The Biggest Christian Scandal Has Its Roots in the New Testament

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Anyone who is curious can figure it out 


Chance are, no Catholic priest is going to pause in the middle of his sermon to say, “Oh, by the way, I want everyone here today to go to another church next Sunday. Pick another denomination—Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Pentecostal, whatever—and try to find out if their version of Christianity is better than ours. Is it the right one?” Nor are preachers from any of these other brands going to do this. The devout seem not at all bothered that there are many thousands of conflicting, bickering Christian divisions and sects; these reflect profound disagreements about Jesus, god, the best ways to get to heaven. If we could convene a meeting of theologians from each of the brands, they would never be able to agree—among other reasons, because the theologians who wrote the New Testament didn’t agree either. Even the very earliest Christians were arguing.

It’s Time to LET GO of the Defective, Deficient Ten Commandments

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They could not have been inspired by a good, caring, wise god


I was a teenager in 1956 when the film, The Ten Commandments, was released. I saw it at the cinema in my small town in rural Indiana. I was stunned to see the fiery finger of god—looking a lot like lightning—blast the words of the laws onto the stone tablets. “Yes, that’s the way it must have happened.” Many years later, when I was engaged in serious Bible study, my naivete and gullibility had vanished. I realized that these famous ten commandments don’t set the high standard we had supposed.

Another Civil War Is Being Bandied About

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One historical document that is used to justify another American civil war is the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson and others. I've discussed what a civil war would look like, HERE. But two facts must be understood about it. First) The Declaration of Independence was a declaration of independence from the rule of a kingship with an abusive tyrant, King George III. They were not declaring their independence from democracy. They were creating a democracy, which is now being threatened by MAGA Republicans with Project 2025. Second) Their list of 27 grievances mentioned some terrible acts by King George that are way above anything the Maga Republicans are citing, HERE.

The Just-So Stories of the Bible

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In Dr. David Madison’s insightful article of July 5, 2024, There’s Too Much Evil and Cruelty in the Bible, he wrote:

Very early in my serious study of the Bible I learned about “etiological myths”, that is, stories imagined to explain why things are the way they are. This is the god’s curse on the woman, to explain why childbirth is painful: “I will make your pangs in childbirth exceedingly great; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

This particular etiological myth, or just-so story, with patriarchal sexism thrown in at no extra charge, warrants further comment. How do we know the bible is wrong here? Since not everyone might know the relevant details of human evolution, I’ll expand on that here.

Babies are cute, but their unusually big heads can be deadly to Mom
Babies are cute, but their unusually big heads can be deadly to Mom

Giving birth, for humans, is quite unlike giving birth for most if not all other animals that give birth to live young. Imagine, for example, that giving birth were as problematic and temporarily debilitating for a zebra mare as it often is for a human female. Further imagine that a zebra foal were born as helpless as a human child (that is, imagine that zebra younglings were altricial instead of precocial). In that case, the lions that relentlessly pursue zebras would enjoy easy meals,1 although only for a comparatively brief time of bounty until they quickly hunted zebras to extinction. Because of the way zebras live, by staying constantly one step ahead of lions, they have to be almost uninterruptedly mobile to avoid becoming lion lunch. Zebra mares have to bounce back quickly after giving birth, and zebra foals must be able to run within an hour of being born. Other animals, such as nesting birds, can keep their altricial (i.e., initially helpless) hatchlings somewhat out of reach of predators, relatively safe in their nests, while giving care to them. But the parent birds must remain very fit so they can continue to collect food for their voracious young. Difficult reproduction is not a luxury many other species can afford. Among other things, it’s a testimony to the social power of humans. Humans form complex and powerful communities able to safeguard vulnerable mothers and children from threats that would wipe out many other species. Zebras, in contrast, don’t cooperate with other zebras with the same scale and sophistication as humans. Other species can’t cooperate quite like humans because their brains aren’t big enough to handle the complex computations necessary to make it work. Humans can, so we do; and because we can and do, evolution in due course sees that we must.

Humans no longer knuckle-walk, at least outside of Trump rallies
Humans no longer knuckle-walk, at least outside of Trump rallies2

Given that birth or egg-laying are rarely life-threatening for other animals, why is giving birth such a problem for humans? The biblical just-so story reflects a profound ignorance of evolutionary theory and fact. (The scientific explanation wouldn’t happen for many centuries after the bible was written.) Everything about a species is a product of how it evolved and continues to evolve. The human line underwent at least two profound changes over the last 4 million to 7 million years since our last common ancestor with the chimpanzees: the switch from quadrupedalism (walking on all fours, knuckle-walking in the case of the other ground-dwelling great apes, although the exact history of that habit isn’t clear) to bipedalism (walking on our two hind feet, thus freeing our grasping hands to get us into more trouble); and the tripling of our encephalization quotient relative to our nearest cousins the chimpanzees. The great encephalization apparently occurred in response to selective pressures for greater intelligence that acted on the human line but did not act in the same way on the chimpanzee line. Exactly what that entailed is a matter of some debate, but to function as a human in any human society you have to be a lot smarter than a chimpanzee. And to get smarter you need a much larger cerebral cortex, which in turn makes you need a larger skull. Which is larger from the get-go, i.e. birth.

