Can’t Christians Find a Better Religion?

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God himself might not forgive their nasty history

The Methodist Church in rural Indiana that I attended as a kid was not too many notches above Quaker simplicity. There were modest stained glass windows, but the only other art, above the altar, was the famous Warner Sallman portrait of Jesus. There were flags on both sides of the altar, the Christian and American. No one gave much thought to the presence of the latter; how could Christianity and our patriotic certainties not be in sync? We were sure that apostle Paul had it right: “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” (II Corinthians 3:17) although Paul didn’t have democracy in mind at all.

When God Despises Our Humanness

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A Review of Vitaly Malkin’s Dangerous Illusions: How Religion Deprives Us of Happiness

A challenge that theists have never met—as far as I know they’re not even working on it—is to show doubters and skeptics where we can find reliable, verifiable data about God. The catch is that all theists must agree, “Yes, that’s where to find it.” The endeavor flounders because theists have never been able to agree on which God data are reliable and verifiable. They don’t agree on whose revelations, scriptures, visions, and prayers are authentic. Just try, for example, to get a handle on which Christianity is the right one. In other words, humans have bungled religion badly: It’s a mess.

Jesus : His Life - The Crucifixion

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In a prior post I reviewed the first three episodes of the History Channel program Jesus : His Life. I've skipped the 4th through 6th episodes and will here be reviewing the final double episode that covers the Crucifixion. 

The Crucifixion episode also focuses on Mary Magdalene - leading with misinformation right out of the gate.




You Too Might Be Kneeling On The Holy Stairs Jesus Climbed...

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...if you were raised a Catholic and gullible enough to believe a medieval legend that the Scala Santa, also known as the Holy Stairs, were brought from Jerusalem to Rome circa 326 AD by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. It's believed Jesus climbed them on the day of his crucifixion. In a second picture look how worn these stairs are after centuries of pilgrims. "This is the first time in 300 years that the walnut wood covering over the steps has been removed. It first was placed on the steps at Pope Innocent XIII’s request in 1723 to preserve the marble. The staircase was uncovered on Thursday and will remain that way through June 9, allowing visitors to ascend the steps on their knees, as is tradition. After the two-month window, the wood covering will be replaced, meaning this will likely be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Christians to see the steps in their original form." You'd better book your trip today!!! More Religion Pics of the week here.

Jesus : His Life – A review

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When I heard about the History Channel’s new TV special, Jesus : His Life, I was quite interested to see how they were going to handle the subject. As the author of the recently published book, Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed, obviously I knew that my perspective on the subject would be different than whatever might be presented, but I was still quite interested to see how they were going to present the subject matter.

Comic Book Fantasy in the New Testament

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Its oldest document delivers….


It’s no wonder there are thousands of different Christian brands. The New Testament itself has fueled so much heated debate, diluting the One True Faith and provoking endless irreconcilable interpretations. So pity the poor laypeople. Largely isolated from theological wrangling, they have to figure out the essence of the faith from what they’ve learned in Sunday school. One theme, of course, represents Jesus as the embodiment (literally) of I John 4:8, “God is love.” That has had staying power, and John 3:16 is probably the best PR jingle ever.

This was brought home to me recently when I had a conversation with a Christian on Facebook. Here’s what I heard from him: “Love is the main theme throughout the New Testament.” “Love is the primary message of Jesus.” Christianity’s “primary tenet is love for all humanity.” See, John 3:16 works! I suggested some of the texts that show this is not the case at all, far from it, but these made no dent in his uber-confidence about love. I might as well have been shooting arrows at a tank.

On the Evidence for the Resurrection

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According to many Christian apologists, we have good evidence for the truth of the resurrection. Two things in particular are usually mentioned: First, that many of the followers of Jesus were willing to risk their lives in order to spread the gospel. And second, that the discovery of the empty tomb was made by women.

That the disciples risked their lives, and in the majority of cases ended up being executed, shows they really believed in Jesus’ resurrection, for who would be willing to take things that far for something they did not believe? That women were the ones who found the empty tomb shows that the story wasn’t made up, since women weren’t trusted as sources of information in those days — and thus, if anyone were making up the story, they would have said it was men who made the discovery.

These arguments are, of course, extremely weak. But rather than criticizing them directly (for that, see for example my book The Truth about God, pp. 68-72), I’d like to pose a question regarding miracle claims in other religions. Let’s take Buddhism and Islam as examples.

