Systematic Mythology 101

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“Welcome, students, to Systematic Mythology 101!” With little imagination, we humanists may readily describe a more honest human species, one better disciplined by discernment between reality and fantasy. In truth, such a species would never dignify any domain of human thought that is not yet under the governance of rational evidence and scientific method as even being informative in the enterprise of the mental construction of reality.
That more rational state of humanity may seem altogether unrealizable. Yet, we as a species appear to have little confusion when discerning the mythosystems of other societies, whether ancient or modern. Consider the shameless absurdity of Christian apologists who would have us believe that one, yes but one, garden-variety Iron-Age tribal society became the only ancient civilization not ever to have produced a central system of mythology, no folk-beliefs, no cultic deities, no myths of origins, no superhuman heroes, no ethnic tall tales, no religion. Unlike all of their ancient neighbors (e.g., the Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Persians), indeed, unlike any known pre-secular society, the classical Hebrew peoples produced no mythology; instead, they had a relationship with the only actual ontological god, knew the true origins of humankind, and, also altogether unique in ancient society, experienced and passed down purely historical accounts of supernatural phenomena. The apologist would have us dismiss the nigh-endless analogues and permutations of similar myths shared across the regions of ancient neighbors, insisting on a measure of otherwise unseen impermeable cultural isolation. And, of course, the Christian Bible, quite contrary to any other sacred collection of texts, preserves the survival of those alleged ontological truths for all of human posterity.

Almighty God? Not by a Long Shot, Actually

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Has he lost power since Bible days?

Devout folks who are even passingly familiar with the Bible know for sure that God acts boldly in human affairs. He wants to have his way, so he interferes and intervenes. This pattern was established right from the start; he used his stupendous power to create the heaven and the earth by decree, “Let there be light.” Eventually, among the humans he had created, he designated a “chosen people,” and ordered them about: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse.’” (Genesis 12:1-3) This was a hands-on God.

2021 GCRR International eConference on Religious Trauma

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The Global Center for Religious Research (GCRR) is hosting the 2021 International eConference on Religious Trauma, which will bring together specialists, psychiatrists, and researchers from all over the world to discuss the causes of religious trauma, as well as its manifestations and treatment options for those afflicted with the sometimes adverse effects associated with religion. The purpose of this multidisciplinary virtual conference is to advance the clinical and psychological understanding of religious trauma. This two-day conference will provide an interdisciplinary platform for scholars, educators, and practitioners to present their research to international audiences from all different backgrounds. And because the virtual conference is held online, scholars and students can attend from the comfort and safety of their own home without having to worry about travel and lodging expenses. To see more go to the LINK below. The tickets are $15, but you can get $5 off if you use the coupon code "Loftus". LINK

Where Was God When This Happened? Part 2

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The scandal of divine negligence

[Where Was God When This Happened? Part 1 is here.]

Please note carefully this Jesus-script, Matthew 12:36-37: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

God is watching carefully. He doesn’t miss a thing. Moreover, prayer works because God can even read our minds. Christians believe in, love, worship, and sing songs to this God who pays such close attention to every human being.

Joseph's Dream and The Possibility of an Honor Killing

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Here is an excerpt from my chapter in The Case Against Miracles titled, "Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence."
Joseph was incredulously convinced Mary was a virgin because of a dream, yes, a dream (see Matthew 1:19-24), one that solved his dilemma of whether to “dismiss her quietly” or “disgrace” her publicly which would have led her to be executed for dishonoring him. Joseph’s dream is used in Gospel of Matthew’s narrative to help explain why Mary was not put to death for dishonoring him because of adultery. There are five other dreams in this gospel account which were all intended to save someone’s life. So, Joseph’s dream was probably meant to save Mary’s life too (Matthew 1:19-23; 2:12; 2:19-23; & 27:19). 

