Why Accept Evidence that Didn’t Convince Jesus’s Contemporaries?

Why Accept Evidence that Didn’t Convince Jesus’s Contemporaries? May 28, 2018

Christians today want to convince us of the historicity of Jesus, and yet the gospel story is from long ago and far away. Even if we could get past that to accept the gospel story as true, why should we accept any element of the story that wasn’t convincing at the time?

The gospel story didn’t convince Paul

Paul was a dedicated Pharisee (the Pharisees were an influential Jewish group during the time of Jesus), and he emphasized in his letters how enthusiastically he persecuted Christians. Though he didn’t make his motivations perfectly clear, one can assume that he was offended by this upstart Christian movement within Judaism. That suggests that he understood Christianity’s claims but wasn’t convinced—he certainly had the opportunity. Paul heard Stephen’s long speech just before he was killed and was unmoved by Stephen’s reference to Jesus. Paul had the opportunity to discuss Christianity with the Christians he arrested.

Only after the death of Jesus, on a trip to Damascus to arrest more Christians, did Paul become a Christian. If Paul was unconvinced by the arguments of Christians of the time, at least one of whom had been a disciple, why should they convince us when we are far more separated from Jesus by language, culture, and time? If Paul was only satisfied by a personal vision from Jesus, why should we be satisfied with less? More here.

And it didn’t convince John the Baptist

The skepticism of John the Baptist is even more remarkable. John knew exactly who Jesus was when he baptized him. He heard God’s voice from heaven proclaiming Jesus as God’s son and saw “the Spirit of God descending like a dove” (Matthew 3:16–17). He reported afterwards, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One” (John 1:34; see also 1:29).

John knew this even before he was born. His mother Elizabeth was a relative of Jesus’s mother Mary, and Mary visited when Elizabeth was pregnant with John. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41), and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

But John apparently forgot all that. During Jesus’s ministry, when John was in prison, he sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus said that he was, and he pointed to his healing miracles to support his claim (Matt. 11:1–5).

John needs to ask if Jesus is the One despite having heard the voice of God and seen the Holy Spirit descend to Jesus? If John was entitled to question given that banquet of evidence, what are we to do with the watery gruel that we’re given?

Of course, you can explain this by saying that the Bible is a compilation of stories, and they’re won’t always mesh well with each other, but then the Bible becomes just another human book.

It is indeed a human book, but Christian apologists don’t want to admit that.

In Mark, it’s like Jesus was
the 1000th customer of John the Baptist
and won the grand prize.
— commenter Greg G.

.
Image via Jacob Fincher, CC license

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  • RichardSRussell

    Well, in fairness, if we’re to believe the Bible (which, for the time being, I’ll take to be an accurate recounting of the credible bits), many of Jesus’s contemporaries did believe him. The 12 apostles and the various Marys seemed persuaded, and he evidently drew approval from some of the assembled multitudes when he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. But in this regard he was no different than Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, or Marshall Applewhite, each of whom also had a small coterie of dedicated groupies willing to sacrifice and even die for them. You’d think that the actual son of God could’ve put up a more convincing case for his divinity than the front man for a boy band.

    • Lambchopsuey

      The 12 apostles and the various Marys seemed persuaded

      Yet these individuals are unknown to history and did not leave any account of their own. All we have are references from some unknown author about people and events he did not himself witness. The various errors of geography and custom indicate to us that the Gospels’ unknown writers weren’t even from the area they’re describing.

      And those Marys?? Even Mary the mother of the jeez supposedly had a sister named “Mary”. Could it be that women were so devalued that the unknown writers of the Gospels couldn’t even be bothered to use more than a handful of names??

      he evidently drew approval from some of the assembled multitudes when he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday

      Again, none of whom were impressed enough to write anything down about the incident (provided it even happened – unlikely). http://i602.photobucket.com/albums/tt102/hanniballecturer/essays/disinterest_zpsf162e7dd.jpg
      So, no. Those don’t count.

      And do you have *any idea* how many Jewish men rode into Jerusalem on donkeys on any given day??

      • Michael Neville

        Even Mary the mother of the jeez supposedly had a sister named “Mary”.

        This is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.

        • Jim Jones

          “Honey, wake up, you won’t believe the dream I just had,” he says.

        • Bob Jase

          Well I guess the witch is still buried in the cellar.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          ‘Wear more sweaters…’

        • Reminds one of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”

          Episode Twenty-two
          Second Bruce- Goodday, Bruce!

          First Bruce- Oh, Hello Bruce!

          Third Bruce- How are yer Bruce?

          First Bruce- Bit crook, Bruce.

          Second Bruce- Where’s Bruce?

          First Bruce- He’s not here, Bruce.

          Third Bruce- Blimey, s’hot in here, Bruce.

          First Bruce- S’hot enough to boil a monkey’s bum!

          Second Bruce- That’s a strange expression, Bruce.

          First Bruce- Well Bruce, I heard the Prime Minister use it. S’hot
          enough to boil a monkey’s bum in ‘ere, your Majesty,’ he said and she
          smiled quietly to herself.

          Third Bruce- She’s a good Sheila, Bruce and not at all stuck up.

          Second Bruce- Ah, here comes the Bossfella now! – how are you, Bruce?

          ( Enter fourth Bruce with English person, Michael )

          Fourth Bruce- Goodday, Bruce, Hello Bruce, how are you, Bruce?
          Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce a chap from pommie land… who’ll be
          joining us this year here in the Philosophy Department of the University
          of Woolamaloo.

          All- Goodday.

          Fourth Bruce- Michael Baldwin – this is Bruce. Michael Baldwin – this is Bruce. Michael Baldwin – this is Bruce.

          First Bruce- Is your name not Bruce, then?

          Michael- No, it’s Michael.

          Second Bruce- That’s going to cause a little confusion.

        • Greg G.

          The Gospel of John gives the names of four women. There are three named Mary and a Martha who had a sister named Mary. There is Mary Magdalene. And there is Mary, the sister of Jesus’ mother. But John never gives the name of Jesus’ mother.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Was she called Mary perchance?

        • Bob Jase

          It was so much easier than giving livestock individual names.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I can certainly see an advantage to such a misogyny…more than once have I come out with the name of an ex in an inappropriate moment. Even numbers wouldn’t work under such circumstances of course. }8O)~

        • Greg G.

          Was she called Mary perchance?

          I am not sure. Perhaps John didn’t know the name of Jesus’ mother but he was sure it was not Mary.

          I have about a half dozen names of disciples that I suspect Mark borrowed from Jewish Wars and a half dozen I think came from other sources. The disciples in John correspond heavily with the non-Josephan names but not the names that were the fathers of the Jewish combatants in Jewish Wars, except Judas Iscariot, whose name seems to have been altered from Judas the Galilean in Jewish Wars and Philip who was either Herod’s brother or the father of two girls who happened to be the lone survivors of a battle.

          Josephus tells of a Mary who escaped to Jerusalem before the siege, how scarce food was during the siege, and that she ate her son. Jeremiah tells about offering cakes and wine to the gods. It has occurred to me that Mark might have combined that tradition with this passage to get the “Take, eat. This is my body.” part of the Last Supper, which led to his mother being named Mary. But it may be just a coincidence.

          Perhaps John understood that Mark used Jewish Wars and tried to eliminate the references but added some of his own – Nicodemus, for example.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am not sure. Perhaps John didn’t know the name of Jesus’ mother but he was sure it was not Mary.

          Maybe the version of the yarn the John’s used didn’t have that bit in it.

        • Greg G.

          Maybe the version of the yarn the John’s used didn’t have that bit in it.

          I hadn’t considered that before. I enjoy considering new ideas.

          Mark 6:3 is the only place Mary is identified as Jesus’ mother in Mark. The names of brothers are also given and in Mark 15 and 16, a Mary (or perhaps more than one) is identified as the mother of two of the brothers but not as Jesus’ mother. Was she supposed to have been disowned in Mark 3:31-34?