As the pre-human and then human neonate skull got larger, fitting it through the human female’s pelvic opening became more difficult. Accordingly the shape of the female pelvis had to adapt, by the brutal method available to evolution: killing off the females in every generation who lagged the trend by having insufficiently roomy hips. But this ran into another difficulty: our upright stance, which works better with narrow hips. You don’t see a lot of elite distance runners with extremely wide hips. And given that humans were generally nomadic until only about 10,000 years ago when some humans started adopting agriculture, anything that compromised mobility ran up against another kind of selection pressure. Thus the hominin genome and then the human genome had to do a juggling act between multiple conflicting needs for several million years - the need for ever-bigger brains, ever-wider hips for the females, and getting around efficiently on two feet. One genome also has to handle all the dimorphism - making sure the males get the traits they need while the females get the traits they need. But in reality, genetic diversity means humans exhibit distributions for many traits (and often the distributions are approximately normal). Therefore some women will be better suited than others to giving birth. This is exactly what you would not expect an omni-God3 to arrange, but which makes a lot more sense in light of mindless and indifferently cruel evolution. See my earlier post, For God So Loved the Whales for more examples of how unintelligently and uncompassionately we are designed. In that post I drew from Abby Hafer’s marvelous book The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not which among other godly goofs describes the horrors of pre-technological human childbearing in grisly detail.

We can’t really blame the bible authors for making uninformed guesses about why humans are the way they are. These writers were ancient men who didn’t understand reality very well. They didn’t even know where the Sun goes at night.4 But no modern human has a strong excuse5 for continuing to be fooled by ancient misconceptions, etiological myths, and just-so-stories. In sharp contrast to the simpler (and typically shorter) lives of the ancients, modern humans mostly lead lives that would be impossible without modern science. To pick just one example, about half of the protein in human bodies today came from the Haber-Bosch process of artificial nitrogen fixation. (Without the resulting artificial fertilizers, perhaps half of the existing human population would have to gradually die, unless humans were to get a whole lot better at recycling the fixed nitrogen present in our own bodily wastes. However, even understanding how to do that safely still requires science that ancient humans did not have, such as the germ theory of disease.) No modern human should reject modern science in favor of biblical just-so stories, but many do, thanks to various psychological and cultural causes.

The universe as revealed by God to ancient Hebrews
The universe as revealed by God to ancient Hebrews

  1. As anatomically modern humans spread out of Africa beginning perhaps 70,000 years ago, they took with them newly-developed and novel hunting techniques, the likes of which the megafauna (large animals) outside of Africa had never before seen. Unlike the animals of Africa, which evolved alongside humans and had time to adapt, the largest land species in the rest of the world were practically defenseless. And so paleontologists have mapped a wave of megafaunal extinctions on all the other land masses that humans reached which are suspiciously timed shortly after the first anatomically modern humans arrived in each place - Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, New Zealand, Madagascar, etc.↩︎

  2. For any fans of the felon who may take offense, note carefully that I wrote “at least”. Which means I literally made no claim about what happens inside of Trump rallies. For that I defer to Jordan Klepper who has recorded several videos showcasing the towering intellects who flock to such events.↩︎

  3. See the John W. Loftus anthology God and Horrendous Suffering, and his eponymous blog post, for more about the problems of trying to square a common Christian understanding of a caring God with the considerably grimmer reality we experience.↩︎

  4. For the details of ancient Hebrew cosmology, which lives on in today’s Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament to Christians), see Chapter 4: “Christianity and Cosmology”, by Victor J. Stenger, in the John W. Loftus anthology, Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion. Also see the Wikipedia articles Ancient near eastern cosmology, Firmament, Biblical cosmology, and Jewish cosmology. The history of what self-proclaimed men of God once thought about God’s alleged creation is rather awkward today. This should not instill confidence in the accuracy of divine revelation as a way of knowing.↩︎

