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Why You Will Never Convince an Inerrantist that the Bible Contains Errors

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The Bible is authoritative and without error in what it actually teaches and all that it intends to affirm.

–evangelical Christian apologists and authors, Josh and Sean McDowell

Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p. 589

 

Gary: Wow.  What this statement really says is that no matter how blatant a contradiction or error a skeptic encounters when reading the Bible, it is never a true contradiction or error because Christians have already determined that the ultimate meaning or intention of the author is infallible.  But that statement could be used by the devotees of any ancient holy book on the planet.  Let’s take the modern day Mayans:  “Our ancient Mayan writings, found on multiple ancient rock stelae and on the walls of our ancient pyramids, are authoritative and without error in what they actually (meant) to teach and all that they intended to affirm.”

Good grief.

Josh and Sean McDowell go on to say that there is an (inerrantist)  resolution or harmonization to each and every apparent discrepancy in the Bible.  They give a list of examples, beginning with an apparent discrepancy in the first two books of Genesis regarding this issue:   Which did Yahweh create first:  plants or humans?

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Genesis 1:12, 26 says that man was created after the plants.  But Genesis 2: 5, 7 says, “When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (ESV).  Which is it?  OT scholars offer several resolutions to this apparent contradiction.  Here is a common one:  although there appears to be a contradiction, the context reveals that the tension is only surface deep.  The first chapter of Genesis is giving a macro view of the seven days of creation, while Genesis 2 focuses specifically on the creation of man on day six.  So, the mention of plants in Genesis 1 is a reference to the plants over the face of the earth.  But in Genesis 2, the “bush of the “field” refers to the plants specifically in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve were to cultivate.  There were no cultivated plants because there were not yet people to cultivate them.  While there is a surface difference between how Genesis 1 and 2 report the creation chronology of humans and plants, there is not a genuine contradiction.  –p. 589

Gary:  Oy vey!

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Christian Pastors Learning Techniques to Counter the Attacks of Skeptics

I saw this clip on John Loftus’ blog.  It is very interesting to hear what the “other side” thinks of our efforts to debunk their religious superstitions:

 

Here are some of their strategies to counter our criticisms, along with my responses:

1.The Genesis Creation Story is more similar to the scientific evidence for the Big Bang than the position of atheists who believe that something came from nothing.

This is why I do not debate Christians on the existence of a Creator god.  I immediately concede that science is, to date, uncertain as to the origin of the universe.  I concede that it is possible that the universe came into existence by a supernatural act of a supernatural being (or beings).  However, the existence of a supernatural creator, who by all evidence available created a universe which unfailingly abides by the laws of physics, rules out the possibility that the scientifically ignorant Bronze Age Canaanite deity Yahweh or the laws-of-physics-violating magic-performer Jesus, are the creator/creators of the universe.

2.  Faith is not a leap in the dark.  Faith is trust based on evidence.  Christianity is based on solid evidence.

Here is a question I propose that we skeptics use to counter this statement:  “If the Christian God wanted us to believe and trust in him by evidence, why didn’t he give us better evidence?  If the evidence for the claims of Christianity were as good as Christian apologists say, why then do so many of them feel the need to write so many thick books explaining what God really meant to say?  If the evidence for the claims of Christianity is so good, it should be clear to everyone.  It is not.  The fact that there are hundreds of Christian denominations and splinter groups is proof positive that the evidence for Christianity is not clear.  And if the evidence for Christianity is not clear it is not good.  Weak evidence needs a lot of explaining.  Good evidence does not, it is obvious to everyone.  The evidence for Christianity is poor.

In my opinion, Christian faith is trust based on insufficient evidence.  And trust based on insufficient evidence is irrational trust.  Therefore, Christian faith is irrational trust in weak evidence.

Analogy:  If someone told you:  “I don’t fly on commercial airplanes.  I only travel by car.  Flying on commercial airplanes is too dangerous.”  What would be your response?  I would respond that this issue has been studied extensively and massive quantities of evidence demonstrate that flying on a commercial airplane is much safer than travel by car.  Christian will try to claim that trust (faith) in Jesus as your resurrected Lord and Savior is no different than your trust (faith) in the safety of travel on a commercial airplane.  But this is nonsense.  The overwhelming majority of experts, regardless of their national origin, religious beliefs, or political party, backed by extensive studies available to anyone who wants to read them, demonstrates the safety of commercial airplane travel.  But when it comes to the claims of Christianity, the overwhelming majority of experts reject the Christian claim that the four first century books which (allegedly) record the life and deeds of Jesus (the Gospels) were written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses!  There is no comparison!  The evidence for the claims of Christianity is weak; very weak.