          John 6:42 is similar to Mark 6:3 but has Joseph as the father (who is not mentioned in Mark) but also mentions Jesus’ mother. I think that means John was reading something at least very similar to Mark 6:3.

          In John 19:25, there is Jesus’ mother and a Mary, who was her sister, at the scene of the crucifixion/burial. Mark and John both put three women there: Mary Magdalene and another Mary but Mark has Salome and John has Jesus’ mother. John seems to have dropped Salome and split the second Mary. But I think to make it Jesus’ mother there, John would have had to have read John 6:3 to make the association of the Mary, mother of Joses and James, of Mark as the mother of Jesus. So it takes me back to John having split them in order to refute that Jesus’ mother’s name was Mary.

          ______________________________________________
          Referenced verses below

          Mark 6:3 (NRSV)3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

          John 6:42 (NRSV)42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

          Mark 15:40 (NRSV)40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.

          Mark 15:47 (NRSV)47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

          Mark 16:1 (NRSV)1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

          John 19:25 (NRSV)25 And that is what the soldiers did.Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

          Mark 3:31-34 (NRSV)31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!

        • Ignorant Amos

          In all fairness…folk today get individuals muddled up in the details of the retelling of a story.

          I’ve no doubt the same was so back in the day, especially without the original sources being at hand, or even partial sources, or a bastardised version of the source which has been lost to us. Or maybe the story needed mixing up a wee bit for whatever reason.

          The options are fairly limitless.

        • Greg G.
        • Great resources, thanks.

        • epeeist

          This is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.

          Don’t you mean Zathras?

        • Michael Neville

          There was a 1980s American television program called the Bob Newhart Show which had three characters, two of whom never spoke and the third would introduce the trio: “I’m Larry and this is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.”

        • Ignorant Amos
      • Greg G.

        The Gospel of John mentions four women by name and three of them are named Mary. The fourth was Martha who had a sister named Mary. John discusses Jesus’ mother at the wedding at Cana and at the cross but never mentioned her name.

      • Jim Jones

        Even the name ‘Jesus’ (Yeshua) is like the name John Smith.

      • RichardSRussell

        You’re dubious? So was I, which is why I wrote “if we’re to believe the Bible (which, for the time being, I’ll take to be an accurate recounting of the credible bits)” to indicate that even handing out massive benefit to any reasonable doubt, we’re still left with a tiny band of TBs to go with the doubters, hardly a definitive showing.

    • You’d think that the actual son of God could’ve put up a more convincing case for his divinity than the front man for a boy band.

      I gotta admit they did pick a pretty hot front man.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3a90bdd1d4e12a66fa15ecd00e7ec605a26f7dbe8b959dfc5e5b988f78c4449d.jpg

  • It’s probable Jesus and John were not even related originally in the story at all, thus the weirdness here.

  • Lambchopsuey

    Also, with regard to John the Baptist, he had his own following, and we see that, even after his beheading, he STILL has his own disciples:

    Matt. 14:12 Then John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. And they went and informed Jesus.

    Mark 6:29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

    IF J the B had, indeed, seen and heard what the Gospel tales describe, even if for some inexplicable reason HE could not become a jeezy disciple, wouldn’t he have done the responsible thing and commanded his own disciples to follow the jeez?

    • I’ve heard that the logic behind emphasizing John the B so much (and by putting him in a subordinate position w/r Jesus) was to incorporate John’s cult into Jesus’s.

      I haven’t put together too many cults, but I can see that it’s a numbers game if you have any hope of the big time.

  • Tony D’Arcy

    The donkey, or was it two, who Jesus rode into Jerusalem, was called Long Dong Silver who had a parrot called Captain Flint. Captain Flint would love to go on about “pieces of eight, pieces of eight” until Jesus taught him about the number of the beast. No serious Christian or historian ever recorded the parrot’s silence after that point.

    • Very imaginative … but then, you were inspired by a very imaginative book.

  • John MacDonald

    I find Paul’s conversion story highly dubious. Paul would have known how impressive such a story would have been from 2 Maccabees 3’s story of Heliodorus. In fact, Luke in Acts models Paul’s story after that of Heliodorus. Paul probably saw how devout the early Christians were even under terrible persecution, and decided this would be an important crutch for society to have generally. Carrier says:

    Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive. So the notion that no one would, is simply false.

    • wethelred shaggybreeks

      Paul’s & Constantine’s conversion yarns read like typical xtian “before” stories. “I was evil until I saw the light.” Captain Cassidy presents in several Roll to Disbelieve columns pretty convincing cases that these stories are nearly always made uo.

    • Yeah, it seems easy to imagine Paul exaggerating to emphasize how despicable he was to show how far he’d come thanks to Jeebus (and blah blah blah).

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        “Yeah, it seems easy to imagine Paul exaggerating to emphasize how despicable he was to show how far he’d come thanks to Jeebus (and blah blah blah).”

        See Captain Cassidy’s entries on “The Cult of Before Stories” over at Roll to Disbelieve for modern examples of this kind of thing.

        EDIT: Whoops! I neglected to read one post further and see that wethelred already made this suggestion!

        EDIT TO THE EDIT: But I added a link! So there! 😀

      • Paul even admits to falsehood, and it is not uncommon for writers, storytellers, and public speakers of ancient times to “bend the truth” to impress their audience.

        2 Cor. 12:15-16
        Though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. But be it so: …
        nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.

        Philippians 1:18
        What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth,
        Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

        Paul admitted to “play acting” to win-over an audience-
        1 Corinthians 9:22
        . . to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have
        become
        all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

  • epicurus

    Without a damascus road vision, Paul would probably be roasting in hell. His supposed knowledge of what the Hebrew Bible taught apparently was of no help in figuring out who Jesus was. So then everyone who has ever lived should get this experience, instead of the divine silence combined with mere humans running around presenting lame conflicting “evidence.”

  • Tim Ellison

    i think John the Baptist was wondering why he was rotting in a jail when the messiah was supposed to come and save everyone by overthrowing the Romans with violence. Guess what John? Jesus is not that kind of a messiah. His message was peace and allowing the full force of religion and politics to kill him. And his response was one of forgiveness. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing, according to Luke.” This is the heart of the Christian gospel. Forgiving our enemies and loving everyone.

    • So, yes, John, Jesus is the One, just not that One. Is that what you’re saying?

      • Tim Ellison

        Yes exactly. Of course during that period of time there was apocalyptic messianic fever everywhere and i imagine John was part of that feverish fervor.

    • Joe

      Jesus is not that kind of a messiah……

      …..he’s a very naughty boy!

    • Ficino

      Tim, these days I am finding it harder and harder to find a “heart of the Christian gospel,” as that gospel is promoted by its most vocal proponents in the US, to consist in “forgiving our enemies and loving everyone.” The millions who advertise the Trump regime as “of God” give the lie to that sort of gospel. And they cry that they are persecuted when other people push back against their attempts at holding onto control. Only when “loving everyone” is reinterpreted so as to lose its content can the religious right’s crusade be aligned with what you describe.

      Franklin Graham and his allies WANT the power to coerce others. They are the Pharisees who have hijacked the gospel ship that you seem to imagine is/was Jesus’.

      I hope you are opposing them in the name of forgiveness and love.

      • Tim Ellison

        Thank you for your response. Yes, to them we also have to say, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. This is why I am a part of a number who are trying to engage with the violence that is in the texts (the bible) and deconstruct it (for want of a better word). We are a violent species and I am convinced that the central message of the bible is trying to teach us to put an end to violence. BUT, there is no way you can see this if you believe this text is inspired by God – you will only continue to be violent yourself because you believe God to be violent.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I have to disagree.

          They know EXACTLY what they’re doing, and are vile and power-mad enough to use those who they’ve hypnotized and terrorized with threats of hell as shock troops.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          but in his own book he is clearly violent, plagues, genocides, damn near omnicide, how much more violent can you get?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not so much as “Do what I do” as a case of “Do what I tell you”…whatever happened to “Lead by example”?