  5. OK, as we learned from Robert Sapolsky’s book Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will, nothing is quite really anyone’s fault. Everything that happens, including everything we do, is fully determined by what happened before. And most of what happened to us before was not under our control. However, contemporary humans living lives of comparative privilege in the developed nations have easy access to the hard-won facts of science, which makes excusing instances of modern willful ignorance (or motivated reasoning) seem harder than excusing the unavoidable ignorance of the ancients. Modern ignorance is also far easier to correct, since we have modern science making its case every day by showering us with technological goodies such as smartphones and vaccines. For some reason smartphones have gotten a better reception - there are some anti-vaxxers, but no similarly organized movement against smartphones. However, not even anti-vaxxers volunteer to have themselves deliberately infected by a resurrected strain of smallpox, a deadly scourge eradicated by the very vaccination technology they disparage. Given that smallpox used to kill a large fraction of humanity, there are probably some anti-vaxxers who are only alive today because of vaccine technology, which saved either them or their ancestors. Unfortunately, science hasn’t yet found a way to impart scientific knowledge to everyone. Humans still have to learn science. Modern humans still learn in much the same way as paleolithic humans once learned - by relying almost entirely on our evolved brains to slowly and painstakingly collect and assimilate new information. We can haul our brains across oceans in fossil-fueled airplanes at nearly the speed of sound (to the detriment of Earth’s habitable climate), but our brains themselves are not materially much better than the brains of cave men, although some modern brains contain some better ideas now. Learning science continues to require years of hard mental work, and humans are differently able or inclined to do the work. It’s similar to learning to play the guitar, for which some people are clearly more talented than others, and which not everyone is equally inclined to pursue. Therefore, while many people consume the material benefits of science, fewer people adopt the scientific habits of mind which yielded the material benefits, such as evidentialism and critical thinking. At the barest minimum, a competent modern human should have some grasp on a philosophy of expertise, understanding that everyone must defer to experts on a vast array of things we don’t all have time or ability to fully master. That doesn’t mean that every expert is always correct, just that experts are more likely to be correct within the scope of their expertise than a non-expert would be on the same subjects. If you subscribe to a belief that requires virtually all the relevant experts to be wrong, such as young Earth creationism, or its political repackaging as intelligent design creationism, you’re way out on a flimsy cognitive limb.↩︎

There’s Too Much Evil and Cruelty in the Bible

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Topped off with bad theology and silliness


The first comment on my article here last week was offered by skepticCO, who quoted the apostle Paul in Romans 1:28-32:

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God decided to show them compassion and love and to do what ought to be done. They were filled with all manner of empathy, love, optimism, hope. They are full of beauty, desire, peace, reverence. They are lovers, teachers, mentors, helpers, inventors. They know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve all that is good, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

On Agnosticism, Deism, and Atheism

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Agnosticism is better stated as, "No religious faith is probable but beyond that I don't know."

Deism is best stated as, "Only a god based on good evidence and sound reasoning is the correct deity."

Agnosticism is in agreement with atheism on the major conclusions, and deism is in agreement with atheism on the correct epistemological methodology.

Here's a Good Interview on the Outsider Test and Other issues

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Commenting on the Supposed Miracles of Atheism

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This meme was posted on Facebook. Here in one comment is a response of mine. Chime in.
These four points lead only to--and hear me clearly--agnosticism (which says I don't know), or deism (which says at best a creator god exists), or perhaps pantheism (which says the ONE has always existed). It does not lead to anything else, much less a conservative interpretation of the Bible. Nonbelievers as a whole, including all non-Christians, take issue with your specific beliefs due to a gross lack of evidence, along with the lack of logical coherence.
Atheists take this critique of your specific faith one step further by concluding that following evidence and logic are the best tools to know the truth. But to be sure, we don't state these four talking points as quoted. We say instead that, "The evidence leads to the probability that..." Or "Following what logic dictates leads to the probability that..."
Nonetheless, your first talking point is accepted by atheists due to the evidence for  evolution. If evolution is true then let's look for the evidence that life came about by the same process, even though discovering it seems harder than discovering evolution itself. This is the motivation that has furthered science from the very beginning. Cheers!

There’s Too Much Evil and Cruelty in Religion

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Turning a blind eye has damaged Christianity especially 


On the morning of September 11, 2001, I did my routine walk to work in Manhattan. Soon after I arrived at the office, the terror of the day began. In my diary for that day, I added a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at the top of the page, “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”  On the following Sunday, church attendance in the New York/New Jersey area was higher than usual. Apparently worshippers were seeking comfort—or perhaps trying to convince their god that our sins did not deserve such severe punishment. I would like to think that at least some who showed up for church wanted to scold their god for his negligence. He didn’t have the power on 9/11 to divert the aircraft? Or to moderate the rage in the minds of the terrorists? What’s the use of believing in—and worshipping—an all-powerful god if he can’t put his powers to use at crucial moments?

Presidential Debate

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How does one debate someone who throws out too many accusations and lies to refute them all? How? There must be a good strategy to effectively deal with the Gish Gallop on steroids.

Why Would a Cosmos-Creating God Play Games with Humanity?

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…and allow many thousands of clergy to pose as the referees? 


The Game: The creator-god lays down many (often cruel, conflicting) rules for human behavior—in different scriptures—but neglects/declines to provide clear evidence that he/she/it even exists. 
 
The Referees: Countless clergy who claim to know the real rules, yet are unable to show their followers clear evidence that their god(s) exist: “Just take our word for it.” And this has gone on for millennia. Look around at the world today: what a mess religion is—because the referees don’t agree.