The State of Scholarly Mythicism

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After publishing Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed in late 2018 I have become increasingly engaged in the field of biblical studies and Christian origins. The subject of mythicism is a complex one that is fraught with problems, as is the entire subject of Christian origins, because of the vast array of competing claims in the field, some of which are of dubious academic quality. Nevertheless, I believe that the field is maturing and has reached a point of growing consensus around a model for Christian origins without the existence of a human Jesus. 


Why Religion and Sex are Uncomfortable Bedfellows

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[Written by Teresa Roberts] Growing up in a genuine American cult, I soon learned that my body created a problem for the men in the church. Even as a young girl, I was expected to dress modestly and conduct myself in a way that would become a woman of god — with shamefacedness and sobriety. Except for my neck, hands and head, all else must be covered. Bare skin, even the shape of my body beneath my clothes could be used by the devil to cause a man to sin. According to the brethren, sexual thoughts were as bad as sexual deeds. If I shirked my duty as the sexual gate keeper, I could be the cause of god sending men's souls to hell.  

Of course, I'd end up in the burning lake of fire, too, as a great seductress. 

Dr. Karen Garst's Pre-Publication Review of "The Case against Miracles"

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Here is the first review of my anthology "The Case against Miracles"! Thanks so much Dr. Karen Garst! LINK. She wrote:
In a book much shorter than the Bible itself, Loftus has marshalled all the key arguments to prove that people should seriously doubt all religious miracle claims. This book should be required reading in all seminaries.

You Too Could Be a Shiite Commemorating the Death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim

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"All it would take is for you to be born a Shiite. That's the easy part. Indoctrination brings with it the certainty of faith. What would it take to change your mind? I'll tell you. Reject testimonial evidence coming from the past and seek instead sufficient objective evidence. People lie, they misrepresent the truth, they tell tales and spread propaganda. But the objective evidence doesn't lie. Treat your own indoctrinated faith just as you treat the religions you reject. It's the only way to know which religion is true, if there is one. It's the only way to eliminate a whole host of cognitive biases that keep you inside your delusions. [Here's a list of the top 12 to avoid.] Photo Link. Click on the pic to enlarge:

Linda LaScola of "Rational Doubts" published an essay of mine on the moral rules for our debates

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I'm very happy she did. Thanks so much! Enjoy.

We all have different perspectives on this issue and mine are not meant to tell others what to do, but are merely for consideration. I suspect how we deal with believers depends on factors like 1) how much religion has hurt us, 2) how much we know about the religion under examination, as well as 3) what we think of the apologists we are dealing with, 4) the kind of venue in which the discussion is taking place (i.e., person to person, comedy, lecture, online blog, podcast, vblog, or book), 5) the nature of our target audience, and 6) whether we think staunch believers can be convinced and consequently whether our goal is to convince them, or to convince others who are on their way out, or already out the door.

Here We Go Again with “He Is Risen!”

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Wait…just how many resurrections were there?
The supreme killer text in the New Testament—the one that wipes out the story that Jesus rose from the dead—is a gift to us from the author of Matthew’s gospel. This is worth noting as Easter is upon us, but I wonder how many believers notice this text; or, for that matter, how many have done even a little due diligence on the gospel accounts of Easter morning.

My colleague at the Debunking Christianity Blog, Robert Conner, has offered a solid analysis in this book, Apparitions of Jesus: The Resurrection as Ghost Story—and his sharp wit as well:

“I've long suspected that what the majority of people know about Christianity derives from its major holidays. They get their religion from Christmas cards and Easter imagery—thinking the Easter Bunny was one of the twelve apostles and candy eggs were on the menu at the Last Supper.” (Conner, Debunking Christianity Blog, 16 November 2018)

Why Do We Need A Book Against Miracles After Hume?

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I received a recent comment about my forthcoming anthology against miracles: "I’m eagerly looking forward to this book even though, after Hume, I’m not sure what more needs to be said."

This is nice to hear! I think it's my best anthology yet, but then I've thought that about each one as they were published. Probably no one is more eager to see this book published than me, as I've put so many many hours into it. Still, it's a legitimate issue as to why such a book is needed at all, especially after Hume's arguments.

I agree with you about David Hume. He's regarded as the most important English speaking philosopher, except that there are some powerful objections against what he wrote against miracles, even coming from atheists themselves. Since Christians keep writing books in defense of miracles as if Hume never wrote a thing, they need answered. This is a book that defends Hume and responds to specific miracle claims in the bible and in today's world. There hasn't been a book length treatment of miracles like this written by atheists in, I don't know, forever, and it's long overdue. Actually, it's Hume plus Strauss plus Darwin equals the destruction of Christianity and religions in general.

