Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 6

0 comments


Copycat theology is a bad idea

 


“The Bible is the Word of God.” This is an idea that Christians don’t take seriously—come on, not by along shot. If wisdom from God were right there for the taking, you couldn’t get them to stop reading it. But they do stop reading it—they neglect reading it—because the wisdom of God doesn’t exactly pop out at you. Indeed, Christian theologians have argued endlessly about meanings and interpretations. Pick out almost any Bible text, and you’ll find disagreement and controversy about applications in the modern world.

Bradley Dalton Reviews My Magnum Opus!

0 comments
“Why I Became An Atheist” (WBA) was revolutionary for me. I first read it in 2016 when I was 18 years old. I had been doubting my faith for awhile and came across a lot of different resources debating atheism vs theism. One day I was watching The David Pakman show and he interviewed John Loftus. I used to minister to youth groups in high school. So, seeing someone like Loftus who was once all in for Jesus, become an atheist intrigued me. Out of curiosity, I decided to purchase WBA.

It was the final nail in the coffin for my faith and has led to my ever growing interest in religion in politics than I’m engaged in to this day. I grew up in a Pentecostal Church. My faith in Jesus meant the world to me. I read the Bible cover to cover in High School, I prayed daily, and I wanted to help bring people to the Lord. I was a genuine believer at heart.

When I first read WBA, I was blown away by the level of knowledge that Loftus had on Christianity. I had never seen anything like it before. I enjoy the book so much that I’m reading it for a third time. I’ve also read and reviewed several other John Loftus books. I believe that this is his best work.

A Penis Bone in Genesis 2:21? Retrodiagnosis as a Methodological Problem in Scriptural Studies

0 comments

Ziony Zevit is the Distinguished Professor in Bible and Northwest Semitic Languages in the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University. He has done widely respected work on the religion of ancient Israel (see Zevit 2001; 2013).

However, Zevit makes a claim that is difficult to accept or understand linguistically, exegetically, and medically. In so doing, he is engaging in “retrodiagnosis,” the practice of providing modern medical categories and descriptions for conditions unknown or of no interest to ancient writers (Arrizabalaga; Muramoto)Critiques of retrodiagnostic approaches are now numerous in scriptural studies, and these include those of Hector AvalosJoel S. Baden, and Candida R. Moss.


Typically, such approaches seek to diagnose a condition mentioned in the Bible in precise modern medical terms. Debra A. Chase attributed one condition mentioned in the Mesopotamian creation epic known as Atra-∆as•s to Kwashiorkor-Marasmus, which is associated with starvation. 


Malcolm Gladwell (13-14), a popular writer who is not a biblical scholar, believes that Goliath suffered from “acromegaly—a disease caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland.” For Gladwell, this condition explains why Goliath has poor vision and so asks David to come to him in 1 Samuel 17:44. S. Levin attributes Isaac’s blindness in Genesis 27:1 to diabetes.

Holy Relics, Batman!

0 comments


Please
 stop wasting our time and energy

 

I’m pretty sure that even the most devout Christians experience flash episodes of atheism; that is, they see for a few moments, with clarity, that God doesn’t exist. One of the most famous of these flash episodes actually made the news some years ago. In March 1996, a gunman massacred 16 kids and their teacher at a school in Dunblane, Scotland. The United Kingdom was stunned, and in the days following thousands of flowers were placed as a memorial outside the school. One bouquet was accompanied by a Teddy Bear, with a note attached: “Wednesday, 13 March 1996—the day God overslept.” (Reported in the New York Times, 23 March 1996.)

Holy Propaganda, Batman!

0 comments

Tales from the cult

A few decades after its inception, the Ancient Jesus Mystery Cult produced writers who had a knack for fantasy literature. The apostle Paul was the first to write about Jesus Christ—as least his letters are the earliest documents that have come down to us—but he said almost nothing about Jesus the Galilean peasant preacher. Paul had hallucinated his way into the cult, i.e., he had visions of the dead man, and bragged that he received no information about Jesus from human sources.

What’s Wrong With Using Bayes Theorem to Evaluate Miracles?

0 comments
In a previous post I spoke on the topic, Miracle Claims Asserted Without Relevant Objective Evidence Can Be Dismissed. Period! At the end I had some closing thoughts about Bayes Theorem and miracles. I'm highlighting it for thought below.
What’s Wrong With Using Bayes Theorem to Evaluate Miracles?
Now I want to end by talking briefly about Bayes Theorem. In his writings and talks Richard Carrier does a good job of explaining it.