The God of Job

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God originally had a body (Genesis 3:8-10; 32:20-30; Exodus 33:21-22). He had sons (Genesis 1:26; 6:2; Job 1:1) and lived in the sky above, from which he looked down on the earth below (Job 1:6).[1] No omnipresence here. God needed a servant, Satan, to check on the sincere loyalty of his subjects. God subsequently allowed Job to be put to the test twice by Satan. But there was no need to test Job if God knew he would pass the test, which he did (1:22, 2:22). No omniscience here. If Job was tested for a show, then God is an egomaniac only interested in being praised at the expense of others. What we see here is the only great-making quality God had in those early days, absolute power over his subjects, just like other Mesopotamian kings.[2] He had the power to destroy people at will, including Job’s children and servants (Isaiah 45:7). This is something his subjects should never question. It’s the main point of Job  (chapters 38-42). No omnibenelovence here.


[1] See the chapter on biblical cosmology by Edward Babinski in The Christian Delusion (2010). To read about the biblical god see my paper, “Does God Exist? A Definitive Biblical Case” at  https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/does-god-exist-a-definitive-biblical-case/

[2] Except when it came to iron chariots (Judges 1:19).

Christianity Thrives Because of the Failure of Curiosity

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It doesn’t take much curiosity to puncture theology


How does the church get away with its theology games? A church in Texas recently refused entrance to a blind woman and her service dog, as reported in an article published a few days ago by The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta. Falling far short of the compassion of Jesus, church security was worried about the dog, because the worship service included “a live band and flashing lights.” Why are we not surprised? These are tricks of the trade. The clergy have learned how to be dramatists. For a very long time, worship has been entertainment: putting on a show, using razzle-dazzle to give theology as much heft as possible: ceremony, music, costumes, rituals, art, scenery and set design. And it works. Folks go to the churches where they find familiar, cherished reinforcements of their certainties about god and securing eternal life. Just savor the moment and the emotion. The clergy might as well say—as part of this heavenly bargain: “Please don’t think too much about what we’re doing, that might deflate the high you’re feeling.”

It Was 80-Years Ago This Month: A Hideous Crime

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How do Christians explain their god’s negligence? 


Many Christian brands willingly embrace the wrathful god of the Old Testament, and there are plenty of texts in the New Testament as well that endorse this anger: the coming of this god’s kingdom will bring extreme suffering. Other Christian brands downplay this concept of god, preferring to stress their god’s love and compassion. These clergy promote a warmer, fuzzier concept of god, e.g., what a friend we have in Jesus. Your sins will be forgiven if you ask for mercy: god wants to welcome you to eternal life. 
 
Challenges to this view of god are commonly deflected. The clergy don’t want their parishioners to ponder the devastating implications of horrendous suffering. How could a good, caring, powerful god allow the Holocaust to happen? Or the Black Plague? And what a tragic irony that Christian extremism brought so much suffering during the Inquisition, the violent Crusades, and the Thirty Years War.

Disqus uses Markdown now

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Debunking Christianity (DC), the site you’re probably looking at now, is the blog of noted atheist author John W. Loftus, featuring blog posts by him and his stable of guest bloggers. The blog itself runs on the blogging platform Blogger, a content management system for blog sites owned by Google since 2003.

A valuable feature of DC is its lively comment section, featuring a remarkable concentration of educated, well-read, and articulate partipants. (The comment section here is the inverse of a Trump rally crowd.) The comment section runs on Disqus. For many years, the Disqus editor accepted a limited set of HTML tags for formatting text…until one day, perhaps around May 30, 2024, HTML tags simply stopped working. If you suddenly felt like a character in a Franz Kafka novel, you’re not alone. From Wikipedia:

Franz Kafka (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was a German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist and writer from Prague. He is widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work fuses elements of realism and the fantastic. It typically features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers. It has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. (…) The term Kafkaesque has entered English to describe absurd situations like those depicted in his writing.

From the Movie "A Million Ways To Die in the West" [2014]

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"A Million Ways To Die in the West" 2014 (timestamp 12:49 to 15:09). This is fairly accurate and funny! What an awful era it was to live in! How could people living in it know God would fulfill his promises in the afterlife, when it was so awful in their own lives?

‐----------

What is there to live for on the frontier in 1882? Huh?

Look, let me tell you something. We live in a terrible place and time. The American West is a disgusting, awful, dirty, dangerous place.

Look around you. Everything out here that's not you, wants to kill you. Outlaws, angry drunk people, scorned hookers, hungry animals, diseases, major and minor injuries, Indians, the weather.

You can get killed just going to the bathroom. I take my life in my hands every time I walk out to my outhouse. There's rattlesnakes all in the grass out there. And even if I make it, you know what can kill me? Cholera. You know cholera? The latest offering in the frontier's disease-of-the-month club.

And even if you survive all those things, you know what else can kill you? The doctor can kill you. I had a cold a couple of years ago. I went in there. You know what he said to me? He goes, "Oh, you need an ear nail." A nail in my ear! That is modern medicine for you. "Yeah, Doc, I have a fever of 102." "Oh, you need a donkey kickin'."

You know our pastor has shot two people? Our pastor. Honest to God. Shot a guy in a duel and then went back and killed the guy's teenage son because he was afraid he would kill him out of revenge.

Wait, how do you know that? Because he did a whole sermon about it! A lesson about seeing things through.