"God of Genocide? A Debate on Biblical Violence" The Text of My 12 Minute Debate Opener Against Randal Rauser

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There’s so much divinely caused and commanded violence in the Bible it can be said that the fear of an angry punishing God is its most prevalent theme, hands down. From the irrational and horrific punishments in the Garden of Eden, to the irrational and horrific punishments predicted in the book of Revelation, and everything in between, we see an angry, cruel, and barbaric god. That’s his usual mode of operation. If people obeyed they were rewarded. But woe people who didn’t obey.

No wonder serious biblical scholars argue that the god of the Bible is modeled after ancient kings, who were themselves were often cruel towards their own subjects. God is just like what we find in the story of Job. Job was a good man but God destroyed everything he had, and killed all his sons, daughters and servants,  just to win a bet with Satan. Such a wanton disregard toward a human being is utterly reprehensible and barbaric. Kings could do that. But a perfectly good god should not do it.

Tonight everything hinges on Rauser’s moral intuitions. His moral intuitions cause him to believe in two contrary irreconcilable propositions. On the one hand, he believes the Bible uniquely and unmistakably reveals the actions and commands of god. On another hand, he rejects the violence in the Bible which uniquely and unmistakably reveals a cruel god.

To accomplish this feat Rauser offers a scenario to show we can sometimes trust our intuitions, despite the lack of objective evidence. He asks us to consider a man who sincerely believed he was innocent of a crime even though all the objective evidence pointed to his guilt. Rauser claims the man is in a position to know he’s innocent because he personally knows that he’s innocent, even if the objective evidence points to him. So let’s picture this. There are several eyewitnesses along with video footage of the man killing someone with a gun he had purchased the day before, which was found at the scene of the crime with his fingerprints on it. With this objective evidence the man should honestly accept that he has a serious case of amnesia, or been drugged, hypnotized, or even lobotomized. He is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rauser's Moorean Shift

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[Note: I watched some of a recent online interview with Dr. Rauser — just enough to get the gist — and wrote the following about his argument this morning. I wasn't aware that the debate with Loftus was already tonight. Maybe the following will be useful for those who watch it. I should also add that there may be additional details to Rauser's argument that this doesn't cover.]

In the book God? A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist (p. 124), William Lane Craig replies to the argument:

If God exists, gratuitous suffering does not exist
Gratuitous suffering exists
Therefore, God does not exist

by means of a so-called “Moorean shift,” in this case by arguing instead:

If God exists, gratuitous suffering does not exist
God exists
Therefore, gratuitous suffering does not exist.

(This is called a Moorean shift after the British philosopher G. E. Moore, who famously turned arguments for philosophical skepticism — e.g., that you might be a brain in a vat — around in this manner.)

What Craig is doing is pointing out that one can deny a premise of an argument if doing so seems more reasonable than accepting its conclusion. He thinks the existence of God is more certain than that of gratuitous suffering. Therefore, rather than accepting the conclusion that God does not exist, he finds it more reasonable to deny the claim that gratuitous suffering exists. Of course, we can easily disagree with Craig's use of this strategy here. The existence of gratuitous suffering (suffering that is morally unjustified and which therefore an all-powerful and perfectly good being would not allow) seems far more certain than the existence of the being himself. So there are good and bad uses of this strategy.

Tonight at 8 PM ET I'll Be Debating Randal Rauser On Biblical Violence

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This should be good! It will certainly be interesting.

12-minute openings
60 minutes of open dialogue
30 minutes of audience Q&A

The Divine and Human Violence In the Bible Creates Violent People

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There's so much divinely caused and commanded violence in the Bible it can be said the fear of an angry punishing God is its most prevalent theme, hands down. It creates angry self-righteous people who follow in the footsteps of an angry self-righteous god. The great agnostic Thomas Paine noted this: “It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.” This is the point of Elicka Peterson-Sparks's book, The Devil You Know: The Surprising Link between Conservative Christianity and Crime. I wrote the following blurb for her book: 
Why is the United States such a violent nation filled with so much crime? The startling answer proposed by criminologist Peterson Sparks is that it’s due to the tremendous impact of the Bible and Christianity on the culture, institutions, and political life of the United States. She specifically indicts Christian theocratic nationalism for this, with its hateful, xenophobic, war-mongering, gun-toting, misogynistic, child-abusing, gay-bashing, get-tough-on-crime, right-wing nuts. This is the devil in disguise we already know, finally exposed for the evil it is. This book is a masterpiece! It should scare the hell out of you.
Below are several links to biblical texts proving the point, starting with Wrath Of God and Anger Of God, Consequences

