Christianity can be Debunked by One False Claim: The Existence of a Firmament

This is the great conundrum for Christians: Although there may be good evidence for a Creator (or Creators), the evidence strongly points to the fact that the Judeo-Christian god is the invention of ancient, scientifically-ignorant people.

Yahweh does not exist.

And if Yahweh does not exist, Jesus was mistaken. And if Jesus was mistaken about the existence of Yahweh, Jesus was not God, because Jesus claimed that he and Yahweh were one and the same.

Skeptics do not need to prove all the claims of Christianity false, they only need to prove ONE claim false and the entire belief system collapses. The false biblical claim of the existence of a firmament proves Christianity false.

Scientists have recently discovered a new particle.  Incredible!  Let us marvel at the evidence for this amazing new discovery! Let us ponder the origin of the universe! But let’s not insult the beauty and complexity of the universe by asserting that a being who could not pass an 8th grade science quiz is it’s Creator.

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Oops! The Christian God Thinks the Earth has a Firmament.

Evangelical Christian Scientist:

Gary, I don’t know where you are getting your understanding of Hebrew from, but the Hebrew word sometimes translated “firmament” doesn’t have as its primary meaning that of a dome. My Hebrew dictionary defines it as “vault of heaven, firmament, sky; pavement, floor.” Many translations translate the word as “atmosphere” since this is the best Hebrew word to describe the atmosphere. As I have written in my blog, ancient Hebrew has only about 3000 words, so many words have multiple meanings and the context tells the meaning. Gary, the more you comment, the more it becomes clear that for just about any subject, you will choose one and only one perspective that supports your biased view and ignore all of the other possibilities even when they are much more probable. Your bias and assumptions seem to overshadow your ability to see these subjects with any degree of open-mindedness or objectivity.

Gary:

Mike, have you heard of the group called “Biologos”?  They are a group of Christian scientists essentially attempting to do the same thing as you:  Reconcile Christian teaching with Science.  However, you seem to have a more conservative view (dare I say it…fundamentalist) than these Christians, who to me, talk like moderate Christians.

These Christian scientists agree with me that the entity described by the Hebrew word which the KJV translates as “firmament” is most definitely solid.  It is NOT an expanse, or a description of the sky or atmosphere.  So how do they harmonize an obviously incorrect description of the universe as found in Genesis with modern science which has proven beyond any doubt that no solid structure hangs above the earth?

Answer:  They deny that the literal interpretation of the text was the true INTENT of God when he was speaking in that passage.  God was simply speaking in terms that Bronze Age or Iron Age people could understand.  God, of course, KNEW that the earth did not have a solid firmament (upside down bowl) hanging above it, but he chose not to give a scientifically accurate description of the atmosphere above the earth…because ancient peoples would not have understood this.

Hmm.  That brings up a point:  Why didn’t God simply tell us about gravity, atmospherics, proper agriculture techniques, disease prevention, etc., when he was writing his Holy Word to mankind?  Why give us silly, unscientific descriptions of the universe and leave us to flounder about in the darkness of ignorance, only to discover the majority of scientific truths during or after the Age of Enlightenment??

Here is an excerpt from these “moderate” Christian scientists on the Firmament:

“Arguing for a non-solid raqia in Genesis is extremely problematic, for two reasons. First, the biblical and extrabiblical data indicate that raqia means a solid structure of some sort. The second problem is a much larger theological issue, but is actually more foundational. Regardless of what one thinks of the raqia, why would anyone assume that the ancient cosmology in Genesis could be expected to be in harmony with modern science in the first place?

This second issue creates a conflict where they need not be one. The raqia “debate” is not the result of new evidence that has come to light. Our understanding of ancient perceptions of the cosmos has not been overturned by more information. The debate exists because of the assumption made by some Christians that the ancient biblical description of the world must be compatible on a scientific level with what we know today.

Genesis and modern science are neither enemies nor friends, but two different ways of describing the world according to the means available to the people living at these different times. To insist that the description of the sky in Genesis 1 must conform to contemporary scientific [evidence] is a big theological problem. It is important to remember that God always speaks in ways that people can actually understand. In the ancient world, people held certain views about the world around them. Those views are also reflected in Genesis. If we keep this in mind, much of the conflict can subside.”