3.  A high percentage of scientists are theists.  This is good evidence that there is no conflict between Christian faith and science.

This is nonsense.  Most scientists who identify as Christians in the United States are liberal Christians (whom many born-again evangelicals would not even consider to be true Christians) who are able to compartmentalize their religious beliefs from their scientific work.  This only proves that if one wants to believe a superstition bad enough one can “harmonize” it by clever ad hoc explanations.  Liberal Muslim and Hindu scientists do the very same thing.  Scientists do not exist in a vacuum.  They grow up in cultures.  One important fact to notice is that most scientists in Christian countries are either Christians or Jews, while most scientists in Muslim countries are Muslim, and most scientists in Hindu countries are Hindu.  To me this indicates that even scientists are susceptible to cultural norms and pressures.  The fact that most scientists in the United States are Christians (or Jews) proves nothing.

4.  There is a conspiracy against Christianity in public universities.  Christian professors are under pressure to hide their supernatural beliefs.

Imagine if a particular university professor is a Satanist, who believes it is his or her duty to include Satanist teachings in his or her curriculum.  How would Christian parents feel if the administration of their child’s public university refused to allow this satanist to do this?  Happy?  I bet they would.  Let’s keep all supernatural beliefs out of public education classrooms!

5.  Christians already use (John Loftus’) Outsider Test for Faith.

Copan claims that since so many outsiders choose to become Christians, Christians can ignore examining their faith as an outsider.  Silly.  The Outsider Test for Faith is not valid if it is is based on what others have done to examine the claims of Christianity.  It is a test that is only valid if YOU do it and do it in an unbiased fashion regarding your faith beliefs.

6. It is better to abandon biblical inerrancy than to abandon Jesus.

How would Christians react to a Mormon who says, “Yes, there are contradictions in the Book of Mormon.  So it is better to abandon the belief that the Book of Mormon is inerrant, than to abandon the Mormon Faith.”  Christians wouldn’t buy this for a second!  And it is not just Mormons who make this same claim.  Moderate and liberal Muslims and Hindus can do the very same about their holy books!  Just how many errors must your holy book contain to finally convince you that the central supernatural claims of your faith are most probably false?

Copan goes on to use the example that even though there were multiple contradictory eyewitness accounts from survivors of the sinking of the Titanic, that in no way disproves the fact that the Titanic sank.  Good grief!  My goodness, the sinking of the Titanic is not dependent on the writings of four anonymous authors, writing decades after the event, whom the overwhelming majority of experts believe were not even there when the ship sank!  Nor, according to the overwhelming majority of experts, were these anonymous authors associates of any of the survivors of this tragedy!  This just proves to me that most evangelical Christians are still operating under the delusion that the Gospels are reliable, eyewitness accounts.  Update your knowledge of the latest New Testament scholarship, evangelical Christians!

7.  Investigate the Bible as you would any other book, not as a holy book.

Yes, scholars have done that and have come to the overwhelming conclusion that the Gospels are not eyewitness accounts.  Stop arguing that they are, dear evangelicals!

8.  The bodily resurrection of Jesus can be proven from Paul’s epistles of First Corinthians and Galatians alone.

According to Copan, no scholar questions the historicity of Paul’s authorship of these two books.  In Galatians, Paul says that he met with Peter and James.  “When Paul met with Peter and James in Jerusalem he no doubt investigated the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.”