David Hume's influence over others is towering, and rightly so. In 1748 he wrote a pioneering chapter of objections against miracles in his book, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (chapter 10). This changed the course of theology, since he had a great influence on Friedrich Schleiermacher, considered to be the father of modern theology.

David Friedrich Strauss in turn was greatly influenced by Friedrich Schleiermacher at the University of Tübingen (1825-1831), who regularly attended his life of Jesus lectures. In 1835–36, at the age of 27, Strauss published his magnum opus--a mammoth of a work--titled The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, 2 vols. In it he denied the historical value of the Gospels and rejected their supernatural claims, describing them as historical myth.

Then in 1859 Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species was the destruction of Christianity as was then believed, along with those constructed on the rubble afterward. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on "David Hume" says, "Charles Darwin regarded his work as a central influence on the theory of evolution." Bet you didn't know that! I didn't.

Was Mohammad Real?

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"We can't be certain how the Arabs became Muslim", says researcher Tom Holland. Fascinating! Was Mohammad ("the Praised One") originally Jesus? Was Islam originally a non-trinitarian Christian sect that rejected the need for an atonement on the cross? The evidence from coins don't lie. People do. This is extremely interesting and new to me. Makes sense. The first video is by the Atheistic Republic, who got me thinking. The others back it up.


Why Georgia's Abortion Bill Must Be Opposed, Everything You Need To Know, Part 2

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The Republican-led Georgia state legislature passed a devastating bill that would ban abortions upon detecting a fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks, before many women even know they're pregnant. To help inform everyone on the sanctity of life here's a chapter written by Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay for my anthology Christianity is Not Great: Why Faith Fails. It's a work that details the harms of the Christian faith and why we oppose it. We pick up after Lindsay discusses the messy sanctity of life principle as applied to end of life decisions. [See the previous post, Part 1, which has several essays on abortion and the Christian right found here.]

Why Georgia's Abortion Bill Must Be Opposed, Everything You Need To Know, Part 1

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The Republican-led Georgia state legislature passed a devastating bill that would ban abortions upon detecting a fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks, before many women even know they're pregnant. Since money talks I'm hoping the celebrity boycott of Georgia helps overturn this hurtful law, and I call on others to do likewise.

Directly below are a few links to what our authors have written about abortion. In Part II I'll post a chapter on the sanctity of life written by Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay, from my anthology Christianity is Not Great: Why Faith Fails. It's a work that details the harms of the Christian faith and why we oppose it.

--Why I Write and Write and Write About the Religious Right, by Teresa Roberts. Commenting on Bob Nononi, a Republican politician from Idaho, who said in a public forum that maybe we should consider the death penalty for women who get an abortion, she unloads the harms of the religious right in general. "Right under our very noses, we are becoming a theocracy and people by in large are refusing to believe it’s happening...The religious right is no longer willing to sit on the sidelines as their cross-eyed cousins once did, talking in tongues, handling snakes, beating their kids and oppressing their women. Watching the rest of Americans live their own lives as they please infuriates them. They're here to tell you that they're no longer a joking matter. They're serious. Dead serious. Furthermore, they're winning which is making them bolder by the minute."

--Why is the Religious Right Obsessed With Abortion?, by Teresa Roberts. She argues: "Abortion has evolved into a single driving issue of such monumental proportions in part because society has become far more secularized than we realize. The shift away from a moral code dictated by churches and enforced by government has caused a great deal of discomfort for individuals and institutions that once wielded so much power over our lives. They are now struggling to reclaim what they perceive as their god given right to determine and enforce the new moral code that defines modern culture. They feel the shifting tide as they continue to lose their tight grip on the reins of society. It has turned them into crusaders, not just for the protection of the unborn but for a return to the glory days when the church had the final and last say over what would be tolerated and what would not."

--Birds of a Fundy Feather, by minister-turned-atheist Joe Holman. In commenting on Eric Rudolph, the famous abortion clinic bomber, Holman argues: "The Christian fundamentalist mindset is dangerous. It devalues life and appreciates one that exists only in fantasy. It enslaves the rational mind, empowering an otherwise conscionable individual to do inhumane things with feelings of integral justification, or at the very least, creates support and sympathy for those who so act."

--Apologist Edward Feser gets into the debate by comparing George Tiller, an abortionist doctor, to Jeffrey Dahmer who killed, dismembered and ate 17 men and boys. Feser says, "Tiller was almost certainly a more evil man than Dahmer was." LINK, with a follow-up LINK.