Archaeology, Exodus, and the Canaanite Conquest

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There are several good resources showing Moses did not exist, LINK. Here's my take on it all from my 2012 book, Why I Became an Atheist, pp. 302-307: 
Archaeology, Exodus, and the Canaanite Conquest
If we assume the story of Exodus is correct, there should be some archaeological evidence for the exodus, the crossing of the Red Sea, the camping of the Israelites at Mount Sinai, their wilderness wanderings, and their Canaanite conquest. And this archaeological evidence should correspond to the biblical account. But what we find instead is a complete lack of it, and the story itself doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

Christians Have the BEST Magic!

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And the best holy spirit too

I do sometimes wonder how Christianity gets away with it. But it’s not such a mystery after all. The failure to think it through accounts for the endurance of piety and belief; the failure to look below the surface and simply ask, “Does this make sense?” In the Book of Numbers, chapter 21, when the people of Israel complained too much about their ordeal in the desert, God was so pissed off that he sent poisonous snakes to bite them. Then, on appeal from Moses, God recommended a solution, which turned out to be a magical bronze snake: if people just looked at it, they wouldn’t die of snakebite. “Well, yes,” even some of the devout may say, “that’s just quaint Old Testament folklore.

Where Was God When This Happened? Part 1

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The scandal of divine negligence


Please note carefully this Jesus-script, Matthew 12:36-37: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

God is watching carefully. He doesn’t miss a thing. Moreover, prayer works because God can even read our minds. Christians believe in, love, worship, and sing songs to this God who pays such close attention to every human being. 

If God is so attentive—actually, so intrusive—then he cannot evade responsibility for our wellbeing. How can he just watch so many of the really horrible things that happen? Wouldn’t he want to do something? Tim Sledge has called it correctly:

Dr. Randal Rauser Asks Me for a Debate Rematch: "God of Genocide? A Debate on Biblical Violence"

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I was happy to be asked to debate him and have agreed! It should be fun and informative and challenging.
Previously we had debated the existence of God at his home church in Edmonton, Canada, on June 5, 2013. On May 4th we're going to debate again, this time at Modern Day Debate which has a Religion and Atheism Debates channel with 45.6K subscribers! Our debate proposition is this: "The Bible, with its divinely commanded violence, wasn't inspired by a perfect God."
I'm sure his material can be found in his just recently released book from "2 Cup Press", Jesus Loves Caananites, you know, the people Yahweh told the Israelites to slaughter back before his day. 

When asked, Randal told me to prep by re-reading our co-written book God or Godless. Okay, I will. I would love it if my readers would do so as well. It's a really good book! [Blurbs below]. 
Even though our relationship had deteriorated to the point that he blocked me from his Twitter feed and prohibited me from commenting on his blog (which in all honesty was my fault due to an utter frustation with his obtuseness), I asked Randal late in January to consider writing a blurb for my very last book on the incompatibility of God and horrendous suffering, to be released near Halloween. He agreed and I sent him the book files for review. He read them then shocked me with this blurb:
As a Christian apologist, I can say that there is no intellectual objection to Christianity more daunting than the problem of horrendous suffering. In this important new book, John Loftus has gathered a diverse collection of voices that seek to build a comprehensive, multi-pronged critique of Christianity based on this most difficult problem. No Christian apologist can afford to ignore it. -- Dr. Randal Rauser, Professor of Historical Theology, Taylor Seminary.
I'm supposing he has some answers to my anthology, we'll see. Got any advice?

The Bad Jesus Is On Full View in the Gospels

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So why is there anybody left in church?