No doubt???  Big assumption, Mr. Copan.  Paul doesn’t tell us in Galatians or in any of his epistles what he allegedly saw when he claims “Have I not seen the Christ”.  For all we know, all Paul saw was a bright light and immediately or later, interpreted that bright light as an appearance of the bodily resurrected Jesus.  And what exactly did  Paul discuss with Peter and James during his two week visit in Jerusalem?  We don’t know!  Maybe all three discussed their individual experiences of seeing a bright light (and believing their individual experiences were all appearances of the bodily resurrected Jesus).  We don’t know what any of them saw!  Paul nor anyone else tells us.  So I do doubt, Mr. Copan!  I doubt because your evidence for this unheard of before or since supernatural event is based primarily on assumptions!  Mr. Copan and most other evangelical Christians simply assume that because Paul believed in a bodily resurrected Jesus this must mean that he really did see, in reality, a bodily resurrected body .  We have no solid evidence that he did!  This is a perfect example of irrational trust (faith).

9.  Christianity best explains the problem of evil.

Copan tells us that without God, there is no purpose to life.  Existence is senseless.

Gary:  My goodness.  This is so pathetic.  Once again, any religion can make this argument.  The ancient Mayans could say, without the creation by Hurican (a Mayan god), life would have no meaning.  The claim by religionists that life without a creator god has no meaning or purpose assumes that life must have a meaning or purpose!  Maybe there is no purpose!  If life has no purpose…it has no purpose!  Live with it.  Find a purpose (just not one involving superstitions)!  Don’t invent invisible, capricious superheroes to fill in the gaps.

Any all-knowing, omnipotent Creator who allows the daily, massive, human and animal suffering is not worthy of our devotion and love.  If he exists, we may need to obey him.  But love him?  Hell no.

10.  Christianity provides “re-enchantment” to a purpose-less universe.

So did belief in Thor, Zeus, and Jupiter.  Just because humans can invent multiple “purposes for existence” does not prove that any of them are true.  Just because humans crave cosmic purpose does not mean that cosmic purpose exists.

11.  Copan quotes G.K. Chesterson, a man who allegedly converted from atheism to Christianity, as saying that he became a Christian due to his personal “experiences” in a local Christian congregation. 

What?  What happened to evidence!  Once again, as is often the case in my experience, we discover the real cause of Christian faith (trust) in the existence of the resurrected Jesus for most Christians:  subjective personal feelings and experiences.  Personal feelings and subjective experiences are NOT good evidence for universal truth claims!

12.  The long list of very intelligent, highly educated atheists who have converted to Christianity to worship Jesus as their Lord and Savior is strong evidence for the veracity of the supernatural claims of Christianity.

What about the even longer list of very intelligent, highly educated people, including many Christian pastors and theologians, who have converted from theism to atheism?

 

Should We Lose Sleep Worrying About the Christian Hell?

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Rob, Fundamentalist ChristianIf you are wrong and God does exist and Jesus is the only Savior, it will matter whether you trusted in Jesus or not. You won’t simply die, that won’t be the end. You will face a judgement beyond your ability to comprehend.

Gary:  I lose as much sleep worrying about the Christian hell as you probably spend worrying about the Muslim hell. Why? Answer: Just as you do not believe that the evidence for the claims of Islam are credible, I do not believe that the claims of Christianity are credible. They are silly, based on nothing but false assumptions, conjecture, and wishful thinking.

The world is full of superstitious threats of eternal gloom and doom. Religious people don’t spend two seconds worrying about the threats of other religions, but are amazed when people of other religions (and atheists) are not worried about theirs.

RobIf you don’t believe God exists, why do you care if I believe in Jesus and expect that I will go to heaven when I die? What difference could this possibly make to you?”

Gary:  I am involved in one of the greatest movements in human history: the debunking of religious superstitions. I consider it a great honor and privilege. I believe that one day, Rob, your great grandchildren will read our conversations and wish that Great Grandpa Rob had listened to reason and science instead of participating in the dissemination of ancient fear-based superstitions.

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Did the Concept of Jesus’ Resurrection Evolve?

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The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.  He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”  “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”  So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs[b] of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”  Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

–Genesis 18

I have a theory about the origin of the Resurrection of Jesus Belief.  My theory isn’t entirely original with me.  It isn’t based on thin air.  It is based on scholarship, just not evangelical Christian scholarship.  I will bet that many liberal NT scholars would agree with my theory.  Let me run it by you.

What evidence do we have that the first people who claimed to have received an appearance of the “risen Jesus” immediately claimed to have seen the physically resurrected body of Jesus?  Do we have any confirmed eyewitness statements of anyone claiming to have seen a physically resurrected body?  Answer:  No!  In fact, the only confirmed eyewitness testimony we have is Paul’s, and Paul gives us ZERO details about what he allegedly saw.