--In a tongue-in-cheek essay, Why Conservative Christians Should Love Abortion, Franz Kiekeben takes seriously William Lane Craig's arguments that slaughtered innocent children go to heaven, and draws the conclusion that so do aborted fetuses. Hence, "Christian conservatives should be encouraging women to get pregnant for the sole purpose of aborting their fetuses — and doing this as often as they can! They should stop protesting abortion clinics and instead hand out fliers informing women of the religious benefits associated with the practice, and encouraging them to do the godly thing."

--God Loves Abortion, by Jonathan Pearce. "Given the statistics that fetuses die from natural, spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages; abortions that God has the power to stop, and seemingly designed in to the system in the first place, then.... either God is not omnibenevolent; or God does not exist; or embryos are not so sacred and arguments over what defines personhood are called for; or that millions of fetal deaths a year, unknown to humanity, are necessary for a greater good."

--About fifteen years ago I participated in a written debate with an atheist over abortion, which can be found at DC here. I think I laid out a reasonable case for a women's right to abortion.

Do You Believe In Karma? You Could If..

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...you were born somewhere else in the world. You might even pay to have bad karma removed! Which shows corruption abounds. So let me put it to you, to the degree there is corruption in a religious organization then to that same degree it's not from a caring god or a supernatural power. If so, say goodbye to all religions! For more religion photos of the week, see this LINK.

Giving Up Jesus for Lent

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Five Flash Podcasts
Each one under 5 minutes:

...on why the gospel resurrection stories don't work.

1. What to do with the Body? The Ascension story kills the Resurrection story.

2. Bad theology: What is the value of a 40-day resurrection?

3. The Empty Tomb: Why couldn’t they get the story straight?

4. The Empty Tomb: The apostle Paul didn’t know the story.

5. How can we trust anything in the gospels?

The next series of Flash Podcasts I’m working on: Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said.


David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was reissued last year by Tellectual Press with a new Foreword by John Loftus. The Cure-for-Christianity Library is here.

Bible Fables Are Not the Problem

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Core Christianity is the big nuisance
There are countless memes going around that ridicule talking snakes and donkeys, the ark full of animals, and a woman created from a rib. Who really cares about any of these? Any more than we care about fables describing floating axes, the sun standing still, or bears mauling boys who ridiculed a prophet. Aside from those who insist that the Bible is inerrant, ordinary devout folks don’t get too bent out of shape by the folklore.

But the ordinary devout folks also somehow manage to evade the grimmer, weirder ‘important’ teachings of the New Testament. If churchgoers spent as much time reading the Bible—really digging in—as they do watching movies, there would be more discomfort than they bargained for—and maybe quite a few would take their pastor aside to whisper, “Hey, Rev, this Bible chapter is really freaking me out.” Or do they just shrug their shoulders? They want to love their Jesus. It’s up to the minister to understand ‘all that Bible stuff.’

Claiming to Know God is the Highest Form of Elitism

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When I hear someone say that a god is responsible for something that happened or a decision that they've made, I cringe. Most things about religion have become cringe worthy to me. The more I explore the deeply entrenched mythologies of my own culture, the harder it becomes for me to take much of what humans do seriously. Little by little, I've realized that when it comes to our world view, most people simply embrace the one they've inherited. Religion is easy to pick on, however, because it's so full of blatant fairy tales.

Yet, it's equally difficult to dispel, because the religious are such elitists. 

To break through their privileged exterior takes a sledge hammer, blow torch and chainsaw. They're not only blind to reason but they honestly seem to believe that they have a personal connection to the most powerful being in the universe. 

The Cover to My Next Anthology

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Two Early Blurbs For My Upcoming Anthology On Miracles

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I previously announced this anthology here. Two early blurbs have come in. One is by Michael Shermer and the other by Dan Lambert. See below:

You Too Could Be Wearing These Hats and Participating in this Festival!

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All you had to do is be born into a different family and religious culture. That means you'll be going to hell too, if you don't confess Jesus as Lord and Savior! So wouldn't you wish you would treat your inherited Jewish religion as if you were an outsider, a nonbeliever, in hopes you might find the religion of Jesus before you die? Then you should test the religion you were actually born in with fairness and no double standards. For more religion photos of the week See this LINK.

Yay! ‘Nones’ Now as Big as Evangelicals, Catholics in the US

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In a shift that stands to impact both religion and politics, survey data suggests that the percentage of Americans who don’t affiliate with any specific religious tradition is now roughly the same as those who identify as evangelical or Catholic.

According to newly released General Social Survey data analyzed by Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University, Americans claiming “no religion” — sometimes referred to as “nones” because of how they answer the question “what is your religious tradition?” — now represent about 23.1 percent of the population, up from 21.6 percent in 2016. People claiming evangelicalism, by contrast, now represent 22.5 percent of Americans, a slight dip from 23.9 percent in 2016.