Introducing A Much Better Ten Commandments Than God Allegedly Gave

0 comments

I have been helped by reading and trying to incorporate the commands and/or language used from other attempts to better the Ten Commandments, as suggested by Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchens, Valerie Tarico, David Madison (in his chapter for my anthology The Case Against Miracles), the Seven Satanic Precepts, and a few I wrote in my book How to Defend The Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist.

By doing this I am suggesting God was ignorant, incompetent and inconsiderate when he gave us his ten big ones! Had he given my suggested commands instead, he would have saved untold numbers of lives, immensely  decreased the amount of suffering in the world, and exponentially increased human knowledge, and with it produced a safer, healthier world to live in. 

Criticisms and suggestions are appreciated. 

Donald Trump's Faith Advisor

0 comments
In case you haven't seen this.


Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 5

0 comments

Protecting the Bible: God wasn’t paying attention

One of the most common criticisms of Christianity is that its claims are incoherent: they do not cohere; they don’t hang together. Those of us on the outside say, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense. You can’t believe both those things at once.” Professional Christian apologists have come up with hundreds of excuses attempting to obscure, to rub out, the many inconsistencies.

How to Keep the Cosmos Friendly

0 comments

“Take it to the Lord in prayer”

Francis Collins, who headed the Human Genome Project, is a respected scientist who has taken a stand for God. Not just a Creator God, but one who wants intimate relations with humans. He wrote this in his 2007 book, The Language of God:  

 

“If God exists, and seeks to have fellowship with sentient beings like ourselves, and can handle the challenge of interacting with 6 billion of us currently on this planet and countless others who have gone before us, it is not clear why it would be beyond His abilities to interact with similar creatures on a few other planets or, for that matter, a few million other planets.”  (p. 71)

Talks From the Labor Day International eConference on Atheism Now Available

0 comments
Did You Miss the 2020 International Conference on Atheism? You're in Luck! Not everyone was able to attend the conference, so we've made it easy for you! CLICK HERE!

The Amazing James Randi Will Be Missed!

0 comments
The Amazing James Randi has died at the age of 92. He will be missed. I met him in Vegas when I was on the program in 2013. All I have to show for it is this empty wine bottle.
He's got at least one last performance in the works. It's a Christian documentary on medical miracles. They interviewed him along with Michael Shermer and myself. On the Christian side I'm told they interviewed William Lane Craig, Paul Copan, and JP Moreland.
Several news sources are writing about him. Here is one from the Rolling Stones magazine. I'll also include a video. He was amazing!

Superstitions that Fuel Christian Piety

0 comments

Straight outta the Bible

In ancient times, all over the world, the idea caught on that some humans were gifted with knowledge of the spirit world. So many things happen in life that people didn’t understand—lightening, earthquakes, mental illness—surely unseen powers were at work. And it was cool that some humans knew how to manipulate these powers—or so they claimed. Innumerable gods were imagined, whom countless priests and priestesses flattered and served.

Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 4

0 comments

The perils of comparing the gospels 

Once upon a time four gospel writers got together at a bar in Corinth. They had all submitted their gospels to the Canon Approval Board, and had been told the time when the decision—which gospel was the winner—would be announced. These authors didn’t actually like each other, but this was a special occasion; each one looked forward to gloating, and seeing the downcast faces of the others.

Monolatry

0 comments


It seems obvious that the ancient Israelites were not monotheists, but instead practiced monolatry, the worship of one god combined with a belief in existence of other gods. This is the best explanation of the first commandment's “no other gods before me” as well as of Psalm 86:8's “there is none like you among the gods.” But there are also events described in the Bible that suggest belief in other gods.

One that is particularly interesting is mentioned in the book Bible Prophecy by Tim Callahan:

Is Murder Always Murder? A Response to Dr. Munson by Dr. Hector Avalos, Iowa State University

0 comments

Prof. Henry Munson

Writing book reviews is no facile task.  A reviewer must be familiar with the subject matter, and also show some familiarity with the ancillary issues that a book might raise, especially those that are outside of one’s immediate field. That is why I am usually very grateful that someone even deigns to read one of my books. 

Dr. Henry Munson, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Maine, reviewed my latest book, The Reality of Religious Violence: From Biblical to Modern Times (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2019) in the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Religion 88, no. 3 (September, 2020): 900–902. 

Crystal-Ball Theology

0 comments


…or imaginary prophecies: take your pick 


Caravaggio brilliantly captured the moment when the Risen Jesus invited his disciple Thomas to touch the sword wound in his side. But what’s wrong with this picture? Certainly nothing is wrong with the painting; it is one of Caravaggio’s masterpieces, and I chose it for the cover of my book because it helps expose some of the theological nonsense in the New Testament. There is so much to unpack here, but let’s give it a shot.