By the way, see those guys over there? The guys who work in the silver mines? See what they're eating? Ribs doused in hot sauce. They eat hot spicy foods every meal of the day. Do you know why? Because their palates are so completely dulled from inhaling poisoned gas, 12 hours a day, down in the mines. That's all they can taste.

You know what that kind of diet does to your guts? Constipation, cramps, dyspepsia, liver disease, kidney disease, hemorrhoids, bowel inflammation. They literally die from their own farts.

That, my friends, is the American West. A disgusting, awful, dirty cesspool of despair.

What a Shame: the Writings of a Crank Got Into the Bible

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Please stop calling him “saint” Paul

One particular Christian cult has dedicated itself to putting Bibles in motel/hotel rooms; by one estimate they’ve distributed more than a billion Bibles over the decades. The idea is to put the Word of God within easy reach, right there in the drawer beside the bed. This probably worked better in the era before every motel/hotel room had a TV—and when many travelers had their laptop computers and cell phones. But picking up the Bible and reading a few verses or chapters doesn’t solve the problem of figuring out the meaning of the texts. Christianity has shattered into so many warring brands because there is so much difference of opinion about meaning.

I Forgot to Mention Paul Copan Recommended My Book

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This is no big deal really, but it does get one closer to a recommendation by William Lane Craig, since Copan and Craig are pretty close friends. You see, I had sent Paul some book files of God and Horrendous Suffering for a recommendation, and he said he was still convinced God is good. I said that's not the point, and I sent him the recommendation by Chad Meister, author/ co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Problem of Evil. Meister wrote this blurb:
The most pressing challenge to belief in God today is undoubtedly the problem of pain. One only needs to read the provocative array of essays in this volume of leading atheists and other non-theists to see why this is such an ongoing problem for those of us who believe that God is real. Whatever one’s beliefs or worldview, and whether one agrees or disagrees, I commend all seekers of truth to read and reflect on this significant work that John Loftus has so skillfully edited.
So Paul said this:

How Christianity Disintegrated Right in Front of Me

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While I was in seminary!

When I was growing up, missing church on Sunday was unthinkable. My mother was devout, and this had a major impact on my world view. But she was gifted with intense curiosity—born and raised in Indiana, she had somehow escaped being a fundamentalist—and was a voracious reader. When I was a teenager, she bought the 12-Volume Interpreter’s Bible, a product of liberal Protestant scholarship. Because I read the scriptures with this kind of guidance, taking the Bible literally wasn’t something I was coached to do. But doubting the existence of God wasn’t on the horizon for me at that time. My mother allowed me to take the Interpreter’s Bible with me to college, and during those four years my interest intensified: I decided the ministry ought to be my career.

The Cherished So-Called Evidence for God Hits Brick Walls

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This is not hard to figure out

But you do have to think about what is claimed as evidence for god(s). Does the evidence hold up to careful, critical analysis? What is the evidence usually cited? At the end of the 1942 film, Casablanca, Captain Louis Renault utters the famous line, “Round up all the usual suspects.” So let’s review the usual evidence-for-god(s) suspects, starting with…
 
Scripture/Revelation
 
The problem is that devout theologians/clergy have never been able to agree on which scriptures, which portions of scriptures, actually qualify as divinely inspired word-of-a-god. Once the New Testament had become the Christian scripture, the Old Testament was downgraded, especially since it includes so much god-generated brutality. It’s still in the Christian Bible, but much of it can be dismissed with “Oh, that’s in the Old Testament…” And it’s no surprise that Jewish theologians don’t give divine ranking to the New Testament. Nor are Christians about to add the Qur’an to their Bible, though it is considered the supremely divine word of Allah. You mean the Muslim theologians have it all wrong? And it would be hard to find any Jewish, Christian, or Muslim theologians who doesn’t think The Book of Mormon is a joke. It’ll never happen that these thousands of devout theologians from different brands will come to an agreement.

The Desperate Desire to Know What Jesus Actually Taught

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But we can’t get there from here


Most of the devout would have no clue what I’m talking about, i.e., that we have no way of knowing what Jesus actually taught. Their holy gospels, inspired by a god, are chock full of the words of Jesus. So can’t they just pick up their Bible and read the wisdom of Jesus? But New Testament scholars—many of whom are devout believers—know that the gospels present major problems for historians. Not the least of which is identifying/verifying what Jesus actually taught.

Revised Edition of God & Horrendus Suffering

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We're working on the chapters to this book now. To read about it click here!

A Handy Concise Guide, Part 2: Why the New Testament Is a Disaster

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Two major things it got really wrong



By really wrong I mean that these New Testament errors have caused unspeakable horrors, so much suffering and death. The authors had no clue that their texts would have such disastrous impact on history. After all, they expected history would soon end, upon the arrival of Jesus on the clouds: the new kingdom of their god would prevail, the Romans would be vanquished. As the apostle Paul put it in I Thessalonians 4:17: after the dead are raised, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will be with the Lord forever.
 
A generous helping of fantasy, indeed.

Published: Don McIntosh's Article In Response to Mine On "God and Horrendous Suffering."