That makes the two groups statistically tied with Catholics (23 percent) as the largest religious — or nonreligious — groupings in the country.

“Nones have been on the march for a long time now,” Burge said. “It’s been a constant, steady increase for 20 years now. If the trend line kept up, we knew this was going to happen.” LINK.

Making Excuses for God: The Erosion of Decency

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Stretching and Breaking the Truth
“God inhabits eternity, outside of time and space.” So a pastor friend once told me, perhaps without realizing how much hard work was required for theologians to make God sound so good; they’ve been at it for centuries, redesigning God endlessly: an endless quest for respectability.

It’s just a fact, however, that the god who rampages through both the Old and New Testaments is a nasty-tempered tribal deity. Those who protest this assessment would do well to remember the story of Noah: “drown ‘em all” was old Yahweh’s approach to cleaning up sin—and getting even. And when Jesus ‘returns’ there’ll be a repeat—so Jesus himself promised (Matthew 24:38-39).

Valerie Tarico interviews David Fitzgerald about Christian apologist Lee Strobel's personal conversion story and his books.

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Excellent interview!
The story that Evangelicals find so convincing and delicious is this: Strobel, a tough-as-nails atheist journalist and his atheist family are out to dinner when his daughter is saved from choking to death by an evangelical nurse who felt called by God to go to the restaurant that night. Strobel’s wife converts, and Strobel sets out to prove her wrong, using the same strategy that made him a fearsome investigative journalist. He lines up scholars and theologians and confronts them with the hardest possible questions about their faith—and comes away convinced that the Evangelical view of the Bible and Jesus is true. He accepts Jesus as his savior and proceeds to lay out those persuasive interviews in his book, which goes on, as I said, to become a religion best-seller.

The problem, according to author and religion critic David Fitzgerald (and others), is that key parts of this story are distorted at best and fabricated at worst.

A CSI Quote and David Marshall's Response

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I posted this quote on Facebook from a recent CSI episode:

"People lie. The only thing we 
can count on is the evidence."

This should be obvious and non-controversial, right? The evidence never lies. Only people do. But Christian apologist David Marshall felt threatened by the quote. Listen up, when apologists feel threatened by talk of evidence it should alert the rest of us they're not being honest about the truth. He responded:



From Alvin Plantinga who doesn't believe Christians need objective evidence for their faith, to William Lane Craig who claims the Holy Spirit trumps all objective evidence to the contrary, to David Marshall who dogs my steps, Christian apologists must denigrate science to believe. Here are a few other gems to look at from DMarshall:

DM: "All scientific knowledge depends upon human testimony."

DM: “Those who make wild claims about the scientific method often base their arguments not on good human evidence, but rumor, wild guesses, and extrapolations that would embarrass a shaman.”

DM: Actually, John, I would say that almost all scientific evidence COMES TO US as historical evidence. Science is, in effect, almost a branch of history, as it transmits knowable and systematically collected and interpreted facts to our brains.

It takes ignorance to defend the Christian faith; ignorance of science. I'd rest my case here but it'll flare up again and again since this is so important for faith.

Bob Seidensticker's List of 10 Skeptical Principles for Evaluating the Bible

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It's a good list with a bonus principle. Principles 1-5 are here.

Principles 6-11 are here.

Another principle which I advocate is to read between the lines. Ask yourselves what the opponents of Jesus and Paul said in response. Were the Pharisees that bad as a people? After all, they were the people's party. What arguments did most Jews have against the resurrection claim? They were there, they believed in God, they knew their OT prophecies, yet they didn't believe. What did early Christians say in response to Paul? What did they think of him, and why? Do you think these opponents were convinced by the sheer logic of what Paul said? If not, how did Paul's Christianity come to dominate?

John Gray’s Criticism of the New Atheists, Part 2

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Last time around, I wrote about Gray’s claim that religion isn’t meant as “a theory that tries to explain the universe,” but is instead “an attempt to find meaning in events.” And I pointed out one rather obvious problem with this claim — namely, that many do believe in religion as a way of explaining things. But even if Gray were right about the meaning of religion, there would be a problem with his view.

The way he sees it, religion gives us insights into the human condition. In this, it performs much the same function as certain works of fiction. The myth of the forbidden fruit, for example, teaches us, according to Gray, about the “ambiguous impact of knowledge on human freedom” — which he tells us is more realistic than the myth found in Greek philosophy “that knowledge and goodness are inseparably connected.”