Did the majority of Christians eventually come to believe that Jesus had been physically resurrected?  Yes.  But the majority of scholars believe that this consensus did not occur until either the late first or early second century.  During the early years of Christianity, according to the majority of NT scholars, there were a wide variety of resurrection beliefs among Jewish Christians, just as there had been a wide variety of resurrection beliefs among traditional Jews in Jesus’ day.

So all we really know is that very soon after Jesus death, some of his followers sincerely believed that he had appeared to them in some fashion.  Almost all scholars, conservative, moderate, and liberal agree on this point.  But what exactly did they see and how did they interpret what they saw???  That is the big question.

The belief in ghosts in the first century Roman empire was widespread, according to historians.   Not only did first century people believe in ghosts, many claimed to have seen one.  The Gospels themselves record several instances in which the disciples believed that they had seen “a ghost”.  In addition, the Hebrew Bible has the story of the spirit (ghost) of Samuel being called up from Sheol to talk to King Saul.  So I suggest that if someone in the first century thought that they had just seen a dead person, they would have assumed that they had seen a ghost.

However, what if the body of the dead person in question was missing???  What would a first century Jew believe if a dead person “appeared” to him or her whose body for some reason had vanished “into thin air”?  I would bet that they would still say that they had seen a “ghost”.  But, what if this dead person whose body is missing had been telling everyone in Palestine that he was the promised Messiah, the divinely anointed “son of God”, and had performed some minor “healings”, which in the minds of his followers,  proved his divine status?  What would a devout Jewish follower of this man believe when he or she received an appearance from this (divine) man after his death???

I suggest that Jesus’ claim of being the Messiah, his claims of having some sort of divine status (which gave him the authority to forgive sins, or at least, pronounce the forgiveness of sins in the name of Yahweh), his alleged miracles, and the promise to his followers that they would reign with him in the soon to arrive New Kingdom, all led some of his followers to believe that something more was going on than just a “ghost sighting”.  Something truly miraculous had happened to Jesus and that is why his body was missing!

So the missing body, their high expectations, and the (alleged) appearances (in vivid dreams, cases of mistaken identity, illusions, etc.) pushed these Jews to come to a new conclusion:  They weren’t just seeing a ghost.  Jesus had been resurrected from the dead.  He had been resurrected as the first fruits of the general resurrection of the righteous dead!

But what did they mean by “resurrection”?

The earliest Christian statement on Jesus “rising from the dead”, the Early Creed, possibly formulated within three years of Jesus’ death, does not clearly include the world “resurrection”.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

The next evidence we have are Paul’s epistles.  Paul very definitely talks about “resurrection”.  But what did he mean by that term?  I find it hard to believe that Paul believed in a resurrection of the original physical body as today’s Trinitarian Christians teach.

“What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” –I Cor. 15:50

I believe that Paul believed that Jesus had been resurrected in a new spiritual body.  It was not a ghostly body, but a divine body that looked like a physical human body but its composition was very different.  It was divine or heavenly in composition.  Is it possible that Paul believed that Jesus resurrected body looked like and had the same properties as the divine body that Abraham saw in the Old Testament passage listed above???

Most conservative Christians believe that “the angel of the Lord” and, especially, “the Lord”, mentioned in the Old Testament, was Jesus, the second member of the Trinity.  Are we really to believe that the Hebrews who wrote these stories believed that the body of “the Lord” who sat down with Abraham and ate food was a physical human body that would need to defecate and urinate a few hours after that meal?  I don’t think so.  So in Jewish thinking, a divine person could have a “body” that looked and behaved exactly like a physical human body, but it was definitely not a physical human body!

