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Millions of Educated People Believe in the Resurrection. Does that Make it a Rational Belief?

Figuring out the Educated Individual - Education Activitie

Christian apologists are often incensed when we skeptic counter-apologists label Christian supernatural claims irrational.

“Tens of thousands of very intelligent, highly educated, attorneys, doctors, engineers and other Christian professionals believe in the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. This proves that belief in the Resurrection is rational.”

Really?

Tens of thousands of very intelligent, highly educated, attorneys, doctors, engineers and other Muslim professionals believe in the historicity of Mohammad’s flight on a winged horse to heaven. Does the fact that a lot of educated people believe this supernatural claim prove that belief in flying horses is rational?

I will bet you will say, no.

Tens of thousands of very intelligent, highly educated, attorneys, doctors, engineers and other Buddhist professionals believe in the historicity of the Buddha’s miracle in which he caused a water buffalo to speak in a human language. Does the fact that a lot of educated people believe this supernatural claim prove that belief in talking animals is rational?

I will bet you will say, no.

So you see, dear Christian apologist, just because a lot of people believe a particular supernatural claim in no way makes that belief rational. Most educated, non-Christian people in the world believe that your belief in virgin births and resurrected corpses is just as irrational as their supernatural beliefs are to you. Face the facts: all supernatural beliefs are superstitions and superstitions are not rational.

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Dear Christian Apologists: Stop Whining About the Gospels Being Treated Unfairly by Historians

2806. Crocodile Tears - Word Play by Cryptid-Creations on DeviantArt

My god, Christian apologists are big whiners. They cry crocodile tears over the “terrible, mean” discriminatory manner in which professional historians evaluate the historical reliability of the Gospels. I am so sick of hearing it. There is no discrimination, Christians! Professional historians do not accept as historical fact ANY supernatural claims. Period. Get over it.

Check out my comments on this topic on the blog of conservative Christian theologian and apologist, Joel Edmund Anderson: here.

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The Gospels Must Be Historically Accurate Because There Were Only 5,000 Christians in the Mid First Century

Everything You Need to Know about Pentecost – St. Lucy Catholic Church

Conservative Christian theologian:

[T]he majority of scholars acknowledge that Mark, Matthew, and Luke were all written somewhere around 40 years after the ministry of Jesus, and John around 60 years after the ministry of Jesus.

Given the fact that, as scholars like Rodney Stark estimate, the Christian movement probably totaled only around 10,000 by the end of the first century, and probably only around 5,000 by mid century, we’re not dealing with massive numbers here. So if the Synoptics were written around AD 70, and the entire Christian population was only slightly above 5,000 at that point, that pretty much narrows the possibility for where the source material came from. And therefore, it is by no means a stretch to think that much of the stories about Jesus came from eyewitnesses and the original disciples.

And given that, along with [Craig] Evans’ argument, it is easy to conclude that they [the Gospels] are historically reliable.

Gary:

“Given the fact that, as scholars like Rodney Stark estimate, the Christian movement probably totaled only around 10,000 by the end of the first century, and probably only around 5,000 by mid century, we’re not dealing with massive numbers here.”

The author of Acts (whom most scholars believe was also the author of the Gospel of Luke) says that within FORTY DAYS of Jesus’ death, the number of Christians was at least 3,120. If this is true, then the conversion rate to Christianity dramatically declined after Pentecost, if twenty years later, at mid century, the total number of Christians was only 5,000.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” –the Book of Acts, chapter 2

So either your scholar is wrong, or “Luke” was inflating his numbers. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that “Luke” was a reliable historian!

Celebrating Woodstock » Three Hundred Thousand Strong
This is what a crowd of three thousand people looks like. Are we really to believe that this many people converted to Christianity in ONE day…and no first century Jewish author mentioned this fact?? I think “Luke” was a big fat liar.