SourceBiologos

Gary continues:  Or there is a more simple solution, my dear moderate Christian friends:  Recognize that PEOPLE wrote the Bible, not an omniscient deity, and the people who wrote the Bible were scientifically ignorant.  The reason the authors of the Bible wrote about a “firmament” is because that is what ALL ancient peoples believed from their natural observations of the sky.  This interpretation made sense, just as it makes sense to think that the earth is flat…(unless you live on the coast and pay attention to what happens to ships on the horizon).

Bottom line:  Yahweh is the invention of ancient, scientifically ignorant people trying to make sense of their scary, dangerous world.  Let’s admire the beauty and entertainment value of these ancient tales and stop trying to turn them into…MESSAGES FROM AN INVISIBLE BEING WHO LIVES IN OUTER SPACE.

Did you Know There are Three Creation Stories in the Bible?

Excerpt from an article in the Israeli websiteHaaretz

The oldest creation myth in the Bible isn’t in the Book of Genesis at all. It is alluded to in the Book of Isaiah, in the Book of Job and in Psalms.

The clearest and fullest biblical account of this ancient myth appears in Psalm 74: “For God… Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers. The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter” (74:12-17).

An archaeological discovery made in the 20th century shed light on this strange account of creation, revealing it for what it is: an abridged version of the Canaanite creation myth.

 Among the ruins of the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit, tablets were found in a language very similar to Hebrew, recording the many myths believed by the city’s inhabitants – including that creation began with the storm god Baal vanquishing the god of the sea Yam and his sea monster-serpent-dragon helpers.
There are striking parallels between the Ugarit text and certain biblical verses. In the Book of Isaiah, for instance, the prophet says: “In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea” (Isaiah 27:1). That is nearly verbatim to what an anonymous Canaanite bard has to say about Baal: “When you killed Litan, the fleeing serpent, annihilated the twisty serpent, the potentate with seven heads.”

Is Philosophy Dead?

“Philosophy is dead.”

—Stephen Hawking, possibly the world’s greatest scientist living today

 

Here is one philosopher’s response to Hawking who suggests that pronouncements of philosophy’s death are premature:

https://www.psychologytoday…

I see the philosopher’s point, but maybe existence is not as complicated as the quantum mechanics theories upon which Hawking bases his views. Maybe reality is simply…biology.

For instance: What is the purpose of life?

–survival
–the pursuit of pleasure/the avoidance of pain

Morality?

—the rules of your particular “herd” . Rules which increase the chance of survival and increase the level of pleasure for the herd as a whole.

Why do many animals and humans live in herds?

–evolution and natural selection give a survival advantage to those individuals who prefer herds; those individuals are more likely to pass on their DNA. Evolution and natural selection deselect those who prefer to “go it alone”.

Maybe existence is as simple as that. If this is true, what purpose does philosophy serve?

The Facts about the Resurrection: Dead Human Tissue Cannot be Regenerated

Christians do not realize just how outrageously preposterous their Reanimation of Dead Human Tissue story is because this story has been a part of our culture for almost 2,000 years. Imagine being presented with the following claim, which similarly defies all scientific evidence:

A sect of Mayan villagers living in the highlands of Guatemala claim that two thousand years ago a Mayan man ate some magic beans which caused him to grow as tall as a mountain. The giant man then spoke with a voice as loud as thunder and with lightening shooting out of his mouth, telling the villagers that he was a god whom they should worship and giving them new religious laws to obey. The body of the giant man then transformed into a volcano, which to this day, erupts in fury whenever the villagers disobey the religious rules given to them by the giant god.

Preposterous, right?

But wait, you haven’t listened to the evidence for this claim!

Question: Would you even bother listening to the “evidence” for this outrageous claim? Ask yourself: What evidence would it take for you to believe that magic beans can make a man grow as tall as a mountain and then transform into a lava-spewing volcano?

None, right? Why? Answer: It’s a silly, preposterous, science-defying claim.