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Volume 2, Issue 1 (Spring 2024) of the Trinity Journal of Natural & Philosophical Theology has just been published. Included is the response by Editor-in-Chief Don McIntosh, titled, “Horrendous Evil and Christian Theism: A Reply to John Loftus” (pp. 25-44). 
With his permission I'm publishing it in its entirety below. This isn't the first time I've published a paper by a Christian philosopher, or apologist. Just click on the Tag "Christian Scholars" below to see some others. Comment as you will. Don will be reading and may respond.
If you remember, my previous article was published in an earlier issue in the TJNPT, and can be read at The Secular Web, along with a video of it on YouTube.  
I will write a response to his response which will be published at The Secular Web
 

Three Big Items the Clergy Don’t Want the Faithful to Think About

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It’s just far too dangerous

ONE: What is humanity’s place/status in the cosmos?
 
It was in 1950 that Pope Pius XII declared the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s bodily assumption into heaven. We may be tempted to wonder if he was out of his mind, but no: he was very much in his mind as it had been shaped by Catholic devotion as a child. His mother had her children worship daily at a Mary shrine in their home. Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) was born in 1876, just twenty-two years after Pope Pius IX declared in 1854 the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception—that is she had been conceived without original sin. Catholic devotion to this female goddess had been enhanced and encouraged for a long time. Pius XII made precisely this point in the lengthy document (48 points) explaining Mary’s bodily assumption to heaven, Munificentissimus Deus. It’s a tedious read, a labyrinth of theobabble.

A New Printing of My Book!

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I just received a copy of my massive refutation of Christianity with 536 pages to it. The book to the right was too small. The middle one was okay as it goes. The left one is best, using thicker paper. It's almost 1/8th of an inch thicker. I like it! Go getcha one!

David Hume's Argument against Miracles Cannot Be Disputed. I Prove It Beyond Any Reasonable Doubt!

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The title to this post echoes the certainty of David Hume, known as the greatest English speaking philosopher. He said:
I flatter myself, that I have discovered an argument which, if just, will, with the wise and learned, be an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion, and consequently, will be useful as long as the world endures. [Enquiry "Of Miracles" X (#86)]
I argue this is still true. Now I'm not sure why many Christian intellectuals ignore my books and my arguments. Many or most evangelical apologists know of them. So I'll say it. I think many of them have decided not to deal with them, or to give them any oxygen, because they cannot dispute them. It's so much easier to go after popular but low hanging fruit. Apologist Frank Turek, for instance, knows of my work but never addresses it in his daily posts at X (or Twitter). I find that very odd. So I must conclude he cannot dispute them.

Okay this sounds like I'm challenging apologists to a Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, so it makes me arrogant. But I have the goods. Others do as well. Is it really arrogant to say Christianity of the evangelical kind is bunk, when it is in fact bunk? No it's not, not anymore than it is to say Leprechauns don't exist. Many atheists, agnostics, deists, and even liberals agree with me on that score. But because I state the obvious many evangelical apologists will conclude I'm uniformed of the underpinnings of their faith, since they are so sure of it. They might also think this of the title to this blog. I can't change that now. But if they read just one of my papers they will see my scholarship. Check out just one peer reviewed paper, in defense of David Hume on miracles at The Secular Web. THIS ONE. Can you dispute it? I say you can't do it. Timothy McGrew, I’m looking at you.

A Handy Concise Guide: Why the New Testament Is a Disaster

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The church and clergy are masters at covering this up


Since my retirement ten years ago, I have made several trips to England, France, and Italy. Upon my arrival, always high on my agenda is visiting museums. One type of museum, by the way, is a cathedral or grand church, even if it is not a cathedral. I love to wander in these places, because of the art and architecture, which include magnificent stained glass, paintings, and sculpture. It is tempting to think—which after all, is the purpose of this extravagance—that a wonderful religion is the source of it all. This idea is reinforced when my visit happens at a time when worship services are being held. The organ music adds to the splendor of it all.

Has Counter-Apologetics Peaked? By Robert Conner

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Everyone old enough to remember that day knows where they were
and what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001, the day of madness that marked the true beginning of the 21st century. As the world watched in a mixture of horror and incomprehension, nineteen Islamist terrorists flew planes into American landmarks. United Airlines flight 93, reportedly intended to hit the U.S. Capitol building, crashed instead in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers wrested control of the plane from the hijackers.

More Jesus Quotes Christians Could Do Without, Part 4

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Maybe Jesus himself could talk you out of Christianity


Where would theology be without human imagination? The gospel authors show just how true this is. Matthew came up with dystopian fantasy when he reported (Matthew 27:52-53) that many dead people came alive in their tombs at the moment Jesus died, then wandered around Jerusalem on Easter morning. This detail is missing from the other gospels, whose authors didn’t imagine it. Likewise Matthew reported an earthquake when the women arrived at the tomb on Easter morning: an angel descended from heaven to roll back the stone, then sat on it. This also was beyond the imagination of the other gospel authors. In John’s gospel we find the story of the voice-activated resurrection of Lazarus (i.e., a magic spell)—which the other gospels authors knew nothing about. John’s imagination ran wild: his gospel is so different from the others. Elsewhere I have accused John of theology inflation.