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          nice to see contemporary pastors are following in the footsteps of their deity.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          But… but… he got better. /s

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          I am not sure one can ‘get better’ after an omnicide.

        • cestusdei

          Are you a mod here? You proved me right. Can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen little man.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          No, but I know the blog author, who I’m pretty sure will ban you here, too. Because you’re an asshole.

        • cestusdei

          LOL can’t take it can you? You run away like the troll you are. And when you get banned from a religious site you will moan about those religious people who can’t beat you in an argument. You are a hypocrite and you proved me right about atheists being hateful.

        • And by contrast the Christian love is evident in your writings.

          Clint is right–assholes do get banned.

        • cestusdei

          Then why is he not banned. Oh and your “love” is very absent in your post. I do enjoy such evident hypocrisy. Now prove me wrong, apologize, and mind your own business.

        • Bob Jase

          I love idiots who go on blogs and tell the person running them to mind their own business.

        • cestusdei

          Okay, he trolled me and then ran. I posted back to him on his site. He responded and then banned me so that I could not respond. So basically he wanted to insult me, ban me, and run. That makes him the idiot troll. I don’t want to post here. If he drops it and doesn’t troll me then this is the last you will see of me.

        • Dys

          I don’t want to post here.

          Easy solution – don’t. Doesn’t require anything but self-control. Exercise some.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’re not the full shilling, are ya?

        • Dys

          He seems to have confused people getting tired of his stupidity with winning an argument. And thinks discussion forums are for 1-on-1 conversations. And doesn’t actually know what hypocrisy is. And somehow doesn’t think that chasing after people on Disqus is troll behavior.

          cestus is either really, fantastically stupid or a troll. Or both.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The troll gives me the impression of someone young and naive…or with a mental age of someone very young more like.

        • Greg G.

          What kind of person chases someone across several blogs to extract an apology? “Not the full shilling” nails it.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Dys

          Clearly Christianity doesn’t give him any sense of security or fulfillment, so he’s stuck childishly stalking and trolling atheists online.

        • The blog is my business.

        • Dys

          cestusdei is a weird asshole who chases people around disqus while simultaneously blocking others from seeing his comments under his profile.

          Basically, he’s an asshole who thinks atheists treating him as such proves that atheists are mean.

        • Like Christianity, evidence either way supports their claim. And perhaps for him, he trolls until he gets insulted or banned and declares victory (like the proverbial pigeon).

        • Susan

          Who are you and what are you doing here?

        • MR

          Why, God’s girdle of course.

        • Susan

          WhyGod’s girdle of course.

          Ouch.

        • cestusdei

          I am not talking to you, but to someone who has trolled me.

        • Greg G.

          I am not talking to you, but to someone who has trolled me.

          So you are stalking him?

        • Pofarmer

          Nice. I’ve interacted with this poster. Not nice.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’ve seen folk-Latin variants like this before, usually in gaming. what he’s going for is something like “the mailed fist of God”. that’s already more than enough to laugh him out of the room. i don’t even want to step into the Trucker-Bob-Style puddles.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Go learn what the term troll means dumb arse.

        • cestusdei

          You are one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are a knuckle dragging Dime Bar…two armadillo’s!

        • Pofarmer

          I can only imagine how this conversation went.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          I banned the dumbass from Godless in Dixie, because he followed someone else there from some other discussion, and was a complete asshole about it. Then he followed me over to Roll to Disbelieve… where I”m also a mod, so I banned his ass again. Then dick-for-brains followed me here, too, being an asshole the whole time.

          I sure do appreciate that Christian “love”. It practically oozes from this guy’s pores.

        • Susan

          I banned the dumbass from Godless in Dixie, because he followed someone else there from some other discussion, and was a complete asshole about it. Then he followed me over to Roll to Disbelieve… where I”m also a mod, so I banned his ass again. Then dick-for-brains followed me here, too, being an asshole the whole time.

          Does he ever participate in the discussion or does he just troll people?

          Just curious.

          It is fascinating how he calls you “little man” and then says you prove that atheists are haters.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          His account is set to Private (oh, how very, very brave of the noble Christian) so I couldn’t say if he ever participates in discussion. His first post at both Godless in Dixie and Roll to Disbelieve were him following someone around and harassing them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just a cunt then?

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          Pretty much, yes.

        • Paul Douglas

          We will ♫”…know they are christianists by their love, by their love…♪♩ yes we’ll know they are christianists by their love….” ♬.
          Love hearing them sing that one.

        • Greg G.

          Pro-tip: If he was a Mod here, there would be a gray box with white letters that say “Mod” right after his name.

        • cestusdei

          He didn’t have that in the last site, but he is adept at dodging.

        • Tim Ellison

          again i say the writers of these texts thought of him as violent. this does not mean that he is.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          so the ‘scholars’ closet to the actual ‘source’ are fundamentally wrong about a key element of the center of there thesis? on what basis do you make that claim, aside from the ‘ i don’t like it because it makes my religion look bad’ basis. I mean it is all made up so your interpretation may be as valid as theirs was but when you are debating dragon wing length isn’t it all a little immaterial.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Since the texts, untrustworthy as they are, is all we have to go on, and at the time the texts were being constructed we know that that part of the world could be a pretty violent place where the things we find abhorrent today were commonplace, and Yahweh was derived in part, from a war god, what reason can you give that the people who wrote this stuff didn’t need a violent god to get things done in the eyes of the believers?

          Folk at the time assimilated the gods of those they conquered into their own god. Yahweh was no different. Since it was through violence that Yahweh got his powers, it is no wonder then that he needed to be violent to get on. The conquered nations gods that are part of Yahweh’s make-up were none too savory either. It was par for the course.

          This stuff is not as straight forward as most believers understand of course. Here’s a paper, it’s a bit of a read…

          http://www.bibleorigins.net/YahwehYawUgarit.html

          It’s more reasonable to think of God as violent, at the time of his invention, pussies and their pussy gods got eaten up.

        • Tim Ellison

          Thanks for the link Amos. I read a bunch and scanned through some. I agree with much of what that essay claims. I follow the motif that Israel’s scripture is indeed a ‘text in travail’. There is an evolution at play. What I am trying to do is recognize that there is a story, a narrative that emerges as we look at the textual tradition within Israel and the copyists/redactors themselves. There is conflict and there is division – by the time we arrive in the Second Temple Period, there is at least six different Judaisms in conflict with each other. We see this mosaic of belief continue within the Christian tradition(s) as well as the various types of Muslims. Is there any truth to be found? or is that possibility slain on the altar of religious pluralism? My project is to ask a question prior to the truth claim. I first want to see if it is possible to discern what is going on in the scriptures (both Israel’s and the early Christian movement) – Is there a cohesive story that is able to differentiate between angry Molech type god who is on the side of Israel (at times) and the ‘god’ that Jesus called Abba? I happen to think there is. There is a clue in the text itself. I see for instance the murder of Abel in Genesis 4 telling us that ‘the blood cries out from the ground’. The blood was crying out for vengeance. This is the original sin. And this culture had gods upon gods who loved to pour out vengeance on all who got them wrong. We are a murderous and hate filled species. We kill the other over religion as evidenced in the Cain and Abel myth and we continue to this day. However, all of this seems to be overturned when a New Testament author claims, ‘the blood of Jesus speaks a better word’. What is that better word? Jesus ends up in our system of murder and sacrifice – but what does his blood say? It says, ‘Father forgive them, they don’t even know what they are doing’.This is the tragedy of religion that is violent, religion that needs victims, religion that thinks God requires sacrifice. There is a number out there who believe that God is nothing but love. They believe that God has never been violent, vindictive ever. He never asked for alters and sacrifices; we did. All of his justice is always restorative, never retributive. This picture emerges ever so clearly when this Jesus is scrutinized through a non-sacrificial reading of these texts.This becomes the locus of what we might call ‘revelation’. What is revealed is that we are all one thing – we are all humans together. There is no distinction between us. There is no other. We are learning to not engage in othering. But this does not come easy.