To keep up sales and profits, when you have a deeply flawed product, you have to be clever, cunning, shrewd—and determined. You have to work extra hard to disguise the flaws. The resurrection of Jesus comes to mind especially. Robert Conner, here on the Debunking Christianity Blog, 8 September 2017, wrote:

 

“The Evangelical Resurrection Industrial Complex (ERIC) has churned out scores of scholarly tomes, hundreds of erudite disquisitions in professional journals, dissertations and commentaries, as well as debates and conferences beyond numbering, and the tsunami of dishonest verbiage shows know sign of receding.”

"Doubting Thomas" Tells Us All We Need To Know About Christianity

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The lessons of the "doubting Thomas" story are not what you think. It does not offer any objective evidence that Jesus arose from the dead. It only offers us a story about a man named Thomas who asked and received objective evidence that Jesus arose from the dead. That's a huge difference. This story is no more to be considered objective evidence that Jesus arose from the dead than anything else we read in the gospel according to John. Yet, and this is the extremely important point, the story is told as if it's objective evidence Jesus arose from the dead! Let that sink in. 

The whole point of the story is that faith is a virtue not a vice. The lesson is supposed to be: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." But to make that point the author uses story about a man named Thomas who saw what we did not, and cannot, see. We've never met the risen Jesus in the flesh, nor stuck our fingers in his side. So a story about Thomas cannot be our substitute. If this is supposed to convince readers then the author is asking us to believe based on insufficient evidence. If this actually convinces readers then they believe based on insufficient evidence. 

This is the case even if a man named Thomas actually met the risen Jesus in the flesh, and stuck his fingers in his side! The reason is because we don't know he actually did this, because we were not there to see him do it. The lesson is that faith, blind faith, unevidenced faith, faith in a mere story about a man we never met, by an author we never met, is something praiseworthy. 

By using this little bait and switch of his, the author of John's gospel is conning his readers. The gospels have been conning readers from the very beginning. No mere story about Thomas can be considered objective evidence for the rest of us. Period.

Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 11

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The Lazarus story goes off the rails

Let’s begin with a brief scene from the 1987 film Moonstruck:

 

Elderly woman at airline departure gate: “You have someone on that plane?”

 

Loretta Castorini, standing close by (played by Cher): “Yeah, my fiancé.”

 

Elderly woman: “I put a curse on that plane. My sister is on that plane. I put a curse on that plane that it’s gonna explode, burn on fire and fall into the sea. Fifty years ago, she stole a man from me. Today she tells me that she never loved him, that she took him to be strong on me. Now she’s going back to Sicily. I cursed her that the green Atlantic water should swallow her up!”

 

Loretta: “I don’t believe in curses.”

 

Elderly woman: “Eh, neither do I.”

The Obituary of Dr. Hector Avalos (10/8/1958 - 4/12/2021)

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As mentioned before, Dr. Hector Avalos has died, a Harvard trained biblical scholar, my friend, and team member here at DC. He died after a battle with cancer. Here is his obituary He'll be missed greatly!
This pic of us together was taken in 2011 in South Bend, Indiana, when Hector was in my area giving a series of talks on religious violence. It was during a very short period of time when I had shaved off my goatee.

Dr. Hector Avalos Has Died. He was a one man demolition machine when it came to debunking Christianity!