Questioning Miracles: In Defense of David Hume

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My peer reviewed paper in defense of David Hume on miracles just dropped at The Secular Web. It's long because his detractors are many. LINK

Are Religious Dictatorships a Good Idea?

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Adored holy heroes can be too full of themselves


How well I remember, as a teenager, my mother’s annoyance at seeing Billy Graham on TV, theatrically waving the Bible above his head, and urging folks to come forward to accept Jesus. She was especially upset when she saw coverage of Vatican ceremonies—all the extravagant costumes, and the pope being carried on an ornate chair. “What has all that got to do with Christianity?” she would declare. She was a devout Methodist, and didn’t care for the hype. And let’s face it: the Vatican shows a keen awareness of the value of show business. The annual budget of the Vatican costume department could provide food for many thousands of poor people. What are these guys playing at?

God and the Evidential Problem of Horrendous Suffering

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Written by John W. Loftus. Narrated by Seth Andrews. Video produced by Michael Maletin. The text of this video has been published by Internet Infidels.

Description: This video highlights the evidential problem of horrendous suffering for the theistic God. It's a problem apologists have ignored for far too long. It comes from the introduction Loftus wrote for his book, God and Horrendous Suffering, published by the Global Center for Religious Research.

Loftus first lays out the general problem to be answered. Then he discusses the force it has for several different theologies. He goes on to deal with four moral concerns a theistic god would have in creating a world, along with the four apologetic strategies used to answer it. It ends with a challenge not to do what other Christian apologists have done.


The Church’s Fan Base Is Slipping Away

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Christian sins, intolerance, and confusion are largely to blame


It has been said that the Internet is a place where religion goes to die. That’s because it’s an easily accessible portal to ideas and information that clergy would prefer to keep hidden from their congregations. Of course, deeply committed religious believers have their presence on the Internet as well, but atheists have achieved a level of prominence, for example, Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist), Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist), John W. Loftus, prolific author and founder of the Debunking Christianity Blog, Annie Laurie Gaylor (author and co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation), Valerie Tarico, author and blogger, Greta Christina, author and blogger—to name but a very few. It would seem that Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris—with their devastating critiques of religion—provided the impetus for the atheist publishing surge we’ve seen since the turn of the century.

This is now an Ad free Blog!

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The Ads here at DC had taken over. I don't know how that happened, nor did I want it. No more. David Madison and Michael Trollan took care of it yesterday. Yay! This is now an Ad free Blog and will remain so into the indefinate future. Enjoy! This is not to say we're rich. It's rather that Ads are annoying and not reader friendly.

I want to thank everyone for your readership and your "clicks". Thanks for any donations you've sent to help sustain me while I did my work here. Thanks also to the readers who have commented over the years. They are the best online, making possible intelligent discussions and debates with believers.

With this loss of income I must still ask something of you. If this Blog has been helpful please consider helping out financially. You can do so by buying something off Amazon.com. (USA)I get pennies on the dollar for every purchase, and this can add up. Amazon has most anything you want at some of the best prices too. You can also donate $5-$20-$50-$100 or more. This is by far the best way you can help! Just click on the donate button below:



Christian ministries rake in a great deal of money. I'd like to think atheists financially support writers who help them as well. I have no institutional support nor am I a paid employee of any atheist organization.

You can encourage me by e-mail [loftusjohnw at gmail dot com]. You could also buy a book or two from my Amazon wish list. Your support is still very important to me personally! It just will no longer be in your face, with Ads out of control!

Heads up this coming Monday! I'll be posting a YouTube video of the paper Seth Andrews read on God and Horrendous Suffering. Michael Maletin put it to some really good images! It's awesome!

Why Aren’t Christians Obsessed with Throwing Out Their Trash?

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Their faith is damaged by the crazies

I sometimes wonder why there isn’t a League of Decent Christians Against Abusive Evangelicals. Not too long ago, I saw a photo of Franklin Graham praying with Donald Trump, whom he had embraced as a defender of his brand of Christianity. In 2019, when Trump was still president, John Pavlovitz wrote a scathing article about Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr., in which he wrote:

“History is recording the Evangelical Right’s abomination of a marriage with this godless President, and though there were what surely felt like short-term wins, the lasting damage to the Church will be irreparable. People outside Christianity suspecting that religious people are all hypocritical frauds, are being given plenty of evidence for it. Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, and the multitude of lesser known spiritually compromised leaders, need the barrier-breaking, wall-obliterating Jesus whose name they invoke, even as they praise a President who is completely antithetical to him. They need the knees-in-the-dirt repentance they so demand of the world, so that they can admit culpability in the violence of these days and push back against the walls and the bans and the barriers.”  (emphasis added)

I Know What Best Describes a Reasonable Person!

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Well, I know an essential characteristic anyway. You want to know what best describes reasonable people? I know.

Reasonable people are the ones who accept the results of science.