        • Max Doubt

          “We see this mosaic of belief continue within the Christian tradition(s) as well as the various types of Muslims.”

          Yep. Not a single one of you imagines your gods the same way as another.

          “Is there any truth to be found?”

          There isn’t a speck of objective evidence to support any claims that any gods exist or that any miracles or acts of magic have ever occurred. That is the indisputable truth.

          “We are a murderous and hate filled species. We kill the other over religion as evidenced in the Cain and Abel myth and we continue to this day.”

          Hold the show right there, young fella. You can imagine yourself as a piece of shit on someone’s shoe if you want. (As a matter of helpful advice, I’d strongly recommend you seek therapy with a competent mental health professional for that problem of yours.) But when your religion has you convinced that “we” are murderous and hate filled, when you try to tag everyone else with your problem, you’re being an asshole. Take responsibility for your own self esteem problems and your own hate and bigotry, and stop trying to drag the rest of humanity down to match your shitty view of yourself.

          “However, all of this seems to be overturned when a New Testament author claims, ‘the blood of Jesus speaks a better word’. What is that better word? Jesus ends up in our system of murder and sacrifice – but what does his blood say? It says, ‘Father forgive them, they don’t even know what they are doing’.This is the tragedy of religion that is violent, religion that needs victims, religion that thinks God requires sacrifice.”

          Religion is designed to be divisive and to promote a better-than-everyone-else bigotry. It creates a foundation where violence is simply another tool in the kit to prop up that unearned sense of superiority. Religion creates victims.

          “There is a number out there who believe that God is nothing but love. They believe that God has never been violent, vindictive ever. He never asked for alters and sacrifices; we did.”

          I didn’t. And nobody alive today did. Knock off the “we did” stuff, will ya? Again, diluting your own problems by trying to pass some of it around makes you a dick.

          “All of his justice is always restorative, never retributive. This picture emerges ever so clearly when this Jesus is scrutinized through a non-sacrificial reading of these texts.This becomes the locus of what we might call ‘revelation’. What is revealed is that we are all one thing – we are all humans together. There is no distinction between us. There is no other. We are learning to not engage in othering. But this does not come easy.”

          You’re preaching to a bunch of atheists. You’re trying to attribute certain characteristics to a god you can’t even separate from any other figment of your imagination. And you’re doing it as if you know better than others who believe gods exist but disagree with you on the gods’ characteristics. You don’t know their gods any more than they know yours. How you imagine your god is exactly as (in)correct as how anyone else imagines theirs. Remember, outside your imagination, your god can’t do anything.

        • ildi

          “We are a murderous and hate filled species.”

          Created by your god of love, no less?

          Another typical tactic of abusers: make their victims believe they’re worthless and deserving of the treatment they receive.

        • Tim Ellison

          Actually that is not what i intended. I was thinking of how the bible seems to reveal the violence we have toward each other as a problem. Cain kills Abel and there is more blood until the 20th century – 200 million of our lives are taken through violence. We seem to have trouble doing this thing called being human.

        • You think the rest of us are baffled about why humans are imperfect? I think a naturalistic approach does just fine.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Actually that is not what i intended.

          It never is though, is it. I’m reminded of Richard Dawkins take on this type of thinking. He has a kind of admiration of sorts for Bible literalist’s, because at least they own the bloody thing, warts and all. John Loftus covers the story at…

          Richard Dawkins On The Haitian Disaster: “Pat Robertson is the true Christian here”

          http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2010/01/richard-dawkins-on-haitian-disaster-pat.html

          The Christian apologists went boo-ga-loo to distance themselves and serve up excuses why both were wrong at the time. At best, what was produced was contradiction in scripture, go figure.

          I was thinking of how the bible seems to reveal the violence we have toward each other as a problem.

          But must of that violence can be attributed to YahwehJesus, if not directly, then indirectly. And that takes nothing away from the gratuitous violence that YahwehJesus visits on ALL life on the planet for no other reason than for shits and giggles.

          Cain kills Abel and there is more blood until the 20th century – 200 million of our lives are taken through violence.

          Well, Cain killing Abel is no more real than Harry Potter killing Lord Voldemort. It is supposed to be allegorical, I can understand the moral allegory in the Harry Potter yarn, but what is the allegory in the Cain killing Abel yarn? Why did he do it?

          We seem to have trouble doing this thing called being human.

          On the contrary. Given evolution, being human is exactly what it is, given a multi-omni God of perfection…not so much.

          What we seem to have trouble doing, is this thing called being Humanist, but why is that do ya think?

          Your heart seems to be in the right place, for all the wrong reasons. Your attempts to square a circle and fix something that is beyond repair, is futile. Think about it a bit more deeply, the answers are there Tim, just not where you are looking at the moment.

        • Pofarmer

          but what is the allegory in the Cain killing Abel yarn? Why did he do it?

          It seems to be a tale about organized agriculture pushing hunter gatherers off the land. Sort of.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And if it is a plagiarism from another culture along those lines, it still doesn’t explain YahwehJesus’ complicity in the shenanigans.

          The “why did he do it?” in the story was to tease out from Tim the motive, more along the lines that there was no reason for a farmer to kill a shepherd [neither being hunter-gatherers in the Genesis re-write], especially since the brothers displayed no animosity towards each other in the yarn until God pokes his immaterial nose. Then it was about a lazy bastard sitting on his arse watching sheep all getting the praise, while the hard worker got spurned.

          Cain became jealous of YahwehJesus’ favoritism over the younger Abel because of the sacrifices they offered. Causing the one brother to kill they other. What a lot of ignorant nonsense. And Christians believe the bloody crap really happened.

          An omniscience would have been predisposed to know the outcome of its favoritism, an omnipotent could have been able do something about it, and an omnibenevolence would’ve wanted to.

          Blaming humans for killing other humans historically, because of this poorly though out ancient fuckwittery, demonstrates a certain level delusion.

        • Bob Jase

          An omnigod wouldn’t need a sacrifice to begin with. Yahweh is such a meddling prick.

        • Tim Ellison

          Thank you for your reply. Of course Cain and Abel is mythology. But, what is being said in this short pericope? We have a violent act and the author(s) of this text are telling us that the blood of Abel cries out for vengeance. This is the victim having a voice. Most writings in history are by the victors, rarely the victims. Now we have #metoo and there we also see victims of crime having a voice. This is a good thing. This is how our society grows up. We must not silence the voices of the victims.However, later in the bible story there is a Jewish peasant name Jesus who is also murdered – this time by a mob. But there is a huge difference – this time the victim does not cry out for vengeance, but rather he says ‘forgive them;They have no clue what they are doing’. This is the virus that I want to infect humanity. Forgive, forgive forgive. and then forgive more.When we kill each other, we have no clue what we are doing. We offer forgiveness to all.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course Cain and Abel is mythology.

          Nope…it is myth in the colloquial sense, but not mythology in the scholarly sense. But in any case, not history. As I said, it is understood as allegorical, which is different from mythological.

          But, what is being said in this short pericope?

          Well, nobody seems to know for sure. But it isn’t believed to be originally Hebrew and may be as late an addition as the 4th century BCE. The earliest record of it being an addition to Genesis is 1st BCE.

          We have a violent act and the author(s) of this text are telling us that the blood of Abel cries out for vengeance.

          Nope…it’s a myth, remember. Let’s not start getting confused already. The act is not a literal act, it is a literary act. Who cares what the author, or authors are telling us if it is a made up yarn, or more importantly, a much earlier made up event. People who seek vengeance for what happens to fictional characters, need committed.

          But anyway, you need to read the story again.