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The Agonizing Dilemma of a Doubting Pastor

How to Become A Pastor

Christian pastor:

Hello Gary, I think I may have reached out to you several years ago. I had been a pastor in the [name of denomination hidden] for about [hidden] years, left the ministry because of my own doubts, and after about [hidden] years of that, decided to give it a try again. I’ve been back in the pulpit for [hidden] years now and again having doubts. If I’ve got the right guy, 1) could you please point me to those posts I commented on back then and 2) I’d be happy to re-engage. Thanks for your time! [Name hidden]

Gary: This email has been stuck in my “feedback” file for over one year! I just now found it. How sad. I missed the opportunity to help this poor man. Imagine being a pastor of a church and coming to the realization that you no longer believe what you are preaching! Imagine not having training in any other field of work. Imagine that you have a family to support. What do you do??

If I could give this man any advice, it would be to contact the Clergy Project, a national support group for ex-clergy who no longer believe. Here is a link to their website: here.

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I Want to Leave Christianity but I’m Afraid. How Did You Get Over the Fear of Hell, Gary?

Dante's Inferno Illustrated Edition by Dante Alighieri | NOOK Book (eBook)  | Barnes & Noble®

Reader:

Hey Gary, Thanks for your blog. I find it refreshing and an oasis of truth and hope in a very confusing time in my life. I have been leaning more towards agnosticism as of late, after seriously questioning my own religious experiences and convictions. I have a few questions for you. I have studied scripture extensively, but it seems you have more knowledge than I do.

1) How do you account for the “historical” account of what happened at Pentecost in Acts 2, as well as the “Gifts of the Spirit” being acted out in today’s Pentecostal church? How, or why would Luke or whoever authored Acts make that up?

2) Do you still ever feel nagging fear or doubt that maybe you’re making the wrong decision? I want to leave fundamental Christianity, but I am terrified that I might be making the wrong choice and that there will be eternal consequences. How have you gotten over that fear?

Any response will be appreciated. I am trying to break out of this ridiculous “Satan and demons are playing with your mind” mentality that I’m stuck in. This shit sucks. Thanks!

Gary:

I believe that the story of Pentecost as described by the author of Acts is pure theological fiction. He made it up! We know he invented other stories. If he can invent Jesus levitating into outer space (a fantastical event not mentioned by any other author of the New Testament) why stop there? Let’s have five thousand devout Jews convert to Christianity right in the middle of the Jewish capital, all because a hundred or so Christians start speaking in foreign languages while flames of fire dance above their heads!

Yet no other contemporary author, Christian or non-Christian, mentions this incredible event.

Pentecostals: Why is it that Pentecostals seem to experience more miracles than people in all other Christian denominations combined? Read “Miracles” by evangelical apologist Craig Keener. He describes hundreds of fantastical miracles…almost all of them occurring among Pentecostals in the Third World. Are these Christians more devout? Do they have more faith? Or, are they on average less educated and more gullible than other Christians? I believe the latter is the case.

Do I still fear eternal damnation in Hell? No. When I first deconverted from Christianity I very much did. If it has been drilled into your head, ever since you were a child, that God loves you so much that he gave his only begotten Son…but if you don’t love him, he is going to roast your sorry ass on a spit over the hottest fire possible—forever—you don’t just decide one day to abandon that belief. Your brain must be deprogrammed. That is what this blog has done for me. Instead of paying for psychotherapy for a couple years, I blogged. Talking about my beliefs. Debating them with people who still believe them. Reading and researching books about this belief. That is what I recommend that you do to get over the brainwashing of this evil ancient cult. Best wishes, my friend!

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What Happens When the Holy Spirit Enters Your Heart? Absolute Bliss and Profound Love!

Holy Spirit Open The Eyes Of Your Heart Pictures, Photos, and Images for  Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter

Christian reader:

Hello, Gary. I stumbled across your blog while searching images of King David. I recently decided to create a painting representing him, in a photo-realism style, if i can. The choice of Biblical event is not important here.

The last thing in the world I would attempt is to convince you of the “error of your ways” in embracing agnosticism. However, a relationship with the Creator of the universe is not realized by an intellectual process, but via the heart (You’ve undoubtedly heard that one before). That is not to say that there is nothing to “know” or that belief involves a feeling that is achieved. One does not profess a belief in God to escape hell or to bend another to one’s will. What happens when the Holy Spirit enters your heart? Absolute bliss & profound love for every person on earth. Usually a spiritual gift will manifest. People will want to know you and experience your peace of mind. You cannot think or will yourself to that “consciousness”. I actually cannot inform you how it happens; I think it’s usually a surprise. Best wishes!