Conversely, unreasonable people are the ones who reject the results of science. Since religious believers (theistic or otherwise) believe in at least one doctrine that goes against the consensus of scientists working in their fields, then religious believers are not reasonable people to believe them.

Agnostics are also not reasonable people by the same standard. For by claiming not to know about a specific doctrine that has been shown to be false by science, they are not reasonable either. Saying they don’t know, when science knows, is to be a science denier.

More Jesus Quotes Christians Could Do Without, Part 3

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Many of the devout would be shocked at what Jesus would do

I suspect most devout believers adore their Jesus, as he is portrayed in stained glass, great art, hymns (e.g., What a Friend We Have in Jesus)—and, of course, how is he lovingly described from the pulpit. Thus they skip careful study of the gospels. Years ago, when I was a pastor, it was a tiny minority of the congregation that attended my Bible study classes. When folks do study the gospels carefully/critically, they may notice things that seem farfetched. How many of us have heard the voice of god booming from the sky? That seems a mark of fantasy literature. In Mark, the first gospel written, this is how Jesus’ baptism is described (1:10-11): “And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.’”

About David Corner, Author of Chapter 1 in The Case Against Miracles

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Dr. David Corner wrote a fantastic chapter in my book. I didn't know he died two months before it was published. I learned later. I have an email record of what he believes, and I think readers might be interested. I ask authors to tell readers something about themselves. Here is what he sent me:
David Corner received his PhD from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He’s a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy of California State University, Sacramento. He is the author of The Philosophy of Miracles.
I asked him what he thought of my chapter 3, on Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence. He said to me:
I am reading your chapter, but I have to teach tomorrow so I won't finish until at least Tuesday. Looks pretty good so far, though I'm shocked at how poor some of the arguments are that you are criticizing. I don't even read that stuff... but it's a good thing someone is. You are doing a good service.
I asked him what he believes.

Did the Good Christian God Relocate to Another Galaxy?

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He hasn’t been paying much attention to planet Earth


When anyone says, “Can you prove God doesn’t exist?” I am tempted to reply, “Just look around you. What do you see?” Answers from the devout might include, “Beautiful sunsets, glorious flowers, majestic mountains—-how wonderful—this is my Father’s world!” But take a closer look: the god who supposedly engineered the marvels that prompt believers to sing “how great thou art”—isn’t that the same god who made huge blunders? Just look around you, they’re so easy to spot. One of the great curses on humankind has been mental illnesses, which have plagued us for millennia, causing horrible suffering. Couldn’t our brains have been better designed? Then there are thousands of genetic diseases: that newborn baby who looks “so perfect” may be programed by his/her genes to a life of pain and disability. Diseases spread by microbes also don’t make sense if there was an Intelligent Designer. Millions of people died in agony during the Black Plague in the 14th century, with no understanding as to its cause. The church was clueless as well, proclaiming the bad news that the plague was god’s punishment for sin. Moreover, marveling at the beauties of the natural world is misplaced when we realize how much suffering and death have been caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis. Why would a good god who cares about humans have placed us in such a brutal environment? How can it be argued that he’s paying attention? Maybe he took off for another galaxy a long time ago.

Of Miracles: In Defense of David Hume against Graham Oppy

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 David Hume (1711-1776) offered some good philosophical arguments against miracles that still resonate today. His arguments focused on the unreliability of human testimony on behalf of miracles. He did not live in a technological age like ours with modern forensics that include blood analysis, with tests that can determine one’s type, and detects diseases, poison, drugs and alcohol. We also have x-ray technology, DNA evidence, CAT scans, dash cams, and security cameras at convenience stores, on street intersections, and neighborhood homes. Especially noteworthy are the ubiquitous number of cell phones that give us immediate access to the police by a 911 call, cameras that can capture any event on video, and GPS tracking capability showing where we are at any given time. So Hume didn’t have the capability we do to establish miracles, or debunk them.

In our day the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) offered a one-million-dollar prize “to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event.” From 1964, when it first offered such a challenge, until 2015 when they stopped doing it, no challenger had even gotten past the preliminary test.[1] That should settle the question of miracles. If not, why not?

One might ask why we even need philosophical arguments. Why not just teach how science works and why the methods of science are the best we have to get at the truth? In a real sense we don’t need philosophical arguments, per se, including those from Hume.[2] However, given so many possible existential threats to life on our planet, we should do everything we can to reach people who value blind faith over scientific evidence.[3] So practically speaking, some believers might be attentive to listen to Hume, rather than to Darwin, Sagan, Shermer, Dawkins and others.[4]

One of the best philosophical arguments that can help believers acknowledge the value of sufficient evidence, objective evidence, scientific evidence, is found in my book, the Outsider Test for Faith. [5] It challenges them to doubt their own culturally indoctrinated childhood faith for perhaps the first time, just as if they never heard of it before. It calls on them to require of their own religious faith what they already require of the religious faith’s they reject. It forces them to rigorously demand logical consistency with their doctrines along with sufficient evidence for their faith, just as they already demand of the religions they reject.