William Vanderburgh's Book, "David Hume On Miracles, Evidence, and Probability" Is Now In Paperback!

0 comments
Dr. William Vanderburgh's book length defense of David Hume on miracles is now in paperback and more reasonably priced! It's the book I reviewed and highly recommended in the Appendix to my anthology, The Case against Miracles. As you might guess I recommend both of these books. I consider mine to be a defense of David Hume as well.

On Vampires and Revenants Resurrecting from the Dead

0 comments

Because this is the haunted month of Halloween here's something to spook ya all!

I'm always interested in new angles to argue my case against Christianity. Kris Keys does that in the excellently researched essay below. He argues there is more evidence for the resurrection of Vampires and Revenants than there is for the resurrection of Jesus.

Introductory comments by Kris Keys:

Well this is my first time writing a blog post and little did I know it would be for the website Debunking Christianity!! I find this to be completely hilarious as I am not in of myself militantly opposed to Christianity in of itself; I tend to dislike Evangelicals but that is because I view them as hypocritical and blatantly power hungry but of course this description would not apply to all Christians. As probably the readers of this post have deduced by now I am not a Christian, but I am also not an atheist either. I tend to be rather eclectic in my views. I fancy myself to be broad minded and open to change.

I am a schoolteacher by profession, and I have taught both social studies and science at the high school level. I have dual degrees in both fields. In my not remotely enough spare time I enjoy reading folklore, Medieval history, sociology, anthropology and other subjects. Basically a lot of stuff.  Over the years I have heard the Christian argument for the physical resurrection of Jesus and at one time I found this argument to be convincing, but more and more for many varied reasons I became rather skeptical of it. 

None of this explains though, how this essay came about! Nothing remarkable about it really. I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw John Loftus’s profile. In discussion with him I mentioned that one could use the resurrection argument to demonstrate the existence of vampires and I showed him a response I wrote to a friend of mine on this.  John asked me to do a write up for him.

So here is a write up I never seriously figured I would write up on a blog, one that I never suspected I would write for. So I hope everyone enjoys it. So without further ado, here is my attempt to show that the Christian argument for the resurrection of Jesus would also demonstrate vampires exist. I will leave it up to you dear readers to determine if Jesus rose from the dead and if you need to invest in crucifixes and garlics now; or that perhaps claims of the dead returning bodily just should not be given the benefit of the doubt. You decide.

“Morality Made Me an Atheist”

0 comments

Even Christians can’t agree on “Christian” morality 

Auntie Em—Dorothy’s aunt in The Wizard of Oz—wanted so much to tell off Miss Gulch: “Almira Gulch, just because you own half the county doesn't mean that you have the power to run the rest of us. For twenty-three years, I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now...well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it!” Which means that Auntie Em wanted to live by the Golden Rule, “do unto others…” We applaud her for that, but it’s not uniquely Christian. How do we know exactly what constitutes Christian morality?

Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 3

0 comments

Merging Easter with Halloween


I’m sure Christian commitment can be rated, perhaps on a scale of 1 to 10. Those whom we would rate as “tens” are fervent, unshakable in their belief: they are the untouchables, the unreachables—in terms of getting them to grasp the incoherence of Christian theology. But then there are those at the other end of the scale, who would earn a “one” rating; even “lukewarm” would be a generous description. They would walk away from the faith—and many probably do—with little hesitation or regret.

 

There are those in the middle of the scale, the “fives,” who are regular churchgoers, but who admit—at least to themselves—that they have doubts. They go along with it all because church is what they do. But the right argument, or the wrong personal tragedy, might puncture faith, temporarily or forever.

Intro Outline for "The Incompatibility of God and Horrendous Suffering"

0 comments
I'm writing an introductory chapter now for my next anthology with just two headings/main points:
1. The Christian Faith Has No Objective Evidence At All;
2. The Christian Faith Makes No Sense At All.
It's titled "The Incompatibility of God and Horrendous Suffering." 
It has been accepted for publication with GCRR.

Faith and Equivocation

0 comments

Whenever someone is defending faith, or is arguing that faith and reason are compatible, they should be asked which of three common meanings of the term they are thinking of. If the exact meaning of the word isn't made clear, it is almost a given that their claims will deteriorate into a mess of equivocation.

When challenged to provide evidence for the existence of God, most theists reply that their belief is based on faith. This makes it clear that, in this context, “faith” means belief without evidence. This meaning of the word also applies to the claim that faith is needed when the evidence isn't conclusive. Or in other words, when the believer says that reason can only take one so far, and one must make the decision to believe.