Gary:

Your conversion experience obviously had a very profound emotional impact on you. The problem is, many people, of many different religions, sects, and cults have made the very same claim about their conversion! To me, this demonstrates that dramatic emotional experiences are not reliable indicators of the truth. I would encourage to watch this short video:

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Sorry, Christians. Your Perception of a Dead Man Living in Your Heart is NOT Good Evidence.

Perception Is Not Reality | Psychology Today

Feedback from Christian reader of this blog:

Hey Gary, I appreciate you looking out for me by sending me one of your blog articles on how the Catholic Church doesn’t believe that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses.

It’s funny because I think we are on the same side of wanting people to be rational and diligent about finding the truth. There are very few who are more naturally skeptical or curious than I am, and I have landed on Jesus as truth through much exploration. (I know you hardly will believe me since, if you’re anything like me, you assume that anyone who doesn’t think like you must have not done enough research. Guilty).

But here’s the thing. The blog post that you sent me in the mail is a bit of a shocker. I would think that someone who is after truth would know that everything that you mentioned in the blog about Matthew and Mark and Q and M and L is taught day one at the top Baptist seminaries in the world. It’s called the Synoptic Problem. And while most scholars (even conservative, evangelical scholars) believe in Markan priority, there has been a large exodus of scholars of all stripes from the postulation of Q. This is not settled science. And I’m sure you have a list of “contradictions” in the gospels that you could show me, and I’ve heard them all.

I took New Testament from Bart Ehrman before I went to seminary, and trust me, Dr. Ehrman seemed to have a lot more to hide than my seminary professors. He only taught what he thought; my seminary professors taught all sorts of different views on everything. All this to say, I’ve found that true intellectual honesty and humility leads me to radical skepticism.

But we can’t live that way. Can I be sure that when I wake up in the morning there is not an assassin who’s job it is to slit my throat as soon as I open my eyes. No. But I open them anyway. We all do. There are just certain things that we must do in faith if we are to survive.

After I’ve weighed the evidence (and, of course, your personal experience knows that I have to add the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit), I have decided to hang my hat on the truth of the testimony of Scripture. We all will die, but it’s a tragedy when people die for nothing. I will die for the one who loved me and gave himself for me… oh, and on the third day rose again. I pray you’ll return. I just hope that in your journey for truth, you will be truly rational and understand the weaknesses of ALL scholarship whether conservative or liberal.

Gary: So… don’t trust experts and their research. Trust your subjective perception that a first century peasant loves you, gave himself for you, and magically back from the dead three days after his public execution?

Nope. No thanks. I’ll stick with science and reason.

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All the Powers of Hell Thank You for Your Service, Gary!

Who is Satan? | Gnostic Warrior By Moe Bedard

Jason, Christian: I had the profound misfortune of discovering your worthless multiplication of words you call a blog. Other than discrediting yourself as a pointy headed imbecile, you argue as well as Satan himself against Christ. All the powers of Hell thank you for your service in slandering God and his anointed Son. May you share in their reward.

Gary: Peace and happiness, my superstitious friend!

Superstition Makes you Stupid! | Naked Divorce

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Hey Gary! Now that You Know that Christianity is False, Why Not Become a Jew?

Western Wall, Jerusalem, Jews, Pray, Orthodox, Holy

Feedback from a reader:

Dear Gary, I too have discovered the paganism of Christianity. My question to you is have you looked into the Tanakh (Old Testament) and made sure that Judaism is not right for you? I feel that in 1948 GOD did something amazing. (1) He gave the Jews back their land – fulfilling prophecy and (2) He had the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered – which lends a lot of proof that the Tanakh has changed little over so many years. Can’t wait to hear your answer. Love your work I see Christianity as an enabling religion that causes people to shrink from responsibility because Jesus takes the wheel of their lives. Ugh!

Gary:

Sorry, I find Judaism’s superstitions just as preposterous as those of Christianity. And if forced to choose between the imaginary god of Christianity (Jesus) and the imaginary god of Judaism (Yahweh), I’ll take Jesus any day of the week.

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