          13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear. 14Now that You have driven me this day from the soil I must hide from Your presence, I shall be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15And the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain shall suffer sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord set a mark upon Cain so that whoever found him would not slay him.”

          This is the victim having a voice.

          There is no victim…it’s mythological, remember. Moriarty didn’t really push Sherlock Holmes off the Reichenbach Falls, so anyone seeking vengeance for that action from human beings centuries after, needs their head examined. Anyone believing it is anything more than a literary device plot with more meaning than that, needs to get into the same queue.

          But anyway, the narrative doesn’t support your hypothesis. God specifically warns that there is to be no vengeance and he gave Cain a mark so no one would be confused. Though given that there was supposedly only Cain and his ma and da on the Earth at that time, who it was that would be reeking vengeance is a bit of a puzzle. The next bit is even more puzzling…

          16And Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and dwelled in the land of Nod east of Eden. 17And Cain knew his wife and she conceived and bore Enoch. Then he became the builder of a city and he called the name of the city like his son’s name, Enoch.”

          Where did his wife come from? And they had a sprog…and became masters of their own empire…not much vengeance in there.

          Most writings in history are by the victors, rarely the victims.

          Nope, try to stay focused. The aphorism is actually, “History is written by the victors”, and it isn’t strictly accurate. But no matter, the Cain and Abel yarn is not history, why are you conflating it as such when you’ve agreed that it is mythology.

          Now we have #metoo and there we also see victims of crime having a voice.

          Seriously? You are making this comparison? No wonder there are others here are calling you out for some serious twisted thinking. The victims of the #metoo campaign are real people.

          This is a good thing.

          Yes it is, but it has absolutely fuck all to do with the Bible stories or the Christian god.

          This is how our society grows up.

          What has this got to do with a tattered old yarn in an ancient story book? Your favorite ancient old story book in particular and not any of the others?

          We must not silence the voices of the victims.

          Correct…but that has nothing to do with the Bible or it’s violent stories.

          However, later in the bible story there is a Jewish peasant name Jesus who is also murdered – this time by a mob.

          You really need to read that story again too. You’ve bought a pup.

          But there is a huge difference – this time the victim does not cry out for vengeance, but rather he says ‘forgive them;They have no clue what they are doing’.

          That’s a story too. And depending what version ya read…the central character never said that either. Only in the version according to the author later named Luke does those words appear…and not even in all manuscripts. It is political.

          The earliest two gospels have Jesus say, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani (Ἠλί, Ἠλί, λιμὰ σαβαχθανί)“My, god, my god, why have you forsaken me?”

          This is the virus that I want to infect humanity.

          The problem is, your source stinks.

          Forgive, forgive forgive. and then forgive more.When we kill each other, we have no clue what we are doing. We offer forgiveness to all.

          And with that, you are demonstrating that you are crackers. There is very little actual forgiveness in Christianity, even though like you, they talk a good story. Try taking a good look around you.

          But again, there are much better worldviews to be following if you believe those ideas that what you are pursuing is a worthwhile endeavor, without all the rotten excess baggage nonsense of Christianity. Humanism is up there among them.

        • Bob Jase

          “Forgive, forgive forgive. and then forgive more.When we kill each other, we have no clue what we are doing. We offer forgiveness to all.”

          Apparently he also forgot his god created Hell to torture folks for eternity rather than forgive them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…conveniently forgot about…no surprise there then.

        • You’re advocating Humanism? Sounds good to me. Tip: you’ll make more progress if you drop your supernatural baggage. That just gets in the way. God is a solution searching for a problem.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It would be a lot easier to start off with a clean sheet, rather than attempt to repair all that nonsense…good luck trying to convince us that what you really have is a silk purse, when we all know already that it’s really a sow’s ear.

        • Doubting Thomas

          What you describe is a perfect example of confirmation bias. You want the Bible to say what you would like it to say, so you mentally remove or make excuses for all the disagreeable parts. The problem is that the Bible does have violent parts. God does kill children and command the slaughter of people for ridiculous reasons.

          Words have meaning. So when you try to make the Bible say something it explicitly doesn’t, you come across looking dishonest and foolish. The right thing to do is to admit to yourself that the Bible is a product of the ignorant, immoral, superstitious people who wrote it and god just a character they made up.

        • Tim Ellison

          I don’t disagree that some of the authors were ignorant, immoral and superstitious. I number myself among them. However, the name Israel means to wrestle and wrestle with these texts are what some of us will continue to do. I find this to be very invigorating work and enjoy wrestling with these ancient texts to see if they do in fact contain a what Paul Ricoeur calls a ‘surplus of meaning’. Perhaps there is another way to read these that might in fact reveal a God who is actually love and light without the tainting of the superstitious authors.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I have no doubt that if you try hard enough you can find a loving god in the Bible. Or a vengeful god. Or a violent, gay hating god.

          You assume that your loving god was tainted by the superstitious writers. Why isn’t it the violent god being tainted by the superstitious writers and turned loving? Or the vengeful god tainted by you? Instead of trying to make the Bible say what you want it to, try understanding it as it is.

          It’s so obvious that you have your conclusion and are looking for anything to support it. If you care about the truth, then you’re doing it wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think the loving god bit is a later development…a different tactic brought in by the smart few, after the good old days when the chosen people went from being regular winners, to a bunch of losers. Yahweh loves you when you are being good, but be bad and see what happens…we get beaten up because Yahweh turns his back. In other words, it ain’t Yahweh’s fault we are getting our arses kicked time and again, it’s all your fault for your impious discretion’s, and Yahweh can’t help like he used to back in the day, because he’s turned away from violence, so yer on yer own. It’s not that Yahweh has become impotent to help, he renounced violence. Quite a smart development in Gods demeanor by the prophets and teachers, methinks.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Much like Tim reads the Bible with his idea of what he wants god to be, I’m sure the writers wrote with the same tactics. Feeling pissy that day, god will smite your enemies. Feeling cheerful, then god is love.

        • ildi

          “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” -Maya Angelou

          You may find it invigorating, but people like you are the ones who give cover to abusers. “They’re not really like that!” “That’s not really what they meant!”

        • Ignorant Amos

          However, the name Israel means to wrestle…

          Does it hell mean to wrestle.

          Israel is a Biblical given name. The patriarch Jacob was given the name Israel (Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל, Standard Yisraʾel Tiberian Yiśrāʾēl) after he “wrestled with the angel” (Genesis 32:28 and 35:10). The given name is already attested in Eblaite (

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Michael Neville

          According to the Bible your god is a sadistic, narcissistic bully who kills people because he can, orders genocide and sexual slavery, and condones slavery. No amount of tap-dancing, hand-waving and “looka that, SHINY!” will change the god your propaganda describes. A god who drowns the world because he’s feeling cranky, nukes two towns because he’s annoyed at the inhabitants, and changes a woman into a pillar of salt because she looks in the wrong direction cannot be said to be “love and light”.

        • I am a part of a number who are trying to engage with the violence that is in the texts (the bible) and deconstruct it (for want of a better word).

          I’m unclear. What do you do with the bits of the OT where God is off his meds? Do you reframe or rationalize it? Or do you try to de-literalize it (“it’s just allegory”)?

    • Bob Jase

      “This is the heart of the Christian gospel. Forgiving our enemies and loving everyone.”

      Proof that there are no Christians even today.

  • skl

    We can’t prove anything actually happened as written, only that it was written.
    And that a small group of believers grew much larger.

    • a small group of believers grew much larger.

      Did it? You can prove that, huh? Show me.

      If you want a fast-growing group, look at the followers of Sathya Sai Baba. Zero to millions in decades. Jesus could only dream of such rapid popularity.

      • skl

        a small group of believers grew much larger.

        “Did it? You can prove that, huh? Show me.”

        No thanks.
        But you may be the only person on earth who has a problem with my statement.

        • Susan

          No thanks.

          Then fuck off. Don’t infect the conversation with idiotic statements if you’re not going to back them up.

          you may be the only person on earth who has a problem with my statement.