The Biggest Bible Embarrassment of All?

0 comments



The author who said too much 


There are so many Bible episodes that could be in the running for biggest embarrassment. Certainly the story of Noah has to be in the Top Ten. God is so annoyed by human sin he decides to kill everyone on earth except one family—even most of the animals have to die. How many millions of toddlers and babies were drowned? It’s sad that Bible writers thought this was good theology. Who needs a genocidal god with extreme anger management issues? But—there’s a way out: the Noah story didn’t happen, of course. It’s folklore, borrowed from other ancient folklore.

Dr. David Geisler On What Could Change My Mind

0 comments
Recently Dr. David Geisler struck up a conversation with me on Facebook Messenger after he noticed a tribute I posted to his father Norman Geisler a year ago. LINK. David has a doctorate of Ministries in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary, and is the author (co-authored with Norm Geisler) of Conversational Evangelism: Connecting with People to Share Jesus. This book has gained the high recommendations of Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, Mike Licona and others. He is also the President of Norm Geisler International Ministries. He started messaging me, asking if I had even taken on his father's type of apologetics. Immediately I found out who he was, but as he kept asking questions I got a bit annoyed with his pleasant persistence. So I asked him why me? His response: "John, I consider you to be in a different category than most other atheists. I’m not sure there is anyone out there right now that articulates atheist augments as well as you do. I’m not trying to butter you up. I’m just trying to be honest with you. Why would I want to talk to other atheists?"

Dumping Normal Rules of Evidence and Inquiry

0 comments

Theology Gets a Free Pass to Make Things Up

Most of the gods imagined by humans—since we began imagining such things—have plied the miracle trade, so it’s hardly a surprise that miracles ended up in Bible narratives. Folks who have been taught since toddlerhood that the Bible is “God’s true story” commonly retain toddler naiveté about the Bible as long as they live. “One requirement for success as a sincere Christian,” Valerie Tarico and Marlene Winell have pointed out, “is to find a way to believe that which would be unbelievable under normal rules of evidence and inquiry.” (Psychological Harms of Bible-Believing Christianity)

Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said

0 comments

Text of my presentation at e-Conference on Atheism

[Here is the script of my presentation on Saturday, 5 September 2020, with a few small additions. The video should be available soon. The event was sponsored by the Global Center for Religious Research.]

We pose this challenge to theists: please tell us where we can find reliable, verifiable data about God—and all theists must agree: Yes, that’s where to find it. This never happens because theists don’t agree. For example, they usually claim that scripture is a source of data about God…but whose scripture? We see no effort on the part of Christians to expand the Bible to include the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon. They refuse to acknowledge that these books qualify as scripture.

Naturally, Christians adore the gospels. But these documents themselves present major problems, just in trying to figure out what Jesus did and said. Rembrandt has given us a portrait of a friendly, amiably Jesus. So my apologies to Rembrandt for puncturing this image in what I’m about to say.

Jim Spiegel, Whom I Previously Debated, Just Got Fired for "Little Hitler"

0 comments
Professor Jim Spiegel just got fired from Taylor University for this song, titled "Little Hitler." I debated him last year. He believes nonbelievers don't accept his sect-specific Christianity because we're sinners who reject his god. I didn't know how depraved he thinks we all are, until this video. What a lunatic he is! Here's a news feed on it.

Miracle Claims Asserted Without Relevant Objective Evidence Can Be Dismissed!

0 comments

I recorded a video talk for two virtual conferences this past Labor Day weekend, for the International eConference on Atheism, put on by the Global Center for Religious Research, and for the Dragon Con Skeptic Track. I'm very grateful for these two opportunities. That video will be released sometime soon. In what follows is the text of my talk. Please share if you want others to discuss it with you. Enjoy the discussion!

Today I’m arguing, along the same lines as Christopher Hitchens did, that “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” [God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York, Twelve. 2007), p.150.] Specifically I’m arguing that “Miracle Claims Asserted Without Relevant Objective Evidence Can Be Dismissed. Period!”

I think all reasonable people would agree. Without any relevant objective evidence miracle claims shouldn’t be entertained, considered, believed, or even debunked. I intend to go further to argue that as far as we can tell, all, or almost all miracle assertions, lack any relevant objective evidence, and as such, can be dismissed out of hand, per Hitchens.

The Skeptics Track of Dragon Con is Live Streaming Today!

0 comments
I'm doing a talk at 5:30 PM est.