I suggest that this is what the early Christians first assumed when they decided that the “ghost” that they had seen was something more than a ghost.  It was Jesus, resurrected by God in a divine spiritual body to fulfill his mission as the Messiah:  to establish the New Kingdom of Israel and to bring worldwide peace by destroying the Romans.  The body looked like Jesus’ physical body, but it was not his physical body.  It was a body with supernatural properties and powers.   I suggest that this is why the earliest account of Jesus bodily appearing to his disciples, in the Gospel of Matthew, on a mountain in Galilee, involves the statement that some of them doubted.  Why would some of the disciples have doubted that what they were seeing in this “appearance” on the mountain in Galilee was Jesus, if they had just seen Jesus in Jerusalem a few days or weeks earlier when he allowed them to examine his body (the Gospel of Luke), and, poke their fingers in his wounds (the Gospel of John)???  In my view, the Jesus in Matthew looks more like a ghost.

Here is what the author of Luke (whose gospel was very possibly written after Matthew’s, and who was possibly aware of Matthew’s quasi-ghostly Galilean appearance claims) says about the appearance of Jesus:

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”[a] 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.[b]41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

I suspect that when “Luke” was writing his Gospel, skeptics were claiming that the followers of Jesus had only seen a ghost.  “Just look at the Gospel of Matthew!  This author tells us that even some of Jesus’ disciples didn’t recognize him!  Obviously…it was a ghost!  Jesus was not resurrected!”  Luke’s story above is very blatantly a work of apologetics, written to refute the skeptics’ claim that the disciples had just seen a ghost.  However, the problem for Luke was, in the minds of Greeks and Romans, ghosts could be touched and could eat food!  In fact, in the minds of Greeks and Romans, ghosts could even have sex with humans!!!

So Luke’s attempt to dispel the rumor that the disciples of Jesus had only seen a ghost failed.

A few decades later, this criticism had intensified.  The author of John decided he needed to make Jesus’ appearances even more physical to dispel these criticisms.  So in John’s appearances, Jesus allows the disciples to poke their fingers in the holes in his hands and feet and in the sword wound in his side!  Neither a ghost nor a spiritual body would have wounds!  Problem solved!

But think about this:  If Jesus’ new resurrected body was a heavenly body, a perfect body, why in the hell did it have holes???

And, if Paul is correct that Christians will be resurrected in the same manner as Jesus… will all believers who have been blown to bits in a bombing or car accidents show up in heaven with all their scars and wounds still intact???

It is a legend, folks.  A tall tale!

Modern educated people should not believe this stuff.

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How Would an Observer Distinguish a Jewish Resurrected Body from a Greco-Roman Ghost?

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A Greco-Roman ghost

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”[a] 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.[b]41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

–Gospel of Luke

 

In the first century, only Jews believed in the concept of bodily resurrection.  Although Greeks and Romans believed that the spirit of a dead person could return to visit family, friends, and foes, they absolutely did not believe in a bodily resurrection.  The concept disgusted them.  Check out what second century Greek philosopher and critic of Christianity, Celsus, said about this concept:

“It is not possible that Jesus rose with his body. This is simply the hope of worms. For what sort of human soul would still desire a body that has rotted?”

Greeks and Romans saw the body as a burden to the more noble human spirit.  Death was a liberation of the spirit; an escape from the pain, suffering, and limitations of the body. But spirits (ghosts) in Greco-Roman thinking were very different from the modern concept of ghosts, such as Casper the Friendly Ghost.  Casper looks like a cloud or a fog, a see-through vague form which cannot be touched and does not eat food or drink liquids.  Not so with Greco-Roman ghosts.  Greco-Roman ghosts had bodies (immortal bodies) that could eat food, drink wine, play board games, and even have sex with one another or with humans.  And, yes, these ghosts could sometimes be touched!

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So here is my question:  How would anyone in the first century have been able to tell the difference between a Greco-Roman ghost and a Jewish resurrected body if both entities had “bodies” which could eat food and be touched as the Christian holy book claims about Jesus?

I fully understand that a (perceived) appearance by a dead person to a Jew might be interpreted very differently than it would be by a Greek or Roman, but that is not the point.  I’m not interested in the interpretation of the event because that is a cultural and/or religious phenomenon.  I want to know the physical description of what they each reported seeing.  If a Jew and a Roman or Greek would both say that they saw a dead person with: a transformed or transfigured supernatural (heavenly) body that looked similar to the deceased’s physical body; that the supernatural body was clothed in bright white garments, eating food, conversing with them, and allowing them to touch him or her; how would they know whether the “being” they were interacting with was a Greco-Roman ghost or a Jewish Christian resurrected body?

I say they wouldn’t!