          Nope.

        • Eloquently stated. You saved me the trouble.

        • Susan

          Eloquently stated.

          Thanks.

          I could have left it at my opening statement.

          But that’s probably what you meant.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope.

          Any reputable historian would tell you you’re full of prunes, too.

    • Susan

      We can’t prove anything actually happened as written, only that it was written.
      And that a small group of believers grew much larger.

      Yes.

      You’re talking about Mormonism, right?

      • Greg G.

        Or Scientology.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or not even religious made up stuff, such as the Luddites.

        • Kevin K

          That would be my favorite. Deliberately made up by a science fiction writer. How many dupes adherents does it have these days? It may even rival Mormonism.

          But I prefer to use the most-proper term — $cientology.

        • Greg G.

          Careful, they might $ue you.

        • Kevin K

          I would sell everything I have and give it to the poor.

      • Pofarmer

        Sathya sai Baba is my bet.

        • Susan

          Sathya sai Baba is my bet.

          No. Sathya beats the pants off both of them.

          The growth of the mormon church in the first three centuries is about the same as the growth of the christian church in the first three centuries from what I recall.

          skl wouldn’t care about that.

          He’s just here to pee in the sandbox.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, you’re correct on growth rates. It would be interesting to look at more recent additions like Jainism.

        • Susan

          It would be interesting to look at more recent additions like Jainism.

          It would.

          It would be an interesting sideline for curious people to pursue for entirely different reasons than skl’s weaselly attempt at fallacious reasoning.

          He was trying to suggest that lots of people became christians because someone wrote something really special down. (that could have a supernatural source, but he’s too dishonest to say that’s what he means.) Argumentum ad populum.

          And somehow it was special when Paul et al did it, while not giving any creedence to Joseph Smith when he did it.

          While he didn’t overtly do that, we all know skl by now.

          Skl aka Sea “I’m not a theist but Jesus is awesome.” K. Lion.

          He uses the same crappy apologetics but drops them in the mailbox like a bag of burning poo and pretends he did nothing of the sort when anyone confronts him.

        • Orange East Yellow

          Actually, Jainism is one of the oldest religions on this planet. About 2500 years old.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, I learned something today.

        • A tangential cool thing: from out of Palestine came three important religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And out of India also came three important religions, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Hinduism is older than Judaism, but it also went substantial evolution/transformation and came into its semi-modern form a few centuries before the common era.

        • Bob Jase

          Of course Judaism has gone through substantial evolution/transformation itself from the generally pantheistic early Canaanite form to the henothesitic form found in the OT to the monotheistic form that only emerged cleared after the temple fell and the rabbinic period developed.

      • Raging Bee

        NO, you silly heretic, he was talking about Islam!

    • Joe

      Thank god you’re here! I misplaced my “Banal and purposefully ambiguous religious quote of the day” calendar from my desk and was at a loss until, like clockwork, you showed up.

      • Raging Bee

        Sadly, that quote was from last year, so you still have to find this year’s calendar if you want to stay spiritually up to date.

    • GalapagosPete

      “And that a small group of [suckers] grew much larger.”

      Fixed that for you. You’re welcome.

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      Are we talking christianity or scientology here?

      edit, looks like my point is a little late to the party, pity i can’t delete it

      • Ignorant Amos

        The point can’t be overstated.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          Quite, but given the way disqus arranges posts i didn’t want the people below me in the thread to not get the credit for the comment

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think most of us here appreciate how fucked up the vagaries of Disqus are, we’ve all been victims.

          Just yesterday I did the exact same as you with a 16 hour old comment, of course, like you, I also felt the need to point out that I had repeated another comment…so am just sayin’.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          I appreciate maintaining multiple threads is a nightmare however you do it, but this solution does seem to be not the best

        • Greg G.

          Disqus gives the options for the order by oldest, newest, or best, which I assume means the arrows.

          But I wish there was a way to see replies to a comment.

        • Pofarmer

          I was talking with a forced birther on another site and comments were just dissapearing. I think the moderator was deleting comments that were too long. I haven’t been back to look, but I suppose the whole thread could be gone now.

        • Pofarmer

          Disqus is the worst, except it’s better than about any other commenting system I’ve been involved with. Any thing devolves with 1000 comment threads.

  • Peter Damian

    If such stories as Noah’s Ark, the Exodus, talking asses and snakes, people flying through the sky, etc are lies? Why should I believe anything else from that buybull? Because you got to buy a whole lot of bull to believe in that book of lies, contradictions and idiocy.

    Oh yeah, the earth is flat too with the heavens held up by pillars.

    • Bob Jase

      Hey, turtles need vacations too.

  • Jim Jones

    > Paul was a dedicated Pharisee (the Pharisees were an influential Jewish group during the time of Jesus), and he emphasized in his letters how enthusiastically he persecuted Christians. Though he didn’t make his motivations perfectly clear, one can assume that he was ….

    Most all of this is very very wrong. It is the story, but it’s just as truthful as the ‘biographies’ of L Ron Hubbard, another con man, liar and religion starter.

    • Kevin K

      I’ve often wondered about that. Paul is declared in Acts to be a tentmaker. So…how does a tentmaker go from making tents to persecuting Christians? Who in the heck hired him for that job? Why? What were the requirements they were looking for…ability to persecute people and repair a hole in the yurt? There’s a pretty big disconnect there.

      And what…exactly and precisely…did this “persecution” consist of? Why is it that we have exactly and precisely zero evidence of any Christians being “persecuted” by this person prior to his temporal lobe seizure miraculous vision?

      Inquiring minds want to know.

      • Jim Jones

        http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13232-saul-of-tarsus#anchor1

        Religion creators are all bullshit artists. They make fatuous claims (like Trump) which usually turn out to be straight lies.

        • Greg G.

          The trouble with that article is that it takes Acts as historical to argue against Paul’s letters. It’s like using Captain America comic books to argue against the entries of a WWII soldier’s letters to home.

        • Jim Jones

          Sure, but any reading of Paul’s writings makes his claims of being a Pharisee laughable. He’s ‘that’ in the same way that Trump is an excellent speaker of English.

          Given what we think he did say, his Jewish claims are rubbish.

        • Greg G.

          I trust Josephus’ description of the Pharisees and Sadducees over the gospel accounts and I see many alignments with Paul and the descriptions in Wars and <Antiquities.

          Antiquities of the Jews 13.10.6
            Not apt to be severe in punishments
            Accepted oral traditions not in the law of Moses

          Jewish Wars 2.8.14
            All souls are incorruptible
            The souls of good men only are removed into other bodies
            The souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment

          That probably comes from Daniel 12:2 and is reflected in Paul’s eschatology in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21 where he talks about a changed imperishable body.

      • Joe

        So…how does a tentmaker go from making tents to persecuting Christians?

        Maybe a couple asked him to make a tent for their Christian wedding?

        • Greg G.

          Thanks for making me spit-shine my monitor.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          LOL…I actually did…

        • Kevin K

          Ha! Perfect.

  • Raging Bee

    Another question: why accept “proofs of God’s existence” that don’t do anything to clear up any of the disputes between all the world’s religions and sects about what God is really like?

    • Kevin K

      True that. I’d settle for an agreement on the proper way to wear a hat.

      • Greg G.
        • Michael Neville

          It has been shown that wearing a ballcap backwards lowers the IQ by an average of 23.851 points.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Emphasis on “average”…and also, some fuckwit’s IQ ain’t so clever wearing the baseball cap as designed either.

          “If the cap was white, the staff noticed, the boss was in a good mood. If it was red, it was best to stay away.” ~Anthony Senecal, Trumpf’s butler

          http://www.pajiba.com/image/drumpfhat5.jpg

        • And when he wore the rainbow hat that said, “Make America Gay Again” …

        • Ignorant Amos

          I came across a site that had a lot of photoshoped slogans on baseball cap adorned Trumpf pic’s, while searching for this one.