“Not so fast!” say the Mayans. FIVE THOUSAND people witnessed this man turn into a giant, speak as loud as thunder, saw lightening shoot out of his mouth, and watched his body turn into a volcano. In addition, there are FOUR stelae which record this event, written by four different authors, written within decades of the event, each one written approximately ten years apart from one another, claiming that FIVE THOUSAND people witnessed this event! In addition, thousands of the members of this Mayan sect were persecuted, tortured mercilessly, and killed for their belief that they had seen with their own eyes, a man turn into a giant god, yet, the belief persisted and spread to other tribes and peoples, and has persisted to this very day.

Would you accept the eyewitness testimony of FIVE THOUSAND people? Would you believe that a man turned into a volcano based on this evidence?

I doubt it. Why? Answer: Because it is an outrageously preposterous claim that defies all scientific evidence. Overwhelming scientific evidence that such an event is impossible outweighs the testimony of multiple, even thousands, of alleged eyewitnesses.

So then, why should educated, modern men and women accept as historical fact the Christian Reanimation of Dead Human Tissue story which is just as outrageous and just as preposterous as the Mayan Man Turned into a Volcano story based on what we know from scientific evidence?

Answer: We shouldn’t!

Bart Ehrman Answers my Question regarding Paul’s Views on Resurrection

From Bart Ehrman’s bloghere

Gary:  “I just finished reading scholar Gregory Riley’s Resurrection Reconsidered. He presents the position that people in the Greco-Roman world had a very different perception about spirits (ghosts) than we do today. Riley states that people living in the first century Roman Empire believed that dead people frequently came back to visit the living, appearing in “bodies” that looked exactly like their former fleshly bodies, and having the same capabilities of their former fleshly bodies: capable of eating food, drinking wine, and even engaging in sex…even sex with the living! The ONLY difference between a spirit body and a fleshly body was that USUALLY a spirit body was impalpable (could not be touched). Riley believes that Paul would have been shocked to hear about an empty tomb as he would have believed that Jesus’ fleshly body would OF COURSE still be in his grave! To Paul, Jesus had been resurrected as a spiritual body. His fleshly body remained in his grave. You seem to believe that Paul believed that the fleshly body of Jesus left the grave entirely and was transformed into an immortal body.”

Excerpts from Ehrman’s reply:

…I pretty much agree with his  [Riley’s] understanding of most of the Greek materials (where he puts his greatest focus).  But I think he is completely wrong about Paul.  

…Paul understood that at the end of the age (which for him was coming very soon), Jesus would return and his followers would be transformed in the body so that they could live eternally in deified bodies.  Their bodies would be glorified, made immortal, made imperishable.  This glorified body will be what believers will live in forever.  NOTE: it is not that their old bodies are discarded and done away with.  They are glorified, made immortal.

If that’s what the believers’ resurrection will be like, and if it is a “resurrection like his” (i.e., like Jesus’), then his resurrection was not the abandonment of the body but its glorification.  The body of Jesus came out of the tome made glorious and immortal.   Paul would not have been shocked to find Jesus’ tomb empty. 

Christian Minister Explains why he Deconverted from Christianity

I was once a Fundamentalist Christian minister whom had no clue how Evolution worked. I read only the Bible and Christian writings and avoided any books written by actual Evolutionists. However, once I challenged myself to prove my beliefs once and for all I had to look at what both sides had to say regarding the matter. In time and with much research the evidence pointed in the direction of the Bible being not literally true and also a synchronous study in The Problem of Evil also showed me that the god of the Bible (even if it were real) was not at all omnibenevolent. I rejected the faith eventually as I saw it as neither true nor useful and became an atheist cherishing actual education, logic, science, humanism, critical thinking, and skepticism.

When I was a Christian I actively avoided having conversations with Evolutionists (as well as unbelievers) and I only sought information that confirmed my previously held beliefs…at the time I knew nothing of Confirmation Bias but I was a living example of it!

Early into my research it was so hard to read from those that opposed my views. I read it and would cringe, but it stayed in my mind and little by little it took hold and I had to think about it. Critical Thinking was discouraged in my brand of Christianity…it could lead to doubt and doubt was bad! But once doubts took root it pushed out the irrationality of faith.

Evidence started to matter to me and all I wanted to do was follow the evidence and it just so happened to lead me out of Christianity.

—JEK in Texas

(Copied from Debunking Christianity)