They both would see the very same thing, but, they would probably interpret what they saw differently.  A Greek or a Roman would say, “I saw father’s spirit last night.  He came to my bedroom, stood at the side of my bed, woke me up out of a sound sleep, talked to me for a few minutes, and touched my hand.  It looked like father but his body had immortal qualities and his garments were brilliant white.  Once father’s spirit was done talking to me he immediately disappeared.”

How is that any different from the alleged appearances of Jesus???

It’s all about culture, folks.  Human beings interpret odd events through the lens of their particular culture. So even though two people from two different cultures “see” the exact same thing, their interpretation of what they saw is likely to be very different!  I allege that it is entirely possible that the disciples of Jesus saw something that they believed to be a ghost (a very common phenomenon in the first century, according to historians), and over time reinterpreted these experiences, based on their distinctive culture and religion, as appearances by a Jewish resurrected body.

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A Greco-Roman ghost

Here are quotes from a scholar regarding Greco-Roman “ghost sightings”:

“The dead were in the main conceived of as were the living: resting and waking, conversing with both the living and other dead, eating and drinking, and carrying on postmortem much as they had in life.  Game boards, for example, were a common offering in tombs, along with dice.  The dead were even able to engage in sex apparently, both among themselves and with the living.” pp. 53-54

“Thus the dead could, on occasion and when necessary, physically touch for good or ill, and be touched by, the living.”  p. 55  …“The souls of the dead could certainly interact with the living and with each other, in ways exactly analogous to normal life.  Instances abound in which the dead were touched and touched others.”  [an example is then given of an extensive account by the writer Lucian]  p. 58 …[Therefore] Jesus [as a ghost] could have been touched, if he so chose; Astrabacus and many other heroes had been.”  p. 58

–from Resurrection Reconsidered by New Testament scholar Gregory Riley, expert in the culture and religions of the Roman world

But one issue still remains:  Why would any first century Jew “see” a ghost and come to the conclusion that they had seen a resurrected body and not just a ghost???  My guess is that the first disciples who experienced “appearances of Jesus” initially believed that they had seen Jesus’ spirit (a ghost).  However, a superstitious, scientifically-ignorant mind is fertile ground for all kinds of wild and bizarre beliefs! So what was the trigger for their imaginations to go from “ghost” to “resurrected body”?   Answer:  A missing body.  Jesus’ body was missing!   His tomb was empty.  Put together appearances of Jesus with the fact that his body was missing and…voila…somebody came up with the idea that Jesus had been bodily resurrected!

Remember, the disciples had hoped that Jesus was the messiah.  They had left their homes, jobs, and families with the dream that they would reign with Jesus during the New Kingdom.  Those are pretty big dreams and hopes!  When Jesus died, their hopes were dashed to pieces.  What do psychologists say often happens when people’s most cherished hopes and dreams are suddenly destroyed?  Answer:  Cognitive dissonance sets in.  People are forced to either adjust/change their hopes and dreams, which they are very reluctant to do, or, they reinterpret reality, forcing reality to fit with their hopes and dreams!

And I believe that is most likely what happened to Jesus’ disciples.  The missing body of Jesus triggered the slim hope that Jesus was not dead.  But how could that be???  Romans were notoriously efficient executioners.  Did Jesus survive his crucifixion, push back the heavy stone in front of his tomb, and crawl out into the countryside?  Very implausible.  Was Jesus body moved or stolen?  If so, by whom?  While these thoughts were whirling around in the minds of the disciples, some of them started “seeing” Jesus in vivid dreams, illusions (mistaking natural phenomena such as shadows or bright lights for Jesus), and mistaken identities (seeing someone in the distance that looked like Jesus).  Normally such “sightings” of a dead person would have been perceived as the appearance of a ghost.   The Gospel authors indicate on at least two occasions that the Jewish disciples of Jesus did believe in the existence of ghosts (the story of Jesus walking on the water, and the story of Jesus appearing in the Upper Room).  But the fact that Jesus’ body was missing led to speculation that something else had happened to Jesus:  he had been resurrected!  That is why his body is missing.  Jesus has been bodily resurrected and would soon return from heaven to establish the New Kingdom.  The resurrection of the righteous dead has begun with Jesus as the “first fruits”!  The remaining righteous dead will be resurrected at any moment!  Our dream is still alive!!! Let’s sell all our belongings, move to Jerusalem, and pray and fast until Jesus returns!