          Funny indeed…

          Unfortunately, I can’t find the bugger at the minute. I’ll need to search my browsing history.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Greg G.

          I scrolled down the page and it had some celebrity photos from years ago. Below that was pairs of mugshots of the same drug user taken at different times. Very sad. A few weeks ago as I was leaving a grocery store, I heard a woman tell a man that she had been clean for seven months. It made me think how low one can get that not doing drugs is an achievement worth noting.

        • TheNuszAbides

          how low one can get that not doing drugs is an achievement worth noting

          addiction knows no bottom; whether an addict can recognize a personal bottom depends on the addiction (as well as whatever distractions fill the time between fixes).
          with many addicts, it’s not exactly a snap to establish that they have good reasons to kick. so for some it’s encouraging to look back and realize that an entire month (let alone seven) has gone by without succumbing.

        • epeeist

          Coincidentally the same drop in IQ people suffer when sitting in the driver’s seat of a BMW…

        • Henry
        • What about when they wear their sunglasses backwards (that is, store them on the back of their head)?

        • Michael Neville

          That doubles the IQ loss.

        • Bob Jase

          Nah, that means they are from the planet Twilo.

        • Kuno

          If only they would invent a kind of device you could wear on your head for that purpose…

  • Dennis Lurvey

    When people read the bible they know some of the people actually lived and some of the places existed and a few of the stories really happened although far smaller than the stories tell. They read about a city that has been found archaeologically and then how a burning bush spoke or a woman was turned to salt and don’t know how to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Especially after being told to believe it all or burn in hell as children. Science says almost none of it is true or even plausible, texts outside the bible put the people in different places than the bible says, says cities were not destroyed as described or 1000 years earlier than described, the only evidence David lived is one stone with that name on it found in a wall, Tacitus called it a destructive cult and christians were executed because they ‘hated humankind’. Christians refused to do the duties of roman citizens and apparently were just not nice people. There were also very few of them, all they could count were the ones right in front of them at the time.

    Jesus is a character in a story in a book written in the image of many before him in other stories. Christianity didn’t spread till 313 when it was made legal to practice then spread faster when practicing other religions was made illegal under penalty of death. YHWH went from a minor storm god in 1200 BC seen as a talking bush (as if that wasn’t the first clue) and over 1000 years was remade and redefined, absorbed all the other god myths into it, then made the only god legal to worship by most of western civilization till 200 years ago. In early america it was illegal to deny the existence of god in most states (which made atheism illegal too).

    Jesus is just a fictional character in a book no different than Huck Finn or Harry Potter.

  • Dennis Lurvey

    Miracle tails in the bible were meant to bridge the gap between the spiritual world and the natural world. If they could pray to the rain god and make it rain then the mind was connected to the gods and the gods would answer prayers. Men could walk on water because the gods could suspend gravity and heal the sick if we just asked.

    Otherwise the laws of nature had their own way and we had nothing to do with whether it rained or not, what fun would that be.

  • ThomasBonsell

    Paul did not persecute or arrest Christians because there were no Christians at the time. There was only a band of devout Jews who claimed Christ was the Messiah who would prepare the Earthly paradise that Jews believed they would be resurrected into. But when Jesus died without creating that paradise the Jews had been waiting for his followers were left with a problem: they had to admit he wasn’t the Messiah or come up with an explanation why there was no paradise prepared for them on Earth.

    Paul furnished the answer in a letter to a congregation: maybe the Corinthians, Ephesian or perhaps the Coloradans saying the paradise would be in Heaven, not on Earth, and they would be resurrected to that paradise in Heaven. This letter is the creation of Christianity because it broke away from the basic tenant of Jewish belief in an afterlife.

    Many fundamentalists think this letter described their Rapture. They are wrong; it described their deaths, or Paul’s concept of their deaths. And their paradise in Heaven will prove to be just as much fantasy as the Jewish paradise on Earth.

    • Greg G.

      There were Jews who were convinced the Messiah was coming during their lifetime. Paul was one of them. But the Jews who tried to get rid of the Romans did so on the assumption that the Messiah was coming, according to Josephus. Paul and some others thought that the Suffering Servant in Isaiah was the one who died for sins (Isaiah 53:5,8,12), was buried (Isaiah 53:9) and raised on the third day (Hosea 6:2). Apparently they decided his name was Jesus, from Zechariah 3 LXX.

      The Gospel of Mark reinvented Jesus as a first century person after the fall of Jerusalem.

    • Pofarmer

      Take a look at where Corinthians and Ephesians are located.

  • Ficino

    According to the Book of Acts, within a short time after Pentecost there were 5000 believers. The apostles were preaching all over Jerusalem. Then, after the stoning of Stephen, there was a great persecution of the church in Jerusalem. Saul, a tentmaker, entered house after house and dragged out men and women and threw them into jail.

    These events so described are extremely newsworthy and more shocking than many of the events described by Josephus. Not a proof, but it should give one pause about the historicity of Acts when one notices that none of these front-page events are in Josephus’ account of the 30s C.E. in/around Jerusalem.

    Well, he just didn’t hear about or didn’t choose to include everything!

    Still, his silence is a pebble on the side of the scale that weighs against the historicity of Acts.

    • Ignorant Amos

      But, but, but, the Acts are and early second century fan-fiction that no one with any wit takes seriously.

      • Off topic: I get the hateful conservative email The Stream periodically (my dose of surreality), and they mentioned “take the soup” in reference to difficult times in Ireland, where starving Catholic Irish during the famine(s) of the 1840s would be given food if they switched to being Protestant.

        Does that sound roughly correct? I don’t have a lot of respect for their journalistic integrity.

    • Greg G.

      Good point! Josephus may have been listing only established sects when he discussed Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes in Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.2-5 but he mentioned in AJ 17.2.4 that there were over 6000 Pharisees during Herod the Great’s time. In AJ 18.1.5, he says there were 4000 Essenes, so a sect of 5000 might rate a mention.

      But I am not so sure Josephus doesn’t tell about the Jewish Christians, though they were not Pauline Christians, but Messianic Jews.

      Jewish Wars 6.5.4
      … But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, “about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination.

      Josephus thought the Jews went to war with the Romans under the belief that God would send a Messiah.

      Jewish Wars 6.5.2
      … A false prophet was the occasion of these people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes.

      They all seem to have expected the Messiah to return during their lifetime. They thought their role was to pick a fight with the Romans so God would end it. A decade ago, the Christian Dominionists seemed to want to trigger Armageddon in order to force God’s hand in starting the rapture.

      • Ficino

        This Christian accepts an estimate of c. 100,000 as the population of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time:

        http://evidenceforchristianity.org/is-it-true-that-the-population-of-jerusalem-in-ad-70-was-about-20000-and-that-therefore-luke-wildly-exaggerates/

        He thinks it’s not a problem that Luke indicates that some 5% of the population converted shortly after Pentecost. I, on the other hand, think that is too large a percentage for such a mass conversion to have gone unmentioned in other ancient historians. I am not a Bayesian, but I should think it more likely that Acts is not accurate than that such a mass conversion would be mentioned nowhere else. Rome’s population in the age of Augustus has been estimated at, say, 1.2 million. A mass conversion of 60,000 people in Rome to a new cult within a few weeks and no mention of it by any Roman historian is not likely scenario – so why likely for Jerusalem? Does not compute.

        • Greg G.

          Acts does have a lot of historical factoids but we can see that the way his sources were used were not historical. In Acts 5, Gamaliel gives examples of bad men who met their fates. Judas the Galilean was a pretty dated example from 30 or 40 years ago but Theudas was a decade in the future. However, Jewish Antiquities 20.5.1-2 iirc discuss Theudas and the sons of Judas the Galilean and digresses to describe Judas. Luke apparently plucked those names from the same vicinity in JA.