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My heart just broke at the news that Dr. Hector Avalos just died. I wept at the news. My heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Cynthia and other loved ones and friends. I loved this man. I loved his scholarship. I loved him for his support of my work. I loved his demeanor and resolve. He was the greatest scholar I've ever personally met and known. He should go down in history as the greatest biblical scholar in our generation. You may disagree but that's my assessment. He made a huge difference. He will be greatly missed.
Here's what I wrote about him in the dedication to my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith, as one of the scholarly friends who greatly influenced my thinking:
I dedicate this book to Hector Avalos who is expertly leading a second wave of atheist biblical scholars following the first wave of new atheists. His writings are multidisciplinary in scope (covering biblical, scientific, ethical and political issues) utilizing a variety of venues (scholarly books, journals, blog posts and newspapers), and cross-cultural in scope (in both English and Spanish). He is a one man demolition machine when it comes to debunking Christianity and its influence in today’s world. 
I first gained Hector's attention when I highly recommended his book The End of Biblical Studies. Then he joined the team of writers here at DC. Here are a few of his early postsHe was relentless in countering ignorance when he was maligned. He responded with scholarship, firmness and as a gentleman. I liked how he would almost always ask his opponent a few hard questions to answer at the end. 
We had a mutual admiration for each other. He came to my defense several times when I was under attack, for which I was thankful. Imagine having a biblical scholar defending you as a verbal pit bull!  
In honor of his legacy I'm asking people buy up his books. See the marquee of his books pictured at the header of this blog. Get his flagship book, The End of Biblical Studies, plus Slavery, Abolition, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship, then The Bad Jesus; The Ethics of New Testament Ethics, and also The Reality of Religious Violence.
I have a picture of us together and I'm trying to locate it. For now I'll post the Foreword Hector wrote for my book Christianity is Not Great: Why Faith Fails. I share it to let readers know what he thinks is important. He thinks my work is important. If you value his opinion perhaps you should too. 

Who Would WANT the Christian God Anyway?

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He makes too many big mistakes

If we could pose this question to folks coming out of their weekly worship services: Do they really want the God they worship? …we would hear enthusiastic affirmations, “Oh, Yes, I want the Lord! Our God is so wonderful.” But I wonder. Have they really thought it through? There are several things about this God that are a turnoff. Many of us would put he/she/it near the bottom of a list of gods to follow. Let’s look at a short list.

What About The Emotional Problem of Evil?

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I don't think there is a legitimate category called the "emotional" problem of evil. By definition, horrendous suffering should induce our utter emotional disgust and revulsion. If it didn't, we might be psychopaths. I see this invented category of evil as an apologist's trick of obfuscationism. That's because an unemotional Star Trek character like Spock does not exist. Trying to take away our natural revulsion to horrendous suffering of the highest order is attempting to divorce us from reality. If a god made us to weep uncontrollably at the sight of mass murder, gang rape, or the millions of people who suffer and die due to wars and pandemics, then I think it's a legitimate natural emotional feeling. That inbuilt humane feeling--allegedly created in us by god--justifies the rejection of any god who would allow horrendous suffering to happen if s/he could disallow it. Furthermore, the only type of "pastoral" counseling that can help people who suffer is to hear a good theodicy, and/or to have their petitionary prayers answered. Discus.

My Easter Epiphany

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In the summer of 2002, having completed my master’s thesis in early Christian and early Jewish apocalyptic literature at Princeton, I had relocated to New Haven, Connecticut. I was thrilled! I had been admitted to Yale for advanced graduate language study in preparation for my coming doctoral research. Then a devout Christian, little did I suspect during my summer German reading course that the basis for my religious faith would soon altogether vanish before my eyes. That autumn, along with studies in Syriac, Aramaic, classical Greek, and Hebrew, I began my coursework in classical (Roman) Latin texts. As a matter of strategy, I set to work at further broadening and secularizing my education beyond the traditional confines of Biblical and Christian Studies. 
You see, prior to Princeton, I had graduated with a Master of Divinity with high honors from Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology, the seminary that employed the famous evangelical apologist Dr. William Lane Craig. At Biola, not only were we not to dance, to smoke, to drink, or to watch ‘R-rated’ movies, we also had an unbearably limiting on-campus library, a heavily curated reading collection that promoted the good and holy path of our evangelical Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Despite this naive and parochial beginning to my academic journey, my honest, near-insatiable appetite for truth rapidly outgrew the faith-restrictive sandbox of biblicist evangelicalism. I was now at Yale, studying under some of the top humanist academicians, taking courses that were no longer under the thumb of theologians, contractually signed “confessions,” or religiously motivated institutions. In my Latin reading course in the Classics Department, we were reading Livy’s Latin Ab Urbe Condita Libri, Book 1, Livy’s recounting of the etiological legends of the earliest founding kings of Rome, a canonical history composed in the latter half of the first century B.C.E. I recall the very day, I had been translating Livy on my own, seated in the garden outside of the Sterling Memorial Library, the second largest academic library in North America. Little did I know that by the end of my reading, I would find myself at once crying tears of loss, fear, joy, and unprecedented mental exhilaration. Allow me to share with you now what I had read, in English translation, and the concomitant profound epiphany that for me irreversibly transformed the meaning of Easter and the postmortem tales of Jesus given in the bible. In Book 1, 15-16, the great Roman historian passes along what he had previously confessed to be legendary accounts of Romulus, founding king of Rome (...poeticis magis decora fabulis…; preface 6-7), arguably the foremost iconic figure in Roman classical antiquity; Romulus was, within 2-3 centuries, to be eclipsed by the Jesus of Christianity. Completing his life-story of the deeds of Romulus, Livy finally writes:

Dr. Jaco Gericke: "Christian philosophy of religion as nonsense on stilts"

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In a previous post I responded to Thomas Nagel and Quentin Smith's claims that materialism isn't justified (Nagel), and/or A Vast Majority of Naturalists Hold To Naturalism Unreflectively (Smith). In it I mentioned Dr. Jaco Gericke's critique of Christian  philosophy of religion. I regard Gericke as having a singularly unique understanding of the relationship of biblical scholarship to the philosophy of religion, as he holds doctorates in both (see tag below). 
Of course, I'm honored Geicke recommended my book Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End, saying, “As an introduction to the ever-growing frustration with so-called Christian philosophy among many secular ex-Christian authors, Unapologetic is invaluable reading material for any reader interested in the wide variety of polemical issues it deals with.” My book is an extension of the same kind of arguments Dr. Hector Avalos used regarding Biblical studies in his masterful book, The End of Biblical Studies. Avalos also highly recommended my book Unapologetic.
I was similarly honored that both Gericke and Avalos wrote chapters in my aptly titled anthology, The End of Christianity. I've already posted an excerpt of Dr. Avalos' book, here. Since Dr. Gericke has recently posted his chapter online at academia.edu, below is that same chapter as published in The End of Christianity. Enjoy.

Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 10

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Letting Satan have his way

Since this is Good Friday, we should pay homage to Matthew’s effort to merge Halloween with Easter. He reported that when Jesus died on the cross, many people came alive in their tombs, then on Easter morning walked around Jerusalem. (Matthew 27:52-53) Even many Christians dismiss this as a tall tale, but this is awkward: how can they argue that the resurrection of Jesus isn’t a tall tale as well?

 

Now, on with today’s topic.

 

How much time and energy have Christian apologists devoted to figuring out why God allows so much suffering? In fact, apologetics is quite an industry; there is so much incoherence in Christian theology that has to be dealt with, but especially suffering. I once found a stunning bit of information in a July 1993 article by Peter Steinfels in the religion section of the New York Times. He reported the amazing achievement of scholar Barry Whitney:

On Finding Jesus

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I'm here today to announce my conversion to Christianity. For several years now, I've been blogging at Debunking Christianity, and before that at my own site, arguing against what up until recently I saw as irrational beliefs. But last night, God spoke to me, and I am now saved. Praise the Lord!

Do A Vast Majority of Naturalists Hold To Naturalism Dogmatically and Unreflectively?

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On a forum called "The Student Room" the question above was posed four years ago, reflecting on the musings of several "mainstream" scholars. It received no comments. Perhaps it's time. 
Thomas Nagel caused quite a stir with his book attacking different types of naturalism and highlighted the significant problems that materialism in particular face. Nagel is an atheist. He is also, albeit a hazy one, a naturalist (though he is skeptical of materialism) he is not the first prominent naturalist to highlight the unreflective acceptance many have of materialism. 
Here are other examples:

GCRR Announces the 2021 International eConference on Religious Trauma!