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A Jewish ghost

 

Therefore it is very plausible that the early Christian resurrection belief had a very simple, but completely natural explanation:  Ghost sightings and a missing body!

 

 

The God of the Bible is So Utterly Evil. Why Can’t Christians See That?

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Slaughter of the Amalekites

Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LordThus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”  

–Book of I Samuel 15

 

Excerpt of discussion with fundamentalist Christian on his blog:

Gary:   Even if I could prove to you, Rob, with indisputable historical evidence that your God condoned the selling of one’s daughter for financial profit (Exodus 21:7-11) or that he ordered the targeted killing of thousands of innocent children (I Samuel 15:3), that would most likely not change your mind in the slightest about your god’s goodness or his existence. Why? Because your belief is not based on objective evidence. It is based on the subjective “testimony of the Holy Spirit” in your heart. Until you objectively evaluate the reality of the presence of a “spirit” inside your body, no amount of objective evidence will ever change your mind.

Here is what I suggest you do: Test the spirit. Do what the Bible tells you to do and test the spirit. Test the “spirit” that you believe lives in your body and gives you secret knowledge and life direction. Test this spirit with the same tests you would advise someone of another religion to do to prove the reality of their god or gods. If you do this, I believe that you will be unable to give good, convincing evidence that the “spirit” inside you is anyone other than…YOU…talking to yourself.

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How could any being, human or divine, with even an ounce of goodness in their character, condone or tolerate selling one’s daughter into slavery???

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.[a] 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.  –Book of Exodus 21

 

Rob:  You show that you are biased in your view of God and His word. If you were a sincere seeker of truth then you would want to understand what these verses of scripture really mean, in context with their background and the traditions of people at that time.

By drawing out a particular verse of scripture without seeking to understand it, or have it explained to you, it is easy to see that you have only one agenda: to impugn God. I find your comments quite disingenuous. Genuine seekers of truth welcome a detailed explanation. Scoffers, pull out verses of scripture with no context and mock God. You don’t understand God or His word because you don’t really want to understand. This is most unfortunate, but over time as I have read many of your comments, It is easy to discern now what your true intents are.

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The slaughter of the Canaanites.

When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.  –Book of Joshua

I explained to you that God did not approve the selling of a daughter. This was the practice of the culture of Jews at that time, for reasons of poverty. Moses gave this command to that generation, not to the whole world. Did you read the article? There is not a single place in the Bible where God states that we should take slaves. There are several places where we see that people take slaves, and because of the hardness of their hearts, God institutes commands for how they must treat these persons.

God did not institute “targeted killing of thousands,” He brought judgement to wicked populations of people who refused to cease from their evil. As God, He is perfect in every way and all of His judgements are right and just. If a judge does not condemn the guilty and execute a sentence against the unrighteous, he is an unrighteous judge. We would not want to live in a country where evil is not punished and justice is not served.

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“And Moses said to them, “Have you spared all the women? 16 “Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the Lord. 17 “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. 18 “But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:15-18).

The Canaanites were brutal, vicious people who sacrificed their children to Molech. God warned these people for nearly 900 years before He brought their destruction. How long are you willing to wait when someone wrongs you or your family? God is very patient and kind and gives people a very long time before He brings judgement. When they do not listen and turn from their sins, He does bring judgement, as He should.

My belief is not based upon feelings or subjective evidence. I have written over 2200 articles and published 31 books about empirical evidence which proves that God exists, He is good, and earnestly wants to save people. It is people like yourself who deny God even though you see the universe He created, enjoy the life He gave you, and then shake your fist in His face and say He is unjust, and condemns innocent people to death.

Peter Paul Rubens: Massacre of the Innocents

“You shall acknowledge no God but me. . . . You are destroyed, Israel. . . . The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.”  –Book of Hosea 

God has given us evidence but you do not accept the evidence.

1. The universe God created is evidence He exists.
2. The Bible is the word of God and adequate instructions for Godly living.
3. The appearance of Jesus on earth, proves that God exists and allows us to see what He is like and what He requires of us to have a relationship with Him.