          In Acts 21:38, Paul is mistaken for the Egyptian but the way the captain of the guard talks, it seems Luke again randomly picked out nearby unrelated phrases. The Egyptian had nothing to do with the sicarii. He took a group to the Mount of Olives, not into the desert. But those factoids can be found in nearby passages.

        • Ficino

          Greg, you are probably aware that Richard Carrier used the above discrepancies to argue that the author of Acts was using Josephus and misunderstood Josephus’ chronological arrangement. And if Josephus thought those insurrections worth recording, it would be strange for him to have passed over a major and sudden mass conversion and subsequent persecution as described in Acts.

        • Greg G.

          Greg, you are probably aware that Richard Carrier used the above discrepancies to argue that the author of Acts was using Josephus and misunderstood Josephus’ chronological arrangement.

          Yes, but I have come to think the author of Acts was often indifferent to the order of Josephus, mixing factoids that happened to be on the same page or, if from a scroll, that which happened to be unrolled at the time. Perhaps Luke didn’t anticipate that anyone reading his writings would have access to a twenty volume set of writings.

          And if Josephus thought those insurrections worth recording, it would be strange for him to have passed over a major and sudden mass conversion and subsequent persecution as described in Acts.

          Was the Acts account a literary creation? It has Jews from all nations gathered and understanding speech in their own language. That sounds like a reversal of the Tower of Babel story. The part about the rushing winds sounds like the account of the same story in the Sibylline Oracles.

          Guess what. Josephus not only discussed the Tower of Babel, he included that quote from the Sybil in Antiquities of the Jews 1.4.3 §115-119.

          Acts has many parallels with Euripides’ Bacchae, such as the chains dropping off of Peter in prison or the Greek idiom “kick at the goads” with Paul quoting Jesus quoting Dionysus, as golfers quote Caddyshack. Acts 2:3 is similar to the quote “Flames flickered in their curls and did not burn them” from the Bacchae.

        • Ficino

          “Josephus not only discussed the Tower of Babel, he included that quote from the Sybil in Antiquities of the Jews 1.4.3 §115-119.”

          Haven’t read that part. Fascinating, thanks for the reference.

        • Greg G.

          I’ll drop it here for anyone who wants to see it. This is the Brenton translation.

          Antiquities of the Jews 1.4.3 §115-119
          3. Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners; but he caused a tumult among them, by producing in them divers languages, and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another. The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon, because of the confusion of that language which they readily understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion. The Sibyl also makes mention of this tower, and of the confusion of the language, when she says thus: “When all men were of one language, some of them built a high tower, as if they would thereby ascend up to heaven, but the gods sent storms of wind and overthrew the tower, and gave every one his peculiar language; and for this reason it was that the city was called Babylon.” But as to the plan of Shinar, in the country of Babylonia, Hestiaeus mentions it, when he says thus: “Such of the priests as were saved, took the sacred vessels of Jupiter Enyalius, and came to Shinar of Babylonia.”

        • Bob Jase

          Then there is the fact that (per Wikipedia) -“Sources for the Sibylline texts[edit]

          The oldest of the surviving Sibylline oracles seem to be books 3-5, which were composed partly by Jews in Alexandria. The third oracle seems to have been composed in the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor. Books 1-2 may have been written by Christians, though again there may have been a Jewish original that was adapted to Christian purposes.

          Not surprising that books composed by Jews would show Jewish influences.

        • Bob Jase

          Cutting and pasting was a lot tougher when you actually had to cut things out and physically paste them in.

    • eric

      According to the Book of Acts, within a short time after Pentecost there were 5000 believers.

      A smart teen could probably get over 50,000 bidders on a piece of Jesus-picture-toast in a few minutes, without any speaking-in-tongues miracles. Heck without the bidders even seeing the toast at all. Convincing people of religious miracles in not a matter of if or how, just how many.

  • strawberry

    Maybe John the Baptist was hinting that he would like Jesus to spring him from the hoosegow.

    • Greg G.

      Peter got thrown in jail (Acts 12:3-19) and so did Paul (Acts 16:19-30). They were both freed by Deus ex machina. The chains fell off Peter as the way Dionysus was freed in The Bacchae and the jail doors were opened by an earthquake for Paul, though he didn’t walk out.

      Jesus owes John the Baptist an apology.

      • Bob Jase

        Peter and Paul were minions, John was a rival.

        All’s fair in love and religious war.

    • Jesus may have been God, but he was a little slow in picking up nuance. That’s a human thing, you see.

  • wtfwjtd

    Even the very disciples of Jesus weren’t convinced he was the real deal, according to the gospels. If the man himself was that unconvincing to his actual followers, how in the world are mere stories about the guy supposed to get the job done? It doesn’t add up. Unless maybe…the stories about Jesus were a lot more impressive than Jesus himself was. Not exactly a very convincing state of affairs, in my book.

    One would think that an all-powerful god would be little more impressive in person… my expectations for God are too high, I guess. I didn’t expect him to be so, well–so much like an
    Ordinary Average Guy.

    • You’re thinking of things like Jesus saying “But who do you say that I am?”? Or maybe when Peter’s faith failed him when he was walking on water? Or maybe the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

      Clueless disciples could serve a literary purpose. They’re like the introduction of Jimmy Olson into the Superman radio shows. You can have Superman think in the comics, but a thought bubble doesn’t translate onto radio. You need a clueless sidekick that constantly doesn’t get it, as a stand-in for the audience.

      • wtfwjtd

        “You’re thinking of things like Jesus saying “But who do you say that I am?”? Or maybe when Peter’s faith failed him when he was walking on water? Or maybe the disciples on the road to Emmaus.”

        Exactly. Why talk in riddles if you’re the real deal? What purpose would this serve, except to plant doubt in the minds of the very people you are trying to persuade to believe? And why just use common, ordinary parlor tricks of the day if you are an all-knowing god-man? Surely, a real god-man could do better than just to imitate the commonly-known and
        widely-reported feats of other gods of the day.

        Unless….

        “Clueless disciples could serve a literary purpose.”

        Now we’re getting at the heart of the matter. If the gospels are taken as just stories, written for entertainment, they start to make a lot more sense.

        • I’ll add the Messianic Secret–Jesus keeps telling people who see his tricks to keep it under their hat.

        • Greg G.

          If you like the Messianic Secret, you should get the Victoria Secret catalog.

        • It’s a taste thing. When I see a runway show, I want to see dusty robes and sandals.

    • Ignorant Amos

      I guess ESP was not an option open for Jesus…or a version of the Vulcan mind meld….being modern phenomena and all that jazz.

      • TheNuszAbides

        being modern phenomena

        exactly! on evolutionary modeling in general, it makes more than enough sense that all the “mere mortals cannot know Bog’s mind” [as much as they accidentally pretend to regardless] stuff – particularly in response to the incredulity-chorus of “why is this myth so silly?” – is easily explained as, e.g., “the oldest stories [Eden, Flood] were cooked up by people with older [cruder] imaginations”. the less precedent you have to work with, the less you can do apologetics spackle over the potential plot-holes ahead of time.

        which of course bodes even less well for the Literal Werd o’Gawd narrative.

  • sandy

    Jesus was a Jew. His contemporary Jews did not believe him. Need we say more? As the ruler of the universe, he sure did a bad job of persuading people he was god and of his message. A total fail like Greg G’s hat dude.

  • adriancrutch

    …zombie jesus walked around after being crucified…jumping into the air trying to get to heaven as astounded apostles watched…then they decided in regular jewish tradition to stone and beat him with clubs and bury him in a unmarked grave…and they made up lies to cover their tracks…that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it…

  • SeeingClearly

    As I have said MANY times, why in the world should we even attempt to believe in anything the Bible says when it so clearly appears to be a collection of myths like so many other proclamations from antiquity? If The Deity exists, all he/she/it has to do is appear to everyone on Earth at the same time and allow itself to be recorded while it manifests its omnipotence. Hasn’t happened? Well, we all truly know why it hasn’t…and won’t.