]

The Three Kinds of Theism

If you're an atheist who's setting out to debate religious believers, there are three main categories of theism you can expect to meet. Although religious belief is one of the most diverse of human phenomena, with a limitless variety of gradations and exceptions, I think these three suffice to classify nearly all of the theists that a nonbeliever is likely to encounter. If you want to debate, it's important to keep this in mind, because your strategy for dealing with each group needs to be … [Read more...]

The Anti-Semitism of the New Testament

The history of anti-Semitism in the Christian church is a long, sad story. Ironically, this faith which began as a sect within Judaism has been responsible for many more atrocities against the Jewish people than any of their other enemies.For centuries, Christian Europe reviled Jewish believers as Christ-killers, and Jews were accused of ludicrous crimes like "host nailing" (stealing consecrated communion wafers and driving nails through them, to crucify Jesus anew) or draining the blood of … [Read more...]

Book Review: Misquoting Jesus

Summary: An eye-opening look at just how much the text of the Bible has changed over the centuries. Not to be missed.I've read two other books by Bart Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted and God's Problem, and while they were both competent, readable works explaining the principles of biblical textual criticism, neither one really floored me. But I circled back around to read some of his earlier books, and I'm glad I did. His 2005 book, Misquoting Jesus, is by far the best of Ehrman's works that I've … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses XIII: Fetuses Don't Count

It's consistently been part of the anti-choice strategy to treat unborn fetuses as separate, autonomous people, even well before the point of viability. For instance, the anti-abortion website Abort73.com says:It is illegal to execute a pregnant woman on death row because the fetus living inside her is a distinct human being who cannot be executed for the crimes of the mother. (source)In fact, such niceties did not occur to the authors of the Bible. They did not value the unborn nearly so … [Read more...]

Paul's Resurrection Creed

In the book of First Corinthians, there's a passage that's frequently cited by Christian apologists:For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: Dating the Good News

I've uploaded a new essay to Ebon Musings, "Dating the Good News". This essay attempts to fix a date of composition for the New Testament's four canonical gospels based on documentary evidence, both positive and negative, and draws some conclusions on what this date tells us about the evolution of early Christianity.This is an open thread. Comments and discussion are welcome. … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses XII: Communism

"Atheism and communism always seem to go hand in hand," begins a letter to the editor I recently found through a Google alert. And though the fear of communism has died down since the crumbling of the Soviet Union, the prejudice that this writer was parroting has affected our politics for decades.In the Cold War, when anti-communist fear and paranoia were rampant, we sought to differentiate ourselves from the enemy in every way possible. It was this fear that spurred the U.S. government to … [Read more...]

On Inerrancy

Pandagon's recent post on Carlton Pearson, and the comment thread there, got me thinking about the question of inerrancy.Last February, in "The Aura of Infallibility", I observed that the apologist's claim of scriptural inerrancy is really a claim of personal inerrancy. Even if I believe a book to be without error, I must rationally admit that I could be wrong about that. The only way to maintain a claim of inerrancy with absolute confidence, as many theists do, is to believe that I myself am … [Read more...]


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