You do not accept God’s evidence. This does not change the fact that He has provided you with everything you need to believe. On your judgement day, you will not be able to say that you didn’t know that God exists, or that He did not prove Himself to you. You will have nothing to say, because you will know, that He knows, you knew.

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Being burned alive…forever!  A “righteous” judgment for the crime of ancestral forbidden fruit eating and the “thought crime” of refusing to believe that a first century Jewish peasant is the Master and Creator of the Universe???

You are the one that has committed wrongs by impugning the name of God and have misrepresented Him. You have rejected His love for you and gone out to tell people they are foolish to believe God is good or that He exists. Jesus said that those who spend their lives leading others away from Him, and cause them to loose their faith, as you are trying to do, “It would be better that they were never born…” God takes personal offense at your constant articles that you write to impugn His name and make people stop believing in Him. You have made yourself the enemy of God. Instead, notice how good the Lord is; He came to earth and died for you and gave up His life to save you. Stop your hatred of God, turn from your sins and receive Christ so that you might be saved from the judgment to come. I implore you!

Here is what I suggest you do: Test the spirit. Do what the Bible tells you to do and test the spirit. Test the “spirit” that you believe lives in your body and gives you secret knowledge and life direction. Test this spirit with the same tests you would advise someone of another religion to do to prove the reality of their god or gods. If you do this, I believe that you will be unable to give good, convincing evidence that the “spirit” inside you is anyone other than…YOU…talking to yourself.

Your idea that trust in Christ is simply a inner emotion that we believe in a Holy Spirit that is not real, and we depend only upon our feelings for faith, is absolutely not true. Perhaps this is why you stopped believing; because you did not have knowledge of the vast evidence, but only relied upon your feelings. These feelings changed when you had doubts, and you had no training in the evidence to support your doubts.

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Dear Christians: Imaginary friends are not real. Yes, they can give you great peace and comfort, but they are not real. Give them up! You will be alright without them.

We should believe because God has left us such great evidence for faith. He created all that exists and left us His word to give us evidence for faith. Finally, God sent His Son into the world to die for our sins, and left a visible proof that He exists and He wants to save those who will trust Him.

I believe because the evidence compels me to believe. You should too.

(emphasis, Gary’s)

Gary’s summary of this discussion:  Notice that the fundamentalist Christian’s last line of defense in every discussion with non-believers is an attempt to instill fear of the unknown.  None of us knows for sure what happens after death.  Christians and other religionists pounce on this uncertainty and attempt to scare us into accepting their ignorant, Bronze Age, superstitious nonsense…just in case they are right.  This is called “Pascal’s Wager“.  This concept refers to the belief that it is a much safer bet to believe in God and be wrong, than to not believe in God and be wrong.  The latter could result in your eternal damnation in the fires of Hell!  On the surface, makes sense, right?  The problem is, there isn’t just one god.  And if you have spent anytime like I have looking at the evidence for the major world religions, you will see that the evidence for the claims of Christianity are no better than the claims of other world religions (in fact, it is worse than many of them).  There is no safe bet.  We must believe based on evidence, not fear!

There is nothing that will convince this poor man that his beliefs are evil superstitious nonsense.  If a person cannot recognize that the targeted slaughter of little children is evil, what evidence would convince him or her???  I ask you this, dear Readers:  How is this fundamentalist Christian’s warped, immoral thinking any different from that of today’s fundamentalist Muslims who murder non-Muslim children in the name of their god?

The god of the Bible is evil.  But the Good News is:  the overwhelming evidence demonstrates…he does not exist!

 

Image result for image say no to superstition

 

 

End of post.

If Jesus Could “Transfigure” his Body at Will, He Was Not a Real Human Being but a Space Alien

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 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

–Gospel of Mark, chapter 9

 

Gary:  Real human bodies cannot “transfigure”.  If Jesus was a real human, this “transfiguration” episode could never have occurred.  If this story is historical, Jesus was an alien superhero whose body could metamorphesize at any time and place.  The bodies of real humans cannot do that.  Jesus was either never a real human being or this story is fiction.  And if this story is fiction, his alleged after-death appearances stories in the Gospels are most likely also fiction.

Say NO to superstitions, folks.

 

 

 

End of post.