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The Global Center for Religious Research (GCRR) is hosting the 2021 International eConference on Religious Trauma on May 29-30th. This virtual econference will bring together specialists, psychiatrists, and researchers from all over the world to discuss the causes of religious trauma, as well as its manifestations and treatment options for those afflicted with the sometimes adverse effects associated with religion. 
The purpose of this multidisciplinary virtual conference is to advance the clinical and psychological understanding of religious trauma. This two-day conference will provide an interdisciplinary platform for scholars, educators, and practitioners to present their research to international audiences from all different backgrounds.
Religious trauma results from an event, series of events, relationships, or circumstances within or connected to religious beliefs, practices, or structures that is experienced by an individual as overwhelming or disruptive and has lasting adverse effects on a person’s physical, mental, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
We're Service-Driven, Not Profit-Driven​.​ We Don't Have a Hidden Agenda. GCRR is the Global Leader in Religious Trauma Research. ​We Attract an International Audience. ​All Presentations are Recorded and Distributed for Free. Some conferences actually charge people an extra fee to receive the event video recordings. With GCRR, the $15 ticket price includes receiving the video recording of all presentations so you can watch any talk that you missed (or rewatch any talk all over again).​ Finally, All Event Proceeds Go toward Funding GCRR's Religious Trauma Research Project.

The Persistence of Christian Crazy

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“…it’s a problem for the rest of us…”


“Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” So said John the Baptist when he spotted Jesus heading toward him, according to the opening chapter of John’s gospel (v. 29). This gospel was written well after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E. The Temple had been a great slaughterhouse, doing big business in the ritual killing of animals to atone for sins. John’s theology represents an adjustment, an upgrade from animal to human sacrifice: Jesus is the one and only Lamb whose death is needed to cancel sin. This is ancient superstition, a dramatic example of magical thinking, promoted even today by a vast church bureaucracy.

Dr. David Madison, Debunker Par Excellence!

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I'm a big fan of former Methodist minister and biblical scholar Dr. David Madison, who no longer believes. He understands how best to debunk Christianity. It has to do a great deal with the Bible. Since the Bible makes atheists out of readers--doing so will shock you to the bone--then how much more does reading what Madison says about the Bible. He honors us at DC by writing weekly essays on Friday, plus so much more, as he's also an administrator.  He honored me by asking for a Foreword to his book three years ago, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief (2nd ed. 2018). With his permission, here it is:

The Paradoxes of Denying Infinity

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It is common for theists — especially those familiar with the Kalam Cosmological Argument and William Lane Craig's defense of it — to deny the existence of actual infinities. And since the question of infinity recently came up in one of the comment threads here, I thought I'd re-publish an old blog post on this, with minor modifications.

It consists of two parts — the main blog post, plus (for those who want to delve a bit deeper into the issue) an addendum on the solution to Zeno's paradox:

Although it may be surprising, no claim I've made has been criticized more by the religious than the claim that there are actual infinities. Every time I so much as mention infinity, someone goes out of their way to "inform" me of the errors of my ways. And yet there appear to be clear cases of infinity all around us. For example, every time you move, you go through an infinite number of subintervals: You first go half of the way, then 3/4 of the way, followed by 7/8, 15/16, and so on, covering what is obviously an infinite series. Nevertheless, you are able to complete the motion.

Three Pillars of My Atheism

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“We have in this century discovered our universe”

My focus in this article will not be suffering—colossal human and animal suffering—that is built into creation, and renders the concept of a caring, competent god incoherent and meaningless. There are three other realities that make Christian theology highly suspect, and contributed mightily to my rejection of the faith; that’s my focus here, but please be assured that the scale of suffering alone blasts Christianity out of the water. Nobody has said it better than Stephen Fry, when he was asked in an interview what he—an outspoken atheist—would say to God if the latter confronted him at the Pearly Gates:

 

“I’d say, bone cancer in children…what’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain? That